Step by Step Guide to a Balance Transfer

Recommended Balance Transfer Cards are at The End of This Guide.  

Step 1. Balance Transfer Basics

A balance transfer means you move your high-interest balance from one credit card to another with a 0% intro interest period. Some cards offer a year or even longer of 0% interest, which can save you hundreds of dollars in high-interest charges.  That gives you breathing room to pay down your debt, with no new interest charges piling up on that balance.

  Current Credit Card New Balance Transfer Card
Debt $5,551* $5,551*
Interest Rate 17% APR 0% intro APR for 15 months

That gives you 15 months to chip away at your balance with no interest payments piling up. If you pay $370.07 per month during the 15-month promotional APR period you would save an incredible $1,551.65 in interest and pay off your balance in full.

*Consumers have an average credit card balance of $5,551 according to Experian’s 2016 State of Credit report.

Consolidate multiple cards. A balance transfer is a great opportunity to consolidate your debt onto one card. If you have balances on a couple of cards, including store credit cards, you can consolidate them onto your new balance transfer card with a 0% intro APR. Having just one credit card bill each month can be easier to manage.

Good tip: Once your account is open, you may be able to transfer other types of debt too, including car loans using checks from the bank that issues the credit card.

Step 2. Apply for A Balance Transfer Credit Card

Great offers. There is a balance transfer war right now among the banks and they are fighting for your business. There are offers with ultra-long 0% intro APR and some cards waive the balance transfer fee if you start the transfer within a certain time.

To help you choose the best balance transfer card consider these features:

  • Length of the 0% interest period. How long do you need to pay off your debt?
  • Balance transfer fee. Some cards charge a 3-5% balance transfer fee. That means if you transfer $5,000 in debt from one card to another with a 3% fee, you will pay $150 to do that. While that may sound like a lot, it can be a smart move and save you hundreds of dollars in interest. 
  • Annual fee. No-annual fee cards are the most cost-effective way to get out of debt.
  • Cash-back. Some cards offer cash-back rewards that you can use to pay down your debt faster.

Step 3. Confirm the Transfer Is Complete

The transfer could take 7-14 days to complete. Continue to make your payments on the other credit card until you see that the balance has been paid. That way you can avoid late fees.

Step 4. Say Goodbye to High Interest Debt

Applying for a balance transfer credit card is the first step to right your financial ship. Once you have been approved for your new card, take full advantage of your 0% introductory balance period to chip away at debt using these tips below.

  • Take stock of your monthly expenses and make a budget. Are there areas you can trim?
  • Be careful about your spending. Just because you have a 0% intro period on balances (and maybe on purchases too), it’s not a free pass to spend.
  • Make it a goal to pay off as much as you can of your balance before the 0% period ends.
  • Pay your bill on time. If you pay late you could lose your introductory 0% rate.
  • Balance transfers won’t close your old credit card account. If you keep it open, lock it away in a drawer and don’t rack up new charges.

We've done the research. These are the top balance transfer offers:

Apply now for a balance transfer credit card. This is a powerful first move to help you break free from high interest debt. Feel good about taking this positive financial step forward! See all balance transfer options here. 

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

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Picture of Phyl Andrijeski

By: | Aug 4, 2018

My priorities are saving money on gas for the car and groceries for my family and for the pantry. Do you have what I need?

1 Reply

By: CompareCards | Aug 9, 2018

Many cards offer excellent cash back at locations such as supermarkets and gas stations.The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card as well as the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express are both excellent cards to help you earn cash back at these places!

Picture of Elsie Boisvert

By: | Jul 17, 2018

love discover and bank of america

Picture of Sally Palmer Borden

By: | May 22, 2018

I'm going on vacation to Bermuda. Which card is best to use in the Bermuda?

1 Reply

By: CompareCards | May 24, 2018

Great cards for traveling abroad are the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card !

Picture of Charles Reed

By: | May 18, 2018

I'm looking for a 21 month, 0% transfer fee 0% APR, and no fees at all

1 Reply

By: CompareCards | May 25, 2018

For balance transfers with low introductory APR take a look at the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card and Discover it® Balance Transfer both of which have great offers!

Picture of Brian McCleney

By: | Apr 24, 2018

I want to transfer about a $2000 balance from a 23% apr to a 0% apr. What are my best options?

1 Reply

By: CompareCards | May 25, 2018

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card and Discover it® Balance Transfer offer great introductory APR offers for balance transfers!

Picture of Colette Bell

By: | Apr 4, 2018

Are there credit cards for people who have been building their credit, having now fair, to good credit, but probably not considered excellent yet.

1 Reply

By: CompareCards | May 25, 2018

There are many options for people who have increasing credit in your range! Take a look at credit cards for fair credit and credit cards for good credit!

Picture of Paul Calderon Hughes

By: | Mar 12, 2018

Whar are the best cards for someone with bad crefit looking to rebuild?

1 Reply

By: CompareCards | May 29, 2018

Secured credit cards are an excellent way for people with bad credit scores to rebuild credit! The way these cards work is by using a refundable security deposit to create an initial line of credit. Take a look at the Discover it® Secured and the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®!

Picture of Doug Leedy

By: | Feb 27, 2018

What is the best card for people with excellent credit who have some balances to transfer?

1 Reply

By: CompareCards | Mar 7, 2018

If you have excellent credit, you have a great chance of getting approved for any card you choose. A few of the most popular balance transfer cards include The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, the Chase Slate® and the Discover it® Balance Transfer.

Picture of Cyndi J Murphy

By: | Feb 24, 2018

I have 1 card with 11000.00 on it at 11% want to transfer to a 0% card. what are my best options?

1 Reply

By: CompareCards | Mar 7, 2018

A few of the most popular balance transfer cards include The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, the Chase Slate® and the Discover it® Balance Transfer.

Picture of Audie A. Henze

By: | Feb 23, 2018

I have absolutely no knowledge of how to do balance transfers and could certainly use anyone's help on how to obtain this. Could someone please help me?? Please.!!!

2 Replies

By: CompareCards | Mar 7, 2018

Check out our Complete Guide to a Balance Transfer for an easy walk through of how to get started!

By: Julia Mcnaughton-Roache | May 3, 2018

When you get the card call the number on the back and a customer service representative will help you with the steps to take. Good Luck.

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These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.