A balance transfer is a simple credit card transaction where credit card debt from one card is transferred to another, helping you consolidate debt and reduce your interest charges.
While that’s the most common use for a balance transfer, if you need some cash in an emergency, you might be able to send a balance transfer to a checking account and access the funds on your debit card.
But not every credit card issuer allows this.
In this article, we’ll look at whether it’s possible to transfer your credit card balance to a checking account, some alternative options, three great balance transfer cards, and more.
(Click a link to skip to a section)
Let’s dive in.
Generally, it’s a safe bet to assume your card issuer won’t allow you to do this, mainly because a credit card balance is a debt you owe, whereas a checking account is an asset you own.
If you’re looking to use a balance transfer credit card to tap into your credit line and transfer the funds into your checking account, most banks will consider this a cash advance. This is similar to writing a convenience check to yourself and depositing it into your checking account. However, there are always exceptions.
Some banks will let you perform a balance transfer to a checking account directly without an issue. You can apply for it on their online banking portal and the whole process takes several days, but there is a transfer fee, usually several percent of the transferred balance. Other banks may offer you a balance transfer check that you receive via email.
Note that you can only transfer funds into a qualifying checking account. And ensure you have a positive payment history on your checking account before initiating the balance transfer.
Additionally, the credit card balance transfer must be done between a separate bank - most banks will not allow you to make a balance transfer within the same bank.
When you get a new balance transfer card, it's often to move high-interest debt from one account to another, usually with a much lower or 0% APR.
One method of doing this is through a balance transfer check, where you write the check for the debt amount.
Assuming your balance transfer request is approved, the credit card company then makes the deposit on your behalf. The credit card issuer then adds the balance transfer amount plus the balance transfer fee and any interest to your new credit card.
Under the same logic, you could write out a balance transfer check and deposit it into your checking account, provided the balance transfer amount is within your credit limit. From there, you can use your debit card and spend the money however you want.
Here’s an example: You use a balance transfer check you got from Credit Card A to pay off $500 worth of credit card debt on Credit Card B. Once you’ve used the check to pay Card B’s balance, Card B is clear. However, Card A now has $500 added to its balance, plus the balance transfer fee.
Instead of making the check out to one of your credit cards (Credit Card B in this case) simply make it out to yourself. However, it isn’t always possible, and the bank may not advertise if they allow this.
So, how do you know if your bank will let you deposit a credit card balance transfer into your checking account?
If you’re interested in depositing a balance transfer to your checking account but are unsure whether your bank would allow this, your best bet is to call them and ask.
Before calling, make sure your bank account is in good standing. Most card issuers won’t approve your balance transfer request if your credit score is too low or you haven’t made the minimum payment.
Some credit card companies will send pre-approval letters in the mail letting you know you’re eligible for a balance transfer offer. In this case, contact the bank or check their online banking portal to begin the process.
If you need cash and your bank won’t deposit a credit card balance transfer to your checking or savings account, there are a few ways to tap into your available credit.
Bear in mind that most of these options include high fees and interest rates.
Here are a few options for transferring money from your balance transfer credit card to your bank account:
With a cash advance, you can access money without applying for a formal loan. You can perform a cash advance by using your card at an ATM. The funds should be available immediately, which you can then transfer into your checking or savings account.
However, a cash advance is an expensive means of borrowing money as it incurs a fee, comes with a high-interest rate and no grace period. A cash advance should be the final option, and always be sure to avoid using the money on new purchases.
Your credit card company might send you a convenience check in the mail. If so, you can write one out to yourself and deposit it into your checking account.
However, like a cash advance, convenience checks are an expensive means of borrowing. Remember to read the terms before proceeding.
You could also move money into your checking or savings accounts through money transfer services like Western Union and MoneyGram. You only need a phone number or email address to identify the recipient.
It’s important to note that transactions made through money transfer services can still show up as a cash advance, meaning you’ll be subject to the same fee and APR your credit card issuer would charge.
Here are a few of the best credit cards for balance transfers:
In some instances, you can perform a balance transfer to a checking account without issue. However, if your bank doesn’t support this transaction, there are a few alternatives to accessing your available credit.
Bear in mind that taking credit is often expensive, especially in the case of a cash advance or convenience check. As such, these should only be used as a last resort and your best bet will usually be a balance transfer.
If you’re interested in learning more about balance transfer cards, have a look at our list of the top balance transfer cards available today.