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What to do when your balance transfer is denied

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African man working from home, using laptop, paying utility bills. Young man doing taxes at home. Man talking to costumer service.
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Transferring a balance from a high-interest credit card to a balance transfer card with an introductory 0 percent interest rate can make it easier to pay off your credit card debt. However, just because you apply for a balance transfer card, doesn’t mean the transfer itself will go through to the new card. There are several reasons an issuer may refuse a balance transfer application.

It can be unsettling to have your balance transfer request denied after receiving a new balance transfer credit card, but you do have options for bouncing back: You can contact the credit card issuer directly about the denied request, work on improving your credit score so you can apply for another balance transfer card or else you can try an alternative method of paying off your debt.

Below, we’ll explore why your balance transfer might be denied and what you should do next.

Why would a balance transfer be denied?

When it comes to why a card issuer would deny a balance transfer, there are two main scenarios:

  • You apply for a new balance transfer credit card and your application isn’t approved.
  • You request a balance transfer on an already-approved card but the transfer is declined.

Here’s a breakdown of the reasons either of these scenarios might happen to you:

Why the issuer rejects your card application

Your credit score is too low

Most credit card issuers want to see a good to excellent credit score (670 to 850) when reviewing balance transfer card applications. A good credit score shows you’re a low-risk candidate who is likely to pay off their complete balance.

You have too many recent balance transfers

A series of recent balance transfers on your credit report could indicate that you’re shuffling your money around rather than actively paying it off. This may be a red flag for issuers, so you should avoid requesting too many transfers within a short period of time.

Why you’re approved for a card, but denied a balance transfer

Your credit limit is too low

Your credit limit is the maximum balance you can have charged on your credit card. The issuer will hold your balance transfer request until they are able to confirm the amount to transfer in relation to your credit limit. If your credit limit is lower than the amount of money you requested to transfer from another card, the issuer will likely reject the request. You’re likely to have more success if you resubmit your balance transfer request at a lower amount. Even if you’re only able to transfer a portion of your balance, this will help to bring down the amount of interest you’ll owe.

You waited too long to request a balance transfer

Most balance transfer cards require you to complete a balance transfer within a specific time frame after opening the account in order to qualify for the intro APR offer. Usually, this time frame is within three months of account opening. Make sure to read the fine print before applying for a card so you know how long you’ll have to make a balance transfer request.

You’re attempting to transfer a balance from the same issuer

If you attempt to transfer a balance from one credit card to another from the same card issuer, your balance transfer will likely be denied. Most issuers have restrictions on transferring balances between accounts.

Balance transfer denied: What to do next

If your balance transfer was denied, there are steps you can take to improve your odds of being approved in the future. It may take some time, but the steps you take today may make a significant impact within a few months.

Continue to pursue the balance transfer

Find out why you were denied

Start by asking the issuer why it rejected your request, whether for the card itself or just the transfer. You may be able to provide the issuer with further information that will help you to successfully complete your balance transfer. Even if you can’t fix the issue immediately, the issuer will help you to determine the steps you need to take to improve your chances for the next time you apply.

Resubmit with a lower dollar amount

If you were approved for a balance transfer credit card but your transfer request was higher than your credit card limit, try submitting a balance transfer request for a lower amount. Some issuers only allow you to transfer a balance up to a certain threshold, such as 75 percent of your credit limit. A transfer request that’s right at your credit limit is more likely to be rejected. In some cases, lowering your transfer amount can help you to get approved and still give you the chance to meet your debt payoff goals.

Pursue an alternative method

Ask for a lower interest rate

If your balance transfer with a new issuer hasn’t worked out, you can request your current credit card issuer to lower the interest rate on your existing card. You won’t be paying 0 percent interest as with some introductory offers, but if you’re able to lower your interest rate by even a few percentage points, you may be able to pay down your debt faster and more efficiently. Check out our credit card interest calculator to see how different interest rates could affect your balance.

Consider a personal loan

If you can’t find a balance transfer credit card that meets your debt repayment needs, certain types of personal loans could provide you with a similar solution. For example, a debt consolidation loan allows you to wrap up all of your debt into one package, often with a lower interest rate. If a balance transfer doesn’t pan out, a debt consolidation loan could be a solid option for you.

When to reapply for a balance transfer if you’re denied

Ideally, you should wait at least a few months before attempting another balance transfer request. If you were denied a balance transfer because you’ve made too many balance transfers recently, you should wait a longer period of time — at least six months. However, you may want to check with your issuer(s) to see if they have restrictions related to when you can reapply for a balance transfer.

Build your credit score before reapplying

If you were denied a balance transfer because of a low credit score, you’ll need to make a serious effort to build your credit score before trying a balance transfer again. To do this, be sure to:

  • Make payments in full and on time.
  • Keep your credit utilization as low as possible, ideally below 30 percent of your credit limit.
  • Avoid applying for too many loans or credit cards within a short period of time.
  • Check your credit score regularly to see how your score is changing over time. You can get a free credit report from each major credit bureau once a year on AnnualCreditReport.com, and many credit card issuers also provide free access to either your FICO or VantageScore credit score through your online account.
  • Check your credit report for errors. False information in a credit report can impact your score significantly. If you discover an error on your report — such as an account that’s not yours or a debt marked unpaid that you know you’ve paid in full — it’s important to dispute the mistake.

Research cards before applying again

Before you apply for another balance transfer credit card, make sure you understand the details and benefits of each card you’re applying for so you can make an informed decision about which balance transfer card may be the best fit for you. For example:

  • What credit score do you need to be approved for this card?
  • Does it have a balance transfer fee?
  • How long do you have to make a balance transfer request after opening the account?
  • What is the transfer limit of the card?
  • What is a typical credit limit on the card?

The bottom line

Transferring a balance to a credit card with a 0 percent introductory APR offer can make it easier to pay down your credit card debt. But if your balance transfer is denied, you can work with your credit card issuer to find a solution.

In order to successfully transfer a balance within a few months, you may need to improve your credit score or address the specific reasons your transfer was rejected. However, if you need an immediate solution, the best way forward may be to request a lower rate on your existing card or apply for a personal loan.

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Part of  Balance Transfer Basics