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Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of December 2023

Written by: Jeanine Skowronski | Edited by: Tracy Stewart | Reviewed by: Sally Herigstad
|

November 27, 2023

Here are the best balance transfer credit cards of December 2023:

Additional Options:

  • Wells Fargo Reflect® Card: Best for long intro APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Citi Double Cash® Card: Best for versatile rewards
  • BankAmericard® credit card: Best for low interest
  • Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Best for grocery, gas and online rewards
  • Citi Simplicity® Card: Best for 0% intro APR + low fees
BEST FOR FLAT-RATE CASH REWARDS
Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card
Our rating:4.1 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
Clicking “See your approval odds” will authorize us to run a soft credit pull, which we’ll need to estimate your approval odds. Approval Odds serve as a guide to help you find the right credit card and will never affect your credit score.

Estimated balance transfer savings

$210
Savings over 24 months based on a transfer of $2,500 at a current APR of 15%
Learn more about our calculations This amount is the estimated savings over 24 months following a $2,500 balance transfer, compared to keeping the balance on a credit card with a 15% APR. The estimate includes the new card’s balance transfer fee and balance transfer intro period and assumes payments of $56.25/mo during the 24-month period.

After the intro period, remaining months assume the average APR in the card’s disclosed range. This estimate is a CreditCards.com calculation used for educational purposes and is not a guarantee of savings.

At A Glance

Intro balance transfer APR
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers
Intro balance transfer period
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers
Regular balance transfer APR
20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR
Your approval oddsClicking “See your approval odds” will authorize us to run a soft credit pull, which we’ll need to estimate your approval odds. Approval Odds serve as a guide to help you find the right credit card and will never affect your credit score.
BEST FOR STAYING ON TRACK
Chase Slate Edge℠
Our rating:4.5 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Estimated balance transfer savings

$337
Savings over 24 months based on a transfer of $2,500 at a current APR of 15%
Learn more about our calculations This amount is the estimated savings over 24 months following a $2,500 balance transfer, compared to keeping the balance on a credit card with a 15% APR. The estimate includes the new card’s balance transfer fee and balance transfer intro period and assumes payments of $56.25/mo during the 24-month period.

After the intro period, remaining months assume the average APR in the card’s disclosed range. This estimate is a CreditCards.com calculation used for educational purposes and is not a guarantee of savings.

At A Glance

Intro balance transfer APR
0%
Intro balance transfer period
18 months
Regular balance transfer APR
20.49% - 29.24% variable
BEST FOR AUTOMATICALLY MAXIMIZING REWARDS
Citi Custom Cash® Card
Our rating:4.5 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
Clicking “See your approval odds” will authorize us to run a soft credit pull, which we’ll need to estimate your approval odds. Approval Odds serve as a guide to help you find the right credit card and will never affect your credit score.

Estimated balance transfer savings

$222
Savings over 24 months based on a transfer of $2,500 at a current APR of 15%
Learn more about our calculations This amount is the estimated savings over 24 months following a $2,500 balance transfer, compared to keeping the balance on a credit card with a 15% APR. The estimate includes the new card’s balance transfer fee and balance transfer intro period and assumes payments of $56.25/mo during the 24-month period.

After the intro period, remaining months assume the average APR in the card’s disclosed range. This estimate is a CreditCards.com calculation used for educational purposes and is not a guarantee of savings.

At A Glance

Intro balance transfer APR
0%
Intro balance transfer period
15 months
Regular balance transfer APR
19.24% - 29.24% variable
Your approval oddsClicking “See your approval odds” will authorize us to run a soft credit pull, which we’ll need to estimate your approval odds. Approval Odds serve as a guide to help you find the right credit card and will never affect your credit score.
BEST FOR EVERYDAY SPENDING
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Our rating:4.4 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
Clicking “See your approval odds” will authorize us to run a soft credit pull, which we’ll need to estimate your approval odds. Approval Odds serve as a guide to help you find the right credit card and will never affect your credit score.

Estimated balance transfer savings

$295
Savings over 24 months based on a transfer of $2,500 at a current APR of 15%
Learn more about our calculations This amount is the estimated savings over 24 months following a $2,500 balance transfer, compared to keeping the balance on a credit card with a 15% APR. The estimate includes the new card’s balance transfer fee and balance transfer intro period and assumes payments of $56.25/mo during the 24-month period.

After the intro period, remaining months assume the average APR in the card’s disclosed range. This estimate is a CreditCards.com calculation used for educational purposes and is not a guarantee of savings.

At A Glance

Intro balance transfer APR
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee applies.
Intro balance transfer period
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee applies.
Regular balance transfer APR
18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Your approval oddsClicking “See your approval odds” will authorize us to run a soft credit pull, which we’ll need to estimate your approval odds. Approval Odds serve as a guide to help you find the right credit card and will never affect your credit score.
BEST FOR PREFERRED REWARDS MEMBERS
Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card
Our rating:3.8 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.
Clicking “See your approval odds” will authorize us to run a soft credit pull, which we’ll need to estimate your approval odds. Approval Odds serve as a guide to help you find the right credit card and will never affect your credit score.

Estimated balance transfer savings

$295
Savings over 24 months based on a transfer of $2,500 at a current APR of 15%
Learn more about our calculations This amount is the estimated savings over 24 months following a $2,500 balance transfer, compared to keeping the balance on a credit card with a 15% APR. The estimate includes the new card’s balance transfer fee and balance transfer intro period and assumes payments of $56.25/mo during the 24-month period.

After the intro period, remaining months assume the average APR in the card’s disclosed range. This estimate is a CreditCards.com calculation used for educational purposes and is not a guarantee of savings.

At A Glance

Intro balance transfer APR
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee applies.
Intro balance transfer period
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee applies.
Regular balance transfer APR
18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Your approval oddsClicking “See your approval odds” will authorize us to run a soft credit pull, which we’ll need to estimate your approval odds. Approval Odds serve as a guide to help you find the right credit card and will never affect your credit score.
BEST NO FRILLS BALANCE TRANSFER CARD
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
Our rating:3.9 Our writers, editors and industry experts score credit cards based on a variety of factors including card features, bonus offers and independent research. Credit card issuers have no say or influence on how we rate cards. The score seen here reflects the card's primary category rating. For more information, you can read about how we rate our cards.

Estimated balance transfer savings

$447
Savings over 24 months based on a transfer of $2,500 at a current APR of 15%
Learn more about our calculations This amount is the estimated savings over 24 months following a $2,500 balance transfer, compared to keeping the balance on a credit card with a 15% APR. The estimate includes the new card’s balance transfer fee and balance transfer intro period and assumes payments of $56.25/mo during the 24-month period.

After the intro period, remaining months assume the average APR in the card’s disclosed range. This estimate is a CreditCards.com calculation used for educational purposes and is not a guarantee of savings.

At A Glance

Intro balance transfer APR
0%
Intro balance transfer period
21 months
Regular balance transfer APR
18.24% - 28.99% variable
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All information about the Chase Freedom Flex, Chase Freedom Unlimited and the BankAmericard credit card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.


Comparing the best balance transfer credit cards of 2023

Credit cardBest forBalance transfer intro APR offerRegular APRCreditCards.com Score
Discover it® Balance TransferWelcome bonus0% for 18 months17.24% - 28.24% Variable APR4.9 / 5
Wells Fargo Active Cash® CardFlat-rate cash rewards0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers made in first 120 days20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR4.1 / 5
Chase Slate Edge℠Staying on track0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months20.49% - 29.24% Variable4.5 / 5
Citi Custom Cash® CardAutomatically maximizing rewards0% for 15 months on balance transfers19.24% - 29.24% (Variable)4.5 / 5
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit cardEveryday spending0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee applies.18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers4.4 / 5
Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit cardPreferred Rewards members0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee applies.18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfersSee Terms3.8 / 5
Citi® Diamond Preferred® CardNo frills balance transfers0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers18.24% - 28.99% (Variable)3.9 / 5
Wells Fargo Reflect® Card Long intro APR on purchases and balance transfers0% intro APR for 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers18.24%, 24.74%, or 29.99% Variable APR thereafter4.2 /5
Citi Double Cash® CardVersatile rewards0% intro for 18 months on Balance Transfers19.24% - 29.24% (Variable) 4.2 / 5
BankAmericard® credit cardLow interest0% intro APR for 21 billing cycles, for transfers made in first 60 days16.24% to 26.24% variable5.0 / 5
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressGrocery, gas and online rewards0% on balance transfers for 15 months19.24% - 29.99% Variable4.8 /5
Citi Simplicity® Card0% intro APR + low fees0% intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers completed within the first four months of account opening19.24% to 29.99% variable4.3 / 5

Editor’s picks: Best balance transfer credit card details

Best for welcome bonus: Discover it® Balance Transfer

  • Best features: This card offers the best of both worlds, with a competitive introductory APR on balance transfers, a generous cash back program and unique first-year welcome offer that matches all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
  • Biggest drawbacks: While this card does not carry an annual fee, keep in mind the 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms).
  • Alternatives: The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card doesn’t offer rewards, but it does have one of the longest intro APR periods on the market. That’s great for anyone who prefers a little extra time to pay down their balance.
  • Bottom line: People who want long-term value and a long runway for paying down credit card debt will get just that thanks to this card’s rewards program. But individuals looking for a lengthier period to finance new purchases or a flat-rate cash back credit card will want to look elsewhere.

Read the full Discover it® Balance Transfer review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for flat-rate cash rewards: Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

  • Best features: There aren’t a lot of flat-rate cards that offer all the perks you get with the Active Cash card. On top of the unlimited 2% cash rewards, you get a welcome bonus and generous intro APR offer on purchases and qualifying balance transfers.
  • Biggest drawbacks: Rewards can only be redeemed for cash back and cannot be transferred to other programs.
  • Alternatives: The Citi Double Cash Card isn’t as straightforward as the Active Cash card, but it does have a longer intro APR period for balance transfers.
  • Bottom line: If you’re on the hunt for a simple flat-rate unlimited rewards card for day-to-day purchases that just so happens to have favorable balance transfer terms, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card should be at the top of your list.

Read the full Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for staying on track: Chase Slate Edge℠

  • Best features: You can lower your ongoing APR by 2 percent each year if you pay on time and spend $1,000 before your next account anniversary. You’ll also unlock an automatic, one-time credit limit increase review when you spend $500 in your first six months. Both perks could come in handy as you finance purchases or build credit.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The intro APR period is relatively short compared to some of the top balance transfer cards. The card also carries no rewards and few ongoing perks, limiting its value after you’ve paid off your balance.
  • Alternatives: The right rewards card could help you pay off debt while also offering better long-term value. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® carries an intro APR offer and cash back on dining, travel and more. You’ll even earn 1.5% back on general purchases.
  • Bottom line: While you can get a longer intro APR offer with other cards, this is one of the few that offers incentives like a lower APR or automatic credit limit increase review if you keep up with payments and meet the spending requirements.

Related: Chase Slate Edge vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited

Read the full Chase Slate Edge review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for automatically maximizing rewards: Citi Custom Cash® Card

  • Best features: This cash back card comes with a solid introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases. You also earn high cash back rewards for purchases in your top spending category each billing cycle.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The big drawback here is the balance transfer fee, which is 5% of the transferred balance (or $5, whichever is greater). That’s on the higher side for a balance transfer, with many other cards charging just 3%.
  • Alternatives: While the Citi Custom Cash Card comes with a $500 spending cap in a single category each billing cycle, the Citi Double Cash Card lets you earn a flat rate on all purchases with no spending caps or select categories.
  • Bottom line: This card is an option if you have a mid-level amount of card debt for a balance transfer but want to earn rewards once you’re finished paying down your debt. For higher debts, the 5% balance transfer fee can be hefty.

Related: Is the Citi Custom Cash card worth it?

Read our Citi Custom Cash Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for everyday spending: Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

  • Best features: In addition to the lengthy intro APR period, cardholders earn bonus cash back in the category of their choice. There’s also an online cash rewards bonus, giving the card greater value.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The introductory APR period for balance transfers is good, though certainly not the longest one out there. Plus, you’ll have to act fast —only balance transfers made within the first 60 days of opening an account qualify. A 3% fee applies to all balance transfers.
  • Alternatives: The Chase Freedom Flex℠* offers year-round cash back on Ultimate Rewards travel, dining and drugstore purchases, plus bonus cash back in rotating categories that you activate each quarter.
  • Bottom line: Choosing your own monthly bonus category is a definite plus for anyone seeking flexibility in a cash back card, but be mindful of the spending caps. This card is best suited for earning rewards for everyday moderate spending.

Read the full Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for Preferred Rewards members: Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card

  • Best features: Not only does this card feature an attractive intro APR on purchases and balance transfers, it also offers an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases, and you could earn even more if you are a Preferred Rewards member. Cardmembers can also earn a generous online cash rewards bonus.
  • Biggest drawbacks: If you carry a balance past the introductory period, the interest you owe could be high, particularly if you end up at the high end of the card’s regular variable APR. Depending on your spending habits, a card that offers a high rewards rate on specific bonus categories may be a better option.
  • Alternatives: The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card offers a similar welcome bonus and intro APR period, but the Active Cash also comes with 2% cash rewards on purchases compared to just 1.5% on the Unlimited Cash Rewards card.
  • Bottom line: Thanks to its competitive intro APR offer and the unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards, this is an excellent option for anyone hoping to tackle existing credit card debt or make a large purchase.

Read the full Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for no frills balance transfers: Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

  • Best features: This card pairs one of the longest balance transfer offers currently on the market with a potentially low go-to interest rate. Plus, you can enjoy added perks through the Citi Entertainment portal, Citi Flex Plan and Citi Easy Deals.
  • Biggest drawbacks: You’ll pay a balance transfer fee of 5% (or $5, whichever is higher). This card doesn’t offer a base rewards program either, which might limit its long-term value.
  • Alternatives: The BankAmericard offers a longer intro APR period on new purchases.
  • Bottom line: So long as you’ve done the math on that 5% balance transfer fee (or $5, whichever is higher), the Citi Diamond Preferred is an attractive option for anyone hoping to pay down debt and doesn’t mind the lack of rewards.

Read our full Citi Diamond Preferred Card review or jump back to this card’s offer details.

Best for long intro APR: Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

  • Best features: This card features one of the longest intro APR offers on the market, giving you ample time to pay off a larger purchase or tackle debt from other high-interest cards. With no rewards program, it’s an ideal card for those who want to focus solely on paying off a balance.
  • Biggest drawbacks: The 5% balance transfer fee (minimum $5) is hefty compared to others and could tack on a significant amount to your balance transfer.
  • Alternatives: The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card is an excellent flat-rate cash rewards card with both an attractive ongoing rewards rate and a better welcome bonus, in addition to a great intro APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers completed within the first 120 days.
  • Bottom line: If you need a longer window of time to pay off existing high-interest debt or an upcoming large purchase, this card can’t be beat.

Read our Wells Fargo Reflect® Card review.

Best for versatile rewards: Citi Double Cash® Card

  • Best features: It comes with an impressively long introductory offer on balance transfers, but the base rewards are the real highlight. Cardholders can earn a generous flat rate that competes with the best rewards credit cards. Plus, there’s no annual fee.
  • Biggest drawbacks: There’s no introductory APR offer for purchases, so you will incur interest on your purchases unless you pay in full each month. That can slow down your progress to paying off your debt. There’s also a high penalty APR if you make a late payment, which could leave stuck in a cycle of debt.
  • Alternatives: The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has a generous intro APR offer for purchases and balance transfers. It also offers bonus categories rather than a flat cash back rate. Depending on your spending, you could potentially earn more on everyday purchases at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations.
  • Bottom line: The Citi Double Cash Card gives you the versatility of a flat-rate cash back card coupled with one of the longest intro APR balance transfer offers available. Existing Citi customers already earning ThankYou points could earn even more by pairing this card.

Related: Citi Double Cash card benefits

Read the full Citi Double Cash review.

Best for low interest: BankAmericard® credit card

  • Best features: The BankAmericard offers one of the longest intro APR offers around, with the potential for a low interest rate afterwards.
  • Biggest drawbacks: You’ll need to act fast to capitalize on the balance transfer offer, given it applies only to balances transferred in your first 60 days. You’ll pay a balance transfer fee of 3%.
  • Alternatives: Besides offering a lengthy introductory APR period on both balance transfers and purchases, the Citi Simplicity® Card never charges late fees. That’s good news for cardholders who are occasionally late with their payment.
  • Bottom line: This card has no rewards program, but that may not be a negative for cardholders with big balances. For larger debts, the balance transfer fee may sting a bit at 3%.

Related: Is the BankAmericard card worth it?

Read the full BankAmericard credit card review.

Best for grocery, gas and online rewards: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

  • Best features: There aren’t a lot of balance transfer cards that offer rewards, and those that do are light on additional benefits. But the Blue Cash Everyday Card goes further, offering up generous rewards, a welcome offer, plenty of secondary benefits, and even two valuable credits for the Disney Bundle and Home Chef meal kits (subject to auto renewal) — all for no annual fee.
  • Biggest drawbacks: If you make even one late payment, you could get hit with a high variable penalty APR that lasts at least six months. Combined with the late fee, that could add up to a lot of debt on top of what you already owe.
  • Alternatives: The Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card has a similar intro APR offer, but you won’t have to worry about a penalty APR if you miss a payment. Plus, the card’s unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases could be more useful if many of your everyday purchases fall outside the Blue Cash Everyday Card’s bonus categories (such as superstore or wholesale club purchases).
  • Bottom line: This card’s cash back categories, intro offer and unique perks make the refreshed Blue Cash Everyday card a great choice for households.

Read our Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express review.

Best for 0% intro APR + low fees: Citi Simplicity® Card

  • Best features: This card offers one of the longest intro APR offers around for balance transfers. And since it doesn’t charge a late fee or penalty APR, it’s far more forgiving than most credit cards if you forget to make a payment.
  • Biggest drawbacks: This card does not have a rewards program, leaving it with little long-term value.
  • Alternatives: The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card is another alternative worth considering. It also charges a lower balance transfer fee, so if you think you may take longer to complete your balance transfer this may be a better alternative.
  • Bottom line: If you need to transfer high-interest credit card debt to a low-fee card, this may be a smart option due to the longer intro APR period for balance transfers.

Read our full Citi Simplicity® Card review.

 

 


What is a balance transfer credit card?

If you’re ready to break out of credit card debt, you can take advantage of several different strategies. One of the most effective is to move an existing balance to another credit card that offers 0% APR on the transferred debt for a limited period.

The main benefits of a balance transfer credit card include:

  • Avoiding interest. These cards are a great tool for temporarily avoiding interest charges since many offer a 0% intro offer of six to 18 months. By paying no interest for a period of time, you can potentially pay your balance off over a shorter period of time and pay less interest overall.
  • Consolidating debt. A balance transfer card is an option if you want to simplify payments by combining them into one bill, making it easier for you to manage your debt and pay on time.
  • Improving your credit score. After paying off your balance, you may find yourself with a higher credit score due to lowering your credit utilization ratio. Plus, you also expand your overall credit limit if you keep your original account open after paying off your debt.

Although balance transfers are primarily used for credit card debt, each issuer has its own rules for what types of debt you can transfer. Depending on the issuer, your balance transfer options could include credit card balances, auto loans, personal loans, and student loans.

One thing to consider is that most issuers will not let you transfer a balance from an existing account to another with that same issuer. Also, some issuers allow you to transfer multiple debts to one balance transfer card as a form of debt consolidation.

See related: How does a balance transfer work?

What is a balance transfer fee?

A balance transfer fee is a payment to transfer an existing credit card balance from one card to another. The issuer you’re transferring to charges the balance transfer fee.

The fee total depends on both the fee percentage and the total balance transferred. Most credit cards charge between three to five percent, often with a minimum fee of at least $5 to $10. So if a credit card charges a five percent balance transfer fee and you choose to transfer a $1,000 balance, the balance transfer fee amount is $50.

Pros and cons of balance transfer credit cards

Pros

  • Avoid paying high interest. A balance transfer credit card with a 0% intro APR offer can save you hundreds of dollars if you can pay off all or most of the debt before the intro period ends.
  • Consolidate debt. A balance transfer card offers the convenience of moving debt from multiple cards to one new card with an intro offer that you can then pay off in a single bill each month. Your minimum monthly payment may also be lower for one consolidated debt than your total payments for multiple accounts.
  • Fast track repayment. A balance transfer card’s repayment schedule and lack of interest charges mean you’ll have the opportunity to get out of debt much faster than you would otherwise.
  • Improve your credit score. By paying off your balance on the new card and keeping your old accounts open, you’ll lower your credit utilization ratio and improve your credit score.

Cons

  • You can lose your low or zero-interest rate if you make late payments. It’s a good idea to set up an automatic payment through your bank and schedule it a few days before your due date to be on the safe side.
  • More available credit can make it easy to keep incurring debt. You might be tempted to spend more with a new credit line. To avoid racking up more debt, track your credit card spending and make sure you are staying on budget.
  • When the offer ends, your interest rate goes up. Once the intro APR offer ends, interest will begin to add to any remaining balance, so plan strategically to maximize your intro APR offer and pay off your debt during the intro period.
  • Balance transfer fees can be steep. Most balance transfer cards have a balance transfer fee of up to 3% to 5% of the transfer. If you opt-out of a balance transfer card and just pay down the debt quickly, you may be better off.

How to choose a balance transfer credit card

Choosing the right balance transfer credit card may seem difficult— but if you ask the right questions before making a decision, you’ll have a much better idea of which one is right for you.

How long is the 0% intro APR period?

Not all balance transfer credit cards are created equal. Standout balance transfer cards offer introductory APR periods as long as 18 to 21 months. Always check the APR period first when deciding on a balance transfer credit card.

Do you need low-interest or zero-interest?

Although it seems obvious at first that you should take the card with 0% interest, that’s not always the case. A card with an ongoing low-interest rate might be best for you if you think you’ll need longer than the introductory period to pay off your debt completely.

What are the fees?

Watch out for fees that can make it harder to pay off your debt. While some balance transfer cards don’t charge a fee to transfer debt, most charge between 3% and 5% of the balance being moved. Also, avoid any late fees by paying on time and pay off the full balance before your introductory APR rate expires to avoid interest charges. If you’re unable to do so, make sure that the regular APR on the new account is lower, and scan the fine print to be sure a penalty APR isn’t involved.

Do you want a card with long-term value?

Balance transfer offers often provide excellent short-term value, but some cards may lack additional features. If you’re looking for a card you can use long after an intro APR period ends, look for one that offers rewards, especially if you intend to consistently pay your balances in full each month. Or a low-interest credit card with an intro APR offer and a low ongoing interest rate can be a good fit if you tend to carry a balance.

What card issuer do you prefer?

You won’t be allowed to transfer a balance from one card to another card with the same issuer, so keep this in mind as you’re selecting the best balance transfer card. While it may seem like this limits your options, it can help you narrow down which card issuer you end up choosing.

How much time do you need to make the transfer?

Many balance transfer cards have a strict transfer window you must transfer your balance within for the intro offer to apply, such as 30 or 90 days. Because there are different transfer windows, choose a card that aligns with how quickly or how often you want to transfer balances.

Some balance transfer cards are available without any transfer windows, so make note of that as well, especially if you’re unsure of your exact balance transfer timing. To avoid any issues with transfer windows, it’s best to initiate your transfer immediately.

Do you have the right credit score?

Most balance transfer cards offering competitive 0 percent introductory periods require good to excellent credit for both approval and qualifying for the best ongoing interest rates — which means at least 670 or higher on the FICO scale.

Even with bad credit, you may still qualify for a balance transfer card. However, your options are limited. If you’re concerned your credit score is too low for approval, you could try applying for a secured credit card or another credit-building card and start rebuilding your score to increase your approval odds in the future.

Will a balance transfer hurt my credit score?

Balance transfers do impact your credit score in a number of ways, including some that can both help and hurt your credit score.

How a balance transfer can hurt your credit score

When you complete a balance transfer, you will get a small, temporary ding to your score for applying  for a new card, whether an issuer approves your application or not. Other factors, like payment history, outstanding balances, length of credit history, new credit and credit mix, also affect your score. Finally, your overall length of credit history will decrease  when opening a new account.

However, though a balance transfer may hurt your score temporarily, paying off your balance will have a positive long-term impact.

How a balance transfer can help your credit score

Completing a balance transfer also means you may increase your overall available credit when you take out a new card, which could lower  your credit utilization ratio. It’s recommended that you keep your credit utilization below 30%, so adding a new card can help maintain a positive ratio.

Also, since you are not accruing interest during the card’s intro period, it should be easier to pay off your balance. Eliminating  or lowering any credit card debt will often have a significant positive impact on your credit score.

But you will need to be diligent about reducing your debt for a balance transfer to help your credit score in the long run.

Should I get a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer credit card can help you pay off debt faster, but it is not suited for everyone. Some cardholders will benefit from transferring their balances to a balance transfer credit card, while others may realize that another method of debt repayment makes more sense — as it all depends on your specific situation.

Who should get a balance transfer credit card

  • The debt manager. If you’re currently carrying credit card debt on one (or more) credit cards, you’re a prime candidate for a balance transfer credit card. A top-notch offer can save you money on interest and help you pay down existing balances faster, given interest won’t accrue during the introductory period.
  • The credit-builder. Paying off existing debt can improve your credit utilization rate, a core component of credit scores. Your credit utilization rate measures how much credit has been extended to you. If you’re unsure of your credit utilization ratio, you can use our credit utilization calculator to know where you stand.
  • The strategist. If you’re a financial planner, then it’s important to find a card that will help meet your long-term financial goals. Balance transfer cards typically have low interest rates and allow you to pay off high-interest debt without sacrificing your finances later.

Who should skip a balance transfer credit card

  • The rewards seeker. While some balance transfer credit cards do offer rewards, you can generally find more lucrative programs attached to traditional or premium rewards credit cards.
  • The luxury traveler. Balance transfer credit cards rarely, if ever, offer travel perks, like complimentary lounge access, a free checked bag or travel insurance. If you’re in the market for those perks, consider a travel, airline or hotel credit card.
  • The frequent revolver. If you tend to consistently carry at least some purchases over from month to month, you might be best served by a low-interest credit card, which offers a competitive APR for the long term vs. simply during an introductory period.

How to do 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 balance transfer process is relatively simple. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Select and apply for the right balance transfer card. Each balance transfer card is unique, so the right card for you will depend on your individual needs. Do you need the most time to pay down a balance? Choosing a card with a very long intro offer on balance transfers may be a good fit. Are you hoping to finance a purchase if needed with your card? Picking one with an intro APR on purchases and balance transfers could be the way to go.
  2. Thoroughly review the card’s terms and conditions. Each issuer has its own set of rules. For example, some companies may require you to complete the balance transfer within a specific time frame. You can find the information you need in a card’s Schumer Box, a standardized disclosure form that helps people understand the full scope of a card’s terms and conditions. Some of the most important terms to note will be the balance transfer fee (usually 3% or 5% of the transferred balance) and how long you have to pay the transferred debt back before the regular APR kicks in.
  3. Initiate the transfer. Once you have selected, applied and been approved for a card, initiating the transfer is a simple process. You can initiate a transfer to the new card online or through your new card issuer’s mobile app.
  4. Monitor your accounts and keep up with the minimum payments. Transfers usually take between five days and six weeks to complete. While you’re waiting, it’s important to continue making payments on your old card to maintain your credit-building efforts. Once the money is transferred to your new account, take note of the date and time so that you have a record of the successful transaction and can begin your payoff timeline.

Note: The process for how to do a balance transfer varies slightly from issuer to issuer. We’ve put together the resources below to provide more details on how some major credit card issuers conduct them.

How to make the most of your balance transfer credit card

A balance transfer card can provide a fresh start but only when used properly. Once you find a card that’s right for you, stick to the plan and keep your spending in check. The following guidelines will help you get on track and stay the course:

  • Look into high-limit credit cards. It’s possible to get approved for a card, but at a lower credit limit than the balance you’re looking to transfer. To increase the odds of qualifying for a credit limit that covers the full amount you’re trying to pay off, consider applying for these balance transfer cards that could offer you a high limit based on your creditworthiness.
  • Avoid new, unplanned charges. While you might have a balance transfer credit card that offers rewards on spending or a 0% intro APR on new purchases for a limited time, make sure you have a plan before making new charges. That way, you won’t go into further debt. Focus instead on paying the transferred balance off before the card’s regular APR applies.
  • Set up auto-payments to ensure you don’t miss a monthly bill. This step is particularly important with balance transfer credit cards, given some issuers note that their introductory terms are contingent on an account being in good standing (meaning a late payment can cost you that 0% introductory APR, even if the intro period hasn’t ended). Plus, late fees and penalty APRs will only add to your debt load.
  • Pay off your balance before the promotional APR period ends. Many balance transfer credit cards charge average-to-high go-to interest rates, depending on your credit, so if you don’t pay balances back by the time the 0% introductory APR expires, you’ll risk foregoing any savings and getting caught in a cycle of debt. Draft a payment plan and consider redoing your budget to ensure you’re out of the red by the deadline.
  • Look into low-interest offers. If you anticipate that you might still have a balance after the 0% intro APR offer ends, take a look at balance transfer cards with low-interest rates. Keep in mind that the better your credit, the lower your regular APR will likely be on a card.

Alternatives to a balance transfer

While a balance transfer can be a great tool, it’s also a new commitment. If you’re looking for breathing room rather than another card, here are some options:

  • Consider getting a personal loan. If you need to pay off credit card debt swiftly – especially if you’re carrying high balances on numerous cards – a personal loan may be better than a balance transfer card. By combining multiple debts into a single payment, you could pay less interest over time and save money on fees.
  • Get a credit-building card. If you’re concerned that your credit is not good enough yet to apply for a balance transfer card, then looking at a credit-building card could be a good option. Be aware that the interest can be high on these cards, so weigh your options carefully.
  • Strategize a payment plan with a payoff calculator. Often, looking at the amount owed can be overwhelming. Instead of looking at the larger number, it can be beneficial to break it down into smaller, more manageable payments using a payoff calculator. Play around with the numbers until you find one you are comfortable with as a starting point.
  • Negotiate with your card issuer. If you’re having a hard time paying off your credit card balances, you can try negotiating the debt with the credit card company. You can work with the credit card company to reduce your monthly payments, lower your interest rate or even lower your fees.

How we picked the best credit cards for balance transfers

In our research methodology: We analyzed 1,002 credit cards to identify the top balance transfer credit cards on the market. While a large number of factors contribute to the quality of a credit card, the following were our most important criteria in evaluating and choosing the best balance transfer cards:

  • Length of 0% intro APR period: The longest balance transfer offers on the market currently offer 0% intro APR periods on balance transfers that last between 15 to 21 months. Historically, there have been offers that tout a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for close to two years.
  • Balance transfer fee: Most credit cards charge a balance transfer fee between 3% to 5% of the transferred balance (minimums apply). A few cards have historically skipped the charge or waived the charge if a balance is transferred within a certain time period.
  • Regular APR after the intro period: There’s always a chance that cardholders won’t pay their balance off by the time the 0% introductory APR expires. As such, we considered whether the go-to APR on that balance was reasonable, compared to the current industry average. (See the current average credit card interest rates.)
  • Annual fee: The best balance transfer credit cards minimize the cost of a credit card so cardholders have more money to put toward their balance. As such, we more heavily weighted credit cards with no annual fee.

Our full criteria include 0% intro APR period for balance transfers, balance transfer fees, regular APR, savings period, current APR assumption, monthly payment assumption, other rates and fees, customer service, credit needed, security, ease of application, potential rewards and miscellaneous benefits.

More information on balance transfer credit cards

For more information on all things balance transfer cards and credit card debt, continue reading content from our credit card experts:


Frequently asked questions about balance transfer credit cards

Ask the Experts: When does it make sense to consider doing a balance transfer?

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