At a Glance
A balance transfer allows you to move debt from one credit card or loan to another credit card. Transferring debt with higher annual percentage rates (APR) to a card with a lower APR can help save you money since you’ll pay less in interest. In some cases, you may be able to transfer your balance to a 0% introductory APR card, so you won’t pay any interest on the balance for a certain period. This gives you more flexibility and can save you money. You may also be able to pay your debt off faster.
Learn more about how long a balance transfer takes and factors that could impact it:
How long does a balance transfer take?
If you transfer a balance from one credit card or loan to a new balance transfer credit card, it can take a while to process and complete. However, this timing can vary by the credit card company, lender, and bank. In some cases, it could take as little as three days, and in others, it could take several weeks.
If you’re planning to transfer a balance to a credit card with one of the following card issuers, here’s an estimate of how long you may wait for the transfer to be processed. Note that you can also contact the issuer directly to find out how long your transfer may take.
|Card Issuer||Time frame to transfer a balance|
|American Express||5 to 7 business days, but can take up to 6 weeks|
|Bank of America||Up to 2 weeks|
|Capital One||3 to 14 business days|
|Chase||7 to 21 days|
|Citi||2 to 21 days (though could be longer)|
|Discover||7 to 10 days|
|HSBC||7 to 10 business days|
|Wells Fargo||7 to 21 days|
|U.S. Bank||Up to 14 days|
These are just general guidelines, and there’s no way to know in advance exactly how long the balance transfer will take. However, be prepared to wait at least a week or two for the transfer to be approved and completed.
How to track your balance transfer’s progress
The best way to check the progress of your balance transfer is to check your credit card account. Each card issuer may process balance transfers differently. You may be able to easily track the status online, but here are the specific steps to take:
- Initiate the transfer. This only takes a couple of minutes and you can either do it over the phone or online.
- Check for the balance to be debited from the transferred account. In some cases, the card may show a balance transfer as “pending” before the process has been completed. This means it’s in progress but not final yet. Once the transfer has been authorized and processed, it will appear as a “debit” on the card that you transferred the balance.
For example, if you transferred a $1,500 balance from Card A to Card B, the transfer has been completed when the $1,500 is debited from Card B’s account. Note that a balance transfer fee will likely apply.
When the transfer is complete, you should see the balance on your new card has been raised by the amount you transferred, and the balance on your old card should be $0 (or decreased by whatever amount you transferred).
A “balance transfer” should also be listed as a recent transaction on both accounts.
- Check for remaining balances. Once the balance transfer has finished processing, go back to your original credit card and make sure there isn’t any remaining balance. Sometimes after you transfer the entire balance, a few purchases that hadn’t yet been posted to the account have gone through and therefore leave an unexpected balance that must be paid off.
If the balances aren’t updated or you don’t see the balance transfer listed on your new card, likely, the transaction is still in process.
What to do if your balance transfer is delayed
A balance transfer can take several days or weeks, but if you think it’s taking longer than it should, contact the customer service department for your balance transfer credit card. You can also call the customer service department of the card you’re transferring from. Those representatives may be able to tell you:
- Why there’s a delay/what the delay is
- How much longer you can expect the transfer to take
While you wait for the transfer to complete, make sure you continue paying at least the minimum payment on your existing credit cards (sending the payments to the original creditor). Don’t stop until the balance is $0; otherwise, you may face late fees and damage to your credit.
Factors that impact your balance transfer duration
There are a few things that could affect how long the balance transfer takes, and that may even cause delays:
- The balance is being transferred onto a new credit card. If you’re opening a new credit card to transfer the balance to, the process will likely take longer than if you were transferring the balance to an existing card. Because the new account must be activated before the transfer can be completed, and this often can’t happen until you have the physical card in your hand, it may delay the transfer.
- You’re transferring multiple balances. If you have multiple balances from multiple credit cards that you’re transferring onto one new card, it can take longer for each process to be completed since each transfer is a separate transaction between the issuing and receiving accounts. The timing of each transaction depends on the issuer’s timelines.
- You’re transferring a large balance. Large balances may take longer to process compared to smaller balances.
- There was inaccurate information in the transfer application. When you request a transfer, double-check that all account numbers, personal information, Social Security number, and any other information is accurate. Incorrect information will likely delay the transfer.
The timing for a balance transfer is especially important if:
- You have a 0% intro APR card that requires you to transfer the balance within a certain time frame.
- The card has an introductory period where you won’t be charged a balance transfer fee.
- You have a payment coming up on the card you transferred the balance from.
Can you cancel a balance transfer after submission?
Typically, you’ll have 10 days after you open your new credit card account to cancel any balance transfer request. Simply call the issuer and cancel the transfer.
If you wait longer than 10 days or if the transfer is already complete, you likely won’t be able to cancel it and you’ll need to start making payments to your new card.
Transferring a balance doesn’t hurt your score. However, a balance transfer can initially hurt your credit score due to the hard credit inquiry that’s triggered when you first open the new credit card. It can also hurt your score if you continue to carry a balance on the card or miss any payments. However, it can also positively impact your score because it can decrease your credit utilization rate. A positive payment history can also help.
As long as you don’t close the old account, you can still use the old credit card. Keeping the card open will give you more available credit that can help lower your credit utilization ratio and improve your credit score.
Yes – a credit card issuer will evaluate your creditworthiness and decide they will not facilitate a transfer. This could be due to factors like a high credit utilization ratio, poor credit report, or low credit.