How Long do Credit Card Balance Transfers Take?

When you apply for a 0% APR balance transfer credit card<, most companies will state that you should allow 30 days for a balance transfer transaction to be completed. However, how long a balance transfer can take will vary dramatically from company to company. Because of this, there are key steps any person seeking a low rate balance transfer should take.

Consumers looking to transfer balances as quickly as possible are tempted by credit card companies to do so when they are applying online. While this may decrease the amount of time it takes for a balance transfer to clear, opting to transfer a balance online poses significant problems. First, when you transfer balances online, you will not know the go-to interest rate you will be charged when the 0% introductory period expires, as most companies do not provide this essential rate until after they have reviewed your application.

A second, perhaps more important issue, pertains to the length of the 0% period. Many companies offer multiple 0% rates based on an applicant’s credit profile. Thus, although a 0% for 1 year may be advertised, it is possible to get approved, but only offered a 0% rate for as little as 6 months. These rate tiers are typically listed in the terms and conditions of applications and can be easy to overlook.

A final factor that may influence your ability to get approved is the intent to make a balance transfer.  If you try to make a huge balance transfer with you application, credit card companies may frown upon this when reviewing your application.

Given the issues that surround transferring balances online, one should allow at least a week from the time they apply online to the time their credit card arrives, plus about 30 days for balance transfers to clear. Waiting 37 days for a balance transfer is a general estimate based on a worst case scenario. Some credit card companies may complete balance transfers in a few days or a week. However, the important thing is to closely monitor the credit cards you are transferring balances from to make sure the transactions have taken place. Otherwise, you could end up getting hit with penalties.

For more information on balance transfer credit cards, please see the credit card comparison section of Smart Balance Transfers.