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How to Do a Balance Transfer with Wells Fargo

If you want to shrink your credit card debt, a Wells Fargo credit card could be part of your solution.

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If you’re beneath a mountain of credit card debt and wondering how you’ll get out from under it, you’re not alone. Credit card debt jumped up to $986 billion at the end of 2022 -- the highest collective total ever recorded, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. And as interest rates continue to rise, pushing average credit card APRs well above 20%, that debt is getting even more expensive for anyone who carries a balance.

A balance transfer offers a way to pay back your debt while saving yourself from high interest charges, for a period of time. Wells Fargo offers two credit cards that could be good debt-mitigation tools, but are they right for you?

What is a balance transfer?

A balance transfer lets you move the balance from one or more credit cards to a new card. So, you’re not getting rid of your debt with a balance transfer -- you’re simply moving it. 

Balance-transfer cards typically offer 0% introductory APRs for a period of time, which allow you to pay down the debt you moved interest-free during this introductory period. In most cases, you’ll pay a fee for this privilege, typically 3% of the balance you’re transferring, but sometimes as high as 5%.

If you’re carrying a balance of $10,000 and you transfer it for a 3% fee, you’ll pay $300 which is added on to your transferred balance. Depending on the size of your debt, this fee is generally more affordable than continuing to accrue interest.

You still need to make minimum payments on balance transfer cards -- though you should be making more than the minimum payment to chip away at your debt.

The best Wells Fargo credit cards for balance transfers

Here are the two best Wells Fargo cards to use for a balance transfer.

Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

The Wells Fargo Reflect comes with 21 months from account opening of 0% introductory APR for qualifying balance transfers (then 18.24%, 24.74%, or 29.99% variable). So, if you have a $10,000 balance, you can pay it off with monthly payments of about $476. However, consider paying a bit more each month if you can to ensure you pay it off within the promotional period. Make sure you initiate any balance transfers within 120 days to qualify for the promotional period.

A 21-month 0% introductory APR offer is one of the longest available, so if you need a little extra time to pay down your debt, the Reflect card might be worth exploring (18.24%, 24.74%, or 29.99% variable APR thereafter). Just be aware, there’s a 5% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum), which is one of the highest on the market.

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card earns 2% cash rewards for your purchases, making it one of the most competitive cash-reward cards available. But it also comes with a balance-transfer offer to help you lower your credit card debt

This card comes with a 0% introductory APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers (then 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% variable) and a 3% intro balance-transfer fee ($5 minimum) for 120 days from account opening that increases to up to 5% ($5 minimum) after that. 

While that’s six months shorter than the Reflect, this card might be a better fit if you’re interested in earning rewards once your balance has been repaid. Just wait until after you’ve paid off the transferred balance before using it for rewards.

How to transfer a balance with Wells Fargo

Transferring a balance is relatively straightforward. If you have an account with Wells Fargo, you can review existing balance transfer options in your online account. If you’re a new customer, you can apply for a Wells Fargo balance transfer card online, call 1-800-642-4720 or visit a Wells Fargo branch.

Once you have a Wells Fargo card with a balance transfer offer, you can begin transferring your debt. You can only transfer up to your credit line -- and make sure to leave some room for any balance-transfer fees. So, if your current debt is higher than your credit line, you’ll only be able to transfer part of it. If you’re juggling debt across multiple cards, selecting the one with the highest APR or running balance can help you avoid costly-interest charges.

To initiate your balance transfer, log into your Wells Fargo account, navigate to “Account Management” and then select “Request Balance Transfer.” From there, you’ll be prompted to enter the details for the credit card or loan account you’d like to transfer.

The actual balance transfer doesn’t happen immediately. With Wells Fargo, it can take up to 14 days to transfer your balance. In the meantime, keep up with your payments on the card or cards you’re transferring your debt from to avoid any late fees and missed payments, which can hurt your credit.

You also want to make sure to initiate the balance transfer soon after opening your Wells Fargo card. You’ll have 120 days to start any transfers in order to qualify for the introductory balance transfer offer.

Why would you use a balance transfer?

If you’re carrying credit card debt from month to month, you’re racking up interest charges on every statement. It’s why credit cards are a slippery slope: If you don’t pay off your balance in full every month, you’re digging a deeper debt hole.

The adage that time is money rings true when it comes to credit card balance transfers. The best balance transfer offers include 0% APR introductory periods, which effectively slash your interest charges to zero for that amount of time.

Is it worth it to pay a balance transfer fee?

Balance transfers can be well worth the cost if your debt is sizable and you need some extra time to pay it off. But they’re only helpful if you stick to a payment plan that will eliminate your balance before your introductory period expires.

For example, if you have $10,000 in credit card debt, and transfer your balance with the Reflect card, you should plan on making payments of at least $476 monthly to pay off your balance in 21 months. Your balance transfer fee would cost $500, as it’s 5% of the transferred amount. However, that $500 would be much less expensive than not transferring a balance.

Using CNET sister-site Bankrate’s credit card calculator, if you left the $10,000 on a card with a 20% APR and made just the minimum monthly payment (in this case, $266.67), it would take you 346 months (over 28 years) to repay your debt. In that time, you’d have spent $16,056.59 in interest.

Tips for paying off a transferred balance

Taking advantage of a 0% introductory APR balance transfer offer is only the first step in avoiding interest charges. Here are some tips to ensure the balance transfer is worthwhile:

  1. Create a plan: While a 15 or 21-month introductory period might sound like a long time, the end of the promotional period will creep up before you know it. Don’t delay making payments. We recommend dividing your balance transfer card balance by the number of months in the promotional period. This number will tell you how much you need to pay each month to wipe out your debt. You want to avoid carrying a balance once the introductory period ends, or else you’ll start earning interest all over again.
  2. Avoid any additional spending: Credit cards can be tricky and tempting. While you’re paying off your balance-transfer card, don’t use this card to make new purchases. In fact, if you’re prone to overspending, it may be better to not use any credit cards while focusing on your debt, so you don’t run up another balance you can’t afford to pay in full.
  3. Don’t skip a payment: Most balance-transfer cards require you to at least make the minimum payment each month to secure your introductory offer. If you don’t plan on paying on the card for a few months, you’ll need to at least make minimum payments.

The bottom line

If you can develop an aggressive game plan for tackling your credit card debt, a balance-transfer card from Wells Fargo or another card issuer can give you extra breathing room to pay down your debt without accruing interest.

 

The cost of the balance-transfer fee can help buy you more time to work on your debt -- and in most cases, this fee is more affordable than continuing to accrue interest. Once your 0% introductory APR period is up and your debt is paid off, you can start using your credit card to boost your credit profile by making on-time payments and only charging what you can afford to pay off in full.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

David McMillin writes about credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. Based in Chicago, he writes with one objective in mind: Help readers figure out how to save more and stress less. He is also a musician, which means he has spent a lot of time worrying about money. He applies the lessons he's learned from that financial balancing act to offer practical advice for personal spending decisions.
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