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What are balance transfer loans?

Balance Transfer Loans: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Updated on January 11, 2024


If you have too many loans and feel stuck in a debt trap, a balance transfer loan can help you simplify your finances and save money. These loans help reduce your debt's interest rate and combine all your existing payments into one, leaving you with fewer obligations to manage.

How does a balance transfer work, how can it help you save money, and how can you obtain it? These are some frequent questions people have regarding the balance transfer loan option. Here's all the information you need to help you determine whether balance transfer loans are ideal for your unique situation.

What are Balance Transfers and Balance Transfer Loans?

Balance Transfers

Let's begin by understanding the definition of a balance transfer.

A balance transfer is a credit card arrangement that allows you to move your outstanding balance from one credit card to another. You're transferring a balance from one debt to another, hence the name. Doing this will only be advantageous if you move your debt to a lender offering a lower Annual Percentage Rate (APR).

For instance, you hold a balance on a credit card with a high interest rate and switch it to a card with a lower interest rate, perhaps even one with a 0% balance transfer introductory rate. This can help you pay off the debt more quickly and easily because you pay less interest on your debts.

Balance Transfer Loans

A balance transfer loan is a type of personal loan explicitly created to assist you in paying off some or all of your loans at once. You can pay off various credit cards and personal loans by taking out one single large loan. This way, you'll only have one monthly loan payment instead of multiple. The funds from a balance transfer loan go directly to creditors, whereas the borrowed funds get deposited entirely into your account in the case of an ordinary cash loan.

In contrast to credit cards, balance transfer loans have an annual percentage rate (APR) that doesn't fluctuate over time and have fixed monthly payments. So, you can use your balance transfer loan with a lower interest rate and more reasonable repayment terms to repay your existing credit cards and loans.

How Do They Work?

The way a balance transfer loan works is pretty straightforward. Once approved for a loan intended for a balance transfer, you decide which accounts must be paid and the amount each should receive from the new loan. A personal loan deposits the borrowed funds into your bank account. The funds from a balance transfer loan can only be used to pay off your credit cards.

Most repayments for balance transfer loans come with the typical "grace periods." After receiving your loan, you typically have up to 12 months of interest-free payments. You can save a lot of additional interest fees by paying off the entire loan during the grace period.

Remember that balance transfers may take a few days for your creditors to receive the payments. So, it's better to keep up with regular payments or continue making the minimum payments for the old types of debts until you confirm that all the requested creditors have been paid.

Which Debts are Eligible for Balance Transfer Loans?

There can be restrictions on how much you can pay off using a balance transfer loan in terms of the amount you owe to lenders. Furthermore, you may be unable to pay off all creditors utilizing this approach. Mortgage loans, auto loans, and student loans are some of the loans that aren't eligible for balance transfer loans.

There are a variety of lenders, each with its own set of guidelines. Before applying for a balance transfer loan, you can confirm whether you can pay off the loans and credit cards you have now with them.

Suppose your debt mainly comprises credit card debt. In that case,

transferring debt from your current credit cards to a personal loan with a low APR might be the right solution.

How to get balance transfer personal loans.

How to Get One?

Getting a balance transfer loan can be simple and easy. Here are the basic steps to get a balance transfer personal loan to repay your existing credit cards and loans:

Step 1: Note the outstanding balances of your existing debt and the interest rate for each debt. You'll require this information to choose the right card for a balance transfer.

Step 2: Look for lenders who provide a balance transfer option. Check and compare the deals different lenders offer to pick the most suitable choice for your situation.

Step 3: Read the terms and conditions properly and make sure you meet the requirements before applying for your balance transfer loan.

Step 4: Apply for the balance transfer personal loan. The application procedure for a personal loan with a balance transfer is the same as for any other personal loan. See if the lender allows you to apply online to avoid long queues and endless paperwork.

Step 5: Pay down your previous outstanding balances as soon as you receive your money. Remember that a balance transfer loan is intended to pay off your existing debt and transfer it to your new lender.

Step 6: Start making the repayments. You can check if the lender allows you to set up auto-pay to ensure all payments are made on time. With auto-pay, your monthly payment is taken out of your account regularly.

Does a Balance Transfer Loan Affect My Credit Score?

Your payment history plays a vital role in deciding your credit score. That means late or missed payments can significantly impact your credit ratings. If you have an overwhelming number of loans and won't be able to make payments on time, consider a balance transfer as an option.

It's important to remember that a balance transfer or personal loan shouldn't negatively affect your credit score as long as you have a quick, intelligent repayment strategy. In addition, you can pay off your existing credit card debts with a balance transfer card but keep those accounts open. If you close the accounts, your credit utilization rate can rise, impacting your scores negatively.

Balance Transfer vs. Personal Loan

Like balance transfer, personal loans are also considered a common consolidation strategy that can lower the interest you owe and help you pay off debt quickly. Knowing the difference can help you choose between a balance transfer card and a personal loan.

Eligible Debts

A balance transfer means moving your debt from one lender to another. When it comes to credit card debt, a balance transfer credit card allows you to transfer higher interest debt to a new credit card.

You can use a personal loan to settle numerous debts, such as credit card debt, unexpected medical expenses, payday loans, and outstanding personal loans.


A balance transfer is best suited for short-term debts that can be repaid during the promotional term, typically 15 to 21 months.

A personal loan is best to repay more significant debts that may take one to seven years to pay off.

Cost of Borrowing

Most balance transfer credit cards provide zero-interest promotional periods. However, they may charge around a 3% to 5% balance transfer fee.

Personal loan lenders mainly include fixed monthly interest and charge a 1% to 10% origination fee.

Credit Requirements

You may only be eligible for a low-interest-rate balance transfer credit card if your credit score is high.

Some lenders offer bad credit personal loans to borrowers with fair or bad credit. You might even have the option to pre-qualify with some lenders to check your eligibility for the loan.

Balance Transfer vs. Debt Consolidation Loan

The goal of a balance transfer is to transfer the balance of a high-interest credit card to one with a lower interest rate by taking advantage of a 0% APR balance-transfer promotion. Another alternative is to use a debt consolidation loan to pay off your credit card balances. This loan effectively combines several debts into one with a pre-decided fixed monthly payment and repayment term.

Irrespective of your option, try to avoid taking on any additional debt while paying off the balance transfer credit card or the debt consolidation loan. Doing that can help you stay on track with your ultimate debt-free goal.

How to make payments ion a balance transfer loan.

How Do I Make Payments?

With a balance transfer, you can start again with a lower APR, which can help you significantly reduce your interest costs and repay the loan quickly. If the lender offers a 0% APR, create a payment schedule depending on how many months you have to pay off your debt without incurring interest. Suppose you cannot pay off your entire loan during this promotional period. In that case, you should repay a significant portion of your balance to benefit from the interest-free period.

Should I Consider a Balance Transfer Instead?

Consider the following advantages and disadvantages before using a balance transfer:


Consolidates your payments

You can combine multiple credit card and loan balances using a balance transfer card. Instead of multiple monthly payments and remembering different deadlines, focus on one payment with a single deadline. Consolidating your debt with a balance transfer can simplify handling your payments.

Save money on interest

The possibility of saving money on interest is a significant benefit of the balance transfer. A 0% APR introductory period might be available, saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest. In this manner, the money you provide to pay off your debt will reduce the principal balance rather than cover interest costs.

Chance to earn rewards

Some credit cards provide rewards like cash back and travel points. But before you take on additional credit card debt, you should wait until you resolve your transferred balance.


Limited 0% APR period

Cards for balance transfers could provide a 0% introductory APR for a set period. You may incur significant interest fees if you don't pay off your debt before the 0% APR period expires.

Pay a balance transfer fee

Some credit card providers may charge a balance transfer fee of 3% to 5% of the transferred amount. Before moving your balance, consider that additional expense to guarantee you're still saving money.


A large amount of debt can impact several aspects of your life. It makes sense that more and more people are looking into strategies for paying off debt faster. When you realize you are paying more on your credit card interest rate and the outstanding amount on your card is high, you can go for a balance transfer. When choosing a balance transfer option, consider the APR, how long the low-APR period lasts, and any extra costs.

Photograph of author Joseph Priebe

Joseph Priebe

Joseph Priebe takes pride in assisting audiences with his articles to help them make sound financial decisions.

With over ten years of experience writing financial content his goal at CASH 1 has always been creating engaging and easy-to-digest information for anyone searching for immediate or long-term monetary solutions.

When Joseph is not writing about personal finance, you can find him photographing the Southwest United States with his 4x5 Graflex Crown Graphic camera. He is based in Phoenix, Arizona.