Can You Do Multiple Balance Transfers?

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ByDoug Milnes, CFA
Reviewed byBrett Holzhauer, CPFC
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ByDoug Milnes, CFA
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Reviewed byBrett Holzhauer, CPFC
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Updated: May 13, 2024

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What happens when one balance transfer isn't enough? Can you — and, more importantly — should you consider multiple balance transfers?

We found that:

  1. Doing another balance transfer on your remaining balance can save you interest.
  2. You can transfer multiple balances to one card, but there are some limitations.
  3. You can do another transfer to an existing balance transfer card, depending on your card's policy.

You can save tons in interest costs with any of these three balance transfer options. Just remember to consider the potential repercussions.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
  • You can do multiple balance transfers, and it can be a useful method for dealing with multiple debts, not just credit cards.
  • Applying for multiple balance transfer cards and repeatedly doing transfers can hurt your credit score.
  • Personal loans or debt consolidation could be more effective debt-clearing strategies. Weigh all your options before making a decision.
  • Breaking a balance transfer cycle requires budgeting and focusing on debt reduction.

Why Do Multiple Balance Transfers?

Multiple balance transfers are possible and can be a strategic move for managing credit card debt.

The principle is straightforward: if you've done a balance transfer once, you can do it again. In fact, if you continue struggling with high interest rates on an existing card, transferring that balance to a new card with a more favorable rate can be a smart decision.

While multiple balance transfers can temporarily relieve high interest, they don't negate your accumulated debt. Consider them more as band-aid solutions in managing interest rates and payments while you're focused on paying down your debt.

Can You Keep Transferring Credit Card Balances?

If you still have a balance after the introductory period and can’t pay it off in three months or less, you can transfer it to a new credit card to save on interest payments.

Ideally, you should get approved for another 0% introductory credit card to maximize savings. But if the previous balance transfer card application hurt your credit score, you might find yourself qualifying for a low-interest APR, not 0%. This is still better than paying standard interest charges on your existing balance transfer card.

You may not qualify for a balance transfer card with great offers if you have a bad credit score. In this case, you can consider other debt management strategies.

Can You Transfer Multiple Balances to One Card?

You can transfer multiple high-interest debts to one balance transfer credit card. Some cards even allow debts other than credit card debts, like personal loans.

Card issuers have different policies regarding balance transfers. During the application, ask the card issuer if you can transfer specific debts to your card. Issuers have the discretion on what types of debts to accept.

If you have less common debts, you might want to see if your issuer provides balance transfer checks. This works like balance transfer cards, but instead of the card issuer doing the balance transfer themselves, they’ll issue the check on your behalf. You can cash it and use the proceeds to pay your debtors. The amount will reflect on your card as a balance transfer subject to the card’s terms and conditions.

How many balances you can transfer also depends on your new card’s credit limit and your issuer’s policies. Some card issuers allow partial balance transfers, while others deny requests completely, especially if the balance exceeds the limit.

Can You Do Another Balance Transfer With the Same Bank?

Ideally, you can do another transfer onto the credit card you already used for a balance transfer. However, card issuers have different policies regarding this.

A good example is American Express. After reviewing 20 credit cards for balance transfers, we found that only American Express explicitly limits the number of times you can transfer balances. According to its policy, you’re only allowed up to two balance transfers, with up to four accounts per balance transfer request.

Most cards allow another balance transfer as long as you don’t exceed your limit and you initiate the transfer within the given period. It’s also worth noting that you can’t transfer a balance from the same card issuer or within the same affiliate.

Is It Bad to Do Multiple Balance Transfers?

Multiple balance transfers aren’t necessarily bad, especially if they help you pay off your debt faster. However, this strategy may have a more lasting effect on your credit score.

First, maxing out your balance transfer credit card can lower your credit score, even if your overall credit utilization is low. Additionally, applying for another balance transfer card and making repeated transfers can shave points off your credit score. It shows debt dependency, especially if you’re not making much of a dent in your balance. Using balance transfers can give you a temporary break from high interest rates, but it doesn't make your original debt disappear.

However, if you’re zeroed in on clearing your debts, multiple balance transfers can help, and it’s easier to rebuild your credit once you're debt-free.

Who Should Do Multiple Balance Transfers

Multiple balance transfers have the same benefits and disadvantages as a single balance transfer. While it's possible to continue transferring balances, it does have some long-term implications. Continually transferring balances without making significant repayments can lead to a cycle of perpetual debt, potentially worsening your financial situation.

You should consider multiple balance transfers if:

  • You’ll have significant interest savings. You can use this balance transfer calculator to compute potential savings.
  • You have multiple high-interest debts that you need to consolidate.
  • You can’t pay off your remaining balance within three months or less.
  • You can qualify for another 0% or lower interest rate card. This is usually attainable if you have at least a fair credit score (580+).
  • You don’t plan on taking or applying for a major loan, like a mortgage or auto loan.

The key to successfully leveraging multiple balance transfers is to remain mindful of your financial habits, ensuring that balance transfers do not encourage further debt accumulation. When considering a balance transfer, consider your ability to repay the balance within the promotional period.

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MONEYGEEK EXPERT TIP

“If you’re transferring multiple debts onto one card, you may need to step back and analyze your spending against your income. This could be a situation where you may be paying little or no interest for a portion of time, but that doesn’t negate the mounting debt you may be accruing." — Brett Holzhauer, contributing expert for MoneyGeek

How to Do Multiple Balance Transfers

Doing one or multiple balance transfers involves the same process. You need to review your plan and assess if a balance transfer is worth it, review the card’s limit and create a plan that will set you up for success.

1
Assess whether doing another balance transfer is worth it

This includes checking how much you can save, whether the fee is worth the transfer and how quickly you can pay off the balance. Generally, if you can pay off the balance within three months or less, skip the balance transfer. Balance transfers can take two days to six weeks, so it may not even be worth the trouble.

Also, be sure to check your balance transfer limits. If you’ve maxed out your cards, or your card already gave you a limit, then you may have to look for alternatives.

2
Provide details of the balances you want to transfer

You’ll have to call your card issuer if you plan to transfer another balance or consolidate multiple debts on one card. If you want to do another balance transfer after the 0% introductory period ends, you’ll have to select a balance transfer card from a different card issuer than your current one.

3
Create or recalibrate your debt repayment plan

Start by crafting a personal budget that accounts for your existing debts. Allocating funds each month for balance payments and reducing unnecessary expenses should be a priority. If you’re overwhelmed with debt, don't hesitate to seek professional financial advice or investigate debt relief alternatives.

The goal of balance transfers is to be debt-free, not just to shift balances around. Breaking the balance transfer cycle may require major changes to your financial habits. Stay committed and disciplined in following your budget plan. Consistency is critical for achieving financial stability, and the key to this lies in making your plan part of your routine.

Ways to Improve Your Credit

Since doing multiple balance transfers hurts your credit score, you’ll need to put in some work to improve it. You can take the following steps to start improving your credit:

  • Aggressively pay off your debts before the balance transfer period ends: This will improve your overall credit history and improve your credit score. If you’re considering upgrading your credit card after fully paying it off, you can qualify for a better one.

  • Keep your credit utilization low: As you start paying off your credit card, you’ll see your total credit utilization decrease. Aim to keep your credit utilization below 30%.

  • Don’t cancel your credit card: This is especially important if it won’t cost much to maintain. Canceling your credit card lowers your credit utilization ratio, which can hurt your credit score.

  • Use your credit card to pay for utilities: Account inactivity may cause your card company to close your account. Keep it active by using it to pay for small items and essentials. Pay in full and on time on every due date to avoid interest.

  • Check your credit report for any errors: A recent study suggested almost half of people have incorrect marks on their credit reports. You can get your free credit report from each agency every year.

With some time and effort, you can increase your credit score and minimize the impact of completing multiple balance transfers.

Alternatives to Multiple Balance Transfers

If you’re managing credit card debt, you have other options beyond balance transfers that could help you effectively manage your financial situation.

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    Personal Loans

    Instead of piling up balance transfers, consider taking out a fixed-rate debt consolidation loan to clear your credit card debt. This approach gives you a set repayment schedule and term, making it easier to budget and track your progress.

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    Credit Counseling

    If you're feeling overwhelmed, reach out to a nonprofit credit counseling agency. They can offer personalized advice and create a plan tailored to your financial situation, helping you navigate the sea of debt more confidently.

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    Debt Snowball or Avalanche

    These are two effective strategies for systematically paying down your debts. The snowball method motivates you by tackling the smallest debts first, then gradually moving to larger ones. The avalanche method, on the other hand, saves you money over time by addressing debts with the highest interest rates first.

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    Emergency Fund

    Creating a cushion of savings can make a big difference in case of financial hiccups in the future. An emergency fund is your safety net and can help you avoid relying on credit cards or loans when unexpected expenses crop up.

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    Financial Planning

    Meeting with a financial planner could be a game-changer. They can provide expert advice and devise a comprehensive plan to help you manage your finances more effectively. Think of it as getting a roadmap for your financial journey.

FAQ About Doing Multiple Balance Transfers

To further guide you in navigating the complex world of balance transfers, here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions on the topic.

How many balance transfers can you do on one card?
What happens to the old balance transfer credit card after another balance transfer?
Can you transfer balances to more than one card at the same time?

About Doug Milnes, CFA


Doug Milnes, CFA headshot

Doug Milnes is a CFA charter holder with over 10 years of experience in corporate finance and the Head of Credit Cards at MoneyGeek. Formerly, he performed valuations for Duff and Phelps and financial planning and analysis for various companies. His analysis has been cited by U.S. News and World Report, The Hill, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and many other outlets.

Milnes holds a master’s degree in data science from Northwestern University. He geeks out on helping people feel on top of their credit card use, from managing debt to optimizing rewards.


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