How do I Transfer a Balance from One Credit Card to Another?

Are you struggling with high-interest credit card debt? Transferring a balance to a card with a lower interest rate can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest charges. Keep reading to learn whether balance transfers make sense for you and how to navigate them properly.

How do I Transfer a Balance from One Credit Card to Another?

You have to educate yourself on all facets of balance transfers before committing to determine if strategically moving your balance makes financial sense for your situation.

Introduction to Credit Card Balance Transfers

A credit card balance transfer involves moving part or all of the balance from one card to another that charges less interest. Many cards offer 0% introductory APR periods specifically for transferred balances as incentives. You typically must complete transfers within the first 60 days to qualify.

Balance transfers allow you to leverage one of the most useful financial tools – time. Even 12-18 months at 0% interest gives breathing room to pay down the principal much faster with less overall interest paid. Make sure you understand the fees involved as well as when the intro rate ends to avoid surprises.

When Do Balance Transfers Make Sense Financially?

The best scenario for balance transfers is when you carry high-interest credit card balances but can pay them off in under 18 months with lower or no interest. Compare the balance transfer fee to interest savings to determine if it makes sense. You can also use balance transfer calculators to crunch the numbers.

Balance transfers may not provide overall savings if you cannot pay off the balances substantially before introductory offers end. The transfers themselves also take time and typically incur fees. Still, they buy invaluable time to organize finances or handle emergencies.

Tips to Find the Best Balance Transfer Credit Card

Choosing the right card for a balance transfer depends on your financial situation, habits, and ability to avoid interest traps. Consider things like:

  • Introductory APR Length – Cards offer 0% intro rates for 12-21 months typically. Prioritize time over other factors.
  • Balance Transfer Fee – Typically 3-5% of total balances are moved. Some cards offer $0 fees.
  • Credit Score Needed – Income is also a factor but 700+ scores access better offers usually.
  • Other Factors – Ongoing APR after intros, loyalty programs, etc.

Compare Specific Balance Transfer Cards

As an example, both the Citi Simplicity® Card and Chase Slate® balance transfer cards offer 0% intro APR for 18 months with no annual fee. The Citi Simplicity® Card charges a 3% balance transfer fee while Chase Slate® charges $0 during the first 60 days. Chase Slate® also offers 0% intro APR on new purchases for 15 months.

Both options provide savings off high-interest cards if paid off within 18 months. However, the $0 fee offer from Chase Slate® provides immediate savings on top of future interest savings. Look closely at all the angles when choosing cards.

How to Transfer a Balance to Another Credit Card

To complete an account balance transfer requires a few steps but essentially involves:

  • Applying and getting approved for the new credit card
  • Contacting the bank to initiate and authorize balance transfers
  • Paying off the original card to avoid double interest charges
  • Ensuring proper crediting of payments on both accounts

Follow these best practices to smoothly transition balances:

#1. Apply for a New Credit Card with a Balance Transfer Offer

Submit an official application for your new card of choice to get approved and receive an account number. Initial credit limits on new cards typically equal minimum balance transfer amounts. Opening new accounts causes hard credit inquiries and can impact scores near-term.

Just so you know, when you apply for new credit, it requires the lender to check your credit score. These “hard inquiries” stay on your report for one year. But even once they fall off, having lots of new accounts can affect your score for a long time.

So be careful about opening too many new cards at once if you want your score to keep improving. A few here and there is probably fine, but don’t go overboard if you can avoid it.

Think about what kind of credit habits will benefit you the most over the next few years, not just right now.

#2. Provide New Bank Information to Transfer Balances

Contact the new card issuer after approval and provide the necessary info about accounts sending balances:

  • Account numbers
  • Names and addresses on accounts
  • Balance transfer amounts requested

Different issuers have different processes. Many have online balance transfer forms or dedicated phone numbers. Provide payoff details carefully and save documentation showing account numbers and transfer authorization.

#3. Pay Original Credit Card Bills by Normal Due Dates

Keep paying normal monthly minimums on existing cards until the balances get credited to the new account. You don’t want double interest or late fees while waiting for transfers. Expect about 2 billing cycles for transfers to process depending on timing.

#4. Confirm Balances Get Transferred Properly

Finally, watch statements closely on both original and new cards afterward to ensure proper crediting of payments and balance transfers. Dispute discrepancies directly with the card issuers right away if issues surface. Proper planning prevents problems!

What Are the Risks with Balance Transfers?

Balance transfers offer shortcuts for paying down debt faster but also pose some hazards if not executed carefully:

  • New credit inquiries impact credit initially
  • Low intro rate time limits pass quickly
  • Carrying balances ongoing negates all savings
  • Missed payments damage credit reputation
  • Additional debt accrued erases all progress

Commit to fundamental habit changes and tracking spending patterns that led to original debts or balance transfers just lead to more. Ultimately it comes down to not spending more than you earn.

Tips to Pay Off Transferred Balances Quickly

The most vital part of making balance transfers work involves completely paying down balances before intro 0% rates expire. Consider these tips:

  • Stop Using Original Cards – Additional charges undo positive progress.
  • Pay New Card First Always – Make it the top billing priority and aim to exceed the minimums.
  • Automate Payments – Schedule fixed payment transfers on paydays for easy consistency.
  • Consolidate Other Debts – Combine multiple balances onto the new lower rate card if able while 0%.
  • Attack Highest Interest First – If juggling multiple debts, resolve costlier ones faster when possible.
  • Avoid New Charges – Prevent everyday swiping from stealing progress. Stick to debit cards and cash.

The key is continuing positive momentum and avoiding backslides with new charges. Balance transfers enable fast progress but require diligence and restraint to work.


Balance transfers effectively provide short-term flexibility in paying down credit card debt faster and cheaper. Make sure to carefully compare card offers, fees involved, and your financial ability to pay balances off in under 18 months when intro periods expire.

Commit to diligent tracking of your spending habits and progress in paying off debts. Sign up for automatic payments and balance notifications to prevent backslides.

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