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:

  1. How do I know if a balance transfer is right for me?
  2. How much money should I transfer?
  3. Will I save money with a balance transfer?
  4. Where can I find the best balance transfer deals?
  5. Will a balance transfer hurt my credit score?
  6. What can I do if my balance transfer was denied?
  7. How can I make sure I’m getting the most from my balance transfer?
  8. How often can I make a balance transfer?
  9. How long will it take me to pay off the balance?

1. How do I know if a balance transfer is 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 once it’s transferred, you should consider whether or not a balance transfer is the best way for you to manage your debt.

2. How much money should I transfer?

If you apply for a credit card that offers a balance transfer, the issuer will set the amount you can transfer. It’s important to understand how much you will be allowed to transfer before submitting your request so that you know ahead of time if you can only transfer a portion of your outstanding balances from other cards.

3. Will I save money with a balance transfer?

Many credit websites offer free balance transfer calculators. Once you know how the interest rate you are currently paying on a balance and how much a bank will charge in fees and interest for a balance transfer, 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.

4. Where can I find the best balance transfer deals?

Shop around. The internet is a great asset for comparing offers all in one place. Many credit card companies offer promotional deals on balance transfers if you qualify.

5. 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. For example, multiple balance transfer credit inquiries will appear on your credit report for issuers to see, and could make it appear to creditors that you can’t pay your bills and are just shuffling high-interest debts to lower interest cards without the ability to pay them off.

6. What can I do if my balance transfer was denied?

Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, you are entitled to know if your credit report prevented you from being granted credit. If you are denied for a balance transfer because your application was declined, it may be a good idea to review your credit report (it’s available for free at AnnualCreditReport.com 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.

7. How can I get the most from my balance transfer?

In order to get the most benefit from your balance transfer, develop a repayment plan that will enable you to pay off your balance during the promotional APR rate period. Create a payment schedule and stick to it so you don’t get stuck paying monthly fees again once your promotional period is over.

8. How often can I make a 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, which is something to keep in mind.

If you find yourself transferring the same balance multiple times, there may be a larger issue than the high interest rate on your credit card.

9. 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, which might mean more debt. The point of a good balance transfer offer is to aid you in repaying your debt on a lower interest card, rather than just moving your debt from card to card.

If you are still interested in a balance transfer to lower your debt, try your best to make sure that you’ll be able to repay your balance by the time your promotional APR expires. If you feel confident that you can better repay your debts with a balance transfer, make sure you shop around for the best offer to fit your needs.

Done right, a balance transfer can become a smart move to paying off debt responsibly, and saving some money.

Published February 27, 2015.

Updated June 3, 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.