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Balance Transfers

How long does a balance transfer take?

See how long you’ll need to wait and how to protect your credit in the meantime

Summary

Unfortunately, there’s no way to know in advance exactly how long a balance transfer will take, but your issuer can give you an idea of what to expect. While you wait, be sure to continue making payments on your existing accounts.

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Credit card balance transfers can take as little as three days or as long as six weeks to complete. How long your transfer takes will vary depending on your credit card issuer and a number of other factors, including whether you’re opening a new account with an issuer, how you apply for the transfer and how your existing creditors accept payment.

We’ve reviewed how balance transfers work with some of the major credit card issuers to give you an idea of how long you can expect to wait, along with some tips on what you can do to ensure things go smoothly.

See related: 9 things you should know about balance transfer cards

How long does a balance transfer usually take?

Most credit card companies will give you a sense of what to expect before you apply, but there’s no way to know in advance exactly how long a balance transfer will take, so you should be prepared to wait at least a couple of weeks for the transfer to be approved and completed.

This chart should give you a general idea of how long a balance transfer will take with each issuer:

Credit card issuerHow long a balance transfer takes
American ExpressUp to 6 weeks
Bank of AmericaUp to 14 days
Capital One3 to 14 days
Chase7 to 21 days
Citi2 to 21 days
Discover7 to 14 days
HSBC7 to 10 business days
Wells FargoAt least 10 days

For more detailed information about how to do a credit card balance transfer with each issuer, check out our comprehensive guides.

Can you speed up a balance transfer?

As you can see, each issuer handles balance transfers a bit differently, and much of the process is out of your control. While you can’t exactly determine how long it will take for your balance transfer to go through, there are a few steps you can take to ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Keep the following balance transfer tips in mind:

  • Balance transfers to new card accounts take longer. If you’re transferring your balance to a new card account, you should expect it to take a bit longer than if you’re transferring to an existing account. Discover, for example, says that transfers to existing accounts are typically processed within 7 days, while transfers to new accounts can take up to 14 days.
  • Applying online saves time. As you might expect, submitting your balance transfer application online instead of sending a physical application through the mail should shave at least a few days off your wait time. Additionally, many issuers offer online tools that will help you track the status of your balance transfer.
  • Apply for a balance transfer when you apply for a new card. Many issuers will let you request a balance transfer at the same time that you apply for a new credit card. If you have a large balance to transfer, however, and want to see how high a credit limit you’re offered before you start the transfer process, you may choose to wait until you’re approved for the card. In that case, just be sure to initiate the transfer as soon as you get the information you need.
  • Waiting too long can cost you. Most cards that offer a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers or a 0% balance transfer fee require you to complete your transfer within a set period of time to take advantage of the promotional rate. If you don’t complete the transfer in time, you could end up paying a ton in added balance transfer fees or miss out on months of zero-interest payments.

See related: Balance transfer credit cards with no transfer fee

What if my balance transfer is taking longer to show up than expected?

If it’s been more than a few weeks since you submitted your balance transfer application and you haven’t seen funds post to your account or gotten any other updates, don’t hesitate to call your issuer and check on the status of your transfer. They may be able to tell you what’s holding things up and give you an idea of how much longer you can expect the transfer to take.

While you wait, it’s critical that you continue paying at least the minimum on your existing credit cards and send all payments to your original creditor. You’ll know for sure it’s safe to stop making payments when your original account shows a balance of $0. Failing to keep up with payments while you wait for a balance transfer to complete could lead to late fees and damaged credit. Indeed, if your credit takes too big of a hit, it could even disrupt the transfer.

Next steps

If you’re carrying credit card debt and looking to save on interest, transferring your balance to a new card is probably a smart move. Not only will you “stop the bleeding” caused by mounting interest charges, you’ll get a chance to chip away at your balance and hopefully pay off or substantially reduce the amount you owe.

That said, with so much variance between issuers and transfer methods, there’s no way to know exactly how long a balance transfer will take. You can get a sense of how long you’ll have to wait from your credit card issuer, but instead of worrying about that timeline, focus on what’s in your control: Apply as soon as you can, keep a close eye on your transfer and continue to make payments on your existing cards. This way, you can at least be sure you’re saving money and protecting your credit in the meantime.

See related: Best balance transfer cards

 

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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