How to transfer a balance to a Bank of America credit card

Here's everything you need to know, including card options, fees, restrictions and tips for approval.

Dan Rafter
Personal Finance Writer
Specializes in mortgages, credit and credit scores

How to transfer a balance to a Bank of America card

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Is your credit card debt growing faster than you can pay it off each month? Transferring this debt to a Bank of America credit card that offers zero percent interest can give you a chance to catch up.

Be careful, though. Bank of America requires you to pay off the debt on a balance transfer within 12 billing cycles – or 12 months – before your new card’s permanent interest rate kicks in.

Bank of America will charge you, too, for transferring a balance, so that can eat into the savings you earn from the zero percent offer.

Here’s everything you need to know, from the balance transfer cards Bank of America offers to fees and restrictions, to your chances of approval.

See related: 6 steps to a successful credit card balance transfer

Bank of America balance transfer options

Bank of America Cash Rewards

  • Balance transfer fee: $10 or 3 percent of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • 0 percent promotional period: 12 billing cycles.
  • Regular APR: 16.24 - 26.24 percent.
  • Worth noting: $200 online cash rewards sign-up offer if you charge $500 within first 90 days. 3 percent cash back on gas purchases, 2 percent back on purchases at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1 percent back on all other purchases. You will only earn cash back on the first $2,500 worth of grocery, wholesale club and gas station purchases each quarter.

BankAmericard

  • Balance transfer fee: No fee for balance transfers made in the first 60 days after opening your account. For balance transfers made after that time, the fee is $10 or 3 percent of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • 0 percent promotional period: 18 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days.
  • Regular APR: 15.24 - 25.24 percent.
  • Worth noting: The BankAmericard is not a rewards card, but it does offer 0 percent interest for new purchases during the first 18 billing cycles. It also charges no annual fee and does not charge a penalty APR for those who pay their bills late.

Allegiant World Mastercard

  • Balance transfer fee: $10 or 3 percent of the amount of each transfer, whichever figure is greater.
  • 0 percent promotional period: 12 billing cycles.
  • Regular APR: 17.24 - 25.24 percent.
  • Worth noting: 15,000 bonus points if you charge $1,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of opening your account. 3 points for every dollar spent on Allegiant purchases, 2 points for every dining purchase and 1 point for all other charges. This card charges a $59 annual fee.

Bank of America Cash Rewards for Students

  • Balance transfer fee: 3 percent or $10, whichever figure is greater.
  • 0 percent promotional period: 12 billing cycles.
  • Regular APR: 15.24 - 25.24 percent.
  • Worth noting: 1 percent cash back on all purchases, 2 percent at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 3 percent on gas. You will only earn cash back on the first $1,500 in combined grocery, wholesale club and gas purchases each quarter. Earn a 10 percent customer bonus each time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America checking or savings account.

BankAmericard for Students

  • Balance transfer fee: No fee if you make your balance transfer within the first 60 days of opening your account. Fees on transfers made after this period will be $10 or 3 percent of the amount transferred, whichever figure is higher.
  • 0 percent introductory offer: 15 billing statements.
  • Regular APR: 14.99 - 24.99 percent.
  • Worth noting: This is a basic card that students can use to build a credit history. It charges no annual fee.

What you should know before applying

There are limits to balance transfers with Bank of America credit cards, according to the company.

  • You can only qualify for a zero-percent balance transfer offer if you transfer your debt within 60 days of opening your new Bank of America credit card account.
  • You can’t transfer a balance from one Bank of America credit card to another one.
  • Bank of America will look at your credit to determine if you qualify for a balance transfer.
  • Don’t stop making payments on your old credit card until your Bank of America balance transfer closes. A Bank of America balance transfer could take up to 14 days to close.
  • Your balance transfer amount will be limited by the credit limit on your new card.

How to improve your chances of approval

Ash Exantus, head of financial education and financial empowerment coach in the New York City office of BankMobile, said that banks will look at both your credit score and debt-to-income ratio when determining whether you qualify for a balance transfer.

Exantus said that your credit score is especially important. Your score might be high enough to qualify for a balance transfer. But if your score isn't a strong one, you might take a hit with a higher APR rate when that 0-percent offer expires, he said.

"What will your interest rate be after your introductory offer is up?" Exantus asked. The higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate should be, but that's not always the case.

See related: How does a balance transfer affect your credit score?

How to initiate a balance transfer to a Bank of America credit card

If you are applying for a new Bank of America credit card:

  • Start a credit card application for one of the balance transfer cards that Bank of America offers.
  • During your application, you will be given the option to transfer a balance from an existing card. Select this option to proceed.
  • Provide basic information about your existing card and state how much you want to transfer.

If you already have a Bank of America credit card:

  • Go online to your account and select the “Transfers” option. Then select “For credit card balance transfers.”
  • Once you see your balance transfer offer, fill in the online form, providing information about the debt you want to transfer and the card from which you want to transfer it.

How to make a balance transfer work

A balance transfer makes the most sense if you pay down your debt before that zero percent offer expires.

Kevin Gallegos, senior vice president of client enrollment with Phoenix-based financial services company Freedom Debt Relief, says that you should always craft a household budget before you initiate a balance transfer.

This budget can help you determine how many dollars you have each month to devote to paying down your debt. Once you know this figure, you can determine if you will be able to pay down that credit card debt before the zero percent offer ends.

See related: Don't become addicted to balance transfer offers.

"It all goes back to budgeting," Gallegos said. "It's about being honest about how much you can apply to your debt. The best solution is to always put as much toward that debt as you possibly can."

BankMobile's Exantus said it's important, too, to determine how much money you'll really save by transferring your debt.

Bank of America often charges a balance transfer fee. Depending on how much debt you are transferring that fee might negate much of the money you'd save by transferring your balance. And if you can't pay your balance off before the zero percent offer ends, you will rack up more interest expenses. 

"Everyone likes the sound of 'zero percent interest,'" Exantus said. "But it's important to really look at the numbers and what you'll be saving before you jump into a balance transfer."


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Updated: 03-23-2019