Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards 2019

Brendan Harkness

Author

Brendan Harkness

Updated June 11, 2019

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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 offers that span nearly two years — giving you quite a while to pay off debt without being charged extra.

Here are the best balance transfer credit cards available.

Already have a balance transfer card, and wondering how to use it? Learn How Credit Card Balance Transfers Work.

Best pick for

Long 0% Period

Why we picked this card

There’s nothing complicated about the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever (Review).

It’s all about the balance transfers, with an exceptionally long intro period. Purchases will get a shorter introductory APR period.

Balance Transfer APR Balance Transfer Fee

0% for 21 months, then 16.24% - 26.24%* Variable

5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

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 intro periods, to see which offer will end up saving you the most money over time.

Key Features

  • Purchase APR: 0% for 12 months, then 16.24% - 26.24%* Variable
  • Annual fee: $0*

 

Runners-Up

Key Features

  • Purchase and balance transfer APR: 0% for 20 billing cycles, for transfers made within 60 days, then 14.74%–25.74% Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3%, $5 minimum
  • Annual fee: $0

 

Key Features

  • Purchase and balance transfer APR: 0% for 18 months, for transfers completed within 4 months, then 15.24%–25.24% Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 5%, $5 minimum
  • Annual fee: $0

Read more in our Review of the Citi Diamond Preferred® Card.

 

Key Features

  • 2% cash back for every purchase
  • Balance transfer APR: 0% 18 months on Balance Transfers* for 18 months, for transfers completed within 4 months, then 15.74% - 25.74%* Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
  • Purchase APR: 15.74% - 25.74%* Variable
  • Annual fee: $0*

Read more in our Review of the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.

 

Key Features

  • Purchase and balance transfer APR: 0% for 18 months on qualifying balance transfers, for transfers requested within 120 days, then 13.74%-27.24% Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3% for 120 days, then 5%
  • Annual fee: $0

Best pick for

No Transfer Fees

Why we picked this card

The BankAmericard® Credit Card isn’t too flashy, but it’s excellent for balance transfers.

Balance Transfer APR Balance Transfer Fee

0% for 18 billing cycles, then 15.24%–25.24% Variable

(for transfers made within 60 days of account opening)

$0 for first 60 days, then 3%, $10 minimum

Take note that you’ll have to make your transfers within the first 60 days to get the 0% rate and the $0 transfer fee. After that, any transfers will be at the regular rate and will cost a fee.

Like most cards designed around balance transfers, there isn’t much else here. Its main purpose is to help you pay off a balance over time. And if you use it responsibly, making payments each month, it can do just that.

Key Features

  • Free FICO Credit Score: Check your FICO Score 8 whenever you’d like, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Purchase APR: 0% for 18 billing cycles, then 15.24%–25.24% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0

 

Runners-Up

This card is almost exactly the same as the BankAmericard above, but it has a slightly higher transfer fee after the first 60 days and so it doesn’t make the top spot.

Key Features

  • Purchase and balance transfer APR: 0% for 15 months, 17.24%–25.99% Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: $0 for the first 60 days, then 5%, $5 minimum
  • Balance transfer limit: $15,000
  • Annual fee: $0

Read more in our Review of the Chase Slate Credit Card: A Way Out Of Debt.

 

This is a rewards card with a long intro period and no balance transfer fee — a rare find, but you might prefer to use this card for the points and signup bonus, rather than balance transfers.

Key Features

  • 2X Membership Rewards points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 spent per year (then 1X)
  • 20% point bonus: Earn 20% more points if you make 20 or more purchases per month
  • Introductory bonus: 10,000 points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
  • Purchase and balance transfer APR: 0% for 15 months, for transfers requested in the first 60 days, then 15.24%–26.24% Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: None
  • Annual fee: $0

Read more in our Review of the Amex EveryDay and Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Cards.

Best pick for

Earning Rewards

Why we picked this card

The Amex EveryDay Credit Card (Review) is a rare breed because it offers a top-notch balance transfer deal — a long intro period and no transfer fee — along with a solid rewards program (most great balance transfer cards don’t have very good rewards).

Balance Transfer APR Balance Transfer Fee

0% for 15 months, then 15.24%–26.24% Variable

(for transfers requested within 60 days)

None

There are many rewards cards with 0% intro APR periods. But they usually have transfer fees of 3% or so, and that makes them not as good for balance transfers. This might be the only credit card to offer bonus reward categories and a 0% fee for all transfers.

Take note of the 60-day limit for balance transfers at the 0% rate. But the 0% transfer fee has no time limit, unlike the balance transfer credit cards above — this is a rare find, but it’s not too useful because after 60 days any transfers will get the regular APR, making them poor choices for paying down debt.

Rewards

Spending Rewards
  • 2X Membership Rewards points at U.S. Supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1X)
  • 1X Membership Rewards point on all other purchases
  • 20% point bonus for making 20 or more purchases in a billing period
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • 10,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
    • Value: $100–$200 (assuming 1–2 cents per point)
    • Return on spend: 10–20%

The Amex EveryDay has always offered points, but with this transfer offer it aims to compete with cards designed for both rewards and balance transfers.

However, because of how credit card payments work with different APRs (purchases vs. balance transfers), we don’t usually recommend using a single card for both purchases and balance transfers. Instead, use one card (or multiple cards) for earning rewards, and another card for balance transfers.

Key Features

  • Amex Offers: Discounts or extra points at specific merchants, like Sam’s Club, Pinterest, Boxed, and many more.
  • Complimentary ShopRunner membership: Register with ShopRunner for free two-day shipping and returns at select online retailers.
  • Entertainment Access: Exclusive discounts to events, concerts, sporting events, and shows.
  • Annual fee: $0

Read more in our Review of the Amex EveryDay and Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Cards.

 

Runners-Up

Key Features

  • 2% cash back for every purchase
    • 1% cash back when you make purchases
    • 1% cash back when you pay for purchases
  • Balance transfer APR: 0% 18 months on Balance Transfers* for 18 months, for transfers completed within 4 months, then 15.74% - 25.74%* Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
  • Purchase APR: 15.74% - 25.74%* Variable
  • Annual fee: $0*

Read more in our Review of the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.

 

Key Features

  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets, up to $6,000 spent per year (then 1%)
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
  • Introductory bonus: $150 statement credit for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Purchase and balance transfer APR: 0% on balance transfers for 15 months, for transfers requested within 60 days, then 15.24% - 26.24% Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Annual fee: $0

Read more in our Review of the American Express Blue Cash Everyday® and Blue Cash Preferred® Cards.

 

Key Features

  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate every three months, up to $1,500 spent per quarter (then 1%)
  • Introductory bonus: $150 statement credit for spending $500 in the first 3 months
  • Purchase and balance transfer APR: 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months, then 17.24% - 25.99% Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3% intro when you transfer during the first 60 days of account opening, with a minimum of $5. Thereafter 5% of the amount of each transfer.
  • Annual fee: $0

Read more in our Chase Freedom Review – Cash Back Reward Credit Card.

 

Key Features

  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate every three months, up to $1,500 spent per quarter (then 1%)
  • Cashback Match: Earn double the cash back in your first year
  • Purchase and balance transfer APR: 0% for 14 months, for transfers completed by a specified date, then 14.24%–25.24% Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3%
  • Annual fee: $0

Read more in our Review of the Discover it® Credit Card.

Best Pick For

Students

Why we picked this card

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 account on your credit reports. As such, most student cards aren’t great for paying down debt.

But there are a handful of exceptions, led by Bank of America, most notably the BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students. Not only do you get a great intro period (which is long even compared to non-student cards), you’ll also have no transfer fee for some time after being approved.

Balance Transfer APR Balance Transfer Fee

0% for 15 months, then 14.99%–24.99% Variable

(for transfers made within 60 days)

$0 for first 60 days, then 3%, $10 minimum

This card offer is basically the exact same as the regular BankAmericard® Credit Card.

Key Features

  • Free FICO Credit Score: Check your FICO Score 8 whenever you’d like, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Purchase APR: 0% for 15 months, then 14.99%–24.99% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0

 

Runners-Up

Key Features

  • 3% cash back in your choice of one bonus category, out of six categories
  • 2% cash back at Grocery stores and Wholesale clubs
  • Spending limit: 3% and 2% rewards limited to the first $2,500 spent per quarter
  • Purchase and balance transfer APR: 0% for 12 months, for transfers made within 60 days, then 16.24%–26.24%Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3%, $10 minimum
  • Annual fee: $0

Read more in our Review of the Bank of America Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for Students.

 

Key Features

  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate every three months, up to $1,500 spent per quarter (then 1%)
  • Cashback Match: Earn double the cash back in your first year
  • Purchase and balance transfer APR: 10.99% for 6 months, for transfers made by a specified date, then 15.24%–24.24% Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3%
  • Annual fee: $0

Read more in our Review of the Discover it® for Students.

 

Key Features

  • 2% cash back at Gas stations and Restaurants, up to $1,000 spent per quarter (then 1%)
  • Cashback Match: Earn double the cash back in your first year
  • Purchase and balance transfer APR: 10.99% for 6 months, for transfers made by a specified date, then 15.24%–24.24% Variable
  • Balance transfer fee: 3%
  • Annual fee: $0

Read more in our Review of the Discover it® Chrome for Students.

Is A Balance Transfer Credit Card Right For You?

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 to a credit card and pay it off at 0% APR.

Say you have a $5,000 balance on a card with an APR of 20%. If you make a $300 payment every month, it will take 20 months to pay off. And you’ll end up having to pay over $900 in interest charges.

A balance transfer card provides a better (less expensive) way to pay off the debt. These cards often provide a 0% rate on new purchases as well, but not always.

Transfer that $5,000 to a card with a 0% APR offer for balance transfers. Now, if you make that same $300 monthly payment, it will only take 17 months to pay off. You’ll also save over $900 by avoiding the interest charges, and the debt will be cleared up more quickly which is good for your credit.

This is basically like paying off one credit card using a different card. But you typically won’t earn rewards on balance transfers.

You can usually transfer a balance up to your credit limit, or up to a limit set by the card issuer. During the introductory period you’ll need to make at least the minimum payment each month. After the period is over your remaining balance will switch to the regular rate, which is usually a variable APR.

You don’t need excellent credit to get an excellent balance transfer card. Many of the cards on this page are available to people with fair or average credit.

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 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 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 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)

Take note that the specific terms you get for any card may vary based on your credit history. Be sure to check the terms on the card issuer’s website carefully whenever you apply for a card.

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.

Selection Criteria: What Makes A Great Balance Transfer Card?

When considering a balance transfer offer, look at these features:

  • Balance transfer APR (aka interest rate): Lower is better. Get one with a rate that’s lower 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 balance at the specified rate. Longer is better, giving you more time to pay off your debt at low interest.
  • 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 a balance 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 offers. Many credit cards allow balance transfers, but they aren’t always at zero interest.

All this makes balance transfer offers pretty easy to assess, because you only have a few factors to look at. Just make sure the APR on the new card is lower than what you currently have (preferably 0%). Go for the longest intro APR period you can find, with the lowest possible fee, and remember that you can’t usually transfer balances between cards from the same issuer.

When considering a card’s balance transfer offer, look at how many months at 0% APR you’ll get. Divide your total debt by that number, and that will give you the monthly payment you’ll need to make to pay off the debt before the 0% rate ends. If you have a $1,000 balance and 10 months to pay it off, for example, you’ll need to make monthly payments of $100 to pay it off in time. We typically recommend aiming to pay off the debt one month early, just to be safe.

Ready to transfer your balance and start saving money? Learn what to do next in How Credit Card Balance Transfers Work, or browse more options in The Best Credit Cards.
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