Credit Cards Credit Card Basics What to Do If You’re Rejected for a Balance Transfer You need good credit before you can use this credit-management tool By Holly D. Johnson Holly D. Johnson Facebook Twitter Website Holly D. Johnson is a credit card and mortgage expert, along with an award-winning writer whose goal is explaining the perks and benefits of credit card offers in a way anyone can understand. Holly has written about credit card and mortgage topics for The Balance, and her work has also appeared in publications such as Business Insider, U.S. News & World Report Travel, and Bankrate. Holly is the co-author of "Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love." learn about our editorial policies Updated on April 21, 2022 Reviewed by Samantha Silberstein Reviewed by Samantha Silberstein Twitter Samantha Silberstein is a Certified Financial Planner, FINRA Series 7 and 63 licensed holder, State of California Life, Accident, and Health Insurance Licensed Agent, and CFA. She spends her days working with hundreds of employees from non-profit and higher education organizations on their personal financial plans. learn about our financial review board Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article Stop Using Credit Cards Cut Your Discretionary Spending Debt Snowball vs. Debt Avalanche Method Work On Improving Your Credit Score Consider a Debt Consolidation Loan Photo: Jirapong Manustrong / Getty Images Balance transfer credit cards can be a valuable tool if you need to pay down high-interest credit card debt. Once approved, you can transfer balances from other cards to your new one, which should have a lower interest rate than your current cards. The best balance transfer cards charge zero interest for 12 to 21 months. But most balance transfer credit cards are only available to consumers with good or excellent credit, meaning a FICO score of 670 or above. People with FICO scores higher than 740 have the best shot at approval, according to FICO. If you were rejected for a balance transfer credit card, consider these steps to help you pay down debt and turn your situation around. Stop Using Credit Cards As you hatch a plan to pay off your debts, do your best to avoid using credit cards for regular spending. No matter how much you pay toward your balance each month, using credit for purchases makes it harder to make a dent in your debt. Note Create a plan to pay down debt, and stick to a debit card or cash for making new purchases. If you keep using credit for purchases, there’s a good chance you’ll undermine all your hard work. Cut Your Discretionary Spending Also, consider cutting your expenses so you can put more cash toward debt. Spend less money on entertainment, dining out, clothing, utilities, transportation, or any other budget-buster so that you can use that extra money to speed up the debt-payoff process. If you’re unsure what to cut, look over your last few bank statements and credit card bills. Tally up your spending and identify which budget categories are draining you the most. You may be able to negotiate for a better deal on your cellphone plan, for instance, or cancel subscription services you don’t use. Pay Down Debt Using the Debt Avalanche or Debt Snowball Methods It may help to have a concrete plan to pay off debt. Consider trying one of two popular methods—the debt avalanche or the debt snowball—to get rid of debt without using a balance transfer card. Debt avalanche: To use the debt avalanche, list your debts by interest rate, with the highest-rate balance at the top. Pay as much as you can toward your highest-rate debt each month while making the minimum payments on the rest. As you pay off the first debt, reallocate that monthly payment to the next-highest on the list until they’re all gone. Debt snowball: To use the debt snowball, list debts by balance, smallest to largest. Make the minimum payment toward all your largest debts and throw as much as you can toward the smallest balance. As the months go by, you will pay off your smallest debts, freeing up those monthly payments to go toward other, larger debts on the list. Those early wins will hopefully motivate you to keep going. The debt avalanche method has an advantage since you’ll save money on interest when you pay off the highest-interest debts first. On the flip side, the debt snowball method provides a psychological boost, since you get to shed smaller debts sooner. Work On Improving Your Credit Score It’s also smart to focus on improving your credit score. A better credit score may help you qualify for a balance transfer card down the line. In fact, paying off debt is one of the best steps you can take to boost your score. When you pay down balances, you lower your credit utilization or the amount of debt you have relative to your credit limit—a factor that makes up 30% of your FICO score. Note Other steps you can take to improve your credit score include paying all your bills early or on time, only opening new credit accounts when you absolutely need to, and keeping old accounts open in order to maximize the length of your credit history. Consider a Debt Consolidation Loan Finally, consider a personal loan for debt consolidation, but only if you think you can get approved (use our calculator below to figure out potential monthly payments). You may struggle to qualify for one, especially at competitive interest rates, if your credit isn’t in the good-to-excellent range. But it may be possible. Personal loans for debt consolidation come with a fixed monthly payment and a fixed repayment timeline. This means you’ll pay the same amount each month, and you’ll know exactly when you’ll be debt-free. As you look for a debt consolidation loan, keep your eye out for options with no origination fee. Opt for a loan with a lower interest rate than your credit cards have to ensure that consolidating saves you money. Also, consider choosing a fixed interest rate if you’re given the choice between fixed and variable. That way, your monthly payments will be more predictable, which may make them easier to budget for. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. myFICO. "Credit Scores 101: What’s a Good Credit Score Range?" myFICO. "What's in My FICO Score?"