what is a balance transfer

by Aidan Kang, CFA
Senior Writer
UPDATED: February 23, 2023

Are you looking to get rid of your debt faster? Balance transfer of credit card balances can help. With the right knowledge and understanding, you can make well-informed decisions on whether a balance transfer is the right move for you.

Read this blog post to learn more about how balance transfers work, what are their pros and cons, when should you consider one and more. Get ready to start paying off your debt faster by transferring your balances!

What Is A Balance Transfer

A balance transfer is a way to pay off debt faster by transferring your existing credit card balances onto another credit card with a lower interest rate. By doing so, you can save on the amount of interest you are paying over time and potentially clear your debts much sooner. Balance transfers often involve an upfront fee, which remains regardless of how or when you decide to repay the debt.

Balance transfers typically offer introductory periods for repayment – generally 0% APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for a certain period of time up to 24 months with no fees charged during this promotional window; however, after the promotional window expires, standard rates will apply and most likely be higher than initial offers. It’s important to understand all terms and conditions that come with any balance transfer offer before making the switch and committing to a new payment plan.

How Do Balance Transfers Work

The process is fairly simple: You select two accounts to transfer funds between, typically one that has a high-interest rate and one with a lower interest rate or no fees whatsoever.

Your current balance will then be transferred over to the new account while potentially lowering your payments by significantly reducing the total debt you owe.

It’s important to read all agreement details carefully prior to initiating any transfer, as some lenders may charge additional fees for this service.

Can You Save Money With A Balance Transfer

Yes, balance transfers can be a great way to save money. It is important to shop around to find the best deal and lowest rate on a balance transfer card. Many credit cards offer low introductory rates on balance transfers that can significantly reduce your overall interest payments.

Additionally, some credit cards come with rewards like cashback or airline miles for using them, which can be an added bonus if you are able to pay off your entire balance before the introductory period ends. You should also check for any fees associated with transferring your balances such as annual fees, late payment fees, or transfer fees.

Finally, another important factor in determining whether you’ll save money by transferring your balances is how long it will take you to pay off the debt after the transfer is completed. If you’re confident that you will pay it off quickly then it can be a good option for saving money on interest payments.

When Should You Consider A Balance Transfer

In general, balance transfers should only be considered by those who have already taken steps towards fiscal responsibility, such as making payment arrangements on existing accounts and creating a budget plan as part of their overall debt reduction strategy.

If you want to pay off your debt faster, then balance transfers might be an option for you. Balance transfer cards often offer a promotional period in which you can save money on interest if you are able to pay off your debt within the timeframe. Before considering a balance transfer, it is important to look at your financial situation and make sure that this is something that makes sense for you.

It's also worth taking the time to research potential balance transfer cards with lower fees and better terms before applying. These could include cards offering 0% interest or low-interest rates for up to eighteen months after the card activation date. Additionally, many credit companies allow customers who have transferred balances from another cardholder’s account access to other benefits like cash back rewards or points programs.

If done correctly and responsibly, a balance transfer could be beneficial for those looking for ways to reduce their debts quickly and efficiently – helping them gain financial freedom sooner than planned!

Pros Of Balance Transfers

Still on the fence? Check out the advantages of balance transfers and how they can improve your financial situation.

  • One of the most attractive benefits to a balance transfer is that you may be able to reduce the amount of interest you pay.
  • Transferring your balance can help you get out of debt faster, as long as you avoid making new purchases and continue to make minimum payments on any other credit cards or loans.
  • Additionally, transferring your balance can help improve your credit score by reducing the amount of revolving credit and increasing the available credit ratio on each card.
  • Further, many banks offer promotional savings for those who take advantage of a balance transfer. These promotions often include introductory 0% APR periods and reduced fees for transferring balances from other lenders. This gives customers an opportunity to save money in the short term while they work toward paying off their debt over time.

Cons Of Balance Transfers

A balance transfer is not suitable for everyone and there are some cons to consider before taking advantage of the service.

  • Transferring a large balance can result in an increase in interest rates, as well as fees for every transaction you make.
  • Depending on the lender, there may be a limit on how much debt you can transfer into one account. This means that if your total balances are too high it may not be possible to take full advantage of the service.
  • Many lenders will require a good credit score for approval and this could mean some people do not qualify for their ideal balance transfer options.
  • Finally, choosing to use a balance transfer does come with certain risks, such as the possibility of accruing more debt if you don't pay off your balances promptly.


Are There Any Additional Fees Associated With Balance Transfers?

Generally, yes, banks charge a fee for doing a balance transfer. The fee can range from 1-4% of the transferred amount depending on the bank and credit card company you use.

Can You Transfer Balances From One Credit Card To Another Within The Same Issuer's Network Of Cards?

While this is possible in certain cases, it depends on your issuer and may result in additional fees or other charges so be sure to ask before making any moves with your account balances.

Will Balance Transfers Affect Credit Score?

The answer is no unless you do not make payments on time after the transfer has taken place or go over your spending limit for that month/year’s repayment period.

What Will Happen To Your Original Accounts After Transferring Funds Away?

Typically once all the money has been moved away from an old account it should close automatically but it's important to double check just to ensure that this happens correctly since failing to do so could affect both your finances and your credit score negatively!


Balance transfers can be a great way to clear your debt quickly and save money in the process. They are especially useful if you have multiple credit cards with high interest rates that you want to pay off in one go.

It's important to remember, however, that balance transfers come with both pros and cons – so it's important you consider all of this before deciding if this is right for you. Do some research and calculate the cost of a transfer versus leaving the debt as-is in order to make an informed decision about whether transferring your balances is ideal for your particular situation.