balance transfer workUpdated: Sept. 19, 2017

Are you paying too much in credit card interest and looking for a money-saving option? If so, then a balance transfer may be the answer for you.

What’s a balance transfer?

A balance transfer allows you to take the full or partial balance from one of your credit cards and transfer it a new credit card. Completing a balance transfer makes it easier to pay off old debt because your new credit card could either have a lower APR or a 0% introductory APR for an extended period of time, allowing you to save more money in the long run.

How does a balance transfer work?

Balance transfers may seem pretty complicated, however they are rather simple to complete. The steps below detail all of the necessary actions you need to take in order to complete the transfer.

1. Apply for a new credit card: When you’re thinking of completing a balance transfer, you must first find the best card for your circumstance. While you’re looking for a credit card, you should be looking for two key features: a lengthy intro APR on balance transfers and little or no balance transfer fee. The longer the intro APR lasts, the more time you’ll have the pay off the balance. This means if you have a larger balance, you may want to apply for a card with an 18 month intro APR over a card with only a 12 month intro APR.

Need some help finding the best credit cards for balance transfer? We’ve detailed some of the best credit cards for balance transfers below.

Longest 0% Intro APR: Citi Simplicity Card

The Citi Simplicity Card (a NextAdvisor advertiser) is the best card for someone who needs a lot of time to pay off a larger balance because it offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 21 months. Yes, you read that correctly — you’ll get 21 months with no interest! Although you will pay a small balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount transferred, whichever is larger, with the Citi Simplicity Card, you will never have to pay any late fees, penalty rates or annual fees — ever.

No Balance Transfer Fees: BankAmericard Credit Card

If you’re looking for a card with no balance transfer fees, the BankAmericard Credit Card is the perfect selection for you. This card offers a 15-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers made within the first 60 days and has no balance transfer fee on transfers made within the same 60-day period (after that, it’s 3% or $5, whichever is greater). The BankAmericard Credit Card also has no annual fee and offers a 15-month 0% intro APR on purchases.

Want more options? Use our balance transfer calculator to help you figure out which card makes the most sense for your particular situation. You can find the calculator on the right side of this page.

2. Once accepted, initiate the transfer: Once you’ve been accepted for the credit card of your choice and understand the terms and conditions for your transfer, you need to contact the issuer of the credit card you’re transferring the money to in order to initiate the transfer. There are two main ways to request the transfer: calling the bank or requesting a balance transfer online through the bank. Sometimes you can request or initiate a balance transfer before you’re even approved for the credit card. For example, Chase Slate allows you to enter all of the balance transfer information on your application form.

The information you’ll need to provide your new credit card in order to complete the transfer is the account number for the card you wish to transfer the balance from, the bank name and the amount of money that you wish to transfer to the new card. They will need an exact dollar amount so you should check your statement or call the bank to get the most up-to-date balance.

3. Verify the transfer is complete: It’s important for you to continue paying at least the minimum payments on your old credit card until you receive the statement reflecting the balance transfer because if you don’t, you might be missing a payment, which could negatively impact your credit scores. Balance transfers usually take about 7 days to complete. Once you have received the statement, the balance transfer is complete and you can focus on paying the new credit card, unless you still have a balance on the previous card.

It’s important to note that you should not close the original card once the balance transfer is complete because it could negatively affect your credit. Learn more about this and the other four credit card mistakes you should avoid here.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.