All information about Citi Simplicity® Card and U.S. Bank Visa Platinum has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card: Best for balance transfers
This card’s very long balance transfer offer and relatively low ongoing APR earn it a top spot on our list of the best balance transfer cards: 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases for 18 months (the APR is 14.74%-24.74% variable after that). One pitfall is that it comes with no rewards program, so its long-term value will be limited. It also charges a balance transfer fee of 3% (or $5, whichever is higher), which could end up costing you more than a few extra months’ worth of interest.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card: Best for everyday spending
The Bank of America Cash Rewards card offers a solid 3% cash back on a category of your choice and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%). The 0% introductory APR period for balance transfers is good, but you’ll have to act fast. Only balance transfers made within the first 60 days of opening an account qualify for 0% intro APR for the first 12 billing cycles (then 13.99%-23.99% variable). A 3% fee (minimum $10) applies to all balance transfers.
Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for cash rewards
While some cards may require you to sacrifice long-term value for a great balance transfer offer, the Citi Double Cash does not. In addition to an introductory 18-month zero interest offer on balance transfers (then a variable APR of 13.99%-23.99% after that), you’ll earn 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay your balance. Just remember that there’s no 0% introductory APR offer for purchases, and there’s also no sign-up bonus.
BankAmericard® credit card: Best for low interest
The BankAmericard allows you 12 billing cycles to work on paying off a balance transfer (made within the first 60 days) without accruing interest. After that, your interest rate could still be quite low. The regular APR is 12.99%-22.99% variable, which is good, especially if you can secure an interest rate at the low end of that spectrum. There is no rewards program, but you still have access to money-saving perks with BankAmeriDeals, Bank of America’s card-linked cash back offers. Read our full details.
Alliant Visa® Platinum Rewards Credit Card: Best for rewards
Cardholders earn 2X points on all purchases, a rarity for flat-rate cash back credit cards, especially those with no annual fee. Also, earn 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then it’s 13.24%-23.24% variable. The balance transfer fee is 2% of the amount transferred, with a minimum of $5. Although the ongoing rewards are strong, the sign-up bonus could be better, just 5,000 points after a $500 spend within the first 90 days of card membership. Read our full details.
Wells Fargo Platinum card: Best for 0% intro APR
With this card, you get the best of both worlds: a long (18-month) 0% introductory APR period on both qualifying balance transfers made in the first 120 days and new purchases. After that, it’s 16.49%-24.49% variable. While the ongoing APR isn’t the greatest, an 18-month intro APR period gives you a lot of wiggle room as you pay down debt, tackle unexpected expenses and manage your ongoing spending. Another standout feature is the cellphone insurance: Pay your cellphone bill with the card and you can be reimbursed up to $600 per claim and $1,200 per year should your phone be damaged or stolen (subject to a $25 deductible).
Citi Rewards+℠ Card: Best for supermarkets and gas stations
In addition to rewarding 2 ThankYou points per dollar spent at supermarkets and gas stations (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1 point per dollar), Citi will round up each purchase to the nearest 10 points. The introductory APR of 0% for 15 months on balance transfers (13.49%-23.49% variable after that) is one of the shorter offers on the balance transfer market, but it still gives you more than a year to pay down debt with 0% interest.
Alliant Visa® Platinum Credit Card: Best for fraud protection
If you are looking for a balance transfer credit card and you want fraud protection, the Alliant Visa® Platinum Credit Card might be a good choice: This card has an EMV chip for enhanced security, and there’s a $0 fraud liability guarantee. Get 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then it’s 10.24%-22.24% variable. The balance transfer fee is 2% of the amount transferred, with a minimum of $5. Since there’s also no sign-up bonus or ongoing rewards, the long-term value isn’t the greatest. However, there’s no annual fee. Read our full details.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card: Best for sign-up bonus
This card comes with a solid introductory APR on both balance transfers and new purchases: Pay 0% for 15 months on new purchases and on qualifying balance transfers made in the first 120 days (14.49%-24.99% variable after that). Keep in mind that the 120-day period is extra limiting because the card’s balance transfer fee increases from 3% (or $5, whichever is greater) to up to 5% (or $5, whichever is greater) after that period ends. On the flip side, your first few months of card membership have the opportunity to be quite lucrative if you achieve the sign-up bonus of $150 after spending just $500 in the first 3 months.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card: Best for no annual fee
If you’re looking for a card that’s going to be valuable long after your balance transfer offer ends, this is a great choice. Cardholders earn 3 points per dollar spent on dining, travel, transit, gas stations purchases and select streaming services. So after you’ve used the 12-month 0% introductory APR period to pay off your qualifying balance transfer, you can continue to reap this card’s benefits through its excellent rewards program. Just make sure you’re able to pay off the balance within the 12-month introductory period – the ongoing APR of 14.49%-24.99% isn’t ideal for those who plan to carry a balance. Read our full details.
Citi Simplicity® Card: Best for no late fees
The card boasts a competitive balance transfer offer: You’ll get a 0% introductory APR for 18 months on balance transfers, taking you well into the year 2022, and 18 months on new purchases (14.74%-24.74% variable APR thereafter). On top of that, the card comes with an especially forgiving fee and penalty policy: You’ll never be charged a late payment fee and your APR will never be increased due to late payments. One potential drawback is the card’s balance transfer fee of 3% (or $5, whichever is higher), which is hard to justify when some cards charge no balance transfer fee at all.
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card: Best for good credit
This card offers one of the longest introductory APR periods on both new purchases and on balance transfers made within the first 60 days (20 billing cycles, 13.99%-23.99% variable APR thereafter). On top of this fantastic offer, you won’t have to pay an annual fee or a penalty APR. Unfortunately, since there is no welcome offer or rewards structure, the card loses much of its value after that introductory period is over.
What is a balance transfer credit card?
A balance transfer card allows you to transfer balances on older cards to a new card.
That may sound like you are just moving balances from card to card. So why would you get a balance transfer card? Quite simply, they often come with a temporary 0% interest rate. This can easily save you hundreds of dollars, provided you pay the bulk of the debt before the 0% APR offer ends. Offers can be for 6 months to 21 months.
If you don’t pay off the balance before the offer ends, the go-to rate, usually the regular APR, kicks in. But it’s not deferred. So, if you have a $3,000 balance, and you pay $2,400 before the offer ends, you will only pay interest on the remaining $600.
Most balance transfer credit cards have a balance transfer fee, often 3% or $5, whichever is greater. Even when a card has a shorter offer period, it can be worth your while if there is no balance transfer fee.
Many balance transfer cards have no annual fee, and they sometimes offer welcome and ongoing rewards. However, they frequently have foreign transaction fees or other charges to consider.
How to perform a balance transfer
If you’re considering a balance transfer card, you may be wondering how much work goes into moving the balance from one card to another. Here are the steps:
- Apply for a balance transfer card
- Get approved
- Check the rules, such as deadlines for transfers
- Collect your information, including balance and account number
- Contact customer service to perform the balance
- Keep paying the minimum until the transfer closes
How to save money with a balance transfer card
Let’s say you owe $3,000 and you can pay $200 a month toward the balance with 15% interest. Without a balance transfer card, you will pay $343 in interest fees, according to our CreditCards.com balance transfer calculator.
But with a balance transfer card such as the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, you would pay 0% interest for 17 months, paying off the balance in those 17 months and saving $253 after the cost of the balance transfer fee. That’s because the Diamond Preferred offers 0% intro APR for 18 months (then it’s 14.74%-24.74% variable).
When is a balance transfer worth your while?
To help you understand your break-even point on the cost of a balance transfer, let’s crunch some numbers.
Most cards charge a balance transfer fee of 3% or $5, whichever is greater. In that case, if you were transferring a balance of $100, your balance transfer fee would be $5 (3% of $100 is just $3, so you’d pay the higher charge of $5). On the other hand, if you transferred a $1,000 balance, your balance transfer fee would be $30 (3% of $1,000).
Here’s a question: Is it worthwhile to transfer a balance as small as $100? In a word: No. Here’s why. If you pay $35 a month (at 17% interest), you will pay it off in 3 months and your interest will be $2.82 – less than the $5 fee you’d pay to transfer the balance. That means if you can pay your debt off in 3 months or less, it’s not worth making the transfer.
So, is a balance transfer worth your while when the balance is $1,000? Well, if you can pay $343 in 3 months (at 17% interest), your interest charges will be around $28, making it less than the balance transfer fee for the same amount. So in that case, you shouldn’t make the transfer. But if you can’t afford to make such a high monthly payment, a balance transfer will be worth it.
Know what to look for in a balance transfer credit card
To make the most of your balance transfer, keep these key elements in mind:
- Lengthy 0% interest offer – Make sure you know how long of an offer you need in order to pay off the balance before the 0% intro APR offer ends.
- No balance transfer fee – A few credit cards offer no balance transfer fee. Do the math to decide if it’s worth your while to get one of those cards, because there may be disadvantages, such as no rewards.
- No annual fee – Most balance transfer cards have no annual fee, but a few do, so be mindful.
- Rewards – You’ll need to weigh whether you want a super-lengthy intro APR offer such as the Citi Simplicity or rewards for the long term.
- Low regular APR – A number of card issuers, such as Discover, offer a low regular APR after their balance transfer offers end.
How to compare two balance transfer card offers
When you are looking at landing a balance transfer card, you don’t want to stop at studying the payment terms. Also look at how much you can pay each month, fees and other considerations. Not sure which to choose? Let’s dive in and compare a couple of cards, in this case, the Navy Federal® Platinum Credit Card and the Citi® Diamond Preferred®.
How much can you afford?
The more you pay the better; ideally you want to pay more than the minimum. Let’s say you owe $3,000 and you can pay $200 a month. (If you are paying at a rate of 15%, you would pay $344 in interest over 17 months.)
The Navy Federal Platinum’s required minimum payment is $20 or 2%, whichever is greater. That means you would need to pay at least $60 a month, so if you pay $200, you are paying well beyond the minimum.
In the case of the Citi Diamond Preferred, the required minimum payment is $25 or 1.5%, whichever is greater. That means in this case, your minimum is $45.
What is the balance transfer offer?
The Navy Federal Platinum offer is 0% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers, then 5.99%-18.00% variable. So while the 0% APR period can be easily beaten, the regular APR starts out incredibly low.
Contrast that with the Citi Diamond Preferred: Get 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, then it’s 14.74%-24.74% variable. In other words, it has a top-notch 0% intro APR offer, but the regular APR is much higher.
Is there a balance transfer fee?
A precious few credit cards offer no balance transfer fee, and the Navy Federal Platinum is one of them. Compare that to the Citi Diamond Preferred, which has a fee of $5 or 3%, whichever is greater. That means you’ll pay $0 with the Platinum and $90 with the Diamond Preferred to transfer that $3,000. Read about our balance transfer survey.
How much will you save?
Figuring out your savings with the Diamond Preferred is super straightforward: Pay 0% APR for 17 months to pay off the $3,000 as well as the balance transfer fee of $90, saving $253 in interest charges.
It’s a little more complicated with the Platinum. You’ll pay $16 in interest for 4 months, since the 0% APR won’t last the entire payment period, but you don’t pay a transfer fee.
Putting it all together…
|Card||Amount owed||Monthly payment||Balance transfer fee||0% intro APR BT offer||Interest paid||Saved after fees and interest|
|Citi Diamond Preferred||$3,000||$200||$90||18 months, then 14.74%-24.74% variable||$0||$253|
|Navy Federal Platinum||$3,000||$200||$0||12 months, then 5.99%-18.00% variable||$16||$327|
Other things to consider are rewards, such as sign-up bonuses, and other fees, such as annual fees and foreign transaction fees.
Is a balance transfer a good idea?
In addition to concerns about our health and our economic security right now, we may have existing card debt. A balance transfer card is a good idea when you have a credit card balance and you are stuck paying interest each month because you can’t pay off the debt.
If you came into the COVID-19 crisis with card debt, you may feel overwhelmed financially. For now, we recommend that rather than prioritizing your card debt, balance building an emergency budget if possible while also paying down the card debt.
A balance transfer card is not a good idea if you think you might use it to incur additional debt because you have trouble with overspending. Instead, create a budget that sets some money aside for your card debt and also some aside for emergencies.
When is a balance transfer credit card a good choice?
Avoid paying high interest
If you want to avoid interest rates, a balance transfer credit card is a great way to achieve that. Keep in mind that you will pay interest on any balance you have after the offer ends (typically 6-18 months), but if you can pay off the debt before that, you can save hundreds of dollars.
With a balance transfer card, you can consolidate debt from multiple cards, then pay a single bill each month. You might do this for convenience or for budgeting purposes.
Improve your credit score
Once you’ve paid off your balance, you will have improved a number of aspects of your credit score, including your credit utilization ratio. You will also have a higher overall credit limit. By expanding available credit and paying down debt, you can improve your score.
When should I avoid a balance transfer credit card?
You keep making late payments
Pro tip: Set up an automatic payment through your bank and schedule it a few days before your due date to be on the safe side.
You keep incurring debt
Pro tip: Track your spending for a month, forgetting nothing. Then make a budget that includes room for fun and room for emergencies. Why? Because if your budget is too austere, you are more likely to break the bank. Do the same with your credit card spending, and check your spending every week to make sure you are on track.
You would not pay off before the offer ends
Pro tip: Instead, look at cards with longer offers, which can be up to 18 months. That will allow you to pay a little less each month, and at the same time avoid interest. You’ll likely have to forego the shiny object of rewards – you need to choose your priorities, and paying down debt should be your first consideration.
You owe a small amount
Pro tip: Because most BT cards have a balance transfer fee of up to 5% of the transfer, you may want to opt out of a balance transfer card and pay down the debt quickly. Check with your card issuer to see if they will lower your interest rate. We’ve found that chances are, they will.
You have options
Pro tip: Depending on your situation and the offers available to you, it might make more sense to consolidate your debt with a personal loan.
Does a balance transfer hurt your credit score?
While a balance transfer can negatively impact your credit score in the short term, in the long run you will be better off if you use it correctly. Here is how your credit score can be impacted:
- When you apply for the balance transfer card, your score takes a temporary hit of about 5-10 points, but it will recover within a couple of months.
- Don’t cancel your old card, because that will lower your overall ratio, thereby impacting your score. Also, if it’s an older card, you lose that card’s length of history, another factor in your score.
- Your score factors in cards’ ratios of what you owe to your available credit; this is called your credit utilization ratio. Say you have a $10,000 credit limit on your new balance transfer card, and you transfer $5,000. That means the ratio for that card is 50%, which is considered quite high and could negatively impact your score. That’s one reason why you want to pay down the debt as soon as possible.
- Finally, and this is less of an issue if you have older cards, but when you take out a new card, that can impact your score somewhat because it lowers your overall length of history.
If you take out a balance transfer card, work to pay off the balance before the intro offer ends and keep the old card without incurring more debt, your score will get a boost in the long run.
Who can qualify for a balance transfer credit card?
Most cards that feature introductory APR offers require you to have good or excellent credit in order to qualify. While it’s possible to do a balance transfer with bad credit, whether it’s wise will depend on which cards you can qualify for and what your new APR will be. A balance transfer could also hurt your credit score, as it could both increase your single-card credit utilization and lower your length of credit history. You may be better off taking out a debt consolidation loan or focusing on paying down your balances as much as possible before you apply to improve your credit score.
How to perform a balance transfer
If you’re considering a balance transfer card, you may be wondering how much work goes into moving the balance from one card to another. Overall, the process is relatively simple on the end of the cardholder. Here are the steps you should follow:
- Apply for a balance transfer card – Before choosing a card, check out our balance transfer calculator, which factors in fees and interest rates to determine how much you’ll save by transferring your existing balance to a different card. Once you find the balance transfer card that best suits you, complete the card application.
- Get approved – Typically balance transfer and 0% intro APR cards require good or excellent credit. Only apply for a card if you have the requisite credit, and don’t apply for multiple cards at once, because it can make you look desperate.
- Check the rules – Pay attention to the rules, because some cards require the transfer to be made within 60 days of approval.
- Collect your information – Next, gather the account details for the card that has the debt – referred to as the “transfer from” card – including the account number and card balance.
- Contact customer service – After receiving your balance transfer card, call customer service and inform them that you want to transfer a balance onto your new card. Once you provide them with the necessary information, they will reach out to the old card company and move the requested amount onto your new card. Many cards also allow you to make balance transfers through your online account, but we advise that you wait until you receive the physical card to initiate a balance transfer. That way, once you receive the card, you can ask for a higher line of credit if the approved amount is below the old balance.
- Keep paying the minimum – We recommend that you pay the minimum amount on your old card until the transfer closes to avoid late fees and other penalties.
- Avoid new, unplanned charges – While you might have a card that offers 0% APR on new purchases for a limited time, make sure you have a plan before you use it. That way, you don’t go into further debt.
How long does a credit card balance transfer take?
A balance transfer can take a few days or several weeks, depending on the card issuer. And yes, the transfer itself can vary by issuer, too. So, we’ve scooped up some links and details that should help you through the process: