Here are the 12 Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Credit cards are a convenient way to finance everyday items, pay bills, and splurge, but they can also be very expensive. At the end of 2021, the average person owed $5,221 in credit card debt. When someone uses a credit card, not only do they have to repay the principal balance, but they also have to pay any interest that accrues. Because of this, a one-time credit card purchase could take months or years to repay.

If you’re struggling with credit card debt, a balance transfer credit card could help. These cards usually have a much lower starting interest rate, making paying off the debt easier. With that in mind, here are the best balance transfer cards out there, and what to know before getting one.

12 Best Cards for Balance Transfers

Every balance transfer credit card is a little different in terms of what it offers. To find the best balance transfer card, carefully review different offers and pick the one that meets your needs.

Best for Having No Balance Transfer Fee: Union Bank Platinum Visa card

  • Fees: $0 annual fee; up to $37 late payment fee; $35 returned payment fee
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Rewards program: None
  • Minimum credit score needed: 750 recommended
  • Interest rates: 10.74% to 22.24% variable APR after 15 months
  • Intro APR offer: 0% for the first 15 months
  • Intro balance transfer APR: 0% APR on balance transfers during the promotional period. $0 for balance transfers completed within 60 days of approval. 3% fee for subsequent balance transfers.
  • Other noteworthy perks: It comes with overdraft protection. The card can be linked to Apple Pay or Google Pay for contactless payment.

Low Intro APR for 20 Billing Cycles: U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

  • Fees: $0 annual fee; up to $41 late and returned payment fees
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Rewards program: None
  • Minimum credit score needed: 700 recommended
  • Interest rates: 16.74% to 26.74% variable APR after 20 billing cycles
  • Intro APR offer: 0% for the first 20 billing cycles
  • Intro balance transfer APR: 0% APR on balance transfers during the promotional period when made within 60 days of opening the account. 3% or $5 balance transfer fee after that.
  • Other noteworthy perks: With the U.S. Bank ExtendPay Plan, there’s no interest on qualifying purchases.

Best if you have Good Credit: Citi Diamond Preferred Card

  • Fees: $0 annual fee; 3% foreign purchase fee; $10 or 5% cash advance fee; up to $41 on late and returned payments
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Rewards program: None
  • Minimum credit score needed: 670
  • Interest rates: 15.99% to 25.99% variable APR
  • Intro APR offer: 0% on purchases for 12 months
  • Intro balance transfer APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 21 months. 5% or $5 balance transfer fee of the amount transferred, whichever is greater. This offer is for balance transfers completed within 4 months of opening an account.
  • Other noteworthy perks: It comes with free FICO score monitoring, contactless payments, and Citi entertainment access.

Best to Earn Thank You Points: Citi Double Cash Card

  • Fees: $0 annual fee; 3% foreign transaction fee; 5% or $10 cash advance fee; up to $41 late and returned payment fee
  • Sign-up bonus: Earn $200 cash back when you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months.
  • Rewards program: Earn 2% cash back on select payments and any purchases made outside of the transferred amount.
  • Minimum credit score needed: 700
  • Interest rates: 16.24% to 26.24% variable APR after the promotional period
  • Intro APR offer: 0% introductory APR
  • Intro balance transfer APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months. 3% or $5 balance transfer fee for the first 4 months, or a 5% fee on all balance transfers made after that.
  • Other noteworthy perks: It includes cash back rewards through Thankyou Points. You get one point per $1 spent and another point for repayment. Points are unlimited.

Best for No Fees: Citi Simplicity MasterCard

  • Fees: No annual or late fees; no other penalties; 3% foreign purchase fees
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Rewards program: None
  • Minimum credit score needed: 700
  • Interest rates: 16.99% to 26.99% variable APR after the promotional period
  • Intro APR offer: 0% on purchases for 12 months
  • Intro balance transfer APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months. 5% or $5 balance transfer fee, whichever is higher. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of opening the account.
  • Other noteworthy perks: It comes with automatic account alerts, contactless payments, digital wallet access, and customized payment dates.

Best Bonus for On-Time Payments: Wells Fargo Reflect Card

  • Fees: $0 annual fee; $40 late payment fee; 5% or $10 cash advance fee (whichever is higher)
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Rewards program: None
  • Minimum credit score needed: 690
  • Interest rates: 15.24% to 27.24% variable APR after the promotional period
  • Intro APR offer: 0% on purchases for the first 18 months. If you make all minimum payments on time during this period, you get an additional 3 months at this rate.
  • Intro balance transfer APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months. 3% or $5 balance transfer fee, whichever is higher. Balance transfers must be completed within 120 days of opening the account to receive this rate. After 120 days, the balance transfer fee is 5%.
  • Other noteworthy perks: It includes cell phone protection when you pay using the card.

Best for Excellent Credit: Bank of America BankAmericard Credit Card

  • Fees: No annual fee; no penalty APR for late payments; up to $40 for late payments
  • Sign-up bonus: $100 statement credit bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases within 90 days of opening the account
  • Rewards program: None
  • Minimum credit score needed: 690
  • Interest rates: 15.24% to 25.24% variable APR after the promotional period ends
  • Intro APR offer: 0% on purchases for 18 billing cycles
  • Intro balance transfer APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 billing cycles when completed within 60 days of opening the account. Afterward, the balance transfer fee is 3% (minimum $10).
  • Other noteworthy perks: It includes contactless payments, digital wallet access, overdraft protection, and real-time alerts.

Best for Gas Purchases: Chase Freedom Flex

  • Fees: $0 annual fee; up to $40 fee for late and returned payments
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Rewards program: $200 bonus when you spend at least $500 on purchases within 3 months of opening the account. 5% cash back on purchases made at a gas station (up to $6,000 per year). Cashback is earned in quarterly bonuses.
  • Minimum credit score needed: 690
  • Interest rates: 17.24% to 25.99% variable APR after the promotional period.
  • Intro APR offer: 0% on purchases for 15 months
  • Intro balance transfer APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 15 months. Balance transfers must be completed within 60 days of opening the account and have a 3% or 5% fee.
  • Other noteworthy perks: It has competitive cashback rewards for gas purchases. These rewards don’t expire. It also comes with cell phone protection and zero liability protection.

Best for Capital One Travel Rewards: CapitalOne VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

  • Fees: $0 annual fee; 3% or $10 cash advance fee, whichever is higher; $40 late payment fee
  • Sign-up bonus: You get 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months of opening the account.
  • Rewards program: Earn 1.25 miles for every dollar you spend. Also, earn 5 miles on hotels and car rentals that are booked with Capital One Travel.
  • Minimum credit score needed: 750
  • Interest rates: 16.49%, 22.49%, or 26.49% APR after the promotional period
  • Intro APR offer: 0% on purchases for 15 months
  • Intro balance transfer APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 15 months. 3% fee on balance transfers made within 15 months. No balance transfer fee after that.
  • Other noteworthy perks: It comes with some dining rewards that can be used on Amazon. It also includes access to Capital One Entertainment.

Best for Fair Credit: CapitalOne QuicksilverOne

  • Fees: $39 annual fee; up to $40 late payment fee
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Rewards program: Unlimited 1.5% cash back on any purchase
  • Minimum credit score needed: 690
  • Interest rates: Variable 26.99%
  • Intro APR offer: 0%
  • Intro balance transfer APR: There’s a 0% intro APR and a 3% balance transfer fee.
  • Other noteworthy perks: It comes with credit score monitoring, fraud coverage, and contactless payments.

Best to Split Up Large Purchases: Slate Edge credit card

  • Fees: $0 annual fee; up to $40 late and return payment fee; 29.99% penalty APR on payments that are over 60 days late
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Rewards program: This card is eligible for My Chase Plan, which lets you pay off purchases over time in fixed monthly payments without interest.
  • Minimum credit score needed: 690
  • Interest rates: 17.24% to 25.99% variable APR after the promotional period
  • Intro APR offer: 0% on purchases for 18 months
  • Intro balance transfer APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months. 3% or $5 fee on balance transfers completed within 60 days of opening the account. 5% fee on all balance transfers made after that.
  • Other noteworthy perks: Making on-time payments every month could lower the interest rate by 2% yearly when you spend at least $1,000. You may get a higher credit limit if you spend $500 during the first 6 months and make on-time payments.

Best for Unlimited Cash Back Rewards: Discover It

  • Fees: No annual fee; $0 fee for the first late payment, followed by $41 per late payment; $41 returned payment fee; 5% or $10 cash advance fee, whichever is higher
  • Sign-up bonus: None
  • Rewards program: It comes with 5% cash back rewards on everyday purchases. It also includes 2% cash back on purchases at restaurants and gas stations. Other purchases have 1% unlimited cash back.
  • Minimum credit score needed: 700
  • Interest rates: 13.49% to 24.49% variable APR after the promotional period
  • Intro APR offer: 0% on purchases for 15 months
  • Intro balance transfer APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 15 months. There’s a 3% balance transfer fee until November 10, 2022. After that, the balance transfer fee is 5%.
  • Other noteworthy perks: It comes with online privacy protection, a $0 fraud liability guarantee, and an easy-to-use mobile app.

What to Look For in a New Card

Every balance transfer credit card is a little different in terms of what it offers.

For example, they typically come with a promotional period ranging from 6 to 21 months. These cards will either have 0% or low APR (annual percentage rate) during this period. You won’t have to pay any interest if you pay off the balance before the promotional period ends.

When choosing a balance transfer card, check what it includes. Look for things like:

  • Cashback rewards or bonuses on new purchases
  • Annual or late fees
  • Balance transfer fees
  • Traditional interest rates
  • Fixed or variable APR (during and after the promotional period)
  • Any other promotional offers or deals
  • Specific terms or limitations about using the card
  • Eligibility requirements (ex. minimum credit score, debt-to-income ratio, or income)

How Does a Balance Transfer Credit Card Work?

Balance transfer credit cards let you move the balance from one credit card, usually from another card issuer, to another. Most come with a balance transfer fee that’s 3% or 5% of the total amount moved.

As with any credit card, these cards have a maximum credit limit. This means you can’t transfer an amount that exceeds this limit. Before applying for one, ensure the new limit is high enough to cover your needs.

To do this, add up your existing credit card debt to figure out how much you owe. Then, look for a balance transfer card that fits your needs and has a low introductory APR.

Be sure to make all payments on the new card on time or you could lose the introductory rate. If you pay off the entire balance within the introductory period, you shouldn’t have to pay any additional interest.

How much Money Can I Save?

This depends on how much you originally owed, the balance transfer fee, and the new interest rate. Use an online calculator to make some calculations and determine how much you could save.

Real World Example

Say you owe $5,000 in credit card debt with a 24% interest rate and a minimum monthly payment of $150. Making only the minimum payment, this card would cost approximately $8,322.

Now, say you move this debt onto a balance transfer card with a 3% balance transfer fee and 0% intro APR for 12 months. After the introductory period ends, the new card would also have a 24% APR. If you make the same minimum payment as before — $150 — you would pay around $6,185.

That’s about $2,137 in savings.

Pay Attention to Features and Bonuses

The best balance transfer cards often come with extra features and bonuses, such as:

  • 1% to 5% cash back on select purchases (ex. gas stations, pharmacies, restaurants, retailers, etc.)
  • Bonus travel points for every $500 or $1,000 you spend

Even if the card has amazing perks, don’t charge anything to it until you’ve paid off the transferred amount first. If you do, the card could start accruing interest on the new purchases or the entire balance. The interest charges will almost always be higher than any rewards you could receive.

Put the balance transfer card away and make the monthly payments until it’s paid off. After that, you can use it to benefit from any perks or rewards.

How to do a 0% balance transfer

If you decide to do a balance transfer to consolidate your credit card debt, here’s what to do next.

Check Your Credit Report

Get a copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. This will give you a good idea of what cards you can realistically qualify for, and at what rates. Most balance transfer credit cards require good or better credit (670+ FICO).

Apply

Look over several credit card offers for the one that best suits your needs before applying. Most credit card issuers won’t let you transfer debt from one of their cards to another, so keep this in mind.

For example, if you have a CapitalOne Quicksilver Card, you won’t be able to transfer the debt onto a CapitalOne VentureOne Rewards Credit Card. You could, however, transfer the debt from a Chase credit card to a CapitalOne card.

Information you may need to apply includes your full name, Social Security number, current income, and home address. Applying for a new card typically requires a hard inquiry, so be prepared for this.

Activate the New Account

Most balance transfer cards can be activated either online or via the phone.

Initiate the Transfer

Usually, you can make the transfer from your online account or the issuer’s mobile app. In some cases, you may need to call customer service. The number for that is usually on the back of the card.

Some balance transfer cards give you a limited amount of time to make a transfer – usually around 60 days or so. So, make the transfer as soon as possible after getting approved.

Provide the Transfer Information

To transfer the balance from your old card to the new one, you’ll need some information, such as:

  • The account numbers of any cards you plan to transfer.
  • The total amount you want to transfer to the new card. Pay attention to the credit limit on the new card.

Check with the new card issuer for their policy on transferring a balance, or contact them via phone for assistance.

Continue Making Payments on the Old Card

Balance transfers often take at least 5 to 7 business days, but some card issuers can take a couple of weeks. Keep making payments on the old card until the transfer is complete and you owe $0. Otherwise, you could incur late fees.

Monitor Your Accounts

Keep an eye on any open accounts, especially if they have a balance. It’s usually a good idea to pay off the old debt before focusing on the new one. After that, start focusing on paying down the new credit card.

Pack Away the Old Card, but Don’t Close the Account

Once the balance reaches zero on the old card, put it away to avoid using it. Keeping it open can help your credit score by increasing the average account age and decreasing your credit utilization ratio. Only close it if the card comes with an annual fee or you’re tempted to use it again.

Pros and Cons of Balance Transfer Cards

Even the best balance transfer cards come with pros and cons. Here are the main ones.

Pros

  • You can pay off credit card debt faster
  • Paying the entire balance within the 0% APR introductory period could save you money in interest
  • Consolidating multiple credit card debts into one can help you stay on track with payments
  • These cards have a simpler application process than debt consolidation loans

Cons

  • Failure to pay off the new balance within the introductory period could result in higher interest rates
  • Most come with a balance transfer fee (3% or 5%)
  • Transferring the balance opens up the old card for potential usage, which could increase your debt
  • You need good to excellent credit to qualify
  • The new credit limit may not be high enough for what you need
  • Some cards come with a penalty APR that kicks in if you miss a payment

How to Make the Most of your Balance Transfer

Here are some tips on getting the most from the promotional offer:

  • Only use the card to pay off high-interest debts
  • Keep track of when the promotional period ends. Try to pay off the entire balance within this time
  • Set up autopay to ensure you’re on time. If you’re late with a payment, the card’s introductory offer could end immediately
  • Make a long-term plan to avoid future debt. This could mean signing up for a free budgeting app or setting savings goals. Track your progress over time

Other Strategies

Not everyone is eligible for a good balance transfer card. If that’s the case, here are some other strategies to consider.

  • Pay more than the minimum amount due: If you make only the minimum monthly payment, it can take a very long time to pay off the debt. Pay more each month to reduce your principal balance.
  • Use the debt snowball method: The debt snowball method involves making the minimum monthly payment on bigger debts while paying as much as possible towards the smallest. Once the smallest debt is gone, move on to the next smallest and so on until all debts are repaid.
  • Ask whether you qualify for a lower rate: Contact your credit card issuer to see if you could qualify for a lower rate. Some companies have hardship programs for people affected by circumstances beyond their control, such as COVID or a lost job.
  • Consider a personal loan instead: Some banks, credit unions, and online lenders offer personal loans or debt consolidation loans to help with high-interest debt. A few lenders will even make payments on your behalf.
  • Talk to a credit counselor: Nonprofit credit counseling agencies offer various financial resources, including Debt Management Plans, to help people with debt. Reach out to one to see what they can do for you.

The Bottom Line

Credit card debt can be difficult to pay off. The best balance transfer cards can help you get a handle on this debt so you can become debt-free faster. They work like regular credit cards but typically come with 0% or low introductory APR. This lets you focus on paying off the principal without having to worry about interest.

Before applying, shop around for one that most closely meets your needs. Be prepared to make payments on time and, if possible, pay more than the monthly minimum.

FAQs

What is an Intro Balance Transfer Fee?

This is a fee that most credit card companies charge when you transfer the balance from one card to another. It’s usually between 3% and 5% of the amount transferred, though some issuers will waive this fee.

Can Transferring Balances Hurt Your Credit Score?

Generally, no. However, applying for a new card typically results in a hard inquiry, which can temporarily affect your score.

Can I Still Use My Credit Card after Balance Transfer?

Yes, unless either you or the card issuer closes the account. Keeping an old account open can help you build credit by increasing the average age of your credit history. Be careful about using the old, though, since doing so will add to your total debt.

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