Young man looks thoughtfully at his credit card as he sits with a laptop on his legs

Credit Card Balance Transfer FAQs

Last Updated: December 13, 2022
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 high credit utilization.

If you are considering a balance transfer, it’s important to check the terms and conditions to see how long it will take to process. This is true whether you’re considering a balance transfer on a card you already have or a new card you are thinking about applying for. For example, most balance transfers to an existing Discover credit card are processed within 4 days, while a new Discover card must be open for 14 days before a balance transfer request can begin processing.
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 0% 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 would try to pay it down during the 0% introductory period.

How long do Discover balance transfer requests take to process?

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.

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

Are there balance transfer fees?

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

Is a credit card balance transfer right for me?

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 are currently paying on a balance, you can calculate how much it will 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 will pay interest on new purchases if you do not pay the balances you transfer under the offer in full by the first payment due date. Please see your Cardmember Agreement for details.

Will a balance transfer hurt my credit score?

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

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 have not yet posted to your account. Once a balance transfer has posted as a debit to your Discover account, it will 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 are entitled to know if something on your credit report prevented you from being granted credit. If you could not 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 will 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 lower 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 are 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.

Was this article helpful?

Thank you for your feedback!