What to do when your balance transfer is denied

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Transferring a balance from a high-interest credit card to a balance transfer card with an introductory zero percent interest rate can make it easier to pay off your credit card debt. However, just because you apply for a balance transfer card, there’s no guarantee that the transfer itself will go through to the new card. Credit companies may refuse a balance transfer application for several reasons.

It can be unsettling to have your balance transfer denied after receiving a new balance transfer credit card, but you have options for bouncing back. You can contact the credit card issuer directly, work on improving your credit score or try an alternative method of debt payoff.

Read through this guide to understand why your balance transfer was denied and how you can begin navigating the next steps.

Why are balance transfers rejected?

There are two ways in which a card issuer can deny a balance transfer. You can apply for a new balance transfer credit card and not have your application approved, or you can request a balance transfer on an already-approved card but have the transfer declined.

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

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 (typically above 670) when deciding if you’re a suitable applicant for a balance transfer card. 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.

You’re approved for the card, but denied a balance transfer

  • Your credit limit is too low. Your credit limit is the amount of money you can charge to your card at one time. The bank will hold your request for the time it takes to confirm the amount to transfer versus your credit limit. If this limit is lower than the amount of money you requested to transfer from another card, they will likely reject the request. You’re likely to have more success resubmitting your request at a lower amount. Even if you’re only able to transfer a portion of your balance, that can help bring down your interest owed.
  • You waited too long. Most balance transfer cards have a short period of time from the account opening when you can request a balance transfer in order to qualify for the intro APR. Often, this is around three months after opening. Make sure to read the fine print before applying for a card so you know how long you have to make a balance transfer request.
  • You’re attempting to transfer 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.

What to do next

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

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 further information to help you successfully complete your balance transfer. But even if you can’t fix the issue immediately, you’ll know what steps you need to take to improve your chances 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 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 sights can help you get approved and still give you the chance to meet your debt payoff goals.

Consider a personal loan

If you can’t find a balance transfer credit card that can meet your debt repayment needs, certain types of personal loans have the potential to provide you with a similar solution. A debt consolidation loan allows you to wrap up all 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.

Ask about a lower interest rate

If your balance transfer with a new issuer hasn’t worked out, you can always go to your current credit card company and request that it lower the interest rate on your existing card. You won’t be paying 0 percent interest, like with some introductory offers, but lowering your rate by even a few percentage points may help you to pay down your debt faster and more efficiently. Visit Bankrate’s credit card interest calculator to see how different interest rates could affect your balance.

Keep an eye on your credit score

Check your credit score regularly so you can be aware of how your score is changing over time. You can get a free credit score from each bureau once a year, and many credit card issuers also provide free access to either your FICO or Vantage credit score through your online account. If your score isn’t good or excellent, make a serious effort to build your credit. Simple solutions like making payments on time, keeping your credit utilization as low as possible and avoiding applying for too many loans or credit cards within a short time period can improve your credit score.

Also, take a look at your credit report and see if there are any 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 take steps to correct mistakes.

Research cards before applying

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 one may be the best fit for you. For example:

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

The bottom line

A balance transfer to a credit card with an introductory APR period can make it easier to pay down your credit card debt. If your balance transfer is denied, you can work with your credit card issuer to find solutions. Spending some time improving your credit score or addressing the specific reasons your transfer was rejected may enable you to successfully transfer a balance in a few months. If you need an immediate solution, requesting a lower rate on your existing card or applying for a personal loan may be the best way forward.