Use our balance transfer calculator to see how much you could save on interest by transferring existing balances to a lower interest or deferred intered credit card. Simply enter a few details about your current card(s) to see the top balance transfer offers you may be a good fit for.
The savings shown in your results are based on the difference in total compound interest charges between the higher APR cards you entered and the lower promotional balance transfer APR, net of transfer fees. These values are estimated by CreditCards.com. Your actual savings may be different based on your purchase and payment activity as well as other fees.
This calculator is intended solely for general information and educational purposes and does not take into account all of the personal, economic and other factors that may be relevant to your decision making. The accuracy of this calculator and its applicability to your personal financial circumstances is not guaranteed or warranted.
Balance Transfer 101
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.
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 Nuata advises that you should wait until you receive the physical card to initiate a balance transfer. “This is the best method because when you do the transfer online, you may not receive a credit line high enough to cover the transfer(s). If you wait until you receive the card, you can always call the bank and explain the situation and request a greater line of credit.”
Balances can take up to three weeks to transfer, so we recommend that you pay the minimum amount on your card before transferring the debt to avoid late fees and other penalties. Also, be sure to transfer your balance before the card’s introductory offer ends.
Tips on using balance transfer cards
Balance transfer cards can be an excellent savings tool, but they also tend to carry high APRs, which can be a pitfall if you aren’t diligent in paying down your balance. Here are a few tips to keep you from digging yourself into more debt:
Figure out the best amount to transfer
Usually it makes sense to transfer as much of your debt as possible onto a 0-percent card to minimize your interest payments – but not always. Balance transfer cards usually carry higher-than-average APRs and – if you can’t repay the balance before the introductory period ends – it could potentially cost you more in interest rates and fees than if you leave the balance where it is. If your current account has a lower interest rate, you should do some math to figure out whether transferring all of your balance or just a portion of it will cost less.
Don’t forget about the fee
Most balance transfer cards charge a fee when you transfer your debt. Different issuers charge different rates, but the fee usually lands around 3%-5% of your transferred balance or a few dollars ($5-$25) — whichever one is greater.
As you research different options, be sure to consider how the balance transfer fee might affect your ability to pay off your debt. Remember: The balance transfer fee is typically charged up front.
Create a plan to pay off your balance
You’re not off the hook once you’ve transferred your balance — you need to pay it off in a timely manner so you don’t end up paying a ton in interest. Make sure you create a plan that includes the balance transfer fee and monthly installment payments before you do the transfer.
Pay your bill on time
Be sure to send your payment by the due date to avoid penalty fees. In fact, check the card’s terms and conditions, because making a payment even a day late may result in you losing your 0-percent introductory rate. Set up an automatic payment through your bank and schedule it a few days before your due date to be on the safe side.
Try to pay it off before the introductory period expires
You should try to pay off your balance before the regular APR kicks in. However, you should also take into account balances on other cards. You may want to focus on paying down accounts with higher interest rates first, and then make larger payments toward your 0-percent card once you’ve paid off your other accounts.
Avoid making new purchases on your card
Don’t get yourself in more debt. Incurring new debt could undermine your ability to repay your balance transfer before the introductory period expires, and – unless your new card includes a 0-percent introductory period for new purchases – you will immediately start incurring interest on that new debt. Put your new card to the side until you’ve finished paying it off.
Keep your old card open
Don’t close down your old account once you’ve transferred your balance from it, especially if you’ve had it for a long time. Doing so could significantly lower your credit score, by lowering the average age of your accounts and raising your credit utilization ratio. However, you don’t want to incur new debt either. Instead, put a small charge on the old card and pay it off in full each month to keep the account active.
Evaluate your spending habits
Consider how you accumulated a large balance and steps you need to take to modify your spending habits. Perhaps the balance was the result of an emergency that couldn’t be avoided. Or maybe you are living beyond your means. Create a budget and seek the help of a credit counselor.
What to watch out for during 0% intro periods
Just because it says “0-percent” doesn’t mean a balance transfer doesn’t come with costs. Most balance transfer cards charge a 3 to 5 percent fee, which can really add up if you are transferring thousands of dollars. You will find a few cards – that don’t charge a balance transfer fee. Cards without balance transfer fees are rare (only 9 out of the 38 cards in our balance transfer survey), but keep a lookout for them – transferring a balance to a card without a fee could save you more money than transferring a balance to a card with a longer introductory period.
You also want to look for a card that’s not going to hassle you with a lot of restrictions, and – when all else is equal – might be worth keeping in the long run.
Here’s a list of criteria you should use in selecting a balance transfer card:
Is it a true 0-percent APR card?
Be on the lookout for cards with deferred interest deals. Deferred interest means just that — if you don’t repay every last cent of your balance by the end of the introductory period — you will owe interest for all of the preceding months. A true 0-percent balance transfer card does not charge interest during the introductory period (as long as you make your monthly payments on time), even if you are still carrying a balance at the end of the introductory period.
How long is the introductory period?
The introductory period is the length of time that the card offers a 0-percent APR on balance transfers (and new purchases, depending on the card). The length of the introductory period can vary drastically. According to our recent balance transfer survey, the average promotional period lasts 12 months, but you can find offers as short as six months or as long as 21 months. Generally, you want to shoot for the longest promotional period, but there are other important factors:
What is the regular APR?
Behind a 0-percent introductory offer often lies a very pricey regular APR. Make sure you know exactly how much you are going to be paying in interest once the introductory period expires, so you aren’t caught off guard. And keep an eye out for low-interest-rate cards that offer a reasonable APR in combination with a 0-percent introductory APR.
Is there a 0-percent APR on new purchases?
Some cards offer a combination of a 0-percent APR on balance transfers and new purchases. We don’t recommend using your card for new purchases until you’ve paid down your balance, but a card with a 0-percent APR can be useful if you have to use your new card in a bind – at least you won’t incur interest on that new balance.
Is there an annual fee?
Some balance transfer cards include an annual membership fee – try to avoid any cards with annual fees until you’ve dug yourself out of debt.
What is the penalty for missing a payment?
Take a careful look at the card’s terms and conditions to see what’s in store if you send a payment past the due date or completely miss a payment. Possible penalties can include losing your 0-percent introductory APR (even for paying just a day late), penalty fees and interest and penalty APRs of nearly 30 percent.
You should opt for a card with more forgiving terms.
What are the other features? Is there a rewards program?
Since you shouldn’t be making new purchases with a balance transfer card, rewards programs shouldn’t be your primary concern. But they’re a nice-to-have in case you want to keep the card in the long run, along with other card benefits such as purchase and travel protections.
Read all the fine print
A misstep with a balance transfer card can be costly, so you should familiarize yourself with all the restrictions in the card’s terms and conditions. Other things to consider: how long do you have to transfer a balance at 0-percent and/or with the balance transfer fee reduced? Is there a grace period for new balances? Are there other unexpected fees or penalties? Make sure there’s nothing in the fine print that could catch you off guard.