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How Long Does a Balance Transfer Take?

Last Updated: February 6, 2023
3 min read

Key points about: credit card balance transfers

  1. Balance transfers can be a debt consolidation strategy, allowing you to transfer your high interest debt to a card with a lower interest rate.

  2. For existing Discover cardmembers, most balance transfers are processed within four days.

  3. Some balance transfer credit cards allow you to transfer your balance from another lender to the new credit card during a 0% APR promotion.

A credit card balance transfer can take at least several days and may take up to several weeks. The exact timeline will depend on the credit card issuer and the circumstances. You generally don’t want to wait until the last minute to request a balance transfer.

What is a credit card balance transfer?

A credit card balance transfer is when you move a balance from one credit card to another. Some credit card companies also let you transfer a balance to your bank account, and you can then use the funds to pay off other types of debt.

Credit cards may offer an introductory low APR- or 0% APR -on balances that you transfer to the credit card within a certain period. These offers could be available to new cardmembers and are sometimes extended to existing cardmembers as well.

Did you know?

Using a balance transfer offer can help you save money and pay down the debt faster when you transfer high interest debt, because you’ll accrue less interest during the promotional period. But there’s typically a balance transfer fee of 3% to 5%, and the promotional interest rate only lasts a limited time. After the promotional period ends, any remaining balance accrues interest at the card’s standard APR.

Before requesting a balance transfer, consider the cost and timeline to ensure that transferring a balance makes sense. You may also want to revisit your budget and have a plan for paying off the balance in full before the promotional period ends. If you intend to pay off the transferred balance in a month or two, a balance transfer credit card may not be the best choice for you.

How long does the balance transfer process take?

The balance transfer process can take several days to several weeks, depending on the credit card issuer and circumstances. For example, if you’re opening a new Discover credit card that has a balance transfer offer, your account has to be open for 14 days before Discover will start processing the balance transfer request. However, if you’re an existing cardmember, most balance transfers are processed within four days.

The timeline can vary with other card issuers.

Steps to take if your balance transfer is taking too long

If the balance transfer is taking longer than your card issuer’s expected timeline, you may want to start by calling the customer service department for the card you used to request the balance transfer. Ask for an update on when they’ll process the request and if there’s anything you can do to expedite the process.

If customer service verified that they processed your transfer, but your payment isn’t posting, you might want to call the creditor that’s receiving the money for an update.

Even if your balance transfer request is processed immediately, it can take several days for the creditor to apply the transfer to your account. In the meantime, continue making your loan or credit card payments to avoid a late payment.

Also, monitor the account receiving the balance transfer for at least one billing cycle. Even if the transfer paid off most of the balance, you might owe interest that accrued between when you requested the balance transfer and when it was completed. You don’t want to miss the payment and have the small balance trigger a late payment fee or hurt your credit score.


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