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How Long Does a Balance Transfer Take?

How to streamline the balance transfer process
By: Suleman Anwer
Credit Cards - General
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Wondering how long a balance transfer takes?

If you’re looking to pay off some high-interest credit card debt or want to make a large purchase, a balance transfer can help you out.
But balance transfers aren’t approved immediately and if you've applied for one, it can be stressful not knowing how long the process takes. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 

In this article, we’ll discuss how long a balance transfer takes and three key strategies to streamline your credit card balance transfer. We’ll also discuss three great balance transfer credit cards along with some important FAQs

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How Long Does a Balance Transfer Take?

Usually, a credit card balance transfer takes about five to seven days to process.
At times, noteworthy credit card issuers even take 14 to 21 days or more to complete the balance transfer process depending on the situation. 

Since there are no hard-and-fast rules for how long banks can take to complete a credit card balance transfer, the time frame largely depends on the bank.

Note that a credit card company will give you an approximate idea of how long a balance transfer can take before you apply. However, there’s no way to know the exact period of time in advance. That’s why it’s best to be prepared to wait for at least a couple of weeks for the credit card balance transfer to be approved and completed.

With that said, here’s some data on average time most issuers take:

Average Processing Time Taken by Major Credit Card Issuers 

Here’s a breakdown of the approximate time taken by major credit card companies to process your balance transfer:

Credit Card Issuer

Average time taken for a Balance Transfer

American Express®

Usually 5 to 7 days, but can take up to 6 weeks in some cases. 

Bank of America®

Up to 2 weeks

Capital One

3 to 14 days


Usually within a week, but can take up to 21 days in some cases. 


2 to 21 days


Up to 4 days


7 to 10 business days

Wells Fargo

Usually within a week, but can take up to 21 days in some cases. 


Up to 14 days.


Usually 1 business day

Virgin Money

3 to 4 business days

Let’s now look at three strategies that can help you streamline your balance transfer process.

3 Key Strategies to Streamline Your Balance Transfer Process

A balance transfer is a common
debt consolidation strategy that can save you a significant amount of money in interest.

Here are three key strategies to keep in mind when initiating a balance transfer to make the most of it:

1. Online Balance Transfer Application

Submit your balance transfer application online by email. 


Electronic transfers are usually processed faster. 

Applying online also lets you monitor the progress of the balance transfer application.

2. Request the Entire Balance Transfer at Once

Request your entire balance to be transferred at the time of the application. 

This way, you can make the most of the intro APR (Annual Percentage Rate) balance transfer offer and get all your debt transferred as soon as possible. It also saves you the trouble of applying multiple times to get all your debt transferred.

Note that your credit limit may prevent you from transferring the entire balance. Your credit card company typically determines the balance transfer limit based on your available credit limit. 

3. Pay Existing Credit Cards 

Make a payment on your existing balances until your balance transfers are complete. 

Since a balance transfer can sometimes take three to four weeks, not making monthly payments on your existing credit card’s debt can result in a late payment fee. 

To be safe, at the very least, make the minimum payment on your existing balances while waiting for your balance transfer to process.

Now that we’ve got the tips out of the way, what are some good balance transfer cards to use?

3 Great Balance Transfer Cards

Here are three great balance transfer credit cards you can consider to clear your high-interest credit card debt:

However, before choosing a balance transfer credit card, you should ideally check for:

  • A 0% intro APR offer or a lower interest rate than your existing credit card.
  • A balance transfer offer with no or low balance transfer fee.
  • Other financial terms, fees, and rates in addition to the balance transfer fee. This includes an annual fee, late fee, interest rate on new purchases, variable APR after the promotional periods, cash advance APR, and more.

Note: To qualify for credit cards with a great balance transfer offer, you’ll typically need a good to excellent credit score and generally a good credit history. A FICO® score of 670 and above is considered a good to excellent credit score. 

3 Important FAQs About a Credit Card Balance Transfer

Here are answers to three common questions you may have about balance transfers:

1. How Do You Know if Your Balance Transfer Is Approved?

Check your balance transfer credit card accounts to see if your balance transfer is complete. Some card issuers let you track your balance transfer’s status online, making it easy for you to stay on top of the progress.

Once your balance transfer is authorized and processed, it will appear as a debit on the card to which you transferred balances.

Note that some card issuers will send a payment directly to your old creditor, while others give you balance transfer checks that you must fill out and send in yourself. 

2. What Should You Do if Your Balance Transfer is Delayed?

If a balance transfer takes longer than expected, you should ideally speak to a customer service representative of the credit card company that issued your balance transfer card. 

The bank is responsible for your credit card repayments and applying that amount to your balance transfer card.

3. Will a Balance Transfer Hurt Your Credit Score?

Sometimes, your credit report can temporarily show a balance on both your old and new credit cards during the balance transfer process. 

In such cases, your overall credit utilization ratio may increase, and this can temporarily reduce your credit score. Additionally, applying for a new credit card can also result in a drop in your credit score.

However, these dips are temporary and will have a minimal effect on your score in the long run. Your next credit report should show that your old card’s balance is zero.

In fact, a balance transfer can help you improve your credit score by lowering your credit utilization rate across all your cards.

Additionally, if you transfer your credit card debt to a balance transfer card with a 0% intro APR, you’ll also enjoy zero interest on the monthly payments. This will make it easier to pay off your debt, which is the most critical factor in determining your credit score. 

Note: Most credit cards charge a balance transfer fee of 3-5% of the transferred balances. Ensure that this balance transfer fee doesn't wipe out what you save in interest charges through the intro APR offer.


A balance transfer credit card can be a major benefit for you if you’re looking for ways to make credit card repayments, pay off your credit card debt or transfer your debt from a personal loan. 

However, a balance transfer doesn’t happen instantly.

And while it's impossible to predict exactly how long a balance transfer will take, your credit card issuer can give you an approximate timeline. 

You can track your balance transfer status and even contact your credit card issuer if the balance transfer hasn’t been approved for an extended period. 

While you wait, ensure to keep making at least a minimum payment on your original card and avoid a late payment fee. Your previous credit card issuer isn’t likely to forgive a late fee or interest charges only because you’ve initiated a transfer.

If you're interested in learning more about balance transfer cards that are best suited to you, check out our list of the current best balance transfer cards

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