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When used responsibly, balance transfers can be a great way to reduce the amount of interest you’re charged as you pay off debt. Many credit cards offer 0% introductory APRs for balance transfers that vary in length. The details change from time to time, but you can find balance transfer intro offers that span nearly two years — giving you quite a while to pay off debt interest-free.
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When scoping out the best balance transfer cards, look at these features:
Balance transfer APR (aka interest rate): Lower is better. Get one with a lower interest rate than what you have now (preferably a 0% introductory rate). With most cards, you’ll need to request or complete the transfers within a certain time frame of being approved to qualify for the 0% rate.
Introductory balance transfer APR period: This is the amount of time you’ll have to pay off the transferred balance at the specified rate. Longer is better, giving you more time to pay off your debt at low interest before the intro period ends.
Balance transfer fee: Lower is better. Some cards today have no balance transfer fees at all, or no fees for a certain period after being approved.
Card issuer: You usually won’t be able to transfer balances between two cards from the same issuer. So you can’t transfer from one Amex card to another, for example, or one Discover card to another. You’ll have to transfer to a different credit card issuer or bank.
On a credit card, the balance transfer APR is separate from the purchase APR. In most cases the purchase and balance transfer APRs will be the same rate, but not always.
A 0% APR is the best you can get for balance transfers, so look for these no-interest introductory offers. Many credit cards allow balance transfers, but they aren’t always at zero interest.
Balance transfer credit cards can help you save a lot of money and get out of credit card debt more quickly. If you’re carrying a balance with an interest rate on almost any type of account, you may be able to transfer some or all of it (depending on your credit limit) to a new credit card and pay it off at 0% APR.
Are you carrying a balance on a credit card with an interest rate over 0%? If so, even if your card has a lower-than-average interest rate, you should consider moving it to a card with a 0% APR to save money. If you have personal loans or other installment loans you’re thinking about transferring, this may not be a good idea because they tend to have low interest rates and don’t hurt your credit much compared to revolving debt.
Balance transfers can be a great tactic in your fight to reduce debt. Whether you use the snowball method or the avalanche method, it’s always a good idea to try to reduce the amount of interest charges you end up paying.
Consider a balance transfer credit card if you:
Have credit card debt or other debt at an APR above 0%, which you won’t be able to pay off within the next few months
Have a plan to pay off the debt without accumulating more debt on a different card
Don’t mind the credit inquiry or the impact the new card account will have on the account age of your credit scores (generally a small impact, which will usually be worth the hit to get out of debt sooner)
Sometimes you’ll get balance transfer offers on credit cards that you already have. For example, our editor’s Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Review) recently gave him a balance transfer offer of 0% for 12 months or 1.99% for 15 months. There was a 3% transfer fee for each offer. Card issuers might do this occasionally to encourage you to carry a balance on one of their cards again.
Balance transfer APR: 0%* intro on BTs for 20 billing cycles on balance transfers*, for transfers made within 60 days, then 14.49% - 24.49%* Variable
Balance transfer fee: Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater
It’s not quite as long as the offers from Citi above, but keep in mind that you can only transfer balances between issuers. So if you have a balance on a Citi credit card already, you may want a U.S. Bank card to transfer it over.
0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 20 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 14.49% – 24.49%.
Great offer from U.S. Bank, a 2020 World’s Most Ethical Company® – Ethisphere Institute, February 2021.
No Annual Fee*
Flexibility to choose a payment due date that fits your schedule.
Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your U.S.Bank Visa® Platinum Credit Card. Certain terms, conditions, and exclusions apply.
Looking for some time to pay off a big balance? The Wells Fargo Platinum card (Learn More) (Review) can provide, with over a year to pay off your debt at a low interest rate.
Balance transfer APR: 0% for 18 months on qualifying balance transfers, for transfers requested within 120 days, then 16.49%-24.49% Variable
Balance transfer fee: 3% for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%
Like most cards dedicated to balance transfers, you won’t earn any rewards or get any spectacular benefits. But if you’re dealing with a balance on a high-interest card from an issuer other than Wells Fargo, this card could work for you.
Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 18 months, then 14.74% – 24.74% (Variable)
Balance Transfer fee: 3%, $5 minimum
It’s pretty much all about the balance transfers, with a good and long intro period to help you pay off debt. New purchases will get the same intro APR period.
This could be the right card if all you want is a long time to pay off some debt, although it does have a transfer fee. Compare this card to others without transfer fees, but with shorter promotional periods, to see which intro APR offer will end up saving you the most money over time.
0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer. After that the variable APR will be 14.74% – 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
Shop with confidence knowing that you have dependable protection benefits, including $0 Liability on Unauthorized Purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.
The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.74% – 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
2% cash back for every purchase you make (must pay at least the minimum due on time)
1% back when you make a purchase
1% back when you pay for that purchase
The cash back rewards you earn with the Double Cash can be redeemed for statement credits, which is the typical way. But you can also convert them to ThankYou points, which allows you to find a better value through transfers to airlines.
With the Double Cash you’re limited to just JetBlue as a transfer partner; but if you also have the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier® Card, you’ll have access to a much wider selection.
Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 12 billing cycles on Balance Transfers*, then 13.99% - 23.99%* Variable (for transfers requested in the first 60 days)
Balance transfer fee: 3%
You can pick your own 5% cash back categories (two of them), with quite a nice selection of choices, giving you more flexibility than almost any other card. You can even choose another 2% “everyday” category.
All that comes with a balance transfer offer that’s a bit shorter than some other reward cards, but it still gives you a fair bit of time before you’ll be hit with the regular APR.
Balance transfer APR: 0% for 18 months, then 9.25% Variable
Balance transfer fee: 3%, $5 minimum
The balance transfer fee is pretty standard, and the 0% intro purchase APR is a bit shorter; but you will get quarterly rotating 5X point categories, including categories that other rotating cards usually don’t include like travel and monthly bills.
Student credit cards are made for people with limited or no credit, designed to help you bridge the gap between having no credit at all to getting that first credit card account on your credit reports. As such, most student cards aren’t great for paying down debt.
$200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
New Offer: Maximize your cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement /furnishings
Now earn 3% cash back in your choice category and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
You can update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the Mobile banking app or Online banking, or do nothing and it stays the same.
No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 13.99%–23.99% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers.
If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% – 75%. Click “Apply Now” to learn more about Preferred Rewards.
Now with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
Keep in mind that credit approval decisions are based on more than just credit scores; income and other factors play a role, too. So you may have better chances of approval than you first think; or, if you have good scores, it’s still possible to be denied.
Balance Transfer APR: See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms (for transfers requested in the first 90 days)
A bit of an outlier when compared to the cards above, the Discover it® Secured (Review) provides a reduced balance transfer APR offer with a relatively short introductory period. That’s likely the best you’re going to find with a secured card.
Balance Transfer APR: See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms
Balance Transfer fee: See Terms
If you’re desperate to transfer a high-interest balance, but your less-than-stellar creditworthiness keeps you from getting one of the above cards, the Discover it Secured might be worth your time.
Free credit score: Check and monitor your FICO Score 8, based on your TransUnion credit report.
Social Security number alerts: Get notified if your SSN is found on any thousands of risky websites.
Inquiry and new account alerts: Alerts if any new credit inquiries or accounts show up on your Experian credit report
Purchase APR: See Terms
No foreign transaction fee
What’s a Credit Card Balance Transfer?
A balance transfer is when you move a balance from one account to another. It’s often from one credit card to another, but balances from other types of accounts can sometimes be transferred too.
If you have a credit card balance with a high interest rate, you could end up paying far more than the original balance by the time it’s fully paid off. But, you may be able to transfer that balance to a different card with a lower APR (preferably 0%). Then, you could pay off the balance over time and it will cost less overall because the interest charges will be lower (or nonexistent, if you have a 0% rate).
In most cases, you can expect balance transfers to be completed within a couple weeks. In general, a balance transfer to a card you already have will be quicker than a balance transfer to a new card you just opened.
A balance transfer can affect your credit scores in a few different ways.
If you open a new credit card, that can reduce your average age of accounts (which can lower scores). You’ll also get a hard inquiry on your credit reports, which can have a slight negative effect.
But, opening a new card can also reduce your overall credit utilization, because you’ll be adding another credit limit into the mix. This can be good for your scores. And, if you transfer multiple balances onto the same card, reducing the number of accounts you have with balances, that can be good for your scores too.