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How to Do a Credit Card Balance Transfer

Last Updated: January 10, 2024
4 min read

Key points about: credit card balance transfers

  1. Completing a balance transfer may help you save money on high interest rate debt by providing you a low promotional interest rate.

  2. Be sure to check your old account during the transfer period until the account is fully paid off.

  3. Contact your bank to see if you qualify for a balance transfer.

Balance transfers can save you money on interest charges by moving your existing balance on one credit card to another card with a lower interest rate. But, how do you do balance transfers?

Completing a balance transfer might be easier than you think. Consider these steps for how to do a balance transfer to determine whether it’s right for you, and how to maximize the benefits of a credit card balance transfer.

How to determine if a balance transfer is right for you

Credit cards with a promotional balance transfer offer can make sense for some credit card users. These offers may allow you to move your existing balances to a new credit card with a low balance transfer annual percentage rate (APR) for a limited amount of time, although most credit cards will impose a balance transfer fee on the transferred balance. Typical fees can range from 3%-5% of the balance transfer amount. You should weigh the cost of any balance transfer fees of a new card against continuing to pay off the credit card debt at the existing interest rate on your old card.

To determine whether a credit card balance transfer is right for your circumstances, you should also consider the length of the promotional period, and the APR that will apply to the balance transfer amount if it’s not paid off within the promotional period.

You should understand what happens if you don’t pay off the balance during the promotional period and what your minimum payment will be.

How do I transfer a balance from one card to another?

Once you’ve chosen a new card that has a balance transfer offer with a lower interest rate, apply with the credit card company to see if you get approved. Once approved, you can request your balance transfer.

Request a balance transfer

Follow any directions from your new credit card issuer and monitor your accounts while your balance transfer is processed and payment is made to your old creditor(s). For example, with a DiscoverÒ balance transfer card offer, an account must be open for 14 days before Discover can begin processing your balance transfer request. After that, most transfers are processed within four days.

You should continue to make all payments to your other creditor(s) until you confirm that the balance transfer was completed and the funds posted to your other account(s). You’ll need the account information for the cards you want to transfer the balance from, and you’ll need to specify the amount you wish to transfer. In general, it’s best to prioritize transferring the balances with the highest interest rates.

Follow up on your balance transfer request

Once you have requested a balance transfer, you’ll want to double-check that everything went according to plan. In addition to confirming that the proper amounts were transferred successfully, you’ll want to keep an eye on your old accounts so you can pay off any interest that may have accrued between the date you requested your balance transfer and when the transaction was completed.

Pay as much as you can toward your balance

To save as much money as possible on interest charges, pay off as much of your new balance as you can before the promotional rate expires. For example, if you have a $5,000 balance transfer and a 0% introductory rate for 18 months with a 3% balance transfer fee, you can pay off your transferred debt in 18 months with a $287 monthly payment and not pay any interest–assuming you don’t make any new purchases on your new balance transfer card.

How do I transfer a balance to my Discover Card?

To transfer a balance to your Discover Card, start by filing a balance transfer request. Again, your account must be open for 14 days before your request can be processed if you were recently approved for a new account. After that, most requests take no more than four days. Keep in mind that it may take some time for the credit to appear on the account you’re transferring from.

Did you know?

If you’ve determined a balance transfer isn’t right for you at this time, you may still want to reconsider the rewards your current card has to offer. If your spending habits have changed since you received your old card, look how new cards–like Discover–can reward you most for your everyday purchases.

Knowing how to complete credit card balance transfers can help you consolidate your credit card debt to help you save money on interest charges. With the right approach and careful planning, you can make a balance transfer work to improve your financial standing.

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  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.