How long does a balance transfer take?

Most balance transfers are completed within a couple of days. However, in some cases, it can take several weeks for the debt to be moved over to a new card.  

4 min read
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What is a balance transfer? 

A balance transfer allows you to move debt from one credit card provider to another.  

Most can help you save money on interest, as they often offer a low or 0% interest period. That means you can pay more off the actual balance you owe instead of the money going towards interest.   

The aim should be to pay off your balance before the 0% interest period ends. If you don't, you’ll start to incur interest charges, which might be higher than the card they originally came from. There's also usually a fee to transfer balances. This can be between 2-4% of the balance transferred. 

How can I get a balance transfer? 

If you’re thinking of applying for a balance transfer credit card, make sure you use an eligibility checker first. These checkers use a soft search which won't leave a mark on your credit report, so won't affect your credit score.  

Once you’ve found the right card for you, you should check the terms and any fees associated with it before applying. If you’re accepted, then all you have to do is wait for the debt to be transferred to the new card. The new provider will take care of the transfer for you and will deal with your old card provider directly. 

How long does a balance transfer take? 

It usually takes 1-2 working days for a balance transfer to complete, but this can vary between providers. Things like the provider’s timeframe and the number of balances you’re transferring can affect how long it takes for it to complete. 

During the transfer period, you should: 

  • Continue making payments on your old credit card until the transfer is complete to avoid late fees or penalties.
  • Monitor the progress of your transfer by checking your accounts regularly.
  • Avoid spending on both your old card and your new one to prevent complicating the transfer process.
  • Budget wisely to accommodate any potential fees or interest charges associated with the transfer.
  • Communicate with your new provider if you encounter any issues or have questions about the transfer process.  

How can you speed up a balance transfer? 

If your old credit card has a high interest rate, you may want to get the balance moved over to your new card as quickly as possible. But often, the length of time it takes for a balance transfer to go through depends on your provider. However, there are some things you can do that may help speed up the process: 

1. Submit complete and accurate information

Make sure you give all the right information when you start the transfer. This helps avoid delays caused by missing or incorrect details.

2. Opt for online transfers

Many credit card issuers offer online balance transfer options. This can speed up the process compared to other methods, like phone or mail. 

3. Choose a card with a fast processing time

Some credit card issuers have quicker processing times for balance transfers than others. Do some research to find a provider that suits your needs. 

4. Opt for a balance transfer promotional offer

These promotions often come with shorter processing times or even instant transfers, helping you move your balances more quickly. 

5. Consider contacting customer service

If there’s a reason you need to transfer balances quickly, reach out to the customer service team of your new card provider. They may be able to help move things along. 

Managing your balance transfer credit card 

While you can use a balance transfer card to make purchases, doing so can make it harder to chip away at your balance. To make the most of your balance transfer card, you should: 

  • Set up a Direct Debit so that you never forget to make a payment.
  • Avoid spending or withdrawing on your card to help you drive down the balance as quickly as possible.
  • Clear the balance before the low interest period ends so you can save the most money.  

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Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

Fiona Peake, Personal Finance Writer

Fiona Peake

Personal Finance Writer

Fiona is a personal finance writer with over 7 years’ experience writing for a broad range of industries before joining Ocean in 2021. She uses her wealth of experience to turn the overwhelming aspects of finance into articles that are easy to understand.