Key takeaways

  • Each issuer has a different timeline for balance transfers, but in general, your balance transfer will likely take at least five to seven days to clear.
  • Some issuers might make you wait much longer — several weeks longer, in fact — which is why you should keep making payments on your card balance while the transfer is pending.
  • After your balance transfer is complete, make sure you don't have any remaining balance or interest charges on your old card.

A balance transfer takes about five to seven days after your request before you’ll see it appear in the account you’re transferring the balance to. But a word of warning: Some credit card issuers can take 14 or even 21 days to complete a balance transfer.

If you’re trying to reduce your credit card debt and pay it off as quickly as possible, a balance transfer may allow you to skip interest payments temporarily. The best balance transfer credit cards offer an introductory 0 percent annual percentage rate (APR) period, which gives you a set period of time to pay down your balance with no interest. Not only will you save on interest payments, but you can put the money you would’ve spent on interest toward paying down more of your debt.

Here’s what to know about how long balance transfers usually take, as well as what to do if your transfer is taking longer than anticipated:

How long does a balance transfer usually take?

If you transfer a balance to a new balance transfer credit card, expect it to take several days for the balance transfer process to complete. There are no hard-and-fast rules stating how long credit card companies have to complete a balance transfer, so balance transfer processing periods vary by lender and bank.

Discover, for example, tells cardholders that balance transfers on a new credit account typically take between seven and 10 days. However, if you’re transferring a balance to an existing account, it takes just seven days to process.

Chase and Citi both advise cardholders that balance transfers could take up to 21 days to complete, with Citi noting the process might take even longer when transferring from some banks.

Let’s look at how long the transfer process can take with a few major credit card issuers:

Credit card issuer Time frame to transfer a balance
American Express 5 to 7 business days (possibly up to 6 weeks)
Bank of America Up to 2 weeks
Capital One Up to 10 business days
Chase Up to 21 days
Citi Up to 21 days (possibly longer with some banks)
Discover 7 to 10 days
HSBC 7 to 10 days
Wells Fargo Up to 14 days

How to track your balance transfer’s progress

If you want to know whether your balance transfer is complete, check your credit card account. Some lenders provide an option for you to track your balance transfer’s status online, which makes it easy to track its progress.

Here are three steps you can take to stay on top of a balance transfer:

1. Initiate the balance transfer over the phone or online

You can initiate a balance transfer online in a matter of minutes with personal information that includes your name, address and Social Security Number.

2. Look for the balance to be debited from the transferred account

After your balance transfer has been authorized and processed, it will appear as a debit on the card to which you transferred the balance. In other words: If you transfer a $1,000 balance from the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to the Citi Double Cash® Card, your transfer will be complete when the $1,000 is debited from your Citi Double Cash account. (Don’t forget to factor in any balance transfer fees.)

Be aware that some credit cards may show a balance transfer as “pending” before the process is complete. In that case, your balance transfer is in progress — but it is not yet finalized.

3. Check for any lingering balances on the original account

You’ll also want to double-check your original credit card after your balance transfer completes to ensure there isn’t a remaining balance on the card that you need to pay off.

Even if you’ve transferred the entire balance of your credit card, there could be a few purchases that post to your card account after, leaving you with an unexpected balance on your old credit card — and leaving you exposed to interest charges.

What to do if your balance transfer is delayed

If your balance transfer appears to be taking longer than the timeframe of your card issuer, then you need to check on its status to find out whether it’s just delayed or in the process of being denied. You can start by following these steps:

1. Talk to your card issuer

You’ll want to start by contacting your balance transfer credit card’s customer service department. They should be able to tell you if there’s anything holding up the process, including whether they decided to deny your balance transfer request. Both denials and delays can happen for various reasons, such as the balance transfer amount exceeding your balance transfer card’s limit or the balance transfer coming from an ineligible account. Your issuer will be able to tell you which applies to your situation.

In some cases, you’ll also have to call customer support for the credit card you transferred the balance from to find out why there’s a delay. If the issue is on their end, then they should be able to provide insight into how much longer you’ll need to wait before your balance transfer is complete.

2. Keep paying your bills

Until the transfer is complete, you’ll need to make sure you’re making necessary payments on your old credit cards to avoid racking up interest charges and late fees for missing payments. Double-check that you have a $0 balance on those old accounts and no pending purchases before you stop making payments on them.

Details on the balance transfer process by issuer

A balance transfer can look a bit different depending on which credit card issuer you’re dealing with. Read our issuer-specific guides to the balance transfer process to learn more about what to expect with your card:

The bottom line

If you want to pay off high-interest credit card debt, a balance transfer credit card can help you get the job done and save money you’d otherwise spend on interest. But balance transfers take time that depends on the issuer, and you’ll want to keep a close eye on your balance transfer credit card account to track the process.

If your balance transfer is not completed within 21 days, contact your credit card issuer’s customer service department to learn what might be holding it up. And prioritize making payments on your original credit card until your balance transfer is complete and your original card shows a balance of $0 to avoid unnecessary interest and fees.