Initiating a balance transfer can be one of the best ways to save money on your next major credit card payment.
Put simply, a balance transfer allows debt to be moved from one credit card account to another — ideally, from a high-interest card to a lower-interest card — making for a smaller monthly payment and saving you money.
But how long do balance transfers take? Here’s what you need to know.
Balance transfer timing by issuer
Here are the listed time frames for how long a balance transfer might take for each issuer:
- American Express: Five to seven business days; possibly up to six weeks
- Bank of America: Up to two weeks
- Capital One: Up to 10 business days
- Chase: Up to 21 days
- Citi: Up to 21 days; possibly longer with some banks
- Discover: Seven to 10 days
- Wells Fargo: Up to 14 days
Suffice it to say that there are no definite rules on how long issuers have to complete a balance transfer. The process can vary wildly from bank to bank.
Factors that affect credit card balance transfer timing
Aside from the issuer you’re working with, a few other factors can affect the speed of your balance transfer.
First, how large is the balance you’re transferring? Sometimes, a larger balance might take longer to transfer (although not always). For large balances, be sure to initiate the transfer as soon as possible to avoid late fees.
Additionally, if you’re opening a new card to absorb the balance you’re transferring, it might take longer for your issuer to get all its ducks in a row. The same goes for if you’re transferring balances from multiple cards onto your single balance transfer-focused card. That’s because each transfer is essentially a separate interaction between issuers and cards.
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Lastly, if the card information you gave out was incomplete or inaccurate, that could take longer for an issuer to sort out. If speed’s a priority, be sure to get it all right the first time.
How to track the process of your balance transfer
Simply check your credit card account to monitor the status of your balance transfer process. When the transfer is complete, you’ll see that the balance on your new credit card has increased, while the balance on your previous credit card will have gone down to zero (or decreased by whatever amount you specified).
The balance transfer will also be posted as a recent transaction on both accounts. If you don’t yet see the transfer listed on your new card, it’s likely that it’s still in progress.
You’ll want to confirm that the transaction shows up on both accounts, not just one or the other. Once that happens, though, you’re in the clear.
What to do if your balance transfer is delayed
If your balance transfer is delayed past the time period your issuer provided, you’ll want to contact customer service of the issuer that’s receiving your balance transfer (not the issuer that’s getting its balance moved). Reasons for a delay can vary — incomplete or inaccurate information, processing errors or a high volume of requests are all possible.
If you can find the reason for the delay, you can take steps to resolve it (i.e., correcting an error in your request and resubmitting). However, if the delay is due to a high volume of requests, there’s likely nothing you can do.
Whatever the reason, it’s key that you stay in communication with the issuer throughout the process to avoid late payments and make sure your transfer (eventually) gets through.
The timeline for a balance transfer can vary from issuer to issuer and also depends on several other factors like transfer size and number of accounts involved. For best results, we recommend making your transfers as simple as possible, as quickly as possible, to save money on your next high-interest payment and get back on track to financial security.