Transferring a balance to an existing Discover credit card may take less than a week, but it could take up to two weeks for a new card, according to The Balance. For most credit cards, it should take approximately one to two weeks, but there’s no guarantee yours will be handled in that timeframe. If you are applying for a new card, the application review plus the payout for a balance transfer could take more than three weeks.

If the creditor you’re transferring debt from needs to be paid by check rather than electronically, your request could also take longer to process. Consider submitting your balance transfer application online to ensure all information is correct and that your request will take the least amount of time.

Still wondering exactly how a balance transfer works and if it’s right for you? Below, consider the answers to some commonly asked questions about balance transfers:

  1. How do I know if a balance transfer is right for me?
  2. How much 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 many times can I transfer a balance?
  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 are a helpful tool for anyone able to pay off this balance quickly and within the promotional period before interest rates rise. If you feel you might not be able to pay off your balance quickly once it’s transferred, you should consider another method to cut your debt.

2. How much should I transfer?

You can’t transfer more debt than your new card has in available credit. You want to keep your credit utilization ratio at about 30 percent for all lines of credit, so only move a balance smaller than the credit line on your new card. It’s imperative to know the credit limit on your new card before a balance transfer. Many companies will accept your inquiry and then charge you a fee for transferring a balance over your credit limit. Other companies may transfer only a portion of the balance up to your credit limit and also charge you the balance transfer fee.

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. This is not the standard offer.

5. Will a balance transfer hurt my credit score?

Too many balance transfers may 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 intention of paying off these balances quickly.

There’s a host of reasons why you might have been denied, but many you can work to correct. Poor credit history might make you seem like a tough sell to a credit company. If you’ve made excessive transfer requests, frequently shuffling balances among credit cards, could signify you struggle to balance your personal finance needs. You might have attempted a transfer with an ineligible card — often you can’t transfer from one card to another in the same company, for example. Or you don’t have enough available credit to complete the transfer.

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

Knowing what led to your application’s being declined will give you a starting point to work from. How you proceed may be very different if the denial was linked to bad credit versus simply using an ineligible card.

Check your credit report and score for errors or inaccuracies that could be dragging your score down. You can dispute it with the credit bureau.

Practice good credit habits going forward. Pay your bills on time, keep balances low, use different types of credit, and keep new credit applications to a minimum.

Consider what kind of credit is needed to qualify for the card and how much you can transfer at one time.

Review your application and see why it was declined. You might be able to make adjustments to ensure success the next time you apply.

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 your balance within the low or 0 percent APR promotional rate period. Create a payment schedule and stick to it.

8. How often can I transfer a balance?

Don’t count on being able to repeatedly roll over debt to another balance transfer offer. Over-utilizing credit could lower your credit score and make it harder to qualify for another balance transfer offer. In addition, you’ll pay balance transfer fees for each transfer. While it can be better than a higher interest rate card, this is not small change.

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 is a recipe for further 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, make sure that you’ll be able to repay your balance within six months to a year, or whenever 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 May 29, 2020.

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.