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 cards to a single Capital One balance transfer credit card to get all of your credit card debt in one place, though some people wonder whether a balance transfer 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 is very likely to improve. In fact, if you open a new credit card to take advantage of the 0 percent introductory APR period on balance transfers, your credit score might start improving right away.
This has to do with what’s called a credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of credit you have available to use compared to the amount of credit you’re actually using. Adding a balance transfer card to your wallet increases the amount of credit you have, but it doesn’t change the amount of credit you’re using, so your credit score could go up.
However, if you open 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 credit card 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 sometimes offers introductory balance transfer APRs. As of March 2021, though, the card doesn’t offer an intro APR on balance transfers. However, the card also doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee if you transfer your balance at the standard balance transfer APR of 15.49% – 25.49% variable, (it may have a 3 percent fee with a promotional APR offer, when available).
The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card may also allow balance transfers with a 3 percent balance transfer fee, though it doesn’t currently have an introductory balance transfer offer. Both cards have previously featured 0 percent APRs on balance transfers made for 15 months from account opening. Keep an eye out to see if Capital One brings this offer back.
The big difference between the Quicksilver and SavorOne is how you earn rewards. The Quicksilver card is a flat-rate cash back credit 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, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases.
How to do a Capital One balance transfer online
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 account 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.
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, including 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 fees. Click “Select Offer” to get a new menu labeled “Choose an Option”; from there, select “Transfer 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.
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.