dcsimg

Best balance transfer cards for 2018 from our partners

Updated, February 15, 2018

When you're staring down a credit card bill that you can't pay off in one month, that can be enough to make your blood pressure rise a little bit. But then when you factor in the interest charges you'll be accruing, the full on racing heart and sweaty palms might just set in.

But it doesn't have to be like that!

If that's the situation you find yourself in, then you are also potentially in a prime situation for a balance transfer credit card. These cards offer you the opportunity to pay lower or no interest over a period of time, which allows you to pay off your debt more quickly and for less.

Not all balance transfer credit card offers are alike. Our editors have reviewed currently available balance transfer offers and selected the strongest options available. Review our choices below and locate a card that best meets your needs.

Best overall balance transfer credit card

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

Apply Now

(American Express is a CardRatings advertiser)

Zero-interest details: This card doesn't offer a super long zero-interest period, but it might just be enough to get you through and then you have rewards to keep you reaching for this card again and again. Plus, if you make your transfer within the first 60 days you won't pay balance transfer fees. You can take advantage of 15 months no interest on purchases as well as on balance transfers. After the intro period, your rate goes to 14.24%-25.24% Variable. Terms apply. See Rates and Fees.

Balance transfer fees: $0 balance transfer fee

Rewards:  Earn two-times the points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then one point per $1) and earn one point per $1 on all your other purchases. Plus, new cardholders can receive 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points after spending $1,000 on the card in the first three months. On an ongoing basis, cardholders who use their card at least 20 times in a billing cycle will earn 20 percent more points on all those purchases.

Annual fee: $0

Credit needed: Excellent, Good


Chase Slate®

Chase Slate®

Apply Now

Zero-interest details: You'll have 15 months to pay off purchases and balance transfers without worrying about interest charges. After the intro period, your rate goes to 16.24% - 24.99% Variable.

Balance transfer fees: $0 Intro fee on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that: Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Rewards: Officially, there are no rewards available with this card. That said, remember that you'll have the opportunity to transfer balances, fee-free for the first 60 days and then spend 15 months paying them off interest-free. You could think of those money-saving benefits as your rewards.

Annual fee: $0

Credit needed: Excellent/Good


Best balance transfer card with rewards

Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

Learn more about this card

Zero-interest details: Take advantage of 18 months with a 0 percent APR on balance transfers as well as six months of no interest on your purchases. After the intro periods, your rate jumps to 13.24% - 24.24% Variable.

Balance transfer fees: 3%

Rewards: Earn 5 percent back (on up to $1,500 spent) when you activate in categories that rotate quarterly. Earn 1 percent on all your other purchases and on purchases over that $1,500 cap in the bonus categories. At the end of your first year as a cardholder, Discover will MATCH all the cash back you've earned.

Annual fee: $0

Credit needed: Excellent, Good


Best balance transfer credit cards if you need a LONG intro period

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card- 21 Month Balance Transfer Offer

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card- 21 Month Balance Transfer Offer

(Citi is a CardRatings advertiser)

Zero interest details: Spend 21 months paying off your balance transfers interest-free (after the intro period, 14.24% - 24.24%* (Variable)). That's nearly two years to pay down a balance and do it without paying a dime in interest. Curious how much money you could save? Check out our "How much can I save?" calculator to find out. You'll also have 12 months of no interest on purchases.

Balance transfer fees: 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

Rewards: None

Annual fee: $0*

Credit needed: Excellent, Good


Santander Sphere® Credit Card

Santander Sphere credit card

Learn more about this card

Zero-interest details: With this card you'll have a full 24 billing cycles of no interest on balance transfers made within the first 90 days of account opening. You can also take advantage of 12 billing cycles with no interest on purchases. After the intro periods your APR goes to 13.74% to 23.74% (Variable).

Balance transfer fees: Either $10 or 4% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater

Rewards: Earn an unlimited one reward point for every $1 spent on purchases with no caps or categories to keep track of.

Annual fee: None

Credit needed: Excellent


Best balance transfer credit cards for ongoing rates

Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum

Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum

Apply Now

Low interest details: This card doesn't offer a 0 percent period for balance transfers, but it does offer a consistently low ongoing APR of 9.50% (Variable). With an APR like that, 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: No balance transfer fee

Rewards: None

Annual fee: None

Credit needed: Excellent


PenFed Promise Visa® Card

PenFed Promise Visa® Card

Apply Now

Low interest details: This card doesn't offer a 0 percent balance transfer period, but you can take advantage of a 4.99% rate for 12 months on balance transfers. After that, 9.74% to 17.99% Subject to credit approval.* Your APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. means, depending on your credit score and history, your APR may still settle in at an ongoing rate well below the average.

Balance transfer fees: No balance transfer fee

Rewards: None

Annual fee: $0

Credit needed: Excellent


Best balance transfer card for bad credit

You've probably noticed that most of the best balance transfer offers are available to people with good or excellent credit. Before you get too discouraged, know that there are options out there for people with less than perfect credit. You may just need to look a bit harder or check with your local bank or credit union for some options. To get you started, take a look at our pick:

UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card - The Comeback Card™

UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card - The Comeback Card™

Apply Now

Low interest details: Take advantage of an introductory 9.95% APR on balance transfers for the first six months as a card member. After the intro period, the APR goes to 17.99% Fixed. Note that UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card - The Comeback Card™ is a secured card. That means you'll need to make a $250 security deposit in order to establish your line of credit.

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

Rewards: None. Keep in mind, though, that using this card responsibly will positively affect your credit score, which could help you qualify for a non-secured card down the road.

Annual fee: $39

Credit needed: Bad


Tips for choosing a balance transfer credit card

In our opinion, the best credit cards for balance transfers often include:

- Low introductory rates. Many cards offer a 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers, sometimes for a year or more, enabling the cardholder to make a serious dent in his/her balance without accruing additional interest.
- Fixed interest rates or discounted APR ranges. Although fixed APRs are almost impossible to find on general purpose credit cards these days, a few credit unions and regional banks promise to lock an interest rate for the life of your balance transfer. Most other lenders offer no-frills cards that trade bonus features and perks for variable APRs a few percentage points lower than the market average.
- Introductory or lowered balance transfer fees. While many banks charge processing fees that often range between 3 and 5 percent, certain offers can reduce or eliminate those fees, also cutting down the finance charges you'd pay over the life of your balance.

The cards on our list of the market's best balance-transfer deals possess some, if not all, of the aforementioned attributes. Let us know what you think about these selections by leaving a comment below.

When should you consider a balance transfer credit card offer?

Balance transfer credit cards can be a great tool for someone who is burdened by high-interest credit card debt and is having difficulty getting ahead on payments so that the balance is paid off.

While it may be difficult to qualify for a balance transfer credit card that features a $0 transfer fee, depending upon how high your current balance is, it might be worth paying a transfer fee to get a zero or low introductory APR for a long period of time.

For example, if your current APR is 17 percent, you pay more than $1,800 in interest on a $10,000 balance over the course of one year. It may be worth paying between $100 and $300 as a balance transfer fee if you can be disciplined and apply as much as possible to reducing your $10,000 balance during a 15-month or longer zero-interest period.

Before you make any of those decisions though, you need to be sure you understand the ins and outs of balance transfer credit cards and the deals they offer. For a full description (which we recommend you peruse before applying), check out our Balance Transfer Credit Cards 101 page. If you want just the basics, read below.

WHAT IS A BALANCE TRANSFER FEE?

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 percent 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.

HOW DO BALANCE TRANSFERS WORK?

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 and 5 percent of the balance transferred), and there is often an introductory period where low- or 0 percent 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 introductory APR period.

HOW TO COMPLETE A BALANCE TRANSFER ONLINE

Card issuers provide 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.

Using a balance transfer credit card: Best practices

When credit card debt has built up, it can be difficult to dig out from under it, but it is definitely possible. In this section, we have prepared advice on how to successfully manage paying down debt by taking advantage of a balance transfer credit card.

Depending upon your credit score and the balance you are currently carrying, eliminating your existing credit card debt may vary in difficulty from "That barely stung!" to "That really hurt!" No matter where you begin, you should be able to achieve your objective with hard work and perseverance.

Research balance transfer credit card offers and locate one that appears to best fit your needs. We've summarized some of the best cards by category, but if you don't see what you're looking for, keep looking.

Set a timeframe for eliminating your balance, determine the monthly payment required to achieve your goal and get started.

PITFALLS TO AVOID

When you are working to pay off existing credit card debt, be careful to avoid making the following three mistakes:

- Taking on more credit card debt. Except for dire emergencies, try not to make any new charges to your credit card.
- Letting the low introductory APR period slide. During the low or zero-introductory APR period, pay down as much debt as you possibly can so your balance is as low as possible when the higher interest rate period begins.
- Missing a payment. Do not add to your credit difficulties by missing a payment, as you may become ineligible to continue your low introductory APR and your credit rating may suffer, making it increasingly difficult to obtain reasonable credit terms.

BALANCE TRANSFER OFFER VS. PERSONAL LOAN

When people are serious about eliminating debt, they may consider a balance transfer credit card or may apply for a personal loan. Which is better?

As with all other personal finance questions, it depends upon individual circumstances. Talk with a trusted financial adviser if you have questions about which option is better for you.

How we rate cards

Choosing the best credit card to suit your lifestyle and spending habits can equate to significant savings and benefits. On the other hand, select the wrong card and you just might find yourself with skimpy rewards, high rates and fees or – possibly the saddest of all – points that go unused. Once you’ve decided which type of card is right for you, it’s time to start comparing the top card offers.

Our editorial team consistently reviews the latest credit card deals from across the country. We highlight a handful of offers from each category that we think provide the best value for your money. The best credit cards of 2015 are sorted into a number of categories to help you find the right card to suit a specific need. Unlike many credit card-comparison sites, we evaluate both advertiser and non-advertiser cards, including regional banks and credit unions. Only our editor’s favorite cards make the cut – no exceptions.