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

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

  1. Before Doing a Balance Transfer, Examine Your Current Financial Situation
  2. How Do I Transfer a Balance From One Card to Another? Request a Balance Transfer
  3. Follow Up on Your Balance Transfer Request
  4. Pay as Much as You Can Toward Your Balance
  5. How Do I Transfer a Balance to My Discover Card?

1. Before Doing a Balance Transfer, Examine Your Current Financial Situation

Credit cards with promotional balance transfer offers 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. Cardholders should weigh the cost of any balance transfer fees against continuing to pay off their balances at the existing interest rate.

To determine whether a 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 is 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.

2. How Do I Transfer a Balance from One Card to Another? Request a Balance Transfer

Once you’ve chosen a card that offers a balance transfer, apply and get approved, it’s time to request your balance transfer. Do so as directed by your new credit card issuer (for example, over the phone or online), and monitor while your balance transfer is processed and payment is made to your old creditor(s). For example, with Discover a new account must be open for 14 days before your balance transfer request can be processed. After that, most transfers are processed within 4 days.

You should continue to make all payments to your other creditor until you confirm that the balance transfer was completed.  You will need the account information for the cards that 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.

3. 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 for the next 30 days 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.

4. 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 to 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 a dime in interest, assuming you don’t make any new purchases on your new balance transfer card.

5. 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 just approved for a new account, but 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.

Knowing how to complete a balance transfer can help you consolidate your credit card debt while saving money on interest charges. With the right approach and careful planning, the process can go more smoothly than you might think.

Published October 17, 2016.

Updated May 21, 2021.

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.