complete a balance transferUpdated: Sept. 27, 2018

Carrying credit card debt can feel like a never-ending burden. Even if you manage to pay more than the minimum, it seems like that payment barely makes a dent. Those who are trapped in the cycle of debt are likely wondering if there’s such a thing as a credit card makeover. Lucky for you, there is. Although the name isn’t as catchy, a balance transfer credit card allows you to give your credit cards a makeover and avoid interest for a set period of time. For example, Discover it Balance Transfer, our top-rated card, offers an 18-month 0% intro APR on balance transfers (after that a go-to variable rate applies), allowing you to escape credit card interest for a year and a half! While you may think transferring a balance is a major process that is a huge headache to deal with, the reality is, completing a balance transfer is quick and easy. Keep reading to learn how simple it is to complete a balance transfer and rid yourself of that hefty credit card interest.

Apply for a balance transfer credit card

The first step in the balance transfer process is to find the right card for your balance transfer needs. While you can complete a balance transfer to a card you already own, new credit cards have the most competitive balance transfer offers, making them a better solution. When you’re determining which card is best for you, you’ll want to pay close attention to the card’s 0% intro APR period — after all, you want to make sure you have enough time to pay the balance down or off — and its balance transfer fee (or lack thereof). If you don’t already know, most cards (with the exception of cards we’ve noted below) charge a balance transfer fee for completing a transfer. These fees usually cost 3% to 5% of the total transfer. For example, if you plan to transfer a $5,000 balance to a card with a 3% fee, you’ll pay a $150 balance transfer fee and have a total balance of $5,150. As you can see, a balance transfer fee isn’t the end of the world, and it can save you money in the long run compared to what you’re currently paying in interest on your current cards.

Initiate the transfer

While applying for a balance transfer credit card is a good start, it does no good if you don’t initiate the transfer. Most credit cards allow you to request a transfer when you fill out the application, which makes things easy. If the application does not request that information, don’t stress because there are other ways to complete the transfer. You can either contact your new credit card’s customer service team — the number is listed on the back of your credit card — to request the transfer, or complete the process through your credit card issuer’s online portal. If you choose the former, the customer service representative will walk you through the process, while the website should detail every step of the process.

It’s important to note that you’ll need to gather some information before you request a balance transfer. This includes the name of your credit card issuer, your account number and the account’s balance — it’s better to call the issuer to get the exact amount due (including interest) on the day you plan to initiate the transfer.

Also, remember that there’s a chance your new credit limit will not be high enough to transfer your whole credit card balance. If that’s the case, you have a couple options, as detailed in this blog post.

Confirm the transfer is complete

This step is an easy one to complete because all you really have to do is check your credit card statements to confirm the balance was transferred from one card to the other. A balance transfer can take up to 7 days to complete, which means if you have a minimum payment due in that time, you’ll want to still make that payment, as missing a credit card payment can really hurt your credit — and your wallet. Once you receive a statement reflecting the $0 balance, you can move your attention to the new card.

One of the most common misconceptions when it comes to credit cards is that it takes a long time to complete a balance transfer. As you can see from the information in this post, completing balance transfer is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Visit our reviews of the best balance transfer credit cards to learn more about the cards detailed in this post and see how they compare to others on the market.

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.