How long does a balance transfer take?

A credit card balance transfer generally takes 5 to 7 working days, but may sometimes take a few weeks. See how it works and compare balance transfer credit cards now.

How long will it take a new provider to process my balance transfer application?

Applying for a new balance transfer credit card usually takes around 10 to 15 minutes, and most providers will then offer an online decision on your application within minutes. If you indicated on your application the balances you want to transfer, it could take up to two weeks for you to see the debt in your new account and for your new card to arrive.

How long do lenders take to process my balance transfer?

InstitutionNumber of days to process
Barclays BankBy the next working day.
Capital OneBy the next working day.
First DirectUp to 5 working days.
HalifaxBy the next working day.
HSBCBetween 3 to 4 working days.
LloydsBy the next working day.
MBNABy the next working day.
NatWestBy the next working day.
Sainsbury’s BankUp to 10 working days.
SantanderBy the next working day.
Tesco BankUp to 2 working days.
Virgin MoneyBy the next working day.

Keep in mind that if you make your balance transfer request in the evening or during a weekend, your balance transfer will take an additional day, as your provider won’t start processing it until the next working day.

If you don’t see your balance transfer applied to your new account within two weeks, contact your new card provider to confirm when it should appear. You can then begin the work of repaying your debt before the promotional period ends.

How does a credit card balance transfer work?

If your outstanding credit cards and loans are difficult to repay due to high-interest rates or multiple statements, you may want to consider a balance transfer credit card.

A balance transfer card allows you to move your existing debt, across multiple cards or one, to a new credit card which could offer a low or 0% introductory rate. These intro deals can last up to two years and makes it easier to pay off debt since you will not be charged monthly interest like you do with a credit card without a promotional period. Though after this period is over, the provider will begin to charge interest on your balance.

What is the application process for a balance transfer credit card?

Though the process of transferring a balance is relatively straightforward, timing and steps can vary among card providers and issuers. Here’s what you can expect with most banks and providers.

  1. Do an eligibility check. This will determine your chances of being approved for the card type. This is classified as a “soft” search and does not impact your credit score. It’s important to do this first so you are not applying for credit cards you’re unlikely to be approved for.
  2. Apply online. Once you’ve determined your eligibility and which card you want to apply for, fill out the online application form. This is classified as a “hard” search and could negatively affect your credit rating if you aren’t approved.
  3. Approval. After submitting the application form, you should know in moments if you have been approved. Occasionally, your provider may request further information.
  4. Activate your card. Following approval, you should expect to receive your PIN and your card separately in the post within 5-7 working days. Once it arrives, you need to activate your card either online or via phone (depending on your provider’s instructions).
  5. Transfer your balance. Once your card is activated, your balance can be transferred. Many banks do this automatically after activation but your provider should give you instructions if you need to do anything else.
  6. Close your old credit card. Once your new balance transfer card is up and running, make sure to close your old card. You don’t want to risk running up any extra fees or charges when it’s not being used.

How to avoid delays with your application

Generally, you will avoid roadblocks by knowing what the card provider you’re interested in requires and readying that information for your balance transfer.

  • Do your research. Interest rates, one-time fees, transfer limits and introductory offers depend on your card provider’s terms and conditions. Compare your options to find a provider that meets your specific needs.
  • Make sure you are eligible. In most cases, you must meet minimum income and credit requirements to be approved for a balance transfer credit card. Most providers don’t accept transfers from affiliates or subsidiaries, so make sure the balances you’re hoping to transfer are eligible. For example, balance transfers are not allowed between NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland since RBS is the credit provider for both.
  • Gather balance details. To ensure a smooth application process, research what you will need to provide for each transfer. Most providers require the provider and type of debt, the card or account number, and the amount you would like to transfer.
  • Maintain your accounts. If you have fallen behind on payments or you owe a large balance, especially one that’s a result of a cash advance, your card provider might consider you a risky applicant. If you’re worried about approval, consider taking time to manage your spending and payments before applying.

Bottom line

Balance transfers to a new credit card can help minimise your interest fees while you’re consolidating your debts. But while applying for a balance transfer is simple, how long you will have to wait until you see those balances in your account varies by provider.

Before you sign any application, compare your balance transfer card options to find the strongest introductory period you’re eligible for.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.

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2 Responses

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    StuartMarch 7, 2019

    Wouldn’t a bank need to complete a balance transfer within 1 or 2 days in order to comply with payment services regulations?

      JhezelynMarch 8, 2019Finder

      Hello Stuart,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Banks are usually equipped with the rules of the Payment Services Regulations. For the balance transfer process, banks are unable to complete the process especially if there are still information or documents needed to be submitted by the applicant.

      Each credit card issuer may process balance transfers differently, and transfer requests to new card accounts may take longer. You may check the details about how long it will take for the balance transfer to process on the table above. You may also contact your bank directly to find out how long your transfer can take.


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