Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Student Loans, Balance Transfers

No, not really connected...

I'm glad I started my loan consolidation application back in August because per the website, it's still in the certification phase. I'm paying on the two that are out of deferment and lacking a grace period (graduate PLUS loan, consolidated undergrad loan) but still have time before the grad staffords kick in, I'm glad for that. Keeping track of three payments a month would be too much.

I was curious as to whether delays were common with a lot of the commercial lenders dropping out/being forced out of issuing consolidation loans, but most of what I find is from two years ago and connected with the July 1, 2006 rate increase.

Keeping track of multiple payments a month is annoying, therefore I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the following. I currently have:

  • ~8K at 3.9% for life on an AMEX blue. I've paid it down from ~12K in the last year and I'm happy with that progress especially since it was while I was in school. I don't add to this card, it's purely for the BT offer.
  • ~4K at 14% on my Starwood AMEX. This is my everyday card and its balooned since July. I'm annoyed but it's not frivolous stuff, it's the move and dentist. Still, 14% isn't trivial and I can do better especially given my excellent credit. I'd also like to return my SPG Amex to daily use for its good rewards.
  • ~Miscellaneous immediate payoffs on an AA Visa and Chase Amazon Visa that I have on hand for places that don't take AMEX. I pay this off immediately.

Prior to consolidating to AMEX last August, I had ~12K split on a Discover and Citi card that were 0% for one year. I hated having to pay on both so when the 0% expired I happily consolidated to one. While the 0%s still exist, they're harder to find and I'm not sure I want one. If they were more than a year, sure, but I'm tired of teasers - especially those with annual fees that kick in later so I cancel the card and lose the history. I'd rather find a comparable offer like my AMEX above.

Before I was even thinking about this seriously, I got a 3.9% for life from one of my current, unused cards. I like this idea because it doesn't require an inquiry on my credit report and I know what the limit is without worrying "well I might only be approved for $3K or so." I also regularly get one from my Chase Amazon but I don't want to tie that one up with a BT because I like using it for the occasional Amazon purchas for the rewards. I think I'm going with the 3.9% (even with the transfer fee, it saves $ over two months and I know I can't pay it off that quickly) and just pay it down as fast as I can via snowball.

Approval amounts bug me. I've never ever been late and am never anyqhere near my limits. My SPG Amex is a 25K limit and Blue is 12K. Citi irritates me with its trivial limits.

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