At a Glance

Balance transfers can be an effective way to manage credit card debt and save money on interest payments. However, many people have questions about what happens to their credit card after a balance transfer. Let’s explore the various aspects of balance transfers and provide answers to some common queries.

In this article, you’ll learn:


21 months

The longest period for current offers for 0% APR on balance transfers.

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What happens when you transfer a credit card balance?

When you initiate a balance transfer, you are essentially moving the outstanding balance from one credit card to another. This is often done to take advantage of promotional offers with lower interest rates or introductory 0% APR periods. By transferring the balance, you can reduce the interest you pay and make it easier to pay off your debt.

When does it make sense to transfer a balance?

Transferring a balance can be beneficial in several situations. It is particularly useful if you have a high-interest rate on your current credit card and can secure a lower rate through a balance transfer. Additionally, if you have multiple credit cards with balances, consolidating them into a single card can simplify your debt management.

Can you use your old credit card after a balance transfer?

After completing a balance transfer, your old credit card will still be active. However, it’s important to note that the purpose of a balance transfer is to pay off the debt on the old card, not to continue using it for new purchases. It’s generally recommended to avoid using the old card to prevent further debt accumulation.

What happens to your new account once you pay off the balance?

Once you successfully pay off the balance on your new credit card, the account will remain open and should have a balance of $0. Last-minute interest or fees could impact the card so it is a good idea to monitor it for a few months. Once it is at $0 you should set it up for autopay to ensure you are making payments on time. You should keep it open as it is better for your credit score and you can use it as a backup card but making new purchases on it would defeat the purpose of the transfer. Be sure to manage the new card responsibly and avoid falling back into the cycle of debt.

How to make a credit card balance transfer?

To initiate a credit card balance transfer, you typically need to apply for a new credit card that offers balance transfer services. Many banks and financial institutions provide this feature. It’s important to compare different offers to find a card with favorable terms, such as low or 0% introductory APR and minimal balance transfer fees. For a more detailed guide on making a credit card balance transfer, refer to our article on balance transfer credit cards.

How does a balance transfer affect your credit score?

A balance transfer itself does not directly impact your credit score. However, some factors related to balance transfers can affect your credit. Opening a new credit card for the balance transfer may result in a temporary dip in your credit score due to the hard inquiry and a potential reduction in the average age of your credit accounts. However, your credit score can improve in the long run as you make timely payments and reduce your debt.

What’s the next step after your balance transfer?

After completing a balance transfer, it’s crucial to focus on repaying your debt. Take advantage of the lower interest rate or 0% APR period to make substantial payments and reduce your outstanding balance. Create a budget, track your expenses, and allocate funds toward paying off your credit card debt. This will help you avoid accumulating new debt and regain control of your financial situation.

What should you do with the old credit card?

After transferring the balance from your old credit card, you have a few options regarding its future. You can keep it open and occasionally use it for small purchases to maintain some credit activity. Alternatively, if you’re concerned about the temptation to spend or the possibility of incurring annual fees, you may consider closing the card.

When should you close an old credit card after a balance transfer?

Deciding when to close your old credit card depends on various factors. Here are a few scenarios to consider:

1. Paying annual fees

If your old credit card charges annual fees, evaluate whether the benefits outweigh the cost. If the card no longer serves a purpose for you and the fees are substantial, it might be prudent to close the account.

2. If it does not affect your credit score

Closing an old credit card typically has a minimal impact on your credit score. If your credit history and score are strong, closing the account may not significantly affect your overall creditworthiness.

3. It is risky to build credit again

If you have a history of overspending or struggling with credit card debt, closing the old card can be a wise decision to prevent further financial difficulties. Removing the temptation can help you stay on track and avoid accumulating new debt.


Closing your old card is not mandatory after a balance transfer. Evaluate the benefits, consider your financial goals, and make an informed decision based on your individual circumstances.

Keeping your old account active can help maintain a longer credit history and potentially improve your credit score. However, it’s essential to use the card responsibly or consider closing it if it poses a risk of overspending.

A balance transfer does not automatically cancel your old card. The account remains active unless you decide to close it.

Partial balance transfers are possible, but it depends on the terms and conditions of the credit card issuer. Some issuers allow you to transfer a specific amount or percentage of the balance, while others may require a full transfer.

The duration of a balance transfer can vary depending on the credit card issuer and the efficiency of the process. It typically takes around five to 14 days for the transfer to complete, but it’s essential to check with your specific issuer for an accurate estimate.

Once the balance transfer is processed, you should receive a statement from your new credit card issuer reflecting the transferred balance. Review the statement carefully to ensure that the full balance was indeed transferred.

If a balance transfer is not suitable for your situation, there are alternative methods to consolidate credit card debt. These include personal loans, debt consolidation loans, or working with a credit counseling agency. Each option has its pros and cons, so it’s important to research and choose the one that aligns with your financial goals.