If you are in a particularly generous mood and feel the milk of human kindness coursing through your veins, knocking somebody else's debt onto your credit card shouldn't cause you too much hassle. Your card provider couldn't care less what you do with your credit line, provided you're acting within the law and paying off your minimum balance every month.
Find out if you can pay the debt over the phone or online with your card. Not all lenders allow customers to do this. Most mortgage companies won't take payment by credit card, for instance. You can get around this by using a service called Charge Smart, which takes money from your card and forwards it to the creditor of your choice.
Make a balance transfer from your credit card. Check out how your card issuer's balance transfer system works. Paying off your buddy's debt could be as simple as tapping his account details into the balance transfer tool on your card issuer's website, or calling your lender's customer service department. If you're making a zero-percent balance transfer, you'll typically have to pay a fee. It might be an idea to ask the person whose debt you're paying to cover this.
Request that your bank hits you up with some convenience checks, preferably ones that offer a zero-percent rate on any spending you do. You can either make one of these out to your friend's creditor to clear his debt directly, or write a check to him. He can then forward the money to his lender.
Get a cash advance from your credit card at an ATM. You can then use the money to clear your friend's debt. This will typically be the priciest option, since card issuers often charge high interest rates on cash advances.
- Agree how the person whose debt you're clearing is going to pay you back. If you're talking about a large sum of money, consider having a legally-binding agreement drawn up.
- Make it clear to your buddy that he'll have to pay any interest that accrues on his debt before it's paid off.
- Once you've transferred your friend's debt to your card, it's your responsibility. If he's supposed to pay you back in installments and doesn't, your credit file will suffer if you don't keep payments up.
Michael Roennevig has been a journalist since 2003. He has written on politics, the arts, travel and society for publications such as "The Big Issue" and "Which?" Roennevig holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the Surrey Institute and a postgraduate diploma from the National Council for the Training of Journalists at City College, Brighton.