How do balance transfer limits work?
Balance transfer offers usually come with maximum transfer limits that depend on a percentage of your credit limit – although some providers allow you to transfer up to a flat-rate dollar amount. To determine your credit limit, providers consider your credit score, monthly income and outstanding debts.
Since you won’t know your credit limit until you’re approved for a card, there’s no real way to determine how much you’ll be able to transfer until you apply for a card. That said, you can understand the maximum transfer limits by reading the terms and conditions of the card.
If you need a higher credit limit, you can call the provider and ask, or find another card with a higher limit. Note, however, that applying for too many cards within a short period of time can lower your credit score.
How much can I transfer?
Credit card providers use your credit limit to determine how much debt you can transfer to a new balance transfer card. While some cards might let you transfer up to 100% of your credit limit, others may cap it at 50-70%.
For example, if you had $7,000 worth of credit card debt and got a balance transfer card with a $10,000 credit limit, you might not be able to transfer all of the balance to the new card. A balance transfer card with a higher credit limit of $14,000, on the other hand, is more likely to allow you to move the whole debt.
The higher your credit limit, the more likely you are to meet these requirements and get your balance transfer approved.
What if the credit limit I’m given is too low?
- Transfer what you can. Transfer as much of the balance as you can to the new card and take advantage of the low or 0% introductory rate. During this time, you’ll still need to make minimum payments on any other cards still holding your debt, as well as the new card.
- Request a higher limit. Try to request a higher credit limit from the provider. It’ll require calling the provider or visiting a local branch and there’s no guarantee that the provider will agree to it — but it’s worth a try.
- Consider other options. If you’re struggling with debt and can’t find a balance transfer card with a high enough limit, you might consider looking into personal loans. You can find personal loans for debt consolidation as high as $35,000 with APRs as low as 6%, depending on your creditworthiness.
Cards with the highest credit limits
If you’re looking for a balance transfer credit card with a high limit, you’ll have better luck if you:
- Have a high credit score. Apply with a credit score in the good to excellent range of 650 or higher – you’ll have a better chance of being approved for credit limits up to $10,000. Check your credit history and see what you can do to improve your score.
- Have a high income. In addition to having a good credit score, your income plays a big role in the credit limit that you’re assigned. Having a higher income will usually result in a higher credit limit.
Use our calculator to determine what you could save
Enter in your current credit card balances and APRs, as well as the information of the card you’d like to transfer to and your monthly repayment amount to find out if the card is right for you — and learn how much you’ll save.
Credit limits and balance transfer limits
Understanding what credit limit you need is a straightforward process. Consider how much debt you have and whether you can transfer the entire amount based on the terms and conditions offered by the provider. Once you’ve applied for a card and know your assigned credit limit, you can figure out how much you can transfer.
If your credit limit is too low and moving all of your debt is not an option, you can still transfer a partial amount of your debt to the new card. If the card has a balance transfer fee, be sure that the cost doesn’t outweigh what you’d save on interest.
- Balance transfer fees usually cost between 1-3% of the transferred amount. Not all cards charge a balance transfer fee.
Transferring even a partial amount to your new card will free up some of your credit limit on the old credit card, which might tempt you to spend again. Be sure to use both your cards, new and old, as little as possible to avoid slipping further into debt.
If you’re set on getting out of debt, a balance transfer credit card may be what you need. If you have a lot of debt and need a higher credit limit, it’s important to take into account how your income and credit score affect the limit you’re assigned. It’s also important to compare other features of balance transfer credit cards, including intro and ongoing APRs, rewards and annual fee, to find the card that’s right for your needs.