A balance transfer is when you move a balance from one credit card to another. If you’re trying to reduce your credit card debt and pay it off as quickly as possible, a balance transfer is a great way to pay down old debt without paying interest. The best balance transfer credit cards offer a 0% introductory APR period, which gives you a long window to pay down your balance with no interest.
However, balance transfers take time to process. If you are used to credit card transactions clearing your account in a single business day, you might be surprised to learn that it can take between a week and a month for balance transfers to complete. Here’s what you need 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?
Balance transfers are not instantaneous. If you transfer a balance onto a new 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, the way there are rules about how quickly credit bureaus should lift a credit freeze. This means that balance transfer processing periods vary by lender and bank.
Discover, for example, tells cardholders that balance transfers on a new credit account will process in 14 days—but if you’re transferring a balance onto an existing account, it only takes 7 days to process. Chase and Citi both advise cardholders that balance transfers could take up to 21 days to complete, with Citi noting that the process might take even longer with some banks. Check with your lender to see how long your balance transfer might take.
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 for you to track its progress.
When 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 Discover it® Balance Transfer card, your transfer will be complete when the $1,000 is debited from your Discover it Balance Transfer credit account (a balance transfer fee applies).
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.
You’ll also want to check your original credit card after your balance transfer has finished processing, just to ensure there isn’t any remaining balance on the card that needs to be paid off. Sometimes people assume they’re transferring the entire balance on their credit card without realizing that a few purchases haven’t posted to the card account yet.
What to do if your balance transfer is delayed
If your balance transfer appears to be taking longer than it should, contact your balance transfer credit card’s customer service department. Remember that it can take some balance transfers close to a month to finish processing, so give your balance transfer some time before assuming there’s a delay.
You might also consider calling the customer service department of the credit card that you transferred the balance from. They might be able to give you some insight into how much longer you’ll need to wait before your balance transfer is complete.
You should also continue making payments on your original credit card until the balance transfer process is complete. Make sure you make at least the minimum payment on time every month to avoid late fees and protect your credit score.
The bottom line
If you want to pay off your credit card debt, a balance transfer can help you get the job done. Since balance transfers are not instantaneous, watch your balance transfer credit card account carefully to track your balance transfer’s process. If your balance transfer has not completed within 21 days, contact your credit card issuer’s customer service department to learn what might be holding up the transfer. Keep making payments on your original credit card until your balance transfer is complete and your original card shows a balance of $0.