The offers can stuff your mailbox with bright colors and huge fonts that promise zero percent interest or other ridiculously low rates. For people with credit card debt, these low interest balance transfers can seem like they are too good to be true. Unfortunately, they often are. Using these low rate transfer offers can save you a lot of money in interest, but only if you are careful. Allowing yourself to fall victim to the common pitfalls of these offers can leave you worse off than before. Use these tips to avoid problems.

Tip 1: Understand the Limits


Credit card transfers are not a panacea. They aren't going to make your debt go away. At best, they offer you 6-12 months to pay off a no-interest loan. But watch out. Once the time is over, high interest rates kick-in. Not only that, but any new purchases you make aren't part of the deal. New purchases will not only add to the balance, but will also be subject to interest charges.

Tip 2: Watch out for Fees


Some credit card balance transfers offers have fees associated with them. These are typically billed as a small percentage of the balance transferred, often between two and four percent. Some cards cap the fee associated with the transfer, while others don't. These up front fees can be substantial, so be sure you know what the card offer states.

Tip 3: Never Pay Late


Low interest rate transfer offers can be great. But if you make a late payment, the party is over. Not only will your interest rate likely rise, but it can be much higher than even the rate offered after the transfer period expired. A single late payment on a balance transfer payment is a financial killer. Avoid this at all costs.

Tip 4: Keep the Offer Small


Your credit score will be affected by a balance transfer, but you can minimize any problems. Try to keep the amount you transfer to less than about 30 percent of the credit limit on the new card. If making the switch will max out the new card, consider asking for a credit limit raise in conjunction with the transfer. Your credit score will thank you for it.

Tip 5: Know When Time is Up


Ok, you already know that these interest rates come for a limited time, but that's not enough. A low interest balance transfer can help you pay off your credit cards and make your life a little easier, but only if you take advantage of it. Once you sign up for a low interest card, come up with a payment schedule so you can pay off as much of the balance as possible before the time limit is up. If you know you won't be able to pay off the card before then, you may want to look for a new offer and be ready to transfer to it before the high interest takes over.