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Balance Transfer Basics

How long does a credit card 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 few as three days or as long as six weeks to complete. How long yours 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, as well as some tips on what you can do to ensure things go smoothly.

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. You should be prepared to wait at least a couple of weeks for the transfer to be approved and completed.

The following chart should give you a general idea of how long a balance transfer will take to process with each issuer:

Credit card issuerHow long a balance transfer takes
American Express5 to 7 days on average, but can take up to 6 weeks
Bank of AmericaUp to 14 days
Capital One3 to 14 days
Chase7 to 21 days
Citi2 to 21 days
Discover4 days
HSBC7 to 10 business days
Wells FargoUp to 14 days
U.S. BankUp to 14 days

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 posted to your account or gotten any other updates, don’t hesitate to call your issuer and check on your transfer status. A representative 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. If your credit takes too big of a hit, it could even disrupt the transfer.

Bottom line

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 also get a chance to chip away at your balance and build your credit with a balance transfer card, despite taking a small credit hit.

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.

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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