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.

Updated

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?

Institution Number of days to process
Barclays Bank By the next working day.
Capital One Between 7-10 working days.
First Direct By the next working day.
Halifax By the next working day.
HSBC Between 3 to 4 working days.
Lloyds By the next working day.
MBNA By the next working day.
NatWest By the next working day.
Sainsbury’s Bank Up to 10 working days.
Santander By the next working day.
Tesco Bank Between 1 to 3 working days.
Virgin Money Between 3 to 5 working days.

Keep in mind that if you make your balance transfer request in the evening or during a weekend, your balance transfer make 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 pay down due to high-interest rates or multiple statements, you may want to consider a balance transfer credit card.

By moving your existing debt to a card offering a low or 0% introductory interest rate, you can get up to two years to pay down your debt and save on interest charges.

Compare balance transfer credit cards

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
Data indicated here is updated daily
Name Product Balance transfers Balance transfer fee Purchases Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Incentive Link
The NatWest Balance Transfer Credit Card (eligibility criteria apply)
0% for 18 months reverting to 19.9%
0.49%
Transfers must be made within 3 months of account opening
0% for 3 months reverting to 19.9% p.a. (variable)
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable), your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Go to site
More Info
M&S Bank Transfer Plus Mastercard
0% for 25 months reverting to 19.9%
2.85% (min. £5)
0% for 3 months reverting to 19.9%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
More Info
The Royal Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card (eligibility criteria apply)
0% for 18 months reverting to 19.9%
0.49%
Transfers must be made within 3 months of account opening
0% for 3 months reverting to 19.9% p.a. (variable)
£0
19.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable), your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Go to site
More Info
M&S Bank Shopping Plus Mastercard
0% for 16 months reverting to 19.9%
2.9% (min. £5)
0% for 18 months reverting to 19.9%
£0
19.9% (variable)
Earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 19.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 19.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
More Info
HSBC Balance Transfer Credit Card
0% for 25 months reverting to 21.9%
1.5% (min. £5)
0% for 3 months reverting to 21.9%
£0
21.9% (variable)
Discounts and exclusive offers for dining experiences, leisure activities and shopping available through HSBC Home and Away.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
More Info
HSBC Purchase Plus Credit Card Visa
0% for 18 months reverting to 22.9%
2.9% (min. £5) for transfers in first 60 days
0% for 18 months reverting to 22.9%
£0
22.9% (variable)
Discounts and exclusive offers for dining experiences, leisure activities and shopping available through HSBC Home and Away.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
More Info
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Compare up to 4 providers

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 on 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.

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