If you'd like to consolidate credit card balances or other types of loans, a balance transfer may be the solution you're looking for. Transferring multiple balances to a single credit card can simplify your monthly payments and potentially save you money on interest. This guide offers answers to the most common balance transfer questions.
A credit card balance transfer is where you move an existing credit card or loan balance to another credit card account. Usually, there is a fee to transfer a balance. Balance Transfer offers on credit cards typically feature a low introductory or promotional interest rate for a limited period of time. Importantly, these introductory or promotional rates are temporary. If the balance is not paid in full by the time the introductory rate ends, the unpaid promotional balance will accrue interest charges at the standard APR on the account.
If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including any balance transfers) by the due date each month or you have a 0% promotional APR on purchases.
Balance transfer fees vary from one credit card to another. Typically, the fee is a percentage of the transferred balance (such as 3% of the balance transferred) with a required minimum fee. Some credit cards have promotional fee waivers for a specific offer.
It depends on the offer. Promotional APRs must last for at least six months but some offers provide for a longer duration.
The amount of time it takes for a balance transfer to be completed depends on whether you're transferring a balance to a new or existing account and which credit card companies are involved. Generally, it can take anywhere from two to 21 days for a balance transfer to post to your account, although at some banks, it may take even longer.
You'll need to tell the credit card company the name of the financial institution, the account number, and the amount you want to transfer. How much you can transfer depends on your available credit. If you're approved for the transfer, the credit card company you're transferring the balance to will contact your old credit card company and pay off the balance.
Transferring a balance doesn't close your old account - it only pays portion of the balance transferred. After the transfer is complete you'll begin making payments on the transferred balance under the terms and conditions of the transfer offer.
If permitted under the terms and conditions of your offer, you may be able to transfer money from a credit card into your bank account using a balance transfer check. If your credit card company sends you balance transfer checks, you can write one out to yourself and deposit the borrowed funds into your checking or savings account.
In general, balance transfers are not eligible to earn cash back, points, miles, or other rewards. There are, however, some credit card products or offers that may offer a reward as an incentive for transferring a balance. Read the offer's terms and conditions for more information.
You can pay many kinds of debts with a balance transfer, including:
- Your mortgage payment, including home equity loans and lines of credit
- Other credit card balances, including store credit cards
- Auto loans
- Personal loans
- Small business loans
- Payday loans and title loans
- Utility bills, cell phone bills, medical debts, and other statements
If you request a balance transfer for more than the credit line you're approved for, how it's handled depends on the credit card company. Call your credit card company so you can decide the course of action that best fits your needs.
If you still owe a balance at the end of the promotional period, the standard variable APR on your account will apply to unpaid promotional balances and new balance transfers. That's why it's important to choose a balance transfer card that gives you enough time to pay the balance in full.