Years ago I lined myself up quite nicely without even realizing it. Though I only carry one credit card in my wallet these days, I currently have four of them in my arsenal.

That’s not really a unique or powerful spot to find yourself in on its own. Lots of people have 4 or more credit cards…

But when I point out that the cards are all from totally separate banks, well, that’s where it gets interesting.

I have a card from Bank of America, Chase Bank, CitiBank, and Capital One.

None of those companies are affiliated with one another.

Four months ago — all of them had a balance of zero. That situation has changed in the meantime (due mostly to the renovation) but this is where the four un-affiliated accounts come in handy.

You know those 0% offers that you get in the mail on a daily basis? Yep, the ones teasing you with 0% balance transfers?

Well, the fine print on those always mention that you can’t transfer a balance from an affiliated card.

ChaseBank is BancOne. You can’t transfer one to the other. Same deal with MBNA and Bank of America. Chances are, if you have plastic in your wallet, a those names are quite familiar…

Over the past few years, with all of the bank mergers, the landscape has gotten a lot smaller. You might think you have balances with a bunch of different companies but you might, in fact, actually have them all with the same bank without even knowing it.

As a result, your options are severely limited.

The way I’ve got it set-up now, well, two cards have a balance and the other two do not. When a sweet offer comes around (or if a 0% offer is coming to a close), I’ve still got two routes to choose from.

Really, since I’ve maintained a stellar credit rating, I can probably ride the 0% offers back-and-forth indefinitely (as long as I maintain a $0 balance on two of the cards at all times)…

True, I’ll still get hit with the 3% transaction fee each time I make a transfer but with the balances I’ve been tossing around over the past couple of months, well, they “pay” for themselves in a matter of weeks.

Basically, you might want to check your wallet and see if you’ve got avenues to take should you need them.

If not, you might want to consider applying for that credit card you’ll likely never use, you know, just in case…

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