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How to Do a Bank of America Balance Transfer | Credit Card News & Advice

Key Takeaways

  • A balance transfer allows you to move a balance from one credit card to another, typically to take advantage of a low or 0% introductory APR.
  • A balance transfer can save you money and give you more time to pay down a balance, but it’s important to manage it responsibly.
  • You can log into your account online or call Bank of America to request a balance transfer.

Many Americans carry a balance on their credit cards. In 2023, U.S. consumers’ credit card balances totaled more than $1 trillion. Credit card debt can be very expensive, and a large balance can take years to pay off. But a balance transfer from a credit card company like Bank of America can offer a reprieve from high interest rates and the chance to pay off your debt faster.

What Is a Balance Transfer?

A balance transfer is a feature some credit card companies offer. If you’re approved for a balance transfer card, you can take a balance from another issuer’s card and move it to the balance transfer card. You pay a fee that’s usually a percentage of the total you’re transferring. Balance transfer offers generally give you an introductory annual percentage rate on the balance for 12 to 21 months. If you don’t pay off the entire balance during the introductory period, a higher APR applies once that time is up.

Pros & Cons

A balance transfer offers these advantages:

  • Interest savings. Depending on the offer, you may pay a lower APR or a 0% APR during the balance transfer period.

  • Breathing room to pay off your balance. Balance transfer periods can last as long as 18 or 21 months, which gives you time to pay down the debt.

  • The ability to tackle principal more quickly. With a low or 0% APR on the transferred balance, much or all of your payments go toward paying down your principal balance. 

But it comes with the following drawbacks:

  • Not available to everyone. If you have poor credit, you may not qualify for a balance transfer.

  • Temptation to keep spending. If you don’t commit to reining in spending while you pay off your balance, you can end up in even more debt.

  • Possible ding to your credit score. Opening a new card to transfer a balance results in a hard credit inquiry and can decrease the average age of your accounts, which could lower your credit score.

Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these steps to complete a balance transfer through Bank of America:

  1. If you don’t yet have a Bank of America card that’s eligible for a balance transfer, apply for a new card. You’ll need to share your name and contact information, Social Security number, annual income and monthly housing payment. Submit your application and wait for it to be approved.
  2. Once you have an eligible card, request to transfer a balance. To do this online, log into your account and follow the instructions. You’ll need to submit the account number of the card you’re transferring a balance from, the name of the company that issued that card and the amount of the balance. Bank of America allows you to request as many as three balance transfers in an online session. Alternatively, you can call Bank of America at 800-726-8601 and ask to transfer a balance.
  3. Wait for email confirmation that your balance transfer has gone through. If you’ve just opened a new account, the process takes 14 business days. Bank of America says other balance transfers usually take two to four business days.

Things to Avoid When Doing a Balance Transfer

If you decide to proceed with a balance transfer, there are a few pitfalls to steer clear of.

Be careful not to miss payments or make late payments on your balance transfer card. Not only could you incur late fees and hurt your credit score, but you could lose the promotional APR.

Also avoid making new purchases on your balance transfer card. You typically don’t get a grace period on new purchases when you’re carrying a balance, so you’ll be charged interest immediately on things you buy. That leaves you with a larger balance to pay off. “If the goal is to consolidate debt, you don’t want to keep racking up debt,” says Renee Jones, vice president of product management at Georgia’s Own Credit Union.

You should avoid transferring a balance that’s larger than your credit limit. Whether you can exceed the limit depends on the credit card company’s policies. “Many will allow you to go above your credit limit for up to 10%, sometimes 20% above what they’ve approved you for,” says Geri Hopkins, chief operations officer at Skyla Federal Credit Union in Charlotte, North Carolina. But credit card companies generally charge an over-limit fee, so the balance transfer will be more costly.

And refrain from doing balance transfers too frequently. Repeatedly opening new balance transfer cards can hurt your credit score and tempt you to overspend. “It should be something that should be quite rare – once every few years or so,” Hopkins says.

Tips for a Successful Balance Transfer

Here’s how to get the most out of a balance transfer:

  • Shop around. “There are some tremendous offers out there,” Hopkins says. She adds that the best balance transfer offers are usually available in the first quarter of the year, when consumers are more likely to transfer balances from holiday spending. 
  • Check your credit score before applying. A consumer’s credit score is one of the most important factors card issuers consider when determining eligibility, Jones says.
  • Consider the length of the intro period. Choose a card with an introductory period that gives you enough time to make significant progress paying down your debt. “You have to be very disciplined and conscious when you are doing a balance transfer because it’s for a set amount of time,” Jones says.
  • Read the fine print. Find out what fees apply and make sure you understand what circumstances can cause you to lose your introductory APR.
  • Pay off your balance before your promotional rate expires. You can divide your balance by the number of months in the introductory period to see how much you’ll need to pay each month. For example, if you transfer a $4,500 balance and you get a 0% APR for 18 months, plan to pay at least $250 per month.
  • Make a budget. Know how much money you have coming in and how much you have to spend on essentials like rent and utilities. Income that’s left over should go to paying down your balance before you consider buying optional items. “I can’t stress enough, success is having that budget,” Jones says.
  • Use a separate card for purchases. Pay it in full each month so you don’t accumulate another large balance.

Balance Transfer Cards From Bank of America

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards

Best for: Everyday spending

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles. Spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days earns a $200 online cash rewards bonus. The card gives tiered rewards of 3% cash back on a selected category, 2% back on grocery and wholesale club spending and 1% back on other purchases. The higher rewards rates are limited to the first $2,500 of combined spending in the eligible categories per quarter.

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards

Best for: Consistent cash back

The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card offers a 0% intro APR for the first 15 billing cycles on balance transfers. Spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days gives a $200 online cash rewards bonus, and all purchases earn 1.5% cash back. You can redeem the cash rewards for a statement credit, deposit them in a Bank of America checking or savings account or move them to an eligible Merrill account. The card doesn’t charge an annual fee.

BankAmericard®

Best for: No-frills balance transfers

The BankAmericard® credit card doesn’t provide rewards or a sign-up bonus, but it offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 billing cycles. The card has no penalty APR and no annual fee. Cardholders can track their FICO score monthly and access financial education resources.

Bank of America® Travel Rewards

Best for: Travel spending

The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for up to 15 billing cycles. There’s a sign-up bonus of 25,000 online points worth $250 toward travel or dining if you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. The card earns 1.5 points per $1 of spending, and points can be redeemed as statement credits to offset travel and dining purchases. Plus, the card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can check the status of a balance transfer by logging into your online account or viewing your account on the Bank of America app. First go to Information & Services, then choose Balance Transfer and Direct Deposit History.

Opening a new credit card can cause your credit score to drop. And if you continue to spend after a balance transfer, your credit utilization rate will suffer, which may also hurt your score. But responsibly using a balance transfer card to reduce your debt can improve your credit score over time.

You may be able to request a credit line increase in your online account by navigating to Account Summary and then Card Details. If you don’t see the option to request a credit line increase there, you can call the number on the back of your card and speak to customer service.

Instead of using a balance transfer card, you could take out a debt consolidation loan or a home equity loan. Another option is to work with a nonprofit credit counselor to set up a debt management plan.

Sarah Goldberg
Sarah Goldberg

Sarah is a seasoned financial market expert with a decade of experience. She's known for her analytical skills, attention to detail, and ability to communicate complex financial concepts. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Finance, is a licensed financial advisor, and enjoys reading and traveling in her free time.

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