Rob Makes…

Balance Transfer

Transferring a balance from one credit card onto a new American Express card provides great benefits to the consumer. They have the opportunity to consolidate multiple cards into one; earn Membership Rewards® Points; and usually have an extended term with a small or zero interest rate.

  • UX Design
  • Visual Design
  • User Research
  • ClientAmerican Express
  • DepartmentCPS Digital Acquisitions
  • DateApril 4, 2016
Legacy Balance Transfer

The Problem

Prospects applying for a credit card are asked if they would like to include balance transfers in their application. The fine print reads, "Maximum total transfer amount for all transfer requests cannot exceed the lesser of $7,500 or 75% of your credit limit."

The issues with this are two fold: there is no client-side validation for the $7,500 amount; and prospects do not know their credit limit at this point. If they enter $5,000 in balance transfer funds, but the available amount ends up being $3,900 - then their application is declined. The customer is lost…


Competitive analysis reveals most institutions ask for balance transfer information up front, then prioritize the prospect's requested list by the order they entered it, processing whatever is feasible by the later decided credit limit.

Discover Credit Card Balance Transfer

Discover's application reads, "We will process your transfer in the order below if your requested amount exceeds your credit line."

Bank of America Balance Transfer Terms and Conditions

Bank of America's Terms & Conditions basically relay the same information to the user, though it is hidden in modal and buried amongst paragraphs of heavy legal text.

More Research

Internal analytics show a majority of new Card Members are not approved for a credit limit of $10,000 or higher, which makes that 75% of credit limit figure significant. Plus the business released a balance transfer decline rate that is externally confidential, but consequential.

And while just over half of users are submitting only one card for balance transfer, Marketing has made it a priority to increase the number of balance transfers a prospect is submitting.

Pending Message


A list of business requirements were drafted by myself and the Product Owner then vetted, edited and adjusted as I met with stakeholders in the Risk, Compliance, Legal and other departments.

The “Aha” Moment

For charge cards (those paid in full each month), Amex conditionally approves prospects and asks if they would like to add Additional Cardholders before showing the Approval page. What if we did that with Balance Transfers? And we could show the users their remaining transfer amount. A process flow was developed to ensure the proposal was possible technically and legally, and break down of error handling.

Process Flows

1st Iteration

Sketches were turned into low-fidelity, then high-fidelity wireframes for legal and compliance review.

Currently, each balance transfer requires three, single-line input fields. Fieldsets are used within the application to display home address, so I proposed grouping each balance transfer into a fieldset, making the fields appear more grouped, creating a consistent UI and reducing vertical space.

Legacy Balance Transfer
Whiteboard Sketch UX
Visual Design Iteration

2nd Iteration

After reviewing my clickable prototypes in InvisionApp, feedback from some users revealed they were not clear on the "subtraction" model, which displays the remaining transfer amount, nor did they know the total amount of combined transfers.

Feedback also came in from Compliance about the type of language we were required to present and that was required to change.

I proposed an "addition" model, which proved more clear to users, who could then see the total balance transfer amount as well as provide instant form and field validation should they enter an amount greater than the total allowable transfer.

InvisionApp Screens
Subtraction v. Addition Model

Preparing for Launch

The MVP was approved by the Risk, Legal and Compliance departments and put into the development backlog.

As part of the deliverables, I created Presentation and Functional Specs for the engineers. At the time of publishing this, the new Balance Transfer initiative is being rolled out to actual users in Amex's graded release plan.

New Balance Transfer