How to complete a balance transfer - step by step guide | finder.com
Balance transfers credit cards

How to complete a balance transfer

If you’re interested in consolidating your debt but you aren’t quite sure where to start, check out our detailed guide to learn about the intricacies of balance transfers.

While coming to the decision to do a balance transfer may be relatively easy, figuring out exactly how to go about it can get a bit confusing. A balance transfer is a great way to move your high-interest debt to a new card with a low or 0% APR, but there are a lot of choices available when it comes to benefits and rewards. Read over our guide to learn more about how to compare and choose balance transfer credit cards, how to apply, and what to do with your old account once your balance transfer is completed.

Things to consider when shopping for a balance transfer credit card

You can use our comparison table to compare the offers on the market and discover which one offers you the most value. Remember to consider the following things when looking for a balance transfer credit card:

  • Promotional APR length. The typical time frame for the intro 0% APR is 6-15 months, although there are some cards that offer up to 21 months with no interest. It’s best to try to pay off all or most of your debt during the promotional period.
  • Balance transfer fees. Keep in mind that most balance transfers come with a fee of 3% to 5%. Make sure to calculate this into the total price to see if a balance transfer would be worth it for you.
  • Balance transfer limit. Some cards will only allow you to transfer a certain amount at a time. If you have a large balance, you may have to complete the transfer in separate transactions and you might end up paying more in fees.
  • Rewards. Make sure to check if your card comes with any kind of rewards or benefits such as interest-free days, travel rewards, or 0% APR on purchases.
  • Credit rating. Your credit rating will play a huge part in which balance transfer credit cards you will qualify for. If you have fair or poor creditworthiness, be sure to do your research to find a card with more lenient approval criteria. Click here to check out our suggestions.
  • Revert APR. If you are late or miss a payment, you may lose your promotional APR and be stuck paying the revert interest rate. To get the full benefits of your balance transfer card, it is imperative that you make all of your payments on time.
  • Confirm how much you can transfer. You may only be able to transfer up to a percentage of the available credit limit, such as 80% or 90%.

Choosing the right balance transfer credit card

If you have decided that a balance transfer is best for you, you will then need to find a card to suit your needs. Check out our comparison table below to view some of the balance transfer cards on offer. When shopping around, the two most important things to consider are the promotional APR length and the balance transfer fee. You’ll want to aim for a card that has a long promotional period, at least 15 months, and low or no fees. It can be difficult to find cards that don’t charge any balance transfer fees, one of the few is the Chase Slate Balance Transfer Credit Card. Ideally, you should be able to eliminate most, if not all, of your debt during the interest-free period.

Once you’ve found a card you want to apply for, you’ll need make sure to gather the necessary information. Most importantly, you will need the account information for the card that you are transferring the debt from, and the exact amount you wish to transfer.

Applying for a card and completing the balance transfer

Now that you’ve chosen the perfect card, it’s time to submit your application. When filling out your application online or through the mail you will be given the opportunity to include the balance transfers you wish to make. You will need to provide the account number and the amount you wish to transfer. This is simply a request on your part. The exact amount you will be eligible to transfer will be determined once your application has been reviewed and approved.

If you are approved, your new card provider will transfer the balances on your behalf, up to the credit limit on your new card minus any transfer or annual fees. Be sure to continue to make your minimum monthly payment on your old card until you have confirmed that the transfer has been made.

If you submitted your application without making any balance transfer requests, you will have to make arrangements to transfer your debt once you’ve been approved. You can do this one of two ways.

⇒By phone: Once you receive your card in the mail, call the number on the back of the card, and a customer service representative will assist you in completing the transfer.

-or-

⇒Online: You will need to sign up for online banking once you receive your card. Once you’ve created your online account, follow the instructions to complete the transfer.

Make sure to complete the transfer as soon as possible. If you wait longer than 60 days, you may lose the promotional APR. It typically takes 5-7 business days to be approved. If you haven’t heard back after this time, contact the bank to find out if there’s an issue. You may be asked to provide additional information.

Rates last updated April 19th, 2018
Name Product Product Description Intro APR for Balance Transfer APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate ) Annual fee Minimum Credit Score
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive the $150 back in the form of a statement credit.
0% Intro APR for 15 months (with whichever is greater, $5 or 3% balance transfer fee)
14.49% to 25.49% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
The Chase Freedom® Unlimited™ credit card
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase – it's automatic. No minimum to redeem for cash back.
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles (with whichever is greater, $5 or 5% balance transfer fee)
16.24% to 24.99% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
Chase Slate® credit card
Jumpstart your financial fitness! 60 day introductory balance transfer offer, save on interest, and get your free monthly credit score.
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles (with $0 for transfers in first 60 days. Then $5 or 5% balance transfer fee)
16.24% to 24.99% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ Credit Card
Earn more cash back for the things you buy most.
0% Intro APR for 12 statement closing dates (with whichever is greater, $10 or 3% balance transfer fee)
14.49% to 24.49% variable
$0
Good (700-739)
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees
0% Intro APR for first 15 months from account opening (with whichever is greater: $10 or 4% balance transfer fee)
14.49%, 18.49% or 24.49% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
NASA Federal Platinum Advantage Rewards Credit Card
NASA Federal Platinum Advantage Rewards Credit Card
Enjoy perks and save money while gaining points that never expire with every purchase.
9.9% Intro APR for 90-days
11.40% to 17.99% variable
$0
Fair (660-699)
DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card
A great way to establish or improve your credit history.
13.00% variable
$0
Poor (Below 660)
primor® Secured Visa Gold Card
Fast, easy application process. No processing or application fees!
9.99% variable
$49
Poor (Below 660)
Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®
A low, variable APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
10.49% variable
$0
Good (700-739)
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
2% Cashback at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus 1% cash back on all other credit card purchases.
10.99% Intro APR for 6 months (with the amount of each transfer, 3% balance transfer fee)
24.49% variable
$0
Poor (Below 660)
Fifth Third Secured Card
Build, or rebuild, your credit with each purchase.
25.49% variable
$24
Poor (Below 660)

Have we missed anything in the comparison table? Tell us

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Confirm transfer and what to do with your old cards

After confirming your transfer you may or may not want to close your old accounts. If your old bank charges any membership fees, you can contact them to close your old card and avoid any further charges. If you have old cards that aren’t accumulating any charges, you don’t necessarily have to close those accounts. Having open lines of credit that you aren’t using can help to improve your credit rating.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    NicolaOctober 23, 2017

    How do you transfer balances from a catalogue account e.g. Next, over to your 0% balance transfer card?

    • Staff
      HaroldOctober 23, 2017Staff

      Hi Nicola,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Regarding balance transfer you can check our guide here for your detailed reference.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

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