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Compare Balance Transfer Credit Card Offers
Updated: February 20, 2018
CreditCards.com's Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of 2018
We have listed below our favorite balance transfer cards for 2018. Of these cards, the Discover it® card offers the highest estimated savings at $445.51. The Discover it®, Citi® Double Cash, and HSBC Gold Mastercard® all offer an intro 0% APR period of 18 months.
What Our Experts Are Saying
Laura Adams, personal finance expert and host of the Money Girl podcast
Favorite balance transfer card: U.S. Bank Visa Platinum card
"The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card is my top choice for the best balance transfer credit card. It gives you a long, 18-month promotional period with 0 percent APR for both transfers and new purchases."
Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com
Favorite balance transfer card: The Chase Slate card
"What sets the Slate by Chase card apart is the ability to avoid paying a balance transfer fee. Other cards offer longer zero-percent introductory periods, but having no balance transfer fee is a big deal, so Slate is my pick"
Daniel Ray, editor-in-chief at CreditCards.com
Favorite balance transfer card: The Chase Slate card
"Run the numbers yourself and you will see that the Chase Slate card, in most circumstances, gives the greatest value."
Full Details on Balance Transfer Cards
If you’re feeling weighed down by a large credit card balance, you can lighten your load – and save thousands on interest – by transferring your debt to a balance transfer credit card with a lengthy 0 percent promotional rate.
A balance transfer card can help you eliminate your debt more quickly by temporarily waiving the interest you have to pay so your balances don’t keep growing. It can also give you some breathing room if you need more time to tackle a large amount of debt.
Not all balance transfer cards are alike, though, so it’s a good idea to compare the cards closely before you commit. The best balance transfer cards give you well over a year to knock out a balance before the card’s interest rate kicks in, and don’t charge hefty fees. Here, we look at:
- How balance transfer cards work
- How to properly use a balance transfer card
- Is a balance transfer card right for me?
- Pros and cons of balance transfer cards
- What is a balance transfer fee?
- Should I get a card with no balance transfer fee?
We’ll walk you through how to and whether to choose a balance transfer card:
How balance transfer cards work
- Calculate number of months. Figure out how much you can afford to pay each month and calculate how long it will take you to pay off the debt.
- Select a card. Look at the annual fee and balance transfer fee. Also make sure you understand the requirements to keep the offer active.
- Apply. Make sure you’ve checked your credit score and that you have a high likelihood of being accepted. You can be accepted within minutes.
- Call to make the transfer. Contact the balance transfer card’s issuer to transfer your balance. Have the amount, the account number and the issuer’s information ready.
- Pay on time each month. Make sure you pay on time each month because failing to do so can revoke your agreement and end the offer.
- Pay off the balance. Strive to pay the balance before the offer ends so that you don’t pay interest.
How to properly use a balance transfer card
- Choose the right offer period. You’ll want to figure out how long it will take you to pay off the balance, then get a card with the right offer period. Also, look at the balance transfer fee, and figure out if you want a card that has no balance transfer fee.
- Decide how you want to use the card after the offer ends. Look at the annual fee and rewards. If there’s an annual fee but no rewards that you’ll use, then you may want a card with no annual fee. But if there are rewards you are interested in and the offer works for you, a rewards card, even with an annual fee, might be a good choice.
- Pay on time each month. If you don’t pay on time each month, you can lose the interest-free offer before it ends, forcing you to pay interest, often higher than what you had been paying with your old card.
- Pay before the end of the offer period. To avoid additional interest charges, pay off the balance before the offer ends.
- Put a small charge on the old card and pay in full each month. While you are paying down the balance transfer card, place a small charge on your old card each month, paying it in full and on time each pay period. This will keep that account active and it ensures that your good credit habits continue.
Is a balance transfer card right for me?
- Are you paying high interest? A balance transfer card might be a good choice if you are paying high interest rates on your card balances, which can easily be 16% APR or more.
- Are you having trouble paying down your balance? If you are paying down only the minimum of your card balance, it might help to have a card that allows you to pay down interest-free for a limited time.
- Can you stop spending on your card? As tempting as it might be to not pay interest with a balance transfer card, it’s important to also stop putting charges on your cards that you can’t pay for in full each month.
- Can you pay before the offer ends? It’s best to pay off the balance before the offer ends to ensure you don’t pay interest.
Pros and cons of balance transfer cards
|Usually 0% APR for limited time||Incur interest if don't pay by end of period|
|Can lower utilization ratio||Can complicate finances if used incorrectly|
|Often can complete transaction over phone||Often requires good or excellent credit|
|Some cards have no balance transfer fee||Balance transfer fee can be up to 5% or $10, whichever is greater|
|Some cards have lucrative rewards||Cards with longer 0% APR offers often have limited rewards|
What is a balance transfer fee?
Card issuers make their money in part through charging interest and fees. One fee that ensures the issuer gets a cut even if the consumer doesn’t pay interest is the balance transfer fee. Balance transfer cards are designed for you to avoid paying interest for a limited time. Most balance transfer cards have the balance transfer fee, typically 3%-5% or $5-$10, whichever is greater. But there are a few cards that don’t charge the fee as an introductory offer for balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening, such as the Chase Slate.
Should I get a card with no balance transfer fee?
Whether to get a card with no balance transfer fee is only one of the factors you should consider when looking at balance transfer cards. A few cards, such as the Chase Slate, offer a $0 intro fee for balance transfers made in the first 60 days of account opening, which can save you hundreds of dollars depending on the amount you are transferring. For example, if a card charges 5% of the amount transferred, then you pay $100 for a $2,000 transfer. But you need to look at more than the balance transfer fee when making a decision. How much are you saving in interest by conducting the transfer? What are your plans for the card after you pay off the balance? Does it have rewards? Or do you need a lengthier 0% offer because you have a large balance?
Recap: Our Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of 2018
|Card||0% Intro BT APR Period||Balance Transfer Fee||Our Savings Estimate||Regular APR|
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express||15 months||3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum||N/A||14.24% - 25.24% Variable|
|Citi® Double Cash Card||18 months||3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum||$433.78||14.74% - 24.74%* Variable|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||15 months||5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum||$271.41||16.24% - 24.99% Variable|
|Discover it®||18 months||3.00%||$441.51||13.24% - 24.24% Variable|
|HSBC Gold Mastercard® Credit Card||18 months||Either $10 or 4% of transfer amount, whichever is greater||$433.58||12.24%, 16.24%, or 20.24% Variable|
|Chase Slate®||15 months||$0 intro fee for first 60 days. After that, 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum||$417.12||16.99% - 24.99% Variable|
|The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express||15 months||$0, balance transfers must be requested within 60 days from account opening||N/A||14.24% - 25.24% Variable|
|Chase Freedom®||15 months||5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum||$271.41||16.24% - 24.99% Variable|
|Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card||9 months||3.00%||$124.45||14.24% - 24.24% Variable|
|Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card||15 months||3% intro for 15 months, then 5%||$261.88||16.40% - 26.24% Variable|
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