Learn each provider’s criteria to find out if you can transfer credit card debt.
Credit card offers with low and 0% introductory interest rates are a great way to pay down your debt. However, you might be surprised to learn that most credit card issuers have restrictions on which banks and providers you’re allowed to transfer your debts from. Many credit card companies and issuers are financially tied to one another. It’s important to understand any limitations before you apply for a card so that your balance transfer doesn’t encounter problems later on.
If you try to transfer your balance to a bank that’s affiliated with the provider you want to transfer your debt from, your request will likely be denied. To prevent this from happening, you should know which credit card companies you can transfer balances between so that you can choose the right balance transfer card for your needs.
Credit card balance transfer restrictions
While terms and conditions vary among major credit card issuers and banks, most major providers generally restrict transfers among its affiliates.
|Credit card brand||Balance transfer brand restrictions|
|American Express||American Express prohibits balance transfers from any card issued by the company or its affiliates.|
|Barclays||You can own more than one Barclays card, but the company may decide not to approve subsequent applications. Credit, payment history and other underwriting factors apply the same way with existing cardholders as they do with new customers.|
|Capital One||Balance transfers are not allowed between any card issued by Capital One. This includes its co-branded cards with Kohl’s, Sony, BuyPower Business Card™, GM, Teamster Privilege and Union Plus as well as a few others.|
|Chase||You may not have a balance transfer from any other Chase credit card or loan or with any of its affiliates.|
|Citibank||Citibank doesn’t allow internal transfers between any of its credit cards or its affiliates.|
|Discover||You won’t be allowed to transfer your debt from one Discover card to another. You can only transfer amounts from cards not issued by Discover.|
|Wells Fargo||Wells Fargo will not allow balance transfers between any of its cards or affiliates.|
This table illustrates how most major credit card issuers don’t allow balance transfers for other credit card brands that they underwrite. For example, if you have debt with GM, Sony and Kohl’s that you’d like to consolidate onto a Capital One card, your application to do so would be denied because they’re all affiliates of one another.
This is why it’s important to check with the issuer before you apply for your balance transfer card to learn if you can transfer balances with certain providers. Doing so will help you plan appropriately how you can best transfer your debt while choosing the right provider to do so.
As you can see from the table, Barclays is an exception amongst the major providers. For instance, Uber, Princess Cruises, JetBlue and Carnival World credit cards are all issues by Barclays. The company will allow some transfers between those cards at their discretion. However, it’s important to remember to read the terms and conditions of the card you want to transfer to because some offers are only available to new Barclay’s cardholders.
What’s the difference between a credit card issuer and a credit card brand?
To understand this more clearly, let’s distinguish between a credit card issuer and credit card brand. While credit cards are often branded by banks, stores or even supermarkets (e.g. Lowe’s, Amazon, Costco, etc.), these cards are actually issued by larger financial institutions.
Changes between credit card brands and issuers
Some credit card brands may change card issuers from time to time. This makes it important to check your current card issuer when you’re about to request a balance transfer. In some cases, a different issuer may be affiliated with your account, which could affect your ability to balance transfer your debt to other associated credit card brands.
Why are balance transfers not allowed between cards by the same issuer?
This comes down to the structure of a balance transfer. This process essentially lets you shift a debt from one creditor to another with the aim of refinancing your balance at a lower interest rate.
The actual transfer takes place when your new credit card issuer transfers the amount of your debt from the previous issuer, sometimes charging a transfer fee in the process. Since balance transfer offers are typically promotions to bait new customers and gain new debt on their books, card issuers rarely permit existing customers the opportunity to refinance within their own umbrella of issued cards.
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What happens if I apply for a balance transfer with the same credit card issuer?
If you accidentally apply for a balance transfer with the same provider, the impact will depend on the companies involved and your financial circumstances. Some potential outcomes include:
- Your application may be declined.
In most cases, the reason that your application gets denied usually has more to do with other factors including your credit score and credit history. Even if a balance transfer isn’t possible, you could still be approved for the card.
- You could get a black mark on your credit history.
A denied application can potentially leave a black mark on your credit report. However, it’s not terrible unless you repeatedly apply for credit and continue to get rejected. Read our guide to learn more about why it’s good to keep your credit score up.
- You could get an offer for the new card without the balance transfer.
If your credit report is in good order, you’re more likely to receive an offer for the card with a side note that your balance transfer request can’t be processed.
Banks and credit card issuers will generally not allow you to transfer debt balances from a card issued by the provider or its affiliates. However, you can check with the issuer before applying for a new card. Contact the bank or credit card company and explain which companies you want to transfer debt from and ask if it’s allowed.
Before applying for any balance transfer, it’s important to read the terms and conditions to understand what’s available to you and what’s restricted. Even when a bank allows you to transfer your balances, promotional terms such as 0% interest rates may not always be available to existing cardholders.Back to top
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