Best credit cards of current year

Best balance transfer cards of February 2024

CardRatings editors reviewed the best balance transfer credit cards to find the best terms, rates and features to help you meet your debt consolidation goals. From rewards, to long intro periods to the best ongoing rates and even cards for people with fair credit, take a look at our picks for the best balance transfer cards. View More

If you find yourself drowning in interest charges every month, or planning ahead and knowing there’s a big expense on the horizon you’d like a little extra time to pay off, you could be a prime candidate for a balance transfer credit card. That is, a card that offers a low or even 0% APR for an introductory period of time on balances you transfer to that card from another credit card. The best balance transfer credit cards offer opportunities to pay lower or no interest over a period of time, allowing you to pay off your debt more quickly and for less. In some cases, they also offer rewards as well as other perks and features, and some even offer 0% intro APR on new purchases as well. Though some banks have pulled back on balance transfer offers, many great offers still exist, which we compare below, and there are still numerous cards offering intro 0% APR on new purchases. If you need extra time to pay off a new purchase, not an existing balance, a 0% intro APR credit card may be the better fit for you.

We understand how frustrating it is when you’re staring down a credit card bill that you can’t pay off in one month. Yet alone how it feels when you factor in the interest charges you’ll be accruing. Not all balance transfer credit card offers are alike. Our editors have reviewed current offers and selected the best balance transfer credit card options available. Start with a clean slate by reviewing our choices below and selecting a card that best meets your needs: View Less

author Brooklyn Lowery
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards.

20+ years

finding the best card for you

1,500+ cards

in our database

5,000+ cardholders

polled about their cards

243 reviews

from our experts

List of Winners

  • CardName – Best for flat-rate rewards
  • card_name – Best for tiered rewards
  • CardName – Best for cardholder-choice rewards
  • CardName – Best for rounding up rewards
  • card_name – Best for easy cash back
  • card_name – Best for the welcome bonus
  • CardName – Best for a long 0% period on balance transfers
  • card_name – Best for the longest 0% period on both balance transfers and new purchases
  • card_name – Best for No late fees
  • card_name – Best for cell phone protection

At CardRatings.com we discuss the most up-to-date news and trends within the credit card space. Since we first pioneered the concept of online credit card reviews in 1998, our team of financial experts has provided comprehensive and unbiased credit card reviews for more than 175 cards, plus hundreds of additional resource articles to help educate everyday cardholders so they can feel more confident about their card choices. All our content is written and reviewed by industry experts. Though our content may occasionally contain references to products from our partners, we maintain strict editorial integrity and advertiser relationships and compensation never influences ratings, reviews or featured products. The difference between editorial content and advertising must always be clearly stated. Learn more.

Filters
Filters
X
Reset
Clear All

CardName discontinued 

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: This card offers an excellent introductory balance transfer offer as well as a simple and potentially lucrative cash-back rewards program. Plus, the way the rewards earning is structure encourages responsible credit card use and payment. There's a lot to like about this no-annual-fee card. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser.

Read our full CardName review.

Intro APR Length
18 months 0% APR for 18 months from account opening on balance transfers (then RegAPR)
Regular APR
RegAPR
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

Intro balance transfer APR: 0% for 18 months from account opening

Regular purchase and balance transfer APR: RegAPR

Rewards: Earn unlimited 1% back on every purchase and then earn another 1% back when you pay at least the minimum amount due on your bill each month, on time. That effectively means that you can earn 2% cash back on every purchase and this rewards-earning format encourages responsible credit card use as well, which we definitely like. Plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24.

Balance transfer fees: BalanceTransferFees

Annual fee: AnnualFees

Credit needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • This card offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months (then, RegAPR), which is one of the longest duration balance transfers offers available on a card that earns rewards.
  • In addition to 18 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers, this card offers 1% cash back on your purchases and another 1% when you pay for your purchases.
  • There are no specific spending categories for earning rewards with this card. The total 2% possible cash back you earn is one of the highest flat rates available.

CONS:

  • It offers one of the longest intro APRs for balance transfers, but there is not a 0% intro APR offer for purchases. So, while you can save money on interest if you need to transfer a balance, you will not if you need to make a new, large purchase.
  • There is a balance transfer fee to consider. It's on par with other cards' balance transfer fees, but you will still need to account for this cost to determine if the balance transfer is worth it.
  • Although there is no annual fee for this card, there is a foreign transaction fee which can cost you if you need to use the card for purchases outside of the U.S.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 77.2 84.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.9 8.5
Customer Service 7.5 8.4
Website/App Usability 6.9 8.3
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.2 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.7 8.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued 

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: This no-annual-fee card offers as much as 6.5% cash back on some purchases and no less than 1.5% back on all your eligible purchases.

Read our full card_name review.

Welcome Bonus
Up to $300 cash back Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back.
Intro APR Length
15 months Introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Annual Fee
annual_fees

Intro APR: Introductory 0% APR on new purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months from the time you open your account.

Regular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Welcome bonus: Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back.

Rewards: Cardholders earn tiered rewards in a number of other categories: 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service; and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service; and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Balance transfer fees: balance_transfer_fees

Annual Fee: annual_fees

Credit Needed: credit_score_needed

PROS:

  • Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That's 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.
  • This card pairs well with other Chase Ultimate Rewards earning cards as rewards can be pooled under one umbrella so it's a great option to consider if you already own another Chase credit card.

CONS:

  • There isn't an annual fee, but you'll be on the hook for foreign transaction fees if you use this card while abroad.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 78.9 85.0
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.8 8.4
Customer Service 7.7 8.6
Website/App Usability 8.0 8.9
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.6 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.9 8.1

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued 

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: Options can be a credit cardholders best friend and this card has lots of them. From choosing the category in which you'll earn top rewards (from among a list of six possibilities) to deciding whether to take advantage of a lengthy introductory APR offer, cardholders have some great decisions to make.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
$200 online cash rewards bonus $200 online cash rewards bonus for new cardholders who spend at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of opening an account
Intro APR Length
15 billing cycles IntroAPRRate, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days (then RegAPR)
Regular APR
RegAPR
Annual Fee
AnnualFees

Intro balance transfer APR: balance_transfer_intro_apr

Intro purchase APR: IntroAPRRate.. A 3% intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open; after that the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.

Regular purchase and balance transfer APR: RegAPR 

Rewards: What's great about this card is that it allows you to earn bonus cash back in the category of your choice. Earn 3% cash back in one of the following six categories: gas/EVC, online shopping (including streaming, cable, internet and phone services), dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings. You choose which category depending on where you spend the most money. Additionally, earn 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs. You’ll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then 1%, as well as 1% on all other purchases. What's more, there's a $200 online cash rewards bonus for new cardholders who spend at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of opening an account.

Balance transfer fees: BalanceTransferFees

Annual fee: AnnualFees

Credit needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • The best category for many people with this card is going to be online shopping. That means you could earn 3% cash back on everything from party invitations to Amazon purchases to Paypal purchases (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases quarterly).
  • If you happen to be Preferred Rewards client with Bank of America, you can earn 25%-75% more on every purchase depending on your Preferred Rewards tier (tiers are based on total account balances).
  • New cardholders can earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days.

CONS:

  • You'll probably want to leave this card at home if you travel abroad as it does charge foreign transaction fees.
  • While the rewards earning potential is great, don't forget to keep an eye on your quarterly spending. Once you hit $2,500 combined spending in your choice category/grocery stores/wholesale clubs, your earning drops to 1% until the next quarter.
  • Choosing your 3% category is great, but you can only change it once a calendar month. You'll need to plan ahead a bit to maximize your earning.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 81.1 80.2
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.1 8.1
Customer Service 7.9 8.1
Website/App Usability 8.6 8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 9.0 7.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.7 7.8

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued 

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: Not only does this card offer a lengthy introductory interest-free balance transfer period, but it also offers a unique rewards program which rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase, with no cap.

Read our full CardName review.

Welcome Bonus
20,000 bonus points New cardholders can earn 20,000 bonus points once spending $1,500 within three months of account opening, redeemable for $200 in gift cards at thankyou.com
Intro APR Length
15 months 0% for 15 months on new purchases and balance transfers from the date of first transfer - Transfers must be made within the first four months (after the intro period regular RegAPR APR applies )
Regular APR
RegAPR
Annual Fee
AnnualFees

Intro balance transfer APR: 0% for 15 months from the date of first transfer. Transfers must be made within the first four months.

Intro purchase APR: 0% for 15 months from account opening

Regular purchase and balance transfer APR: RegAPR

Rewards: Earn 2X ThankYou® points at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X point thereafter, and 1X point on all other purchases. Points are rounded up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase, with no caps on the amount of points you can earn. New cardholders can earn 20,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after making $1,500 in purchases within the first three months. Plus, earn 5 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on hotels, car rentals and attractions booked via the Citi Travel℠ portal through June 30, 2024.

Balance transfer fees: BalanceTransferFees

Annual fee: AnnualFees

Credit needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • In addition to an interest-free balance transfer period, this card also offers a 0% intro APR period on new purchases, which is great for anyone with a large expense on the horizon.
  • New cardholders have an opportunity to earn a decent welcome bonus, which isn't necessarily a given among cards that also feature excellent balance transfer offers.
  • Also rare for balance transfer cards is the ability to earn rewards. This card offers a unique rewards-earning program in addition to solid 0% APR offers. For example, spend $42 at the supermarket, and you'll actually earn 90 points instead of 84.

CONS:

  • This card charges a foreign_fee transaction fee on foreign purchases, so it's not the best option to travel abroad with.
  • Balance transfer fees are normal with balance transfer cards, but still, it's something you'll want to keep in mind.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 78.7 75.3
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.8 7.5
Customer Service 7.6 7.4
Website/App Usability 7.9 7.8
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.5 8.2
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.9 7.3

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued 

Cardholder Favorite
EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: With a flat 1.5% cash back earned on all purchases, this is a great no-annual-fee credit card for anyone looking for an easy way to earn cash back, but it's a particularly good option for Bank of America customers. This is because Bank of America Preferred Rewards members can earn 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase.

Read our full card_name review.

Welcome Bonus
$200 online cash rewards bonus Earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after spending at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening an account.
Intro APR Length
15 billing cycles You'll receive IntroAPRRate - and for any balance transfers made within 60 days of opening your account (BalanceTransferFees fee applies). After the introductory APR offer is over, the card will have a RegAPR on purchases an balance transfers.
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Annual Fee
annual_fees

Intro APR: You'll receive IntroAPRRate - and for any balance transfers made within 60 days of opening your account (BalanceTransferFees fee applies). After the introductory APR offer is over, the card will have a RegAPR on purchases an balance transfers.

Regular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Welcome bonus: Earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after spending at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening an account.

Rewards: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. If you are a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member you can earn 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase, meaning that this card could earn eligible cardholders up to 2.62% back on every purchase.

Balance transfer fees: balance_transfer_fees

Annual fee: annual_fees

Credit needed: credit_score_needed

PROS:

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases is a solid offer for a no-annual-fee card, but if you are a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, this card really shines. Preferred members can earn 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase, meaning that this card could earn eligible cardholders up to 2.62% back on every purchase.
  • New cardholders can earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after spending at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of opening an account.

CONS:

  • If you're willing to be savvy with how you use your cards, you could stand to earn more with other cash-back rewards cards as there are other options with higher cash-back rates. That said, it's still a good offer for eligible Bank of America bankers.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 83.8 82.8
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.4 8.2
Customer Service 7.9 8.4
Website/App Usability 8.7 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.9 8.4
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.3 8.2

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued 

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: As a new cardholder you'll enjoy the benefit of having all the cash back you accumulate over the first year matched dollar-for-dollar.

Read our full card_name review.

Welcome Bonus
Cash match Enjoy a cash back match on all the cash back you accumulate over the first year as a cardholder
Intro APR Length
18 months 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months and purchases for six months
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Annual Fee
annual_fees
description

PROS:

  • The cash-back match welcome bonus has the potential to be quite lucrative.
  • Balance transfer cards don't always offer perks beyond their intro APR offering, so the fact that this card earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent in quarterly rotating categories is an excellent feature.
  • There's no late fee on your first last payment and paying late won't raise your APR.

CONS:

  • The intro APR period on new purchases is comparatively short, so if that's an important perk to you, you might want to consider other options.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 71.7 N/A
Rewards Program Satisfaction 6.6 N/A
Customer Service 7.6 N/A
Website/App Usability 7.8 N/A
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.8 N/A
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.2 N/A

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued 

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: Having nearly two years to pay off a balance transfer without paying interest is an incredible offer, not to mention one that could save you BIG money. Plus, this is a great card for those who like VIP entertainment treatment thanks to access to Citi Entertainment®.

Read our full CardName review.

Intro APR Length
21 months for balance transfers / 12 months for purchases 0% intro APR for 21 months from the date of the first transfer (all transfers must be completed within the first four months) and 12 months from account opening for new purchases (then RegAPR)
Regular APR
RegAPR
Annual Fee
AnnualFees
Credit Score
CreditScoreNeeded

Intro balance transfer APR: 0% for 21 months from date of first transfer (all transfers must be completed within the first four months)

Intro purchase APR: 0% for 12 months from account opening

Regular purchase and balance transfer APR: RegAPR

Rewards: While there aren't traditional rewards available with this card, cardholders do have special access to event tickets as well as additional perks, features. Get special access tickets to thousands of events including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.

Balance transfer fees: BalanceTransferFees

Annual fee: AnnualFees.

Credit needed: CreditScoreNeeded

PROS:

  • This card offers among the longest 0% intro balance transfer APRs out there at 21 months from the date of the first transfer, with all transfers being completed within your first four months. After the intro, the APR goes to RegAPR.
  • You can also get a 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases (then, RegAPR), which gives plenty of time to pay off new purchases. 
  • You also get benefits like special access to events as well as other card features.

CONS:

  • A balance transfer fee applies with this offer, so make sure you do the math.
  • There is no annual fee, but there are foreign transaction fees to think about if you are looking for a card to use while traveling abroad.
  • This card does not offer any ongoing rewards. If you can pay down your balance in less than the allotted intro period, you might be able to save on interest and earn cash back or rewards with a different credit card that offers a shorter intro 0% APR period.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 74.3 76.6
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.3 7.4
Customer Service 7.4 7.8
Website/App Usability 7.7 7.9
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.2 8.2
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.2 7.6

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued 

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: The intro APR period offered with this card is among the longest intro periods we know of for both purchases and balance transfers. This could certainly make a difference in your bottom line if you have a large purchase on the horizon or an existing balance on another card that you need some addiitonal time to pay off without racking up tons of additional interest charges.

Read our full card_name review.

Intro APR Length
21 months Enjoy intro 0% APR on both purchases and qualifying balance transfers made within 120 days of account opening and on purchases for 21 months.
Regular APR
reg_apr
Annual Fee
annual_fees
Credit Score
credit_score_needed

Intro APR: Enjoy intro 0% APR on both purchases and qualifying balance transfers made within 120 days of account opening and on purchases for 21 months.

Regular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Balance transfer fees: balance_transfer_fees

Annual fee: annual_fees

Credit needed: credit_score_needed

PROS:

  • The intro APR period offered with this card is among the longest intro periods we know of for both purchases and balance transfers.
  • Pay your monthly cell phone bill with your card and enjoy cell phone protection benefits.

CONS:

  • This is not a rewards card, so if you're looking to earn rewards on purchases, this card may be a bit of a let down.

We have not polled this card yet, but would love to hear your thoughts on it if you are a cardholder. Comment below or email us at editor@cardratings.com to share more about your experience.

CardName discontinued 

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: It's simple: No late fees, no penalty rate, no annual fee ever.

Read our full card_name review.

Intro APR Length
21 months on balance transfers Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months after account opening and 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer (all transfers must be completed in first four months.
Regular APR
reg_apr
Annual Fee
annual_fees
Credit Score
credit_score_needed

Intro APR: Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months after account opening and 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer (all transfers must be completed in first four months.)

Regular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Balance transfer fees: balance_transfer_fees

Annual fee: annual_fees

Credit needed: credit_score_needed

PROS:

  • No stress if you pay late. This card has no late fees or penalty interest rates.
  • Having 21 months to pay off transferred balances before regular APR applies is a huge perk for someone with a large balance on their hands.

CONS:

  • Besides for the lengthy intro 0% APR period, there aren't too many other bells or whistles offered with this card. It's truly designed for those needing extra time to pay off revolving balances; especially those who may struggle to pay their minimum payment on time.
Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 69.6 77.1
Rewards Program Satisfaction 6.9 7.4
Customer Service 6.8 7.9
Website/App Usability 7.5 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.5 8.4
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 6.8 7.4

*Scores above reflect the results of surveys with actual cardholders. Full methodology below.

CardName discontinued 

EditorRating
 
foreign_fee AnnualFees
Why We Like It: In addition to a valuable balance transfer offer, the card_name offers cell phone protection when you pay your monthly cellular bill with it, so it's a valuable card to have in your wallet long-term. Plus, it offers 2% cash back on purchases, so again, it's a good card to use even when the balance transfer offer expires.

Read our full card_name review.

Welcome Bonus
$200 cash rewards bonus Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first three months.
Intro APR Length
15 months Introductory 0% APR on new purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months from the time you open your account.
Regular APR
reg_apr,reg_apr_type
Annual Fee
annual_fees

Intro APR: Introductory 0% APR on new purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months from the time you open your account.

Regular APR: reg_apr,reg_apr_type

Welcome bonus: Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first three months of opening an account.

Rewards: Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.

Balance transfer fees: balance_transfer_fees

Annual fee: annual_fees

Credit needed: credit_score_needed

PROS:

  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first three months of opening an account.
  • Cardholders receive up to $600 in protection against covered damage or theft (subject to a $25 deductible) when using their card to pay their monthly cellular phone bill.

CONS

  • This card charges a foreign_transaction_fee on all foreign transactions so it's not a good card to travel abroad with.

We have not polled this card yet, but would love to hear your thoughts on it if you are a cardholder. Comment below or email us at editor@cardratings.com to share more about your experience.

No matching cards found
Compare:
Compare Cards
Delete All
FAQ

A balance transfer is a feature offered by some credit cards which allows you to transfer a credit card balance from an existing card, to a new card. Why would you want to make a balance transfer? Usually, credit cards with balance transfer offers entice new cardholders by offering an introductory period of 0% APR. This allows cardholders a set period of time to pay off balances interest free. If you have a large debt you're struggling to pay off and are feeling overwhelmed by interest charges, a balance transfer might be a smart option to consider. Learn more about how balance transfers work.

How much you can save with a 0% balance transfer depends on how much you transfer, the length of the introductory period and the interest rate on your previous card.

For instance, let's say you have a $10,000 balance on a card with an APR of 20%. If you transfer that entire balance to a card charging 0% interest, you'll save $2,000 in interest charges over the course of a year. Assuming there is a 3% balance transfer fee, your total savings for the year will be $1,700.

You can use our Balance transfer calculator to input your current balance and APR to see exactly how much you'll save with a 0% balance transfer.

A balance transfer credit card is a type of credit card that allows you to transfer an existing balance from another card, to that account. Often times balance transfer credit cards offer an introductory period of 0% APR. When you transfer a balance to a balance transfer credit card with an intro 0% APR offer, you can enjoy an extended period of time in which you don't have to pay interest on that balance.

While balance transfer credit cards can help you take control of your debt, you should never just transfer a balance and then forget it. Once the introductory 0% APR period expires, regular APR will apply to any unpaid balances. If you've not paid off or greatly reduced your initial balance, you could find yourself with a greater debt than with what you started. Learn more about balance transfer credit cards.

When you successfully obtain a balance transfer credit card, you are approved to pay off existing credit card debt using your new card, up to an approved limit. There may or may not be a balance transfer fee (commonly between 3-5% of the balance transferred – more on this below), and there is often an introductory period where low or 0% interest is charged on the balance you have transferred. After the introductory period expires, a higher interest rate applies to your balance. Using a balance transfer credit card successfully requires paying off as much debt as possible during the low intro APR period.

Card issuers usually provide multiple options for completing balance transfers. In some cases, you may be able to complete a transfer over the phone or online, following your bank’s instructions. In many cases you can start the process of a balance transfer as soon as you are approved for the card online and before you even receive your physical card in the mail. Alternatively, your balance transfer credit card may also come with "checks" that you can use to pay off your existing credit card debt. It is crucial to continue making the minimum payments on your original credit card(s) until your bank(s) report that your account(s) are paid off.

In addition to interest, balance transfer credit cards often include balance transfer fees. These fees are generally a percentage of the balance being transferred and commonly range from 3-5% of the amount transferred, although there are some zero-fee balance transfer cards available for people with excellent credit.

Review each balance transfer credit card offer carefully to determine what, if any, balance transfer fee applies and whether paying that fee will save you money in the long run.

CardRatings.com has developed several calculators so you can see what your monthly payment would be if you want to pay off your existing credit card debt within a specified time frame or how much you could save in interest by taking advantage of a balance transfer credit card offer.

Enter your existing credit card balance (the amount you want to pay off in full), you current interest rate, the interest rate on the card to which you want to transfer the balance and then take a look at how much you could save. There are a number of variables you can play with available within the calculators, so take some time to crunch the numbers and determine the best debt-payoff option for you.

If you're really worried about paying a balance transfer fee, consider a balance transfer credit card that offers a welcome bonus to new cardholders (in addition to a 0% APR period). Take the CardName, for example. It charges a 3% balance transfer fee, but it also rewards new cardholders who spend at least $1,000 in the first 90 days of opening an account with a $200 online cash rewards bonus. This bonus is a nice way to cover or offset any fee you'd pay on balance transfers.

We don't recommend choosing a card specifically for its bonus, or taking this route if the spend threshold to receive the bonus is not achievable for you; however, considering all benefits of a card, not just the length of its 0% APR offer, is a smart way to ensure you're choosing the card that will best suit all of your needs.

The best 0% APR balance transfer cards are usually available only to those with good or excellent credit. Typically, that means having a credit score of at least 670 or more.

Balance transfer cards for fair credit are harder to come by, and they may not offer 0% APR. Instead, they may charge a lower interest rate for their introductory period. Before signing up for one of these cards, be sure to read the fine print and calculate your potential savings - including any balance transfer fees. What's more, be aware that late payments could cause an immediate increase in the APR.

If you have excellent credit and are paying a credit card balance with interest, it would be a good idea to consider a balance-transfer credit card. Having excellent credit will likely earn you a lower introductory (or ongoing) rate on your balance transfer card which will help eliminate your debt faster.  For everyone else, balance transfer credit cards are a tempting option, especially if you have a higher-than-usual credit card balance, and an APR that makes the debt mount up faster than you’re able to pay it off. But, before you succumb to the temptation, take a moment to really assess what you're signing up for. If you have a "good" or "average" credit score (or lower) the APR and terms you are signing up for may not actually help your situation.

Transferring debt from one card to another doesn’t make your debt disappear. Still, balance transfers can be a useful tool if done wisely, but there are a few questions you should ask yourself before using a balance transfer card.

This question doesn't have a black and white answer, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Applying for a new credit card will always affect your credit score. Each time you apply for a credit card, a hard inquiry is placed under your name, and inquiries to your credit history account for about 10% of your FICO® credit score.

On the flip side, opening a new account should help your credit utilization ratio and allow you to reduce the amount of credit you're using on each of your cards. Think of it this way: if you currently have one credit card with a $10,000 limit and a balance on $5,000, you're using 50% of your available credit. Most experts recommend keeping your utilization ratio to 30% or less, and credit utilization makes up about 30% of your credit score. If you then open a second credit card with a $10,000 limit, you've upped your available credit to $20,000 and reduced your utilization to 25% (plus, hopefully you opened that card to take advantage of lower APRs with a balance transfer). Credit utilization and credit history are reasons we don’t recommend closing the account you balance transfer from; it may have a negative impact on your overall credit score, especially if the account you aim to close has been open for a while. Credit history makes up about 15% of your FICO® credit score.

In the long run, a balance transfer can improve your credit score if it helps you pay down debt. According to FICO, which offers some of the most widely used credit scores, the amount of your debt accounts for 30% of your score. The lower your debt, the higher your score.

With the best balance transfer cards, you won't be paying any interest. Barring any other fees, 100% of your payments will go toward paying down your principal, and that can help boost your score.

On the other hand, applying for a new card will result in an inquiry on your credit report. Each inquiry can drop your score temporarily by a few points. Plus, if you continue to use your old card, you may actually increase the amount of debt you owe, which can also hurt your credit score.

Bottom line: a balance transfer can help your credit score, but only if you are committed to making timely payments and avoiding future debt.

Using a balance transfer card when there is no fee on the line is one thing, but be warned, balance transfer cards that tout an intro offer of 0% interest and $0 fees won’t last forever. After the intro period expires, APRs can (and often do) skyrocket. Furthermore, if you have the rare card that doesn't charge a balance transfer fee for a period, be aware that period is usually only 45 or 60 days from account opening. After that (and with the vast majority of balance transfer cards from the beginning) you'll pay a 3%-5% fee for each transfer. In other words, use your card responsibly and understand what the cost of your balance transfer transaction will be each time you intend to do one.

On the other hand, it's not uncommon for a balance transfer card to be a rewards card, too. While you won't earn rewards on the amount you transfer, on an ongoing basis you will earn rewards on any other purchases you put on the card, which is a nice incentive to use the card long term.

If the glitz and glamour of the introductory offer is what drew you to the balance transfer credit card in your wallet, be sure to pay on time every billing cycle. If cardholders make late payments within the intro period, issuers may:

  • Assess a late fee
  • Cancel the intro offer
  • Switch to the normal APR

If you're searching out a balance transfer card, you're, we assume, going to be making a balance transfer. But when you do that and then what you do with your card after that are important factors to consider. Here are a couple of questions to ask:

Some credit cards offer a 0% balance transfer for an introductory period of, say, 15 months, BUT you have to make the transfer within the first 45 or 60 days in order to qualify for that 0% APR. Just because the intro APR lasts for a year or more, don't assume that you can make your transfer at any point during that period and still qualify for the intro APR. That said, many cards that offer balance transfer intro periods offer similar terms for purchases; in that case, your purchases will be interest free throughout that time.  Either way, the introductory period will be the lowest APR you can expect from a balance transfer card, so it’s wise to use your card during that specific timeframe. 

Many balance transfer credit cards, regardless of the introductory 0% period, will assess a fee for all balance transfers made. Usually that fee is in the 3% to 5% range of each transfer made. Reading the fine print to see if the card of your choice charges this fee will help you decide if the balance transfer you’re aiming to make actually makes sense. Once again, being hyper-aware of the time frame here could save you some money. Among the handful of cards that offer fee-free balance transfers, most of them only waive that fee for transfer made within the first 45 or 60 days of you opening the account. Missing that window could cost you a bundle.

Balance transfers are available on just about every credit card, but without reading the fine print, you could be in for a surprise. Unless your card is offering a lengthy 0% period, low fees and more, you could cause yourself more trouble than if you'd just left your balance alone. Just because the option is available doesn't mean you should always take it.

Balance transfers are available on just about every credit card, but without reading the fine print, you could be in for a surprise. Unless your card is offering a lengthy 0% period, low fees and more, you could cause yourself more trouble than if you'd just left your balance alone. Just because the option is available doesn't mean you should always take it.

A 0% balance transfer card can mean substantial savings, but they may not be for everyone. Here's a quick overview of the pros and cons of these cards:

Pros:

  • You could save thousands in interest charges by transferring money from a high-interest credit card to one with a 0% balance transfer offer.
  • By transferring balances from numerous cards to one card, you'll make it easy to manage your payments and track your debt - assuming you stop using the other cards.
  • Zero percent interest means more of your payment is applied to the principal and that can help you get out of debt faster.

Cons:

  • Once the balance transfer fee is assessed, you may not save much if you have a small balance and a relatively low APR on your current card. If you know you'll need to carry a balance sometimes, it makes sense to prioritize finding a card with a low APR credit card over a card with stellar rewards to begin with.
  • If you don't stop using your old card, you could find yourself in even deeper debt after the balance transfer.
  • Opening a new card requires a hard inquiry on your credit report which could affect your credit score.

See our full list of balance transfer pros and cons for more.

author
Brooklyn Lowery
Editor & Credit Card Expert

A journalist for nearly 20 years, Brooklyn has published work on a broad range of topics including personal finance and business as well as travel and human interest pieces. As a finance expert, she has provided commentary on credit cards, card rewards and personal finance for outlets including Forbes, Fox Business and many others. Her own wanderlust and travel experiences...Read more

Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September 2023 to conduct surveys among 1,869 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2023-Aug. 31, 2023 were used to determine a selection of the most popular cards and additional cards were included to add survey breadth. Responses to each of nine questions were given on a scale of 1-10 and respondents’ scores were then averaged under broad topics. To determine the overall score, responses from questions 1-8 were summed and the answer to “How likely are you to recommend this card to a friend, coworker or family member?” was double weighted. “Current Scores” reflect scores from the most recent survey (2023); “Past Scores” reflect scores from the 2022 survey.

Ranking Methodology: CardRatings experts review the fine print, details, perks, rewards and features of hundreds of cards and compare them side-by-side with similar cards. A card that makes an excellent balance transfer card may not make a great cash-back rewards card even though it offers those rewards. While the Best of the Year list is announced annually, that list – and all other “best of” lists on CardRatings – are regularly reviewed and updated as issuers change the terms and features of each card often.

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

Disclaimer:

The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.