Short Review of Best Credit Cards for Balance Transfer
|Name||Best for||Balance Transfer APR||Fees for Balance Transfer||Intro Balance TransferAPR||Reward Rate||Apply|
Evolve℠ from Sallie Mae Bank
|12.99% - 24.99%||Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.||0% Introductory APR for 15 months from date of account opening for transfers authorized within 60 days from date of account opening.||2% Cash Back on your two highest-spending eligible categories per month.1.5% Cash Back on everything else.||Apply now|
On Sallie Mae Bank‘s site
Double Cash from Citi
|Cash Back, No Annual Fee, Daily use||13.99% - 23.99%||Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.||0% APR for 18 months from date of first transfer when transfers are completed within 4 months from date of account opening.||2% Cash Back on every purchase with unlimited 1% Cash Back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for purchases.||Learn more|
Diamond Preferred® from Citi
|0 APR, No Annual Fee||13.74% - 23.74%||Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.||0% Introductory APR for 18 months from date of first transfer when transfers are completed within 4 months from date of account opening.||This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||Learn more|
Platinum Card from Wells Fargo
|0 APR||16.49% - 24.49%||Introductory fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater, for 120 days from account opening. After that, up to 5% for each balance transfer, with a minimum of $5.||0% introductory APR for 18 months from date of account opening.||This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||Learn more|
Rewards+® from Citi
|Cash Back, No Annual Fee||13.49% - 23.49%||Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.||0% Introductory APR for 15 months from date of first transfer when transfers are completed within 4 months from date of account opening.||2x Points at supermarkets and gas stations (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1x points).1x Points on all other purchases.||Learn more|
Visa® Platinum from US bank
|0 APR, No Annual Fee||14.49% - 24.49%||Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater.||0% Introductory APR for the first 20 billing cycles for balances transferred within 60 days from account opening.||This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||Learn more|
Cash Rewards from Bank of America
|Cash Back, No Annual Fee, Single mom||13.99% - 23.99%||Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.||0% Introductory APR for the first 15 Statement Closing Dates following the opening of your account for transactions made within 60 days of opening your account.||3% Cash Back rewards in a selected purchase category.2% Cash Back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs.1% Cash Back on all other purchases.||Learn more|
Simplicity® from Citi
|0 APR, Single mom||14.74% - 24.74%||Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.||0% Introductory APR for 18 months from date of first transfer when transfers are completed within 4 months from date of account opening.||This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||Learn more|
Platinum from Navy Federal Credit Union
|0 APR||5.99% - 18.00%||None||0% Introductory APR for 12 months.||This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||Learn more|
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard® from Barclays Bank Delaware
|Travel||15.99% - 24.99%||Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.||0% Introductory APR for the first fifteen billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening.||2x Miles for every $1 dollar spent on eligible American Airlines purchases.1x Miles for every $1 dollar spent on all other purchases.||Learn more|
Citi Double Cash
The Citi Double Cash offers a great 18-month 0% APR period on balance transfers made in the first 4 months. After that, it’s 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. The balance transfer fee is 3% (minimum $5). That is a card you'll want to keep even after you take advantage of its zero-interest period because it will also earn you a generous 2% cash back on all purchases. However, there is no intro APR on purchases and no welcome offer.
Read more about Citi Double Cash
Citi Diamond Preferred®
This card has a lengthy 18-month 0% APR period both for purchases and balance transfers (made within 4 months after account opening). There is a balance transfer fee of 3% or $5 (whichever is greater), but no annual fee. The regular APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%. It hardly offers any long-term value after the intro period as it lacks a rewards program.
Read more about Citi Diamond Preferred®
Wells Fargo Platinum Card
The Wells Fargo Platinum Card credit card is great for a big purchase and paying off debt due to its extensive 18-month 0% APR period. After the APRs are pretty standard and depending on your creditworthiness, they’ll range between 16.49% to 24.49%. You’ll need to make your balance transfer within 120 days after account opening to get the intro APR offer and the balance transfer fee offer - 3% during the 120 days, and 5% after (not less than $5). This card has a $0 annual fee.
Read more about Wells Fargo Platinum Card
You could say that the Rewards+® offers the whole package: a 15-month 0% APR period on balance transfers and purchases, rewards, and a sign-up bonus, all with a no annual fee. Balance transfers have to be made within the first four months to qualify for the intro APR period, and the ARP after will be 13.49% – 23.49%. You’ll earn 2 ThankYou® points for every dollar spent at supermarkets and gas stations (up to the first $6,000 spent) and 1 point for all other purchases. Also, points automatically round up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase.
Read more about Citi Rewards+®
US bank Visa® Platinum
The US bank Visa® Platinum is the top credit card for balance transfers with an exceptional 0% APR introductory period of almost two years – 20 billing cycles (after, it’s 14.49% – 24.49%). It applies to balance transfers made within 60 days upon account opening. The intro period is also valid for purchases, and it's the longest one offered among all cards within the category. There is no annual fee, while the balance transfer fee is 3% or $5 (whichever is greater). However, this card is available only to those with excellent credit.
Read more about US bank Visa® Platinum
Bank of America Cash Rewards
With the Bank of America Cash Rewards, you’ll get a 0% APR for 15 months, both on purchases and balance transfers (a variable APR of 13.99% - 23.99% after). However, you won’t have as much time for a balance transfer as with other cards. You’ll have to make it within the first 60 days after account opening to take advantage of the intro period. The card has a solid rewards program that earns you 3% in a category of your choosing, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% on everything else.
Read more about Bank of America Cash Rewards
The Citi Simplicity® is ideal for the forgetful and those unsure whether they'll have the money to make all payments on time. That is because this card has no late and penalty fees. Also, no annual fee! The introductory 0% APR period for balance transfers and purchases is 18 months. The intro APR offer applies to balance transfers made within 4 months upon opening the account and after the offer ends, it’s a variable 14.74% - 24.74%.
Read more about Citi Simplicity®
Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum
With the Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum, you’ll not only get a 0% APR for 12 months but also a low-interest rate after that period passes. The intro APR period is valid for both balance transfers and purchases, and the ongoing APR rate is between 5.99% and 18%. Another great thing about this card is that it doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee. Keep in mind that to get this card you need to be a member of the Navy Federal Credit Union. Also, this card has a very short deadline for the balance transfer offer, you’ll have to make the transfer within 30 days after account opening.
Read more about Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum
Barclays Bank Delaware AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
This is a travel card that also offers a satisfactory 15-month 0% APR period for balance transfers. After, the APR will be 15.99%, 19.99%, or 24.99%, depending on your creditworthiness. You'll earn 2x miles per dollar spent on American Airlines purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases. Plus, an easy-to-reach welcome bonus. There are two things to keep in mind with this card. First, to benefit from the intro period, you have to make the balance transfer within 45 days from account opening, and there's also a $99 annual fee.
Read more about Barclays Bank Delaware AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®
What is a balance transfer credit card?
A balance transfer credit card allows you to transfer your debt from a high-interest credit card to this one which usually offers a 0% APR for a limited period. It can be a great tool to manage your debt and save money on interest.
How to save money with a credit card balance transfer?
Moving your debt from one credit card to a balance transfer credit card is all about saving money. So, before applying for one you have to carefully think it through. First, consider your debt amount and be realistic about the time you’ll need to pay it all off. If it's a significantly high amount or you think it'll take longer to repay it, go for a card that offers a longer period with 0% APR. The US bank Visa® Platinum offers the longest introductory period, 20 billing cycles which is nearly two years.
Another important thing to note is the balance transfer fee. It's a fee charged by the credit card when you make a balance transfer, and it's a percentage of the balance transfer amount. Generally, it's 3% (but not less than $5) for most credit cards, so if you transfer a balance of $1000, you'll pay a $30 fee. If you're transferring a higher balance amount, this cost can be significant. In that case, you can get a card that doesn't charge a balance transfer fee, like the Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum.
Pros and cons of a balance transfer credit card
- Save money on interest – transferring your debt to a card that doesn't charge interest for a certain period can save you hundreds of dollars. The money you put into your debt will go only toward paying off the principal balance and not toward interest.
- Debt consolidation – it’s more convenient to pay only one credit card balance every month than several of them. It’s also easier to remember and focus on one due date.
- Other favorable features – if your priority is not just a balance transfer, you can apply for a card that also offers rewards, like the Citi Double Cash (cash back).
- The ongoing APR – after the intro period expires, APRs on balance transfers usually vary from card to card and are within certain limits. For example, the regular APR on the US bank Visa® Platinum is between 14.49% – 24.49%, based on your creditworthiness. If you’re not in good financial health, you can easily get a rate that’s closer to the higher limit of the APR range after the intro period ends.
- It can get costly – factor in the balance transfer fee and the annual fee of the new credit card. Compare the cost of moving your balance to the cost of the interest on your current card.
- Good or excellent credit is needed – the best balance transfer deals require you to have good to excellent credit to get approved.
How to do a balance transfer?
Before doing a balance transfer, you have to get familiar with the credit card's rules. Especially pay attention to the time limit for transferring your balance to qualify for the introductory period. Although for most cards you'll have around 4 months to make the transfer, with some you don't have that much time.
The balance transfer starts with a request that you can usually do online or by talking to a representative from your new credit card company. They’ll need the number of the account on which you carry your debt and the amount you want to transfer.
The process can take from several days to several weeks. So, make sure you keep making at least the minimum payments due on your old credit card until the balance transfer is completed.
Alternatives to a balance transfer
Balance transfer credit cards usually require good to excellent credit, so if those with fair or bad credit get rejected, there are other alternatives to consider. These can be used even by those who get accepted, but their debt is higher than the credit limit approved by the balance transfer card’s company.
Our recommendations, depending on your financial situation, are:
- Borrow from a friend or relative – if your debt is not too big and you know someone who’d be willing (and can afford) to lend you the money, you should ask them.
- Personal loan – another alternative suitable for those with higher debt amounts who'll take longer to repay the debt. There are no surprises with personal loans - you'll pay a fixed amount of interest for a fixed period of time. Note that some come with origination and sign-up fees.
- Try renegotiating your regular APR – you can contact your credit card company and ask if they can lower your ARP. If you’re in good standing and have been making your payments regularly, they might say yes.
Additional Options for Balance Transfer Cards with Rewards
If you’re looking for a balance transfer card that’s a keeper after the 0% APR intro period, you should look at those that offer rewards. Besides the cards on our list, another great rewards card is the Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card. For the first 6 months, you’ll get 5x rewards points on up to $12,500 spent on groceries, gas, and drugstore purchases, and 1x points on all other purchases. The 0% APR period for balance transfers and purchases lasts for 15 months after account opening.
Travel rewards and financing offers
Along with the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®, another attractive travel card with a balance transfer offer is the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®. It has a 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days after account opening. The rewards include 5x miles on purchases at flyfrontier.com, 3x miles at restaurants, and 1x miles for everything else, as well as a sign-up bonus. This card has a $79$ annual fee.
How to choose a balance transfer credit card?
As most credit cards require excellent credit, you have to be realistic about your options. If you have a less-than-perfect credit score your choice will be limited.
With a good credit score, you’ll qualify for most balance transfer credit cards on the market. So, start analyzing and comparing them to find the one that's most suitable for your financial situation. The reason for a balance transfer is, of course, paying off debt as cost-efficiently as possible.
First, carefully review your debt and your financial situation. Ask yourself how much time you'll need to pay it off. If, for example, you can manage to repay it within 15 months, you'll have more options. While an important factor for those who think they’ll keep paying off their debt after the intro period is over is the ongoing APR.
If you are in a tight situation, and you want to avoid any fees and costs, consider those that don't charge a balance transfer or annual fees. All cards on our list, except the AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®, don’t have annual fees. But only the Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum doesn’t have a balance transfer fee.
Finally, think about other credit card perks that are important to you. For instance, with rewards credit cards you get the best of both worlds – intro APR offers and rewards.
How to apply for a balance transfer credit card?
After you’ve made your research and decided on the credit card you want, the only thing left to do is apply for it. You can apply for a balance transfer credit like for any other credit card. It can be done online or by talking to a representative of the bank that issues the card.
We assume you've already read the terms and conditions of the card, and the only thing you don't know is the available credit limit. You'll find out about that only after you’ve been approved for the card, so be aware that it might not be as large as the amount of debt you want to transfer.
Also, please note that you cannot transfer your debt to another credit card of the same issuer.
What are other credit cards to consider?
Another great balance transfer credit card that didn't make our list is the HSBC Gold Mastercard® Credit Card.
Will a balance transfer affect my credit score?
At first, applying for a balance transfer credit card will take away some points from your credit score due to the hard inquiry. However, in the long run, it will probably improve your credit score as the additional line of credit will lower your credit utilization ratio, a very important factor when determining a credit score.
How many balance transfers can you make to the same card?
This will depend on the card and the approved credit limit you’ll get. Note that each time you make a balance transfer you’ll have to pay a fee.