Updated Feb 04, 2021 | Published Aug 28, 2019 • 8 min read
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At a glance
There’s only a small selection of cards that offer 0% balance transfer APRs along with no balance transfer fees, but you can use one to transfer a balance and pay it off completely for free.
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Balance transfer credit cards offer an excellent opportunity to kick-start the debt damage control process. If you’re struggling to pay down debt, one of these cards could be the money-saving solution you’re looking for.
Balance transfer cards are available through a variety of credit card issuers, and they generally provide 0% APR periods on transferred balances for your first year or more. While the cards are usually pretty simple, their lack of interest can make it much easier to manage your credit card debt — especially when it comes to larger balances currently attached to accounts with high interest rates.
Typically, however, these cards have balance transfer fees. They’re usually smallish, but can still take a financial toll if you’re trying to transfer a big balance.
Fortunately, there are some balance transfer credit cards don’t charge balance transfer fees, making a transfer sound that much more enticing.
We’ll give you more details about these great balance transfer cards with no-fee transfers and interest-free intro periods in a moment, and you can see a quick rundown in the table below. But first…
The Best Credit Cards With No Balance Transfer Fees and 0% Balance Transfer APR Offers
There’s a relatively rich selection of credit cards that charge no balance transfer fees. But if you’d actually like to transfer a balance, you’re probably best off with a card that has both no-fee transfers and a 0% introductory balance transfer APR offer. Very few cards check both boxes, so we’ll talk first about the cards that do.
Afterward, we’ll list a few cards that charge no balance transfer fees, but don’t provide a balance transfer intro APR.
Like most balance transfer cards with intro APR offers and no balance transfers fees, there’s little else to say about Navy Federal Credit Union’s Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Card. There are no rewards, and few fees, aside from interest charges. Its primary catch is that you only get the introductory offer if you request your balance transfer in the first 30 days.
Balance Transfer APR
Balance Transfer Fee
0% for 12 months, then 5.99% - 18.00% Variable
Eligibility: Must be an NFCU member to apply; membership eligibility includes all active duty, retired, and veteran servicemembers along with their families, and DoD civilian personnel
Benefits: Shopping and travel protections
First Tech Odyssey Rewards™ World Elite Mastercard®
Not quite as robust as Wings’ reward card above, the Wings Visa® Platinum Card doesn’t have too much to offer aside from its balance transfer deal.
Balance Transfer APR
Balance Transfer Fee
0% for 12 months, then 8.15%–18.00% Variable
Eligibility: Must be a Wings Financial Credit Union member to apply; become eligible by living in the appropriate county, or with a $5 donation
Benefits: Visa Platinum benefits, no foreign transaction fee
Purchase APR: 0% for 12 months, then 8.15%–18.00% Variable
Cards With No Balance Transfer Fees, But No Intro APR Offer
Cards that offer no-fee balance transfers, but don’t provide 0% APR offers, aren’t usually going to be the best choices if you’d like to transfer a balance. Nevertheless, we’ve compiled several cards that offer this perk below.
It’s also worth noting that you may be more likely to find a credit card with no balance transfer fees at your local (or an online) credit union. These cards may not offer the same perks as big-name picks, but credit unions are governed by strict laws that usually lead to a lower regular APR, and this could still help you save some cash over time. Just remember that most credit unions have specific membership requirements you’ll have to meet if you want one of their cards. We’ve included a few credit union cards below for good measure.
Most Capital One cards feature no balance transfer fees unless you’re transferring a balance to a card with a promotional APR offer. So if you find a Capital One card with a 0% balance transfer APR, you’ll likely pay a balance transfer fee, while you probably won’t if you opt to transfer to a card with a standard balance transfer APR.
The information related to Capital One Spark Miles for Business has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.
What Is a Balance Transfer Fee?
If you’ve never actually conducted a balance transfer, you may not know how the process unfolds.
Transferring a balance is pretty easy. In most cases, you simply fill out an online form found on your credit card’s account management portal with information concerning the balance you’d like to transfer, and then you’ll have to wait a bit before your transfer request is approved or denied. Occasionally, there will be a limit on how large a balance you can transfer, though this will often just be the card’s credit limit.
Balance transfers will often require you to pay a fee.
Most balance transfer fees range from 3%–5%, and there’s nearly always a minimum fee of at least $5.
Because balance transfer fees are charged as a percentage, they can grow quite large if you’re looking to transfer a bigger balance.
Imagine you’re trying to transfer a $2,000 balance, for example. With a 5% fee, you’d be charged $100, and that’s quite a bit.
The card’s 0% introductory APR would likely help you offset that and then some with saved interest, but still — if you don’t have to pay it, why would you?
That’s exactly what makes the credit card offers we’ve compiled below so appealing.
Aside from fees, there are several other points worth considering if you’re planning to transfer a balance in the near future, including:
A limited time: You’ll generally have a limited time, usually around 60 days, to transfer a balance to a card with no fees and at a 0% interest rate.
A large enough credit limit: You’ll want a card with a credit limit large enough to accommodate your full balance, though your ability to get a high credit limit is mostly dependent on your creditworthiness and income.
Minimum payments: You’ll still have to pay at least your minimum monthly payment by the due date to avoid late fees, even if your balance transfer card has a 0% introductory offer.
Hard inquiries: Applying for a new credit card will nearly always result in a hard credit inquiry, which may impact your credit scores slightly and temporarily. Fortunately, it should be a small sacrifice for the opportunity to take care of your debt. Plus, the additional available credit provided by your new card should contribute positively to your credit utilization ratio, potentially helping to offset the effect of the inquiry on your credit scores.
Different lenders: Regular balance transfers must be conducted between cards issued by two different credit card companies, or between a credit card company and another lender; you won’t be able to transfer a balance between two cards from the same issuer.
In addition to the typical card-to-card balance transfer, there are also bank balance transfers, which work a bit differently. You request a transfer with the issuer of your balance transfer card, but instead of paying off the balance of another card, the issuer sends money directly to your bank account. Then, that amount becomes your transfer card’s balance, which you’ll have to pay off as usual.
Pay Less Interest With Balance Transfers
Credit cards with no balance transfer fees and intro APR offers are among the best ways to pay off an outstanding credit card balance. But if you’re looking for a new credit card with a longer introductory period than is offered by any of the above options, you might find the perfect match among our favorite balance transfer credit cards.
Some issuers choose to provide fee-free balance transfer offers to further entice customers. As of 2021, these options are currently few and far between due to the current economic situation, but several prominent cards offered this money-saving feature before the pandemic hit.
So, if you’re hoping to avoid paying a fee to transfer a balance, you have to look for a card with no balance transfer fee. You may even want to ask your local credit union if it offers such a card, as most that currently feature fee-free balance transfer offers are only available through these types of institutions.
What’s the best no-fee balance transfer credit card?
There are currently very few no-fee balance transfer cards; the Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Card (Review) is our pick for the best. Its introductory balance transfer APR — 0% for 12 months, then 5.99% - 18.00% Variable — isn’t the best we’ve seen, but most better offers have since been indefinitely withdrawn.
You have to be a member of the Navy Federal Credit Union in order to get the card, which is its biggest obstacle. The NFCU is geared for members of the armed forces, but you can join if you have an immediate family member who’s a member of the credit union, even if you’re not.
The best balance transfer credit cards feature 0% introductory balance transfer APR offers that often give you a year or more to knock out the debt in question without accumulating interest.
Depending on the size of the debt, that could amount to hundreds of dollars in savings.
Who qualifies for a balance transfer?
It depends on the card — some balance transfer cards may require good credit, while, for others, fair credit will suffice.
Even if you know what kind of credit scores the issuer is looking for, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be approved or denied. Other factors, like your income, are also considered, and may impact the issuer’s decision.
Sean Messier works to empower individuals with the knowledge required to use credit cards responsibly and to their advantage. His writing- and research-based background has granted him experience in an array of topics, from finance to business and beyond. Sean distills the knowledge accumulated over years of experience in the credit space into consistent, actionable articles, guides, and reviews.
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