How long does a balance transfer take?

A blond man holds a credit card and a tablet and smiles about knowing how long a balance transfer will take.Image: A blond man holds a credit card and a tablet and smiles about knowing how long a balance transfer will take.

In a Nutshell

If you’ve requested to move a balance from one credit card to another, it can be stressful waiting for the balance transfer to process — especially if you have a payment coming up. Here’s how long you can expect it to take with some credit card issuers.
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A balance transfer could take up to six weeks to appear in the account you’re transferring the balance to, depending on your card issuer.

While many issuers can complete the process within a week, it’s not a “set it and forget it” kind of situation. You can check your accounts to see when the transfer processes. Make sure you continue to make at least the minimum payment on the card you transferred the balance from on time so that you don’t get slapped with a late fee.

To help you better understand what to expect, we’ve put together a list of some credit card issuers and how long they say it can take to process a balance transfer. We’ve also got some tips on what to do if your transfer still hasn’t been credited to your old account.

  1. How long can a balance transfer take?
  2. Consider tracking your balance transfer
  3. What you can do if a balance transfer isn’t showing on your original card

How long can a balance transfer take?

If you’re planning to transfer a balance to a credit card with one of the following issuers, here’s how long they say you can expect to wait for them to process the transfer.

Credit card issuer Time frame to transfer a balance to this issuer
American Express Usually 5-7 days, but it could take up to 6 weeks
Bank of America Usually 2-4 business days; up to 14 days from the open date if you recently opened the account
Capital One Usually 3-14 days
Chase Usually within one week, but it could take up to 21 days
Discover Usually within 7 days

If your credit card is with a different issuer, contact them directly to find out how long your transfer can take.

Consider tracking your balance transfer

Each credit card issuer may process balance transfers differently, and transfer requests to new card accounts may take longer than to existing cards.

But the timing for a balance transfer can be important, especially if …

  • You have a balance transfer credit card with a 0% intro APR offer that requires you to transfer any balances within a certain timeframe in order to take advantage of the intro offer
  • The card is offering an introductory time frame when you won’t be charged a balance transfer fee
  • You have a payment coming up on the card you transferred the balance from

If you request the transfer and don’t follow up or check to make sure everything has gone through, you could end up paying a late fee and interest on your the card you transferred the balance from.

And depending on the card issuer and when you request the transfer, you may have to make more than one monthly payment on the card you transferred the balance from before the transfer finalizes.

We recommend checking every couple of days to see if the original card issuer has received the funds. You’ll typically see it reflected on your account just like a normal credit card payment.

Read more: How to do a balance transfer in 6 steps

What you can do if a balance transfer isn’t showing on your original card account

If you think the transfer is taking too long based on the time frames provided by the issuer you’re transferring your balance to, don’t hesitate to call for an update. And you may need to make a second call to the original card issuer to find out when it’ll apply the funds to your balance.

If the transfer is already in the works, there may not be anything you can do to speed up the process. So in the meantime, stay on top of your payments and keep checking with both issuers to make sure there aren’t any more holdups.

Bottom line

If you have high-interest credit card debt, it might make sense to transfer it to another credit card, especially if you can get a 0% introductory APR offer on balance transfers. But depending on which card issuer you transfer the balance to, it can take a while for the transaction to be processed.

It’s important to know how long it could take. Be sure to stay on top of the situation until the transfer is completed. As you do, you can help avoid other headaches, like late-payment fees, along the way.

About the author: Ben Luthi is a personal finance freelance writer and credit cards expert. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and finance from Brigham Young University. In addition to Credit Karma, you can find his wo… Read more.