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 credit-card-debt free.

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% 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 for 2020  due to its lengthy 0% intro APR rate. New cardmembers get 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (15.49% to 25.49% variable after that)  and only pay a 3% balance transfer fee on balances transferred within those 15 months. That’s $3 for every $100 transferred.

If cardmembers transfer a balance after the first 15 months of card ownership, no balance transfer fee is charged — but you don’t get any interest-free months to pay off your balance. Instead, your balance will accrue interest at the same rate as any other purchases charged to the card.

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, which also made our best balance transfer cards list, offers a virtually identical balance transfer plan.

Cardmembers receive 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (15.49% – 25.49% variable APR after the intro rate ends) with a 3% balance transfer fee on balances transferred within those 15 months. After 15 months, you don’t get charged a balance transfer fee, but you do pay the purchase interest rate on any balances you transfer.

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% cash back on every purchase. The SavorOne card is a bonus category cash back card that earns an unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% cash back at grocery stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Capital One SavorOne Rewards Credit Card are the only two Capital One cards that offer special intro APRs on balance transfers. So, if you want to do a Capital One balance transfer to avoid paying APR temporarily, you’ll need to apply for one of those cards.

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 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.