Q: About how long should I expect it to take for a balance transfer request to clear?
A: Usually within 7 – 10 days, but there isn’t any guarantee made or implied by card issuers. If all your ducks are in a row, balance transferred are often processed in as little as a day or two. But if it’s a weekend, holiday, or other info needs to be a verified it could take longer. Likewise if the creditor you’re transferring debt from needs to be paid off by check instead of electronically. In the worst case scenarios it could be up to 30 days.
It’s best to submit online because that way you can easily determine if all the requisite information is entered correctly, thus insuring the fastest processing possible.
If you apply by phone the customer service representative could very well mistype information in one or more of the data fields. Understandably, that might be more likely to happen if you’re speaking to an overseas call centers staffed by those who speak English as a second language.
Below is how I would rank the issuers, starting with the fasted at the top, based on my experience of running the forum as well as what some of the issuers say on their websites. Obviously your experiences may vary.
I regularly hear from people who apply for a new Chase card with a balance transfer offer and see a fast turnaround. The shortest I’ve heard is as little as 48 hours but obviously it may take longer depending on your circumstances.
Citi is another bank that is well known for taking care of balance transfers quickly. Similar to Chase, I see posters who often say their request was completed within a few days, but unfortunately Citi’s offers are usually subpar in comparison.
3. Wells Fargo
The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Credit Card offers 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.
Their website says “most transfers are processed within 7 days” but from the comments I have seen, often times the balance transfers go through faster than that; 3-4 days when the payments to the creditors are made electronically.
5. Bank of America
How long does Bank of America take? Well according to an employee I spoke to there, she said the average was 3 to 6 days. She said unless the amount is less than $1,000 it’s “very rare” for them to be completed in less than 3 days.
According to the Q&A on the USAA website, the majority of the time the money will be sent electronically to the creditor within 2 to 3 business days. For creditors that have to be paid by check, it “may be completed within 5-7 days.”
7. Capital One
Here is a copy/paste answer from the FAQ section on Capital One’s website: “If your balance transfer request is approved, payment will be sent to your creditors within 10 business days. Please allow 10 days for mailing time. Continue to make payments to creditors until you confirm that they have received the transferred payment.”
8. American Express
I would not recommend AmEx for this. Ever since the recession they have shied away from transfers. That’s why you will see some of their credit card promotions feature a 0% intro APR only for purchases. AmEx’s balance transfers post typically within 4-5 days from what I’ve heard, though I rarely hear from people who still use them for this purpose.
Many call them Barclays but the US division (which I’m talking about) is called Barclaycard. According to their website, they take 5 business days but if your account is new it could take up to 4 weeks to process.
10. US Bank
This is probably the last credit card company I would choose to do a transfer. I’ve heard numerous complaints of them taking 10-14 days. And while it’s true any issuer may take that long, it sounds like with US Bank that timeframe seems to be the norm.