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How Does an American Express Balance Transfer Work?

How Does an American Express Balance Transfer Work?

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This article was last updated Feb 10, 2020. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

Doing a balance transfer with American Express has the potential to save you money by giving you a window of time to pay off existing credit card debt without having to pay interest.

If you’ve applied for an American Express (Amex) balance transfer card and are not exactly sure how to initiate the transfer, we’ll walk you through the steps.

We’ll also highlight some of the best Amex cards listed on our site with 0% intro APR, including one with no balance transfer fee. Be aware that you can’t transfer balances between cards from the same issuer — so if the debt you want to transfer is on an existing Amex card, you should apply for a balance transfer card from another issuer.

Things to know before you do a balance transfer

Before initiating the balance transfer, make sure you have the account number and balance of the card with the existing debt. You’ll also need the account number for your American Express account. Once you have these, you can complete your balance transfer by calling the number on the back of your credit card or by logging into your Amex account online.

There are several requirements when doing a balance transfer with Amex:

  • Balance transfers must be made within 60 days from the date of account opening. Amex’s terms and conditions state that only transfers during that time will be approved.
  • Transferred balances must be a minimum of $100. This is especially important to keep in mind if you’re planning to consolidate debt from multiple credit cards.    
  • Transfers can’t exceed the lesser of $5,000 or 75% of your American Express credit card limit. If you are approved for an American Express card, you’ll be assigned a credit limit. A simple way to find out your balance transfer limit is to multiply your credit limit by 0.75. Then, if the number is less than $5,000, that’s the maximum you can transfer. If it’s greater than $5,000, the max you can transfer is $5,000. For example, with a credit limit of $4,000, you can transfer no more than $3,000 to the card. 

Use the Amex prequalification tool before you apply

To avoid a hard inquiry on your credit report when applying for a new credit card, you can check if you’re prequalified for American Express card offers. This is a soft pull on your credit report, so it doesn’t hurt your credit score like a hard inquiry does. Being prequalified doesn’t guarantee approval, but it does indicate that you’re likely to have a better chance at being approved. (Once you actually apply, there will still be a hard inquiry.)

It’s also important to note that you’ll need a good credit score or better in order to be approved for most balance transfer cards. A good FICO Score is 670 to 739. If your score is below that, you might be better off working to improve your credit before applying for a balance transfer card.

How to do a balance transfer with American Express

Do your Amex balance transfer online

When you apply, you’ll get an opportunity to do a balance transfer by entering information about your existing credit card and how much debt you want to transfer. If you choose not to proceed with that, you can do a balance transfer later by following the steps below.

  1. Log in to your account on americanexpress.com.
  2. Click “account services.”
  3. Click on “payment and credit options.”
  4. Then go to “transfer balances”
  5. Your limit will be shown below the offer.
  6. Select the American Express balance transfer offer you’ve been approved for.
  7. Input the amount you’d like to transfer and the old card’s credit card number.
  8. Click “next” to review and accept terms and conditions.
  9. Confirm and submit your balance transfer request.

Do your Amex balance transfer by phone

  1. Call the American Express customer service number on the back of your credit card to speak with a representative. Tell them you want to do a balance transfer.
  2. Provide the credit card number of your old card with the existing balance, as well as the amount you wish to transfer. The representative will help you complete the transfer.

Best American Express cards with 0% intro APR

While there are numerous American Express cards that offer balance transfers, we chose those with long intro APR periods and no annual fees.

Note that though these cards also offer rewards, but in the interest of paying off debt quickly, you shouldn’t use your card for new purchases until you’ve paid off the full transferred balance.

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

This offer and/or promotion may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available.

Intro APR offers:

  • Intro APR of 0% for 15 months on balance transfers. After that, a 12.99% - 23.99% variable APR applies.
  • Intro APR of 0% for 15 months on purchases. After that, a 12.99%- 23.99% variable APR applies.

Balance transfer fee: $0 balance transfer fee.

Rewards:

  • 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases. Plus, earn 20% extra points when you use your card to make purchases 20 or more times in a billing period.

American Express Cash Magnet® Card – $150 Welcome Offer

This offer and/or promotion may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available.

American Express Cash Magnet® Card – $150 Welcome Offer

Apply Now

on American Express's secure site

Terms and Conditions apply

Rates & Fees

  • Earn up to $150 back

  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases

  • Reward Dollars can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise

Highlights
  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee and no interest.
  • Amex Offers rewards you at places you like to shop, dine, travel, and more. You can add as many Offers as you’d like to your Card, then just use that Card to pay, and enjoy rewards directly on your statement.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for American Express Cash Magnet® Card – $150 Welcome Offer

More Info

Intro APR offers:

  • Intro APR of N/A. After that, a n/a APR applies.
  • Intro APR of 0% on purchases for 15 months. After that, a 13.99%-23.99% variable APR applies.

Balance transfer fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.

Rewards:

  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on your purchases.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

This offer and/or promotion may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available.

Intro APR offers:

  • Intro APR of N/A on balance transfers. After that, a n/a APR applies.
  • Intro APR of 0% on purchases for 15 months on purchases. After that, a 13.99%-23.99% variable APR applies.

Balance transfer fee: N/A

Rewards:

    • Earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% cash back on other purchases.

To see rates & fees for Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express please click here.

Successfully paying off credit card debt with a balance transfer

The first step to successfully paying off your credit card debt with a balance transfer is to do your research. It’s important to know what makes a good balance transfer card, how long you need to pay off your balance, and how much you’ll pay in balance transfer fees. Here are some things to look for:

  • No balance transfer fee (or a reasonable balance transfer fee). Balance transfer cards that offer a $0 balance transfer fee can help you save money, but know that many cards charge a fee from 3% to 5% of the amount transferred. Balance transfer cards that offer longer interest-free periods typically charge a balance transfer fee. Paying a balance transfer fee may make sense if you have a large amount of debt to pay off and need a longer time to do that in.
  • Long 0% intro APR period. The longer the intro period, the more time you have to pay off your debt without being charged interest. There are balance transfer cards with intro periods ranging from 15 months to 21 months. Cards with short 0% intro periods — such as six or 12 months — may still be an option if you have a small amount of debt or are able to pay it off quickly.
  • Low ongoing APR after the intro period. You can use this balance transfer calculator to estimate out how much time you’ll need to pay off your transferred credit card debt by how much you can afford to pay each month. If it turns out you need more time than your balance transfer card offers, and you have to carry a balance for a few months after the 0% intro APR expires, know that interest will only be charged on whatever balance is remaining.

The second step is to make a plan and stick to it. Here are some key factors to plan for when applying for a balance transfer card:

  • Account for any balance transfer fee. Many balance transfer cards charge a fee ranging from 3% to 5% of the amount transferred. For example, if you transfer $1,000 to a card with a 3% balance transfer fee, the fee will be $30 and your total balance owed will be $1,030. While the fee may be outweighed by what you save in interest, it’s smart to do the math.
  • Initiate your balance transfer quickly. If you’ve been approved for a new balance transfer card, know that some balance transfer offers are only valid for a certain amount of days from opening your card. For example, you may only have between 30 and 60 days from account opening to do the transfer. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of your offer so you don’t miss out.
  • Transfer your balance to a card from a different bank. Balance transfers can only be completed between cards from different issuers. That means you can’t transfer a balance from one American Express card to another American Express card. If your existing debt is on an American Express card, look instead at balance transfer cards from other issuers.
  • Avoid racking up more debt. Know how much you need to pay each month to pay off your debt during the intro APR period. If you’re only making the minimum payment due, you probably won’t pay off your balance before the intro period expires — and some balance transfer cards have APRs upward of 20% once they start charging interest. Also, know that any new charges on a balance transfer card may be assessed interest if the card does not also offer a 0% intro purchase deal. Finally, avoid the temptation to add new charges to the card you just transferred the debt from.
  • Don’t expect to earn points or cash back. Balance transfers don’t count as eligible purchases to earn rewards or count toward welcome offers. But that’s OK, because your goal with a balance transfer card is to knock down debt quickly, not to earn rewards.

Read: Balance Transfer Resources

How long will the balance transfer take?

In general, balance transfers take five to seven days, but in some cases a transfer can take up to six weeks. Keep in mind that the transfer won’t be initiated until after you’ve had the cardmember agreement for at least 10 days. Since the transfer doesn’t happen immediately, it’s important to stay current on your credit card payments with the bank you are transferring the balance from until you receive confirmation that the transfer has been posted. This prevents you from being charged late fees and dinging your credit score.

The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been independently collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.


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