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Credit Card Balance Transfer FAQs

Last Updated: February 15, 2024
6 min read

Key points about: credit card balance transfers

  1. There are benefits to consolidating debt with balance transfers, including promotional APRs.

  2. Balance transfers won’t hurt or help your credit alone; you should still commit to best practices when paying off credit card debt.

  3. Balance transfers require an approval process, which means your balance transfer request can be denied if you have a high credit utilization.

If you’re considering a balance transfer, it’s important to check the terms and conditions to see how long it’ll take to process. This is true whether you’re considering a balance transfer on a card you already have or a new card you’re thinking about applying for. For example, an account must be open for 14 days before Discover can begin processing your balance transfer request. After that, most transfers are processed within 4 days.
Still wondering exactly how a balance transfer works and if it’s right for you? Consider the answers below to some commonly asked balance transfer questions.

What is a credit card balance transfer?

A balance transfer is a transaction where debt is moved from one account to another. For example, you may want to move debt that has a higher interest rate to a credit card with a lower interest rate to help you save money.

How do credit card balance transfers work?

The exact process for a credit card balance transfer can vary between credit card issuers. You could take a balance transfer on your existing credit card or apply for a new credit card that has a low introductory APR on balance transfers. If approved, you would then transfer your credit card balance and wait for the debt to move to the new account. Once the debt is on the new card, you’d try to pay it down during the introductory period.

How long do Discover balance transfer requests take to process?

Discover balance transfer requests vary based on what type of account you have.

For new accounts: An account must be open for 14 days before Discover can begin processing your balance transfer request. After that, most transfers are processed within 4 days. Please allow additional time for the recipient to credit your other account. To avoid late fees or penalties, we recommend that you continue to make payments on your other account until you verify the funds have been credited.

For existing accounts: Most transfers are processed within 4 days. Please allow additional time for the recipient to credit your other account. To avoid late fees or penalties, we recommend that you continue to make payments on your other account until you verify the funds have been credited.

Learn more about credit card balance transfers from Discover

You can check the status of your transfer request by logging in.

Are there balance transfer fees?

Typically, there’s a balance transfer fee that’s a percentage of the total amount transferred, often between 3%-5%.

Is a credit card balance transfer right for you?

If you have a high-interest credit card racking up debt and want to move this amount to a lower-interest card, consider a balance transfer for debt consolidation. Balance transfers can be a helpful tool for anyone able to pay off their balance within the low-interest period before interest rates rise. If you feel you might not be able to pay off your balance within the promotional period, you should consider whether a balance transfer is the best way for you to manage your debt.

How much money should I transfer?

If you apply for a credit card that offers a balance transfer, the issuer will set the maximum amount you can transfer. You won’t be able to exceed the credit limit on your new card, and you should be careful not to transfer more than you can pay off during the introductory period.

Will I save money with a credit card balance transfer?

If you know the interest rate you’re currently paying on a balance, you can calculate how much it'll cost to pay it off. Compare that with the fees and interest you would pay for a balance transfer, and you can figure out your potential savings. If the amount is insignificant, it might not be worth going through the process of a balance transfer.

Can I avoid interest on purchases if I transfer a balance?

You can avoid interest on new purchases you make if you pay your entire balance in full each month. This means unless you have a 0% introductory purchase APR, you’ll pay interest on new purchases if you don’t pay the balances you transfer under the offer in full by the first payment due date. Please see your card issuer’s terms for details.

Will a balance transfer hurt my credit score?

A balance transfer itself may not necessarily hurt your credit score, but you should keep in mind the general rules of good credit as they apply to balance transfers.

Did you know?

Discover was the first major credit card to give you your FICO® Credit Score for free on your monthly statement and online.1

Why is the Credit Line Available amount noted on my Discover balance transfer offer and balance transfer request pages sometimes different than what I see in my Discover Account Summary?

The credit you have available in your Discover account for a balance transfer reflects your Credit Available minus any balance transfers pending on your account. Pending balance transfers include balance transfers that have been approved but not yet authorized or that haven’t yet posted to your account. Once a balance transfer has posted as a debit to your Discover account, it’ll be reflected in the Credit Available amount in your Account Summary.

What can I do if my balance transfer was denied?

Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you’re entitled to know if something on your credit report prevented you from being granted credit. If you couldn’t complete a balance transfer because your application for a credit card was declined, it may be a good idea to review your credit report (it’s available for free at on an annual basis). Then, you can practice good credit habits going forward such as paying your bills on time, keeping balances low, and keeping new credit applications to a minimum.

To get the most benefit from your balance transfer, develop a repayment plan that’ll enable you to pay off your balance before the promotional APR period expires. Create a payment schedule and stick to it so you don’t get stuck paying the standard APR on the balance once your promotional period is over.

How often can I make a credit card balance transfer?

This will depend on your available credit and offers available, but don’t count on being able to repeatedly roll over debt to another balance transfer offer. High credit utilization could affect your credit score and make it harder to qualify for additional credit offers (including balance transfers). In addition, you may pay balance transfer fees for each transfer.

How long will it take me to pay off the balance?

It depends on the balance you’ve transferred, the amount you pay each month, and how your credit issuer applies your payments to your purchase and balance transfer balances. If you’re only paying the minimum due each month, you may not be able to repay this balance before the introductory period expires, which might mean more debt.

How do I request a Discover Card balance transfer?

Log in to your Discover account and select “Card Services” and then “Balance Transfers” from the menu options. From there, you can see balance transfer offers you may have available on your account. Select the offer and complete your request by providing details about the balance you want to transfer. You can also call the phone number on the back of your card to check your available offers and complete a balance transfer request.

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  1. FICO® Credit Score Terms: Your FICO® Credit Score, key factors and other credit information are based on data from TransUnion® and may be different from other credit scores and other credit information provided by different bureaus. This information is intended for and only provided to Primary account holders who have an available score. See about the availability of your score. Your score, key factors and other credit information are available on and cardmembers are also provided a score on statements. Customers will see up to a year of recent scores online. Discover and other lenders may use different inputs, such as FICO® Credit Scores, other credit scores and more information in credit decisions. This benefit may change or end in the future. FICO is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

    Discover Financial Services and Fair Isaac are not credit repair organizations as defined under federal law or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. Discover Financial Services and Fair Isaac do not provide “credit repair” services or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history or credit rating.

  • 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.