Balance Transfer Cards

Updated September 17, 2020

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If used strategically, a balance transfer credit card can help you pay off credit card debt. You’ll want to pay special attention to the introductory 0% APR, annual fees, and other perks the credit card may offer. We cover these essential topics below so you can select the best balance transfer credit card.

What Is a Balance Transfer Card?

A balance transfer credit card allows you to move existing debt onto it when you open your account. Ideally, you’ll move your debt to the balance transfer credit card while taking advantage of a zero-interest period to pay down your balance.

What Is a Balance Transfer?

The act of moving your debt from one card to another is a balance transfer. When you transfer the full balance from one credit card to the other, it doesn’t literally slide over to the new card.  The debt on your original credit card is paid off by your balance transfer credit card issuer either online or via check. 

Card issuers often have limits to how much you can transfer onto the new card, so be sure to read the fine print to make sure your full balance is eligible.

Balance Transfers to Existing Cards

Balance transfers can occur from a cardholder’s existing credit card to another existing credit card. This might be an option if the credit card issuer is running a special promotion. However, it is more common for a cardholder to do a balance transfer from an existing card to a new credit card to take advantage of a 0% APR introductory offer.

0% APR on Balance Transfers

The introductory offer of 0% APR for balance transfers is great but it’s not a guarantee. If you have excellent credit, you’re more likely to qualify for the offer.  However, if you don’t have an excellent credit history, you may see a different interest rate for balance transfers upon approval. 

Pay attention to when this promotional APR expires. Generally, the regular APR will begin to accrue interest as soon as the 0% period ends.  

You should also know that the 0% APR might be contingent on the good standing of your account. If you do any of the following, the regular APR may kick in and you’ll lose the 0% promotion:

  • Fail to transfer a balance within a specific period of time (typically 2-4 months).
  • Miss a payment.
  • Make a late payment.
  • Exceed the credit limit.

Balance Transfer Card Fees

Transferring your balance is rarely free and the new credit card issuer will often charge a fee. Fees are typically a minimum of $5 or 2-3% of the balance transfer (whichever is greater). 

How to Transfer a Credit Card Balance

How to transfer a credit card balance

 How to Evaluate a Balance Transfer Card

When you evaluate a balance transfer credit card, review the following: 

  • Promotional 0% APR period 
  • Regular APR after the promotional period expires
  • Balance transfer fee
  • Balance transfer limit 
  • Annual Fee 
  • Other credit card benefits like cash back or travel rewards (and whether they apply to balance transfer) 

You’ll then have to compare these numbers with the credit card balance you want to transfer. You should have a payment plan and know the:

  • Amount you want to transfer 
  • Monthly payment you can afford to make during the 0% period 
  • The total balance transfer fee you will need to pay

Overall Benefits of Balance Transfer Cards

  • Low-0% APR for a period of time 
  • The chance to reduce debt while not accruing interest 
  • Earn rewards for future purchases made on the credit card. 
  • Possibly qualify for an additional introductory perk like a statement credit

Downsides of Balance Transfer Cards

  • You often need good to excellent credit to qualify for the 0% APR.
  • Credit card issuers have balance transfer limits.
  • Balance transfer fees will need to be paid.
  • Balance transfers can take time to process, so you will need to pay your minimum on your cards until it is complete.

How to Use a Balance Transfer Card Wisely

Before transferring a balance, make sure you can make progress in paying off debt. Avoid getting into a costly credit card that doesn’t help you pay down debt by calculating how much you’ll need to pay each month.

Balance Transfer Example:

Let’s look at a scenario and how you might take advantage of a balance transfer. Say you carry a balance of $5,000 on a credit card with 22% APR. You apply for a balance transfer credit card with 0% APR for 12 months and a 2% balance transfer fee. You’re approved, and because you have excellent credit, you qualify for the 0% APR. 

You’ll need to issue the balance transfer within the first two months. This takes time to process, so you pay the minimum on your old card while you wait. The balance transfer fee is $100. You pay this and the balance transfers. You’ll pay about $417 per month for 12 months to pay off your balance (assuming you don’t put anything more on the card).

Your Takeaway

When you transfer a balance, do so with the intention of paying it off within a specific period of time. Find a balance transfer credit card that offers a 0% APR and minimal fees for the transfer itself.

What Are the Best Cards for Balance Transfer?

We have put together a list of the best balance transfer credit cards to help you with your search.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

This credit card offers a seriously long 0% introductory APR period of 21 months for balance transfers, as well as an interest rate as low as 13.74% after the introductory period expiration date. This – combined with a $0 annual fee – makes it one of the best balance transfer credit cards anywhere.

Highlights

  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months from date of first transfer. After that, the variable APR is between 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. All transfers must be completed within the first 4 months.
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of opening your account. After that, the variable APR will be 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • After your 0% intro purchase APR expires, new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances are paid in full.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer (whichever is greater).
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.74%-23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. 
  • No annual fee

Who This Card Is Best for:

An individual with good-to-excellent credit who might benefit from a significant amount of time to pay off their balance transfer. 

Intro OfferAnnual FeeRegular APRIntro APR
0% for 21 months with balance transfer$013.74% - 23.74% variable0% for 21 months with balance transfer

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi Double Cash Card

If you plan to pay off a balance transfer while using a credit card for everyday purchases, the  Citi® Double Cash Card may be the right choice for you. It offers two rounds of cash back rewards with every purchase: 1% cash back when making a purchase and 1% cash back when you pay. You can also qualify for a  0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months and only pay a 3% balance transfer fee. 

Highlights:

  • Balance transfer offer: 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance transfers do not earn cash back.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer (whichever is greater).
  • Earn 2% on every purchase: Unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% when you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. 

Who This Card Is Best for:

The everyday spender who can afford to pay off their balance transfer in 18 months and pay off any additional purchases every month. 

Intro OfferAnnual FeeRegular APRIntro APR
0% intro for 18 months on Balance Transfers$013.99% - 23.99% (Variable)0% intro for 18 months on Balance Transfers

Blue Cash Everyday® Credit Card from American Express

American Express Blue Cash Everyday Card

The Blue Cash Everyday® card offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 15 months and only charges a 3% balance transfer fee. This – combined with the $150 statement credit for new purchases on the card (at least $1000) – makes it a rewarding balance transfer option.

Highlights:

  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening, then a variable rate (currently 12.99% to 23.99%).
  • Earn a $150 statement credit after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at US gas stations and select US department stores
  • 1% back on other purchases.
  • No annual fee.

Who This Card Is Best for:

The everyday spender who can pay off their balance transfer within 15 months and spend $1000 within the first 3 months to earn the statement credit. 

Intro OfferAnnual FeeRegular APRIntro APR
$150 statement credit and 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers$012.99%-23.99% Variable0% for 15 months on balance transfers

Discover It® Cash Back Credit Card

Discoter IT Cash Back Credit Card

The Discover It® is our top cashback credit card for those with excellent credit, but it also offers interest rates as low as 11.99%. Additionally, the Discover It® credit card has a 14-month, 0% APR for both new account holders and balance transfers.

Highlights:

  • 0% APR for balance transfers and new account holders for 14 months
  • A balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount of each transfer for transfers that post to the account by November 10, 2020, in combination with the 0% intro APR balance transfer offer. After that, a 5% balance transfer fee applies [See Discover for the Latest Info]
  • Cashback Match® introductory offer 
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases each quarter. This includes grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online shopping.
  • Automatically earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • No annual fee

Who This Card Is Best for:

Cardholders who plan to carry a balance for a period of time and work to pay it off. 

Intro OfferAnnual FeeRegular APRIntro APR
Cashback Match®$011.99% - 22.99% variable0% for 14 Months (also applies to balance transfers)

Citi Rewards+℠ Card

Citi reward plus credit card

The Citi Rewards+℠ credit card offers 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers. This makes it one of the best low interest credit cards in our book.

Highlights:

  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. 
  • Balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer (whichever is greater).
  • The Citi Rewards+℠ Card is the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase – without a cap.
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases within 3 months of opening your account (redeemable for $150 in gift cards). 
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year (1X Points thereafter).
  • Earn 1X Points on all other purchases

Who This Card Is Best for:

Cardholders who plan to carry a balance but can pay off the debt within the introductory 0% APR period of 15 months. 

 

Note: If you can’t pay it off within this time, you may be better off with the lower regular APR offered by the Discover It® Cash Back credit card.  

Intro OfferAnnual FeeRegular APRIntro APR
15,000 bonus points$013.49% - 23.49% (Variable)0% intro for 15 months (also applies to balance transfers)

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

American Express Business Cash Card

If you own a startup or an expanding business, the American Express Blue Business Cash® credit card might be perfect due to its flexible credit limit and cash back rewards. Its 0% APR offer for balance transfers is ideal for businesses looking to pay off a different credit card. 

Highlights:

  • Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases (up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%). Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.
  • Balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer (whichever is greater).
  • Expand your credit limit with Expanded Buying Power®
  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable rate of 13.24%, 16.24%, or 19.24%. This rate is based on creditworthiness and other factors (determined when the account is opened).
  • No annual fee

Who This Card Is Best for:

The business owner who needs to complete balance transfers or requires a flexible credit limit due to expansion. 

Intro OfferAnnual FeeRegular APRIntro APR
N/A$013.24% - 19.24% variable0% for balance transfers

Try the CARDMATCH™ Solution

Still not sure which balance transfer credit card is right for you? We recommend checking out the CARDMATCH™ solution offered by creditcards.com. The process is simple: Answer a few questions and then CreditCards.com will create a curated list of credit cards that match your unique financial needs.