How to do a Capital One balance transfer

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If you’re looking for an easy way to pay off excess credit card debt without paying interest, a balance transfer is often a good idea.

You can transfer balances from multiple credit cards to your Capital One card to get all of your credit card debt in one place—and once you get that debt paid down, you’ll be free of credit card debt.

Some people wonder whether a balance transfer (Capital One credit card or otherwise) will hurt their credit score.

Good news: If you transfer a balance to a credit card and then pay that balance off, your credit score will very likely get better.

In fact, if you open a new credit card to take advantage of the 0 percent intro APR period on balance transfers, your credit score might start improving right away.

This has to do with what’s called the credit utilization ratio: the amount of credit you have compared to the amount of credit you’re using. Adding a balance transfer card to your wallet increases the amount of credit you have but doesn’t change the amount of credit you’re using, so your credit score could go up.

However, if you take out a balance transfer credit card, transfer a balance and then charge a bunch of new debt to your credit cards before paying that balance off, your credit utilization ratio could get worse and your credit score could go down. Likewise, if you never pay off your balance and keep transferring it from card to card, your credit score is unlikely to improve.

Balance transfers, like most aspects of credit card management, are only worth it when used responsibly. Keep these things in mind as you decide whether to use a Capital One balance transfer to pay off your credit card debt.

Best cards for a Capital One balance transfer 

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card made our list of best balance transfer cards of 2021 due to its lengthy 0 percent intro APR rate on balance transfers. Unfortunately, that rate isn’t always available. As of December of 2020, for instance, Capital One had eliminated its 0 percent introductory APR on balance transfers. If you transfer a balance now, you’ll have to pay an APR of 15.49 percent to 25.49 percent (variable). When the 0 percent balance transfer offer is available, you’ll pay a 3 percent balance transfer fee on balances transferred within the introductory period. There is no balance transfer fee when you are transferring a balance at the regular APR.

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, which also made our best balance transfer cards list earlier this year, offered a virtually identical balance transfer plan. However, that card’s 0 percent balance transfer offer was no longer being offered at the end of 2020, either. Instead, balance transfers came with the standard 15.49 percent to 25.49 percent variable APR. 

Both the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards and Quicksilver Cash Rewards were offering 0 percent APRs on balance transfers earlier in 2020, as long as cardholders made their transfers within 15 months of opening their accounts. This is a good deal, so watch to see if Capital One brings it back in 2021 or beyond.

The big difference between the Quicksilver card and the SavorOne card? How you earn rewards. The Quicksilver card is a flat-rate cash back card that earns an unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase. The SavorOne card is a bonus category cash back card that earns an unlimited 3 percent cash back on dining and entertainment, 2 percent cash back at grocery stores and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases.

How to do a Capital One balance transfer online 

Before you start the process of a balance transfer with Capital One it’s important to know you cannot transfer a balance from one Capital One card to another Capital One card. You can, however, transfer a Chase balance or a Discover balance (or other credit card issuer balances) to a Capital One card.

If you want to do a Capital One balance transfer online, start by logging into your Capital One credit card dashboard. Locate the credit card you want to use for the balance transfer and click “View Account.” Then look for the menu option “I Want To,” which should be located in the middle right of your screen next to a gear icon.

Capital One balance transfer dashboard

When you click “I Want To,” you’ll be taken to a second menu that includes a list of new options. Find and click “Transfer a balance.”

From there, you’ll be taken to a screen that outlines your current balance transfer offer: how much you’ll pay in interest, whether you’ll be charged a balance transfer fee and any time limits associated with either the interest or the fees. Click “Select Offer” to get a new menu labeled “Choose an Option”; from there, select “Transfer a Balance.”

Capital One dashboard for transferring a balance

If you have two-factor authentication set up, you’ll be asked to confirm your identity before you continue. At this point, you’ll see a screen that asks you to enter the account number of the account from which you’re transferring the balance, as well as the amount of the transfer.

Capital One dashboard - balance transfer details

How long does it take Capital One to process a balance transfer?

According to Capital One, balance transfers take about 10 business days to process.

It’s important to remember that until your requested balance transfer processes, it may continue to earn interest on the original credit card. After your balance transfer is finished, check the account from which you transferred the balance to see if there is any outstanding interest that needs to be paid off. It could take up to 30 days for the interest to appear on your account.

Likewise, unless the balance transfer process completes before your next credit card payment is due, the card issuer will still expect payment from you — and can penalize you if you miss it. Missing a credit card payment is never a good idea. It’s important to make any payments that might come due during the balance transfer process to avoid penalties and fees.