If you find yourself drowning and credit card debt, a balance transfer credit card could help. With a balance transfer card, you move your high-interest credit card debt to a new card with a 0% introductory APR offer. The offer periods generally range from 12-18 months, meaning you can save money on interest while paying down your debt.
When you decide a balance transfer credit card is the right option, you will want to see the transfer happen quickly to take advantage of the 0% APR introductory offer. Of course, it’s easier said than done.
Applying for a balance transfer is relatively simple. In general, applications are approved with a week. In some cases, the issuer may provide a conditional approval when you submit the application. Once your card is approved, your balance will need to be transferred to the new card.
If you are transferring a balance from another issuer to an existing credit card account, your transfer request will take less time.
Balance Transfer Timelines
The transfer process can take anywhere from two days to a month depending on the card issuer and your specific situation. The estimated timelines are generally listed in the card’s terms and conditions but, if you can’t find it, ask the issuer directly.
Here are some of the process time estimates from some of the major card issuers. Remember, they are subject to change.
|Amex||5-7 days, but could take up to 6 weeks|
|B of A||2-4 business days; up to 14 days from account opening|
|Capital One||3-14 days|
|Chase||One week, but could take up to 21 days|
|Discover||Within 5-7 days but could take longer|
Tips to Speed Up the Balance Transfer Process
Is there anything you can do to speed up the balance transfer? There are some actions you can take which can help the process go a little faster:
- Submit your balance transfer application online. Mailing the application adds several days to the process. Applying online also makes it easier to monitor the progress of the application.
- Don’t miss the offer deadline. Most balance transfer offers expire after a certain time period. If you like the offer and believe it fits with your financial goals, apply as soon as possible.
- Complete the application accurately and timely. Provide all the requested information on the application. Incomplete applications will delay the approval process. Make sure you provide the current balance amount and your account number. If a representative contacts you with questions, contact them within 24 hours.
- Know the issuers you can transfer a balance to. Most credit cards do not allow you to transfer balances from an account with the same issuer. You will need to apply to a card at another issuer. Make sure you check any affiliated organizations or subsidiaries to your current card company.
- Find out how your existing credit card transfers the balance. Some credit card companies complete balance transfers electronically while others issue balance transfer checks to you directly, then you can mail the check to your credit card company.
- Understand the terms and conditions. You don’t want any surprises once your card is approved. Read all of the terms and conditions and make sure you understand the fees, and the length of the 0% APR offer. The terms also includes details on the requirements of the 0% APR offer. Most offers can be voided if you miss a payment or don’t transfer your balance within a certain time period.
- Transfer balance as soon as possible to maximize the no-interest introductory offer. To receive the introductory APR offer, you are required to transfer the balance within a certain time period, typically 60 days after account opening. If your issuer allows it, request all balance transfers when you submit your application. Otherwise, submit the transfer request as soon as the card is approved by contacting the new credit card company. Many cards will invalidate the 0% APR offer if you don’t make the balance transfer within the specified time.
- Make payments on your existing credit cards until the balance transfer is complete. Since the transfers can take days or week to process, continue to make payments on your existing credit card until you confirm the transfer occurred. The last thing you want is to miss a payment or pay late. Not only will you be charged late fees (and in some cases, penalty APR, but you can damage your your credit score.
- Follow up on your application to ensure everything was received. If you applied online, you can usually check the status of the application. If not, contact customer service after you mail the application to confirm it was received.
- Confirm your balance transfer was completed. Every few days after your account is approved and opened, check your existing credit card account and the new balance transfer account to ensure the funds were transferred and the amount was accurate. Contact your card issuer immediately if you notice any errors.
- Know the credit limit. If you request a balance transfer for more than the credit line you're approved for, the credit card issuer may not allow the transfer. If you’re approved for less amount requested, you can try calling the credit-card company to negotiate for a higher limit or simply just keep the remaining balance on the old card and pay it down.
Bottom Line Waiting for a balance transfer to be processed can be stressful, especially if you are approaching a payment due date. While you can’t force the transfer to happen quickly, the tips in this article can help ensure you aren’t unnecessarily delaying the process.