How to do a balance transfer in 6 steps (2022)

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If you have several thousand dollars of high-interest credit card debt, it can be tough to climb out.

The good news is there are balance transfer credit cards out there that offer a low introductory APR that can help you pay off high-interest debt.

How does a balance transfer work? A credit card balance transfer allows you to take a high-interest credit card balance (or even multiple balances) and transfer it to a new credit card with a lower interest rate. Some balance transfer cards offer a 0% intro APR for balance transfers for a limited amount of time.

If you transfer balances from multiple credit cards to one balance transfer card, this can streamline your payments into one easier-to-manage payment.

While balance transfers can be helpful in the debt-payoff process, they’re not a magic solution. You must commit to getting out of debt for it to be a successful move — or risk ending up in even more debt. You should also educate yourself about some of the pitfalls of balance transfers before applying for a card.

Here’s how to transfer credit card balances to help you pay off debt.

Want to transfer a balance?Compare Balance Transfer Offers Now

  1. Check your current balance and interest rate
  2. Pick a balance transfer card that fits your needs
  3. Read the fine print and understand the terms and conditions
  4. Apply for a balance transfer card
  5. Contact the new credit card company to do the balance transfer
  6. Pay off your debt

1. Check your current balance and interest rate

Before you do a balance transfer, empower yourself with information about your current situation.

Review your credit card balances and interest rates. Your credit card interest rates are typically expressed as an annual percentage rate, or APR. You’ll need this information so you can pick an appropriate card for a balance transfer.

(Video) How Do You Do a Balance Transfer?

Ultimately, you want to find a balance transfer card that can accept the amount you want to transfer and has a lower interest rate than you’re already paying on your debt.

2. Pick a balance transfer card that fits your needs

Now that you know what you owe and what your APR is, it’s time to choose a balance transfer card that fits your financial needs. Luckily, there are lots of balance transfer offers out there.

When choosing a balance transfer card, consider APR, the length of thepromotional low-APR periodand any fees. These factors could all make a difference when it comes to paying down your debt.

  • How long will the low intro APR last?Most balance transfer cards offer a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for a set amount of time, and typically on purchases as well. Credit card companies can change their offers, but currently, there are some good balance transfer cards with 0% intro APR offers ranging up to 21 months. Make sure that the promotional period lasts long enough for you to pay down as much debt as possible.
  • How long will you have to transfer your existing balance once you have the card? You may only have a matter of weeks to transfer your balance in order to take advantage of an intro offer — the amount of time you have varies from offer to offer.
  • What kind of fees will you be charged? Many balance transfer cards charge balance transfer fees, typically between 3% and 5% of the amount transferred. Decide whether it makes financial sense for you to transfer the balance. Once you take into account the fee, it may be more expensive to transfer a balance than it is just to leave it on the original card.

For example, the Citi Simplicity® Cardcomes with a long balance transfer offer: 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 21 months from date of the first transfer and a variable APR of 16.99% - 27.74% on balance transfers afterward. Balance transfers must be completed within four months of account opening. (It also offers an intro 0% APR on purchases for 12 months, after which you get a variable APR of 16.99% - 27.74%.)

But the card also has a balance transfer fee: Intro fee 3% of each transfer ($5 minimum) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum). You have to complete your transfer within the first four months your account is open to qualify for the intro balance transfer APR.

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(Video) Balance Transfer Cards 101: Everything You Need to Know

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3. Read the fine print and understand the terms and conditions

Before you go through with a balance transfer, a word of warning: It’s crucial that you read the fine print and the terms and conditions.

For instance, if the balance transfer card of your choice has a balance transfer fee, calculate how much it will cost to make the transfer and how much you may save on interest to see if it makes sense for your situation. It’s important to stay on top of the specifics to make sure you’re making the best use of an offer.

And it’s a good idea to check whether the bank sets limitations on the following:

  • Credit limits — It’s important to note that credit limits are based on the issuer’s assessment of your credit and other factors. Depending on your situation, you may not be approved for a limit that will cover the balance you want to transfer. Some issuers also only permit a maximum balance transfer.
  • Any restrictions with certain cards — For example, if you want to transfer a balance to the Citi® Double Cash Card, you can’t transfer balances from any Citibank cards you already have.

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4. Apply for a balance transfer card

Once you’ve chosen the right balance transfer card for you, you can apply for the card.

You can typically apply for credit cards online. If you have a Credit Karma account, you can check your Approval Odds for the card you’re interested in.

Once you’ve filled out your pertinent information, submit the application and wait. If you receive a confirmation that you’ve been approved for the balance transfer card, then you can take the next steps to transfer the balance.

Applying for a balance transfer card may result in a hard inquiry on your credit reports, which could lead to a small and temporary decline in your credit scores. However, it could also increase your available credit and lower your credit utilization, which could have a positive impact on your credit scores. Overall, a balance transfer could have little effect on your credit.

The best way to transfer a credit card balance is by contacting the new credit card company with the balance transfer request. You can typically do a balance transfer over the phone or online.

“You’ll need to provide your new credit card company with the account numbers of your old cards and tell them how much of your balance you want to transfer,” says Matt Freeman of Navy Federal Credit Union.

It can take several days or even weeks for a credit card issuer to process a balance transfer, so it’s important to still make payments on your old card until you get a confirmation the transfer has gone through. The last thing you want is to add any late payment fees to your debt load.

6. Pay off your debt

After your balance transfers are approved and go through, your transferred balance will be on the new card. If you’re able to transfer your entire balance, your balances on the old cards will be wiped clean.

But if you couldn’t transfer all your debt, remember that you still need to make at least minimum payments on your remaining cards.

(Video) Balance Transfer credit cards explained - pay 0% interest on debt

To pay off debt faster, start making payments on the balance transfer card.

Freeman says it’s essential to make all your payments on time: “Sometimes, even if you’re late just once, it could mean an early end to your low introductory rate.”

Make a plan to pay off your balance — or at least most of it — within the introductory period when your APR is the lowest.

That way you can save money on interest, pay off debt faster and utilize a balance transfer to your advantage.

Freeman says this can be helpful because “this new lower rate helps to reduce your level of debt because more of your monthly payment will go toward paying off the debt, [or principal balance] rather than the interest on the debt.”

Once you’ve paid off your existing debt, it’s a good idea to have a plan or make a budget to help you avoid racking up more credit card debt in the future.

Bottom line

By getting a balance transfer card, you can start fresh with a lower APR and get ahead on paying off your debt.

But a balance transfer can be a double-edged sword if you’re not careful. Remember to read all the fine print, and choose a card with terms that will set you up for success. You want to be sure that you’re committing to paying off debt — and not getting into more of it.

Once you’ve transferred your debt from an old card, consider keeping the card open — if you can avoid the temptation of spending money on the card. Closing a credit card can sometimes negatively impact your credit.

Want to transfer a balance?Compare Balance Transfer Offers Now

About the author: Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer and editor currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy and empowering people to take control of their finances. Her work has been f… Read more.


What is the procedure for balance transfer? ›

Steps to apply for Home Loan balance transfer
  1. Step 1: Inform your existing lender. ...
  2. Step 2: Negotiation. ...
  3. Step 3: Request a NOC. ...
  4. Step 4: Additional documents. ...
  5. Step 5: Cancellation of post-dated cheques and payment of charges. ...
  6. Step 6: Apply for balance transfer online. ...
  7. Step 7: Submit all the required documents.

How do I transfer a balance to a card? ›

Request the balance transfer

You can usually do a balance transfer over the phone or online. You'll need to provide account numbers of your old cards and tell your new provider how much of your balance you want to transfer (there may sometimes be a maximum limit you can transfer so again, check the T&Cs).

How do I do a balance transfer to pay off debt? ›

One is to write a check supplied by your new card company to pay off the old debt. You also may be able to initiate the transfer by phone or online, by giving your new card company the account number and other information for your old card and indicating how much debt you want paid off and transferred to your new card.

Do balance transfers hurt your credit? ›

A balance transfer can affect your credit score, depending on 1) if you open a new card to transfer a balance and 2) what you do once your balances have been transferred. If you simply move your balances around on your existing cards, your credit score likely won't be impacted.

What is the transfer process? ›

noun. : any of several processes in which a pigmented or dyed image is transferred from one surface to another.

Is it hard to do a balance transfer? ›

Moving a high-interest balance to a low-interest or 0% APR credit card by doing a balance transfer can be a great way to save on interest charges. The process is relatively simple, too. But it's not instant. From beginning to end, a balance transfer can take a few weeks.

Is balance transferring a good idea? ›

A balance transfer credit card is an excellent way to refinance existing credit card debt, especially since credit card interest rates can go as high as 30%. By transferring your balance to a card with a 0% intro APR, you can quickly dodge mounting interest costs and give yourself repayment flexibility.

How long does a balance transfer take? ›

A balance transfer occurs when you move a balance from one credit card to another. This process typically takes about five to seven days. But word of warning: Some credit card issuers can take 14 or even 21 days to complete a balance transfer.

Can I transfer a credit card balance to another card? ›

Credit card balance transfers are typically used by consumers who want to save money by moving high-interest credit card debt to another credit card with a lower interest rate. Balance transfer credit card offers typically come with an interest-free introductory period of six to 18 months, though some are longer.

Is it better to do balance transfer or pay off? ›

But in general, a balance transfer is the most valuable choice if you need months to pay off high-interest debt and have good enough credit to qualify for a card with a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers. Such a card could save you plenty on interest, giving you an edge when paying off your balances.

Is it better to pay off a credit card or transfer balance? ›

Carrying a balance on your credit card from month to month doesn't benefit your credit score. If you can, you should pay off your credit card in full every month. Not only it doesn't help your credit score, but leaving a balance costs you money in the form of interest.

How much debt can you balance transfer? ›

What is the maximum balance transfer amount? Depending on the credit card, you could be able to transfer a maximum of 70% to 100% of your approved credit limit. So in some cases, you may not be able to transfer all of your debt even if it's equal to, or more than, your approved credit limit.

What are the negatives of a balance transfer? ›

  • You'll usually pay a balance-transfer fee. ...
  • Your APR could skyrocket after the promo period. ...
  • New purchases often do not enjoy the promo rate. ...
  • You may not be able to transfer all of your debt to one card. ...
  • You need good credit to get a balance-transfer card. ...
  • Timing is important. ...
  • On-time payments are key.
25 Jan 2017

Why do balance transfers fail? ›

Your credit limit is too low

The issuer will hold your balance transfer request until they are able to confirm the amount to transfer in relation to your credit limit. If your credit limit is lower than the amount of money you requested to transfer from another card, the issuer will likely reject the request.

What is the downside of a balance transfer credit card? ›

Balance transfer fees: If you're transferring a balance to a card with a 0% APR offer, you will, in all likelihood, need to pay a balance transfer fee of 3% to 5%. That's $15 to $25 for every $500 you transfer. This might also be the case with cards that charge low interest rates on balance transfers.

What is a step around transfer? ›

Step around transfers – the person stands and the physiotherapist teaches the person to step around to the new surface. Pivot transfers – the person partly stands, turns or pivots, and then sits down on the new surface.

What are the three types of transfers? ›

THREE main types of business transfer are possible: (1) a transfer to family members; (2) a transfer to employees (employee buy-out); or (3) a transfer to a third party.

What are three 3 forms of transfer payments? ›

The three major types of transfer payment at the federal level are social insurance programs, welfare, and business subsidies. Social insurance programs provide benefits to people regardless of their income level.

Can balance transfers be denied? ›

Yes, a balance transfer request can be denied. A credit card balance transfer can be denied if you have a poor credit history, your transfer request exceeds your credit limit, or you request to transfer a balance to another card from the same issuer, among other reasons.

Will a balance transfer increase credit score? ›

In the short term, a balance transfer can help your credit score by lowering your credit utilization rate. Let's take a look at an example. Say you currently have two credit cards. Your first card has a credit limit of $10,000 and a current balance of $5,000.

How many credit cards are too many? ›

It's generally recommended that you have two to three credit card accounts at a time, in addition to other types of credit. Remember that your total available credit and your debt to credit ratio can impact your credit scores. If you have more than three credit cards, it may be hard to keep track of monthly payments.

Do balance transfers increase credit limit? ›

When you add a new balance transfer card to your existing accounts, that credit limit is added to your total credit available. Having more credit available to you lowers your credit utilization and also increases your credit score. Money saver. High-interest credit cards can make paying off debt much more difficult.

How do I know if my balance transfer was approved? ›

We recommend checking every couple of days to see if the original card issuer has received the funds. You'll typically see it reflected on your account just like a normal credit card payment.

How many times can you do a balance transfer on a credit card? ›

There's no hard-and-fast rule about how many balance transfers you can do. But individual issuers may have their own policies. For instance, you can request up to three balance transfers when applying for the BankAmericard® credit card. Your credit line will also limit the number of balance transfers you're able to do.

Does a balance transfer close the old card? ›

However, it's important to understand that transferring a balance to a new credit card will not close the account of the original card, the balance will simply revert back to zero.

What is a balance transfer fee? ›

A balance transfer fee is the amount of money a lender charges a borrower to transfer existing debt from another institution.

Which balance should I pay off first? ›

Snowball method: pay off the smallest balance first

Identify the card with the lowest balance and add its minimum payment amount to the amount of money you dedicated towards paying off your debt in the steps above (for example: $100) to get a set monthly payment you'll make until the entire balance is paid off.

How much should you spend on a $1000 credit limit? ›

A good guideline is the 30% rule: Use no more than 30% of your credit limit to keep your debt-to-credit ratio strong. Staying under 10% is even better. In a real-life budget, the 30% rule works like this: If you have a card with a $1,000 credit limit, it's best not to have more than a $300 balance at any time.

How much credit balance is too much? ›

A good rule of thumb is to keep your credit utilization under 30 percent. This means that if you have $10,000 in available credit, you don't ever want your balances to go over $3,000. If your balance exceeds the 30 percent ratio, try to pay it off as soon as possible; otherwise, your credit score may suffer.

What is the most you can balance transfer? ›

The maximum amount you can transfer may be the card's credit limit (minus any existing balance already on the card). However, you still won't be able to transfer this entire amount if you have to pay a balance transfer fee.

What credit score is needed for balance transfer cards? ›

Balance transfer credit cards typically require good credit or excellent credit (scores 670 and greater) in order to qualify.

What happens at the end of a balance transfer? ›

A balance transfer credit card can offer you many months to pay off high-interest debt in the form of a 0% introductory APR. But when that balance transfer period ends, interest charges are added to the balance if it isn't paid off.

Do all credit cards allow balance transfers? ›

In addition to credit card balances, most major issuers allow you to transfer various loan balances, including student loans, auto loans and even home equity loans. However, select issuers, such as American Express and Chase, reserve balance transfers for credit card debt only.

Can I transfer balance to debit card? ›

Transferring money between a credit card and a debit card is very similar to transferring to a bank account. To transfer funds to a debit card, all you need is the name on the card, card number and expiry date.

Can you transfer a balance to the same card? ›

You can do multiple balance transfers to the same card, as long as the amounts transferred and any transfer fees do not exceed the card's credit limit. Remember that a separate transfer fee applies to each balance that you transfer. Some issuers may also have their own restrictions.

Can you do a balance transfer to your bank account? ›

It is possible to use a credit card to transfer money into a bank account by using a cash advance or balance transfer check, but we can't recommend it. Cash advances are risky because of the high interest rates and costly one-time fees. Balance transfers can lead to more debt if they're not handled correctly.

Can I transfer money from balance transfer credit card to bank account? ›

Can I transfer money from a credit card into a bank account? It's possible to transfer money into a bank account using a credit card – but some ways of doing this are cheaper than others. One of the easiest options is to get a money transfer credit card.

Is a balance transfer a cash advance? ›

A balance transfer involves transferring debt from an existing credit card to a new or another existing credit card to save on interest charges. A cash advance, on the other hand, is when you use your credit card to get cash either through an ATM or by transferring it to your bank account.

Can I do 2 balance transfers? ›

Can You Make Multiple Balance Transfers? As the Youngs' example shows, it is possible to make multiple balance transfers at the same time. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea. In general, the amount transferred (including the balance transfer fee) cannot exceed the card's credit limit.

Can you balance transfer immediately? ›

A credit card balance transfer typically takes about five to seven days, but some major card issuers ask customers to allow up to 14 or even 21 days to complete the transaction.

Can you balance transfer full amount? ›

The maximum amount you can transfer may be the card's credit limit (minus any existing balance already on the card). However, you still won't be able to transfer this entire amount if you have to pay a balance transfer fee.


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