Promotional signup proposals for new credit card accounts occasionally include an introductory 0% APR (annual percentage rate) period for balance transfers. Others may provide an essential time frame during which your credit card balance transfer will reduce.
However, before transferring a balance, you must understand how the process works to determine whether it makes good financial sense. We cover the ins and outs of balance transfers and their timeframes below.
What is a credit card balance transfer?
A balance transfer moves deficit from one credit card account to another, making it ideal for a card with a more low-interest rate as a way to keep the money. Consolidating several unpaid credit card bills into one account or opting for a credit card introductory promotional financing offer can be financially beneficial.
How does a credit card balance transfer work?
A balance transfer is initiated by a cardholder’s request to move the credit from one credit card to another.
Typically, when you apply for a credit transfer card, as the portion of the application, an issuer will request you if you want to transfer any balances to the new card. You’ll also ask to provide that account number and the due amount.
Assuming you have approved the new card and the credit limit you’re applying for, the new card will spend off the debt from the actual credit card issuer. The new lender assumes any balance transferred. Balance transfers often come with a fee.
It had based on a flat service fee or, more often, a percentage of the transferred amount (usually 3% to 5%). Cardholders can be encouraged to go ahead with expensive transfers through plans that offer low, promotional interest rates on transmitted balances—some of which even charge 0% interest.
But remember that the promo period is only for a limited period, after which the interest rates will increase exponentially. All terms are subject to the credit card agreement.
In financial management, minimizing unnecessary charges is a good rule of thumb. When handling credit cards, these charges include late fees, transaction charges, membership fees, and more, though the most consequential cost to the consumer interests.
Cardholders should compare the cons and pros of balance transfers due to the high impact of credit card interest rates. A balance transfer is less expensive than interest, even with transfer fees.
Should I transfer the balance?
The main advantage of a balance transfer is that it helps you pay off your loan more quickly because the total amount of your payments goes to the principal balance and not to the interest that accrues during the introductory 0% APR offer.
Another reason to transfer an amount from one card to another is to facilitate a big purchase that cannot pay at once. Customers purchase with their chosen card, earning points or accessing perks like return protection or an extended warranty.
They transfer the balance to a card with lower benefits (but a lower interest rate) until the debt has been paid off.
There are many other reasons for transferring a balance from one card to another, but they all boil down to one thing: the cardholder wants a better interest rate while working to pay off the balance.
How long does a credit card balance transfer take?
Balance transfer times can vary from two or three days to six weeks or more. Transfer time depends on the banks involved, and each bank has its estimates of how long it takes to facilitate the exchange.
The chart below shows some of the most famous American banks‘ transfer time ranges. Check the timing details with your particular bank before starting.
In most cases, credit card issuers will take longer to receive a payment if they require a paper check to be accepted instead of an electronic transfer.
The best way to manage a balance transfer is to be patient and do everything possible to track progress. Make the lowest payment on any accounts affected by the balance transfer if the amount has yet to be received by the credit card bill due date.
Keep maintaining your obligations on the account until you receive final notice that the balance transfer is complete.
Where to transfer the balance?
Saving money with a credit card balance transfer requires only two things—a credit card account with a balance and another version with a lower interest rate. The best cards for transferring balances offer 0% introductory APR on amount transfers for a certain period.
Similar credit cards extend this time from six to 21 months. Another important consideration when selecting a new card for a money transfer is the balance transfer fee.
Occasionally, you can find a card that offers a low initial interest rate along with a $0 amount transfer fee. But more often than not, the two don’t go together. Balance transfer fees had usually listed as a minimum dollar amount or a fixed percentage—eg. $5 or 5%, whichever is greater.
When transferring an outstanding balance, the transfer fee is higher than the minimum, and the percentage makes a big difference. Most cards have a 3% or 5% fee for balance transfers, but these can also add up outside that range.
Sometimes, issuers will waive the transfer fee for a new credit card a/c as a promotion. You can use a money transfer calculator to determine how much you’ll save by balancing and factoring in the balance transfer fee.
We understand that only some people can apply for and approve a new credit card—for example, someone with a drop in their credit score. You can transfer the balance to an existing card until the numbers make meaning.
In this case, be sure the interest rate on the card debt moved is low enough. The savings offset any balance transfer fees charged.
Tracking your balance transfer:
Since the time it takes to complete a balance transfer cannot shorten to a set number of days or weeks, it is often necessary to follow the progress of the transfer yourself. It tells you when to start payments on the new card and stop payments on the old one.
It is essential if you are close to the payment due date on the original credit card. Tracking a balance transfer is a simple process involving checking your credit card accounts regularly to check for updates.
Once settled, the original credit card account must show the total payment or credit transferred. For a new card to which it had moved a loan, a charge or debit should appear for the amount transferred.
Maintaining at least the minimum payment on the original credit card is essential until the balance transfer had confirmed to be complete. Credit card issuers are unlikely to waive any late fees or interest charges due to the transfer.
Although each bank offers a different timeline for a balance transfer, it always adds that it may take longer sometimes. Estimates provided by card issuers are good for planning purposes. But the only way to know how long a money transfer will take is to initiate and track its progress.
Finally, it should be clear when one’s debt has settled under the new credit card plan. Only then should payments be stopped in the original account.
The issuer will hold your balance transfer request until they confirm the amount to transfer against your credit limit. If your credit limit exceeds the amount you’ve requested to transfer from another card, the issuer will reject the request.
Sometimes, a balance transfer can positively affect your credit scores. And help you pay low interest on your debts in the extended run. However, constantly opening new credit cards and moving balances to them can hurt your credit scores in the long run.
Even if you pay off the total balance, you can continue to use the card as before. Closing an account may harm your creditworthiness.
Depending on your card issuer, it may take up to six weeks. The balance transfer appears in the account when you are transferring the balance. Although most issuers can complete the process within a week, this is not a “set it and forget it” situation. You can check your accounts to see when the transfer process will occur.