Best balance transfer cards of June 2022

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.
Best credit cards of 2022
author Brooklyn Lowery
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards
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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:

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Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer   Winner

5
 
3% $0
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.
Intro APR Length
18 months0% APR for 18 months from account opening on balance transfers (then 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable))
Regular APR
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Score
Excellent, Good

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

Regular purchase and balance transfer APR: 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)

Rewards: Earn 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.

Balance transfer fees: Intro fee 3% of each transfer ($5 min) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, 5% of each transfer ($5 min).

Annual fee: $0

Credit needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • This card offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months (then, 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)), 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:

  • Although it offers one of the longest intro APRs for balance transfers, 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.

Read our full Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer review.

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 82.2 88.2
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.2 8.8
Customer Service 8.0 8.8
Website/App Usability 8.2 8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.5 9.2
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 8.3 8.8

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

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card   Winner

N/A $0
Why We Like It: This card rewards users in popular categories like grocery stores, dining out, and gas purchases, plus offers an intro 0% APR period on new purchases in addition to an interest-free balance transfer period.
Welcome Bonus
20,000 bonus points 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
Intro APR Length
12 billing cycles 0% APR for 12 billing cycles on balance transfers made within the first 60 days and on purchases (then 16.49% - 25.49% Variable)
Regular APR
16.49% - 25.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$0

Intro balance transfer APR: 0% APR for 12 billing cycles on balance transfers made within the first 60 days

Intro purchase APR: 0% APR for 12 billing cycles

Regular purchase and balance transfer APR: 16.49% - 25.49% Variable

Rewards: Earn 4X points on takeout, food delivery and dining out; 2X points at grocery stores, on grocery delivery, at gas stations, at EV charging stations and on streaming services; and 1X point per $1 on all other eligible purchases. Plus, earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 90 days of account opening. That's a $200 value redeemable towards merchandise, gift cards, cash back, travel and more.

Balance transfer fees: Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater

Annual Fee: $0

Credit Needed: Excellent Credit

PROS:

  • In addition to an interest-free balance transfer period, this card also offers intro 0% APR on new purchases for the first 12 billing cycles (then 16.49% - 25.49% Variable).
  • The categories where you can earn bonus rewards are practical; dining out, food delivery, grocery stores, gas stations, EV charging stations and let's face it, streaming. These are areas many of us are spending money everyday.
  • It's not super common for a no-annual-fee cash-back credit card to offer no foreign transaction fees, but this card does just that! Feel free to pack it on your next trip abroad.

CONS:

  • If you want to redeem your rewards for cash back, your options are limited to a statement credit or a deposit to a U.S. Bank checking or savings account, which could be a downfall for some cardholders.
  • If you don't dine out often or order much takeout, you could miss out on the full potential this card has to offer.

Read our full U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 71.7 84.7
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.1 8.4
Customer Service 7.5 8.6
Website/App Usability 7.4 8.5
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.2 8.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 6.8 8.3

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

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card   Winner

5
 
3% $0
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 balance transfer or purchase 0% APR offer, cardholders have some great decisions to make.
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 0% intro APR on new purchases and balance transfers (made within 60 days of opening an account) for the first 15 billing cycles of account membership (then 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers)
Regular APR
14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Annual Fee
$0

Intro balance transfer APR: 0% intro APR for the first 15 billing cycles following the opening of your account for transactions made within 60 days of opening your account

Intro purchase APR: 0% intro APR for the first 15 billing cycles following the opening of your account

Regular purchase and balance transfer APR: 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers 

Rewards: In addition to a 0% intro APR period, 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, online shopping, 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: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

Annual fee: $0

Credit needed: Excellent/Good

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.

Read our full Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card review.

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 78.2 86.1
Rewards Program Satisfaction 7.8 8.7
Customer Service 7.9 8.6
Website/App Usability 7.9 8.6
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.9 9.0
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.7 8.3

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

Citi Rewards+® Card   Winner

5
 
3% $0
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.
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 14.99% - 24.99% (Variable) APR applies )
Regular APR
14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Annual Fee
$0

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: 14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)

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. Plus, 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; new cardholders also, for a limited time, earn five points per $1 spent on air travel and hotels up to $6,000 in the first 12 months (one point per $1 thereafter).

Balance transfer fees: Intro fee 3% of each transfer ($5 min) completed within the first 4 months of account opening After that, 5% of each transfer ($5 min)

Annual fee: $0

Credit needed: Excellent, Good

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 3% 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.

Read our full Citi Rewards+® Card review.

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 78.3 82.0
Rewards Program Satisfaction 8.0 8.1
Customer Service 7.8 8.3
Website/App Usability 7.9 8.1
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 8.1 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.4 8.0

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

Chase Slate Edge℠   Winner

5
 
3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars $0
Why We Like It: With this card you have the opportunity to lower your interest rate by 2% each year. Chase will automatically consider cardholders for an APR reduction once you pay on time, and spend at least $1,000 on the card by your next account anniversary.
Intro APR Length
18 months 0% intro APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers from account opening (then 15.74% - 24.49% Variable)
Regular APR
15.74% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Score
Excellent, Good

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

Intro purchase APR: 0% intro APR for 18 months from account opening

Regular purchase and balance transfer APR: 15.74% - 24.49% Variable

Rewards: There are no ongoing rewards.

Balance transfer fees: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Annual fee: $0

Credit needed: Excellent, Good

PROS:

  • Lower your interest rate by 2% each year. Automatically be considered for an APR reduction when you pay on time, and spend at least $1,000 on your card by your next account anniversary.
  • Cardholders can get an automatic, one-time review for a higher credit limit when paying on time, and spending $500 in the first six months of card membership.

CONS

  • This card doesn't earn ongoing rewards so there may not be much incentive to continue using it once the intro 0% APR periods expire.
  • There are foreign transaction fees to consider should you need to take this card along on a trip abroad or make a purchase in foreign currency.

Read our full Chase Slate Edge℠review.

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.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card   Winner

5
 
3% $0
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.
Intro APR Length
21 months for balance transfers / 12 months for purchases0% 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 15.24% - 25.24% Variable)
Regular APR
15.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Score
Excellent, Good

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: 15.24% - 25.24% Variable

Bonus: There's no traditional bonus with this card.

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: Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

Annual fee: $0.

Credit needed: Excellent, Good

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 15.24% - 25.24% Variable.
  • You can also get a 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases (then, 15.24% - 25.24% Variable), 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.

Read our full Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card review.

Current Scores Past Scores
Overall Score 73.0 80.5
Features Satisfaction 7.2 7.9
Customer Service 7.3 8.4
Website/App Usability 7.4 8.4
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.8 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.2 7.5

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

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card   Winner

2% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in U.S. Dollars 3% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in a Foreign Currency $0
Why We Like It: Not only does this card offer almost two years (20 billing cycles) of intro 0% APR on both new purchases as well as balance transfers (for a limted time), it also offers up to $600 in cell phone protection (subject to a $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly bill with the card.
Intro APR Length
20 billing cycles 0% APR for 20 billing cycles on new purchases, and for a limited time, 20 billing cycles for balance transfers (then 15.99% - 25.99% Variable)
Regular APR
15.99% - 25.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Score
Good/Excellent

Intro balance transfer APR: Limited time offer of 0% APR for 20 billing cycles

Intro purchase APR: 0% APR for 20 billing cycles

Regular purchase and balance transfer APR: 15.99% - 25.99% Variable

Rewards:  There are no traditional rewards offered with this card, but the cell phone insurance is a nice incentive to continue using the card long after your intro 0% APR offers expires. Get up to $600 in protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular bill with your U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum card. Certain terms, conditions, and exclusions apply.

Balance transfer fees: Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater

Annual fee: $0

Credit needed: Good/Excellent

PROS:

  • Having 20 billing cycles to pay off balances interest free is a huge perk. That's almost two years of 0% interest! Just remember, after the limited time promotional period expires, regular 15.99% - 25.99% Variable applies to any unpaid balances, so be sure to pay everything off before then if you can.
  • Using this card to pay your cell phone bill offers some peace of mind thanks to its included cell phone protection coverage.

CONS:

  • This card does not offer ongoing rewards, so if you're looking for a rewards card, this might not be the best option for you.
  • There isn't an annual fee with this card, but it does charge fees on foreign transactions so it doesn't make a great international-travel buddy.

Read our full U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card review.

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.

Simmons Visa® (This card is not currently available on CardRatings)   Winner

5
 
2% of amount in US dollars None
Why We Like It: A card that doesn't charge balance transfer fees is rare these days, which is why this one made our list. While it doesn't offer a introductory 0% period, it's ongoing APR is much lower than most other cards offer, so you could still stand to save some money if you're already paying high interest on an existing card balance.
Intro APR Length
NA This card doesn't offer a 0% period for balance transfers, but it does offer a consistently low ongoing APR of 8.25% variable
Regular APR
8.25% variable
Annual Fee
None
Credit Score
Excellent

Intro balance transfer APR: This card doesn't offer a 0% period for balance transfers, but it does offer a consistently low ongoing APR of 8.25% variable.

Regular purchase and balance transfer APR: 8.25% variable

Rewards:  With an APR this low, you would likely still be saving yourself a significant amount of money if you transferred a balance to this card. Plus, there are never balance transfer fees to worry about.

Balance transfer fees: None.

Annual fee: None

Credit needed: Excellent

PROS:

  • Balance transfer fees generally run in the neighborhood of 3% to as high as 5% of each transfer; you don't have to worry about that with this card, though, as it doesn't charge balance transfer fees.
  • The low ongoing APR of 8.25% variable means that you can take the time you need to pay off your balance and know you'll be paying much less in interest than you would with most any other card.
  • Using this card means you'll have access to behind-the-scenes perks like rental car insurance and travel accident insurance.

CONS:

  • Apart from the low ongoing APR, this card is pretty basic. You won't earn rewards or a welcome bonus.
  • While there isn't an annual fee with this card, it does charge a foreign transaction fee on international purchases.
  • In order to keep the interest rates so low, this bank is selective when it comes to credit card applicants. Only those with truly excellent credit should apply.

Read our full Simmons Visa® review.

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 63.4 75.2
Features Satisfaction 6.4 7.3
Customer Service 6.4 7.7
Website/App Usability 6.3 7.7
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 6.6 7.9
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 6.1 7.6

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

BankAmericard® credit card   Winner

5
 
3% $0
Why We Like It: Paying late won't automatically raise your APR so this is a good option for anyone who sometimes struggles to pay their bills on time.
Intro APR Length
18 billing cycles 0% APR for your first 18 billing cycles on purchases and for any balance transfers made within the first 60 days of opening an account (then 13.74% - 23.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers)
Regular APR
13.74% - 23.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Annual Fee
$0
Credit Score
Excellent/Good

Intro purchase and balance transfer APR: 0% APR for your first 18 billing cycles on purchases and for any balance transfers made within the first 60 days of opening an account

Regular purchase and balance transfer APR: 13.74% - 23.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Rewards: No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your APR, like with so many other credit cards.

Balance transfer fees: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

Annual fee: $0

Credit needed: Excellent/Good

PROS:

  • Take advantage of an introductory 18 billing cycles no interest on purchases and balance transfers made within the first 60 days (then, 13.74% - 23.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers).
  • This card doesn't charge a penalty APR, so paying late won't automatically raise your APR (terms apply).
  • Since this card doesn't charge an annual fee, it's a good one to keep around as a card to increase your available credit and the length of your credit history.
  • New cardholders can earn a $100 statement credit online bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

CONS:

  • This card is primarily about that intro 0% APR offer – you won't earn ongoing rewards.
  • Should you take advantage of the excellent balance transfer opportunity, be sure to account for the balance transfer fee of either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

Read our full BankAmericard® credit card review.

Current Scores Past Scores (avg.)
Overall Score 74.7 80.6
Features Satisfaction 7.4 7.7
Customer Service 7.4 8.3
Website/App Usability 7.5 8.2
Likelihood of Continuing to Use 7.8 8.8
Recommend to a Friend/Colleague 7.4 8.0

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

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FAQ

A balance transfer credit card is a credit card that allows you to transfer your debt (or balance) from one credit card to another. Usually, people transfer balances from a credit card with a higher APR to one with a lower APR and/or to a card with a 0% intro APR offer. By making a balance transfer, you’re giving yourself more time to pay off the debt interest-free (if there’s an intro 0% APR offer), or at a lower interest rate.

A balance transfer credit card is NOT a way to hide from debt you've run up on a card you already have. Your debt won't magically disappear if you transfer it to a new credit card.

The primary incentive of balance transfer cards that make people perk up is the 0% introductory interest rate common to balance transfer cards. Low introductory rates on balance transfers and purchases are typically reserved for credit card users who have excellent credit, but there are options for those with good or average credit as well, particularly if you have a good relationship with a local bank or credit union. Balance transfer cards can be a great way for cardholders to save money if the process is done strategically.

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 Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, 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.

Survey Methodology: CardRatings commissioned Op4G in September and October 2021 to conduct surveys among 1,524 cardholders nationwide. CardRatings website analytics from Jan. 1, 2021-Aug. 31, 2021 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; "Past Scores (avg.)" are the scores averaged over each prior year the card has been surveyed. "Past Scores" indicates a card has only been surveyed in one prior year.

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.

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.

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