If you have a lot of high-interest credit card debt, transferring it to a card with a lower interest rate — preferably one with a 0% APR promotion — can help save you time and money as you pay down your balance.
Fortunately, the process of transferring a balance is simple. If you’re opening a new credit card to do a balance transfer, you can typically request the transfer during the application process. But if you don’t want to do the transfer until after you know you’ve been approved, you can also typically request by phone or online.
How to transfer a credit card balance to another card
Here’s how you can do a balance transfer with the top credit card issuers:
Phone number: 1-800-528-4800
Online: Go to your account services tab and select “Transfer Balances.” If there’s a current offer on your account, you can select it and enter the card number(s) of the account(s) from which you want to transfer, and the amount. If there is no current offer, however, Amex won’t allow you to transfer a balance.
Bank of America
Phone number: 1-888-291-9378
Online: In your online account, click on the “Consolidate Debt or Get Cash” tab, then “Transfer Balance to My Card.” From there, you’ll see a form where you can enter the account number(s) from which you want to transfer a balance and how much. On the right, you’ll find the terms of the transfer.
Phone number: 1-800-955-7070
Online: From your online account, click on “Transfer a balance” in the “I want to…” section on your account. From there, you can choose to request a direct balance transfer or a check in the mail, which you can use to pay off the other card. If you choose a direct transfer, you’ll be asked to enter the account number, amount, and the name and address of the bank.
You’ll then review the terms and conditions of the transfer and submit your request.
Phone number: 1-800-432-3117
Online: From your online account, click on “Transfer a balance” under your card’s credit limit figure. From there, you’ll enter the card number and amount. Then, you’ll agree to Chase’s terms and conditions and submit your request.
Phone number: 1-800-374-9700
Online: From your online account, click on the “Account Management” menu tab then “Rewards and Offers.” From there, you can select “Balance Transfer.” If you don’t have any current offers, Citi will let you know, and you won’t be able to request a balance transfer.
If you do, you can enter the card number and amount that you want to transfer and submit your request.
Phone number: 1-800-767-7339
Online: From your online account, click on “Transfer Balances” under your available credit figure. From there, you’ll opt for a direct balance transfer or to make a transfer to your checking account so that you can pay off the card from there. If you choose the direct transfer option, you’ll enter the account number and amount you want to transfer. Then, you’ll review Discover’s terms and conditions and submit your request.
Is a balance transfer right for you?
Before you start the process of transferring a balance to another credit card, consider all the costs involved.
“Typically, credit card issuers charge a fee associated with a balance transfer,” says Matt Freeman, head of credit card products at Navy Federal Credit Union. “This could be a flat fee per number of transfers, or a percentage of the total balance you’re bringing over to the new card.”
Freeman points out that there are credit cards that offer both 0% APR promotions and no balance transfer fees. He also recommends considering the length of the promotion to make sure that you’re getting enough time to pay off your balance.
Use a balance transfer calculator to see whether the numbers work in your favor. Also, ask yourself whether a balance transfer is actually going to help you get rid of debt or if you’re just shifting debt around. If it’s the latter, doing a balance transfer can contribute to the problem rather than solve it.
Once you do a balance transfer, make sure you pay on time every month. “Not only do missed payments negatively affect your credit score, but you could risk losing the low introductory rate as well,” says Freeman. “Losing your intro period could mean missing your goal of becoming debt-free.”
Use the right card
You can do a balance transfer with most credit cards out there, but not all offer good deals. Check out SuperMoney’s top personal and business credit cards to see which offer the best promotions for your needs.
Specifically, watch out for a 0% APR promotion, a low or no balance transfer fee, and a long promotional period. Some cards allow you up to 24 months to pay off your balance transfer.
As you do your due diligence, you’ll get the right card for your needs, and you’ll be on your way to paying off your debt.
Ben Luthi is a personal finance writer and a credit cards expert who loves helping consumers and business owners make better financial decisions. His work has been featured in Time, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance, U.S. News & World Report, CNBC, Success Magazine, USA Today, The Huffington Post and many more.