Balance transfer cards can be helpful if used properly

It's a credit card offer that's hard to resist: transfer your balance with zero percent interest. And some cards now give you up to 18 months to pay off that balance.

By getting rid of costly interest payments, a balance transfer can help you get out of debt more quickly, but only if used correctly.

"The big risk is that you transfer the balance and either you don't pay it off before the zero percent expires and you end with a big, high interest rate," cautions Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education at "Or, you run up new debt on the card that you just paid off. It's sort of like yo-yo dieting."

You want to cut your spending and pay off that balance transfer before the zero percent interest rate goes away.

There is one more thing to consider: what is it going to cost to move your balance to another card?

"Almost every card charges balance transfer fees and the amount ranges from two to four percent, so you have to factor in that cost," Detweiler explained.

Applying for that new card will have a slight impact your credit score, so if you're about to apply for a loan, you might want to hold off on that.

More Info: 5 Things to Consider Before Getting a Balance Transfer Card