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How to negotiate a balance transfer fee

Getting a balance transfer fee waived might be difficult, but it's not impossible


If you’re considering transferring a balance to a 0 percent APR credit card, one thing you need to account for is the balance transfer fee. The good news is you might be able to negotiate a lower one.

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A balance transfer can save you money on interest and potentially speed up debt repayment if you’re able to qualify for a lower APR.

There’s just one thing to watch out for: balance transfer fees. A balance transfer fee is a charge that the credit card company can apply for moving a balance from one card to another.

A balance transfer fee can add to your debt total, leaving you with more to repay. The usual fee is 3 percent, though some credit card companies may charge 4 percent or 5 percent. But if your credit card company is willing to cut a deal, you may be able to negotiate for lower fees. These tips can help with minimizing balance transfer fees.

Can you negotiate balance transfer fees?

The short answer is, it depends.

“Although cardholders are rarely successful at negotiating a lower balance transfer fee or getting it waived entirely, it is possible and some cardholders have reported success,” says Megan Horner, head of publishing at

It often depends on whether the balance transfer card issuer is willing to reduce the fee to get your business. Because credit card companies make money off balance transfer fees, other fees and interest, may require some incentive to negotiate.

How to negotiate balance transfer fees

If you’re in the process of a balance transfer or if you’re interested in testing your negotiation skills, the following steps can help improve your chances of success:

1. Do your homework to strengthen your negotiation

Before approaching your credit card company about waiving or reducing the fee, you should do the math. Figure out how much a balance transfer fee waiver or reduction would save you in interest and the time needed to pay off your debt. Knowing exactly how much money you’d save could give you good ammunition during the negotiation process, especially if you’re going through some kind of financial hardship.

For example, say your balance transfer fee is 3 percent and you’re transferring a $3,000 balance. You’d be charged $90 in balance transfer fees just to enjoy the balance transfer APR offer. Should your negotiation succeed, you could save $90 — not exactly a small sum, especially if you’re tied up with credit card debt.

Also, consider how much time you’ll have to pay off your balance before the promotional rate expires. If, for instance, Card A offers a 0 percent intro APR for nine months with no balance transfer fee. Card B offers a 0 percent intro APR for 18 months with a 3 percent balance transfer fee.

Card A would make negotiating unnecessary. However, if you need the longest amount of time possible to pay off a balance transfer, Card B might be the better fit. But with Card B, you’re taking a gamble on whether the credit card company will cut you a break on the balance transfer fee.

2. Target your negotiation efforts

If you want to negotiate balance transfer fees, you’ll need to call the credit card company and talk to the right person.

“When you call, ask to speak with a supervisor since the first agent you speak with probably won’t have the authority to negotiate,” says Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful.

Patience can be an asset, since it may take multiple phone calls to move things along. The first customer service representative may counter you with an offer to waive a portion of your balance transfer fee. However, if you’re not happy with their offer and prefer a steeper reduction, ask to speak to a manager.

You may also have better luck in getting a balance transfer fee waived or reduced if you negotiate face to face. Head to your bank’s local branch if you can.

“You might not realize it, but officers at local banks have the authority to waive fees in certain circumstances,” says Logan Allec, a CPA and founder of personal finance site Money Done Right.

Whether this works for you or not depends on how motivated the bank is to keep you as a customer. For instance, Horner says that if you have a business credit card at a particular bank, it may have a stronger incentive to keep you as a customer and waive fees for a personal balance transfer.

3. Make your case for a balance transfer fee waiver or reduction

All that’s left is to call your issuer and make your case. Explain to the representative why you need a lower balance transfer fee, including any significant savings that may help you pay off your debt faster and any recent life events that have caused financial distress, such as layoff or an illness in the family.

Your credit card company may need some convincing to agree to lower or eliminate balance transfer fee. Be prepared to make a strong argument for why it should play ball.

Your credit history could be a key bargaining chip.

“If you have an excellent credit score, you can use it as leverage and point to your history of responsible card use,” says Horner.

If you haven’t checked your credit score lately, consider doing that before looking for a balance transfer deal. Issuers may see cardholders with very good or excellent credit (starting at 740) and positive credit history as valuable customers, and a higher score should give you better odds for success when negotiating balance transfer fees.

When you’re trying to transfer a balance to a card at the bank or credit union where you keep your checking and savings accounts, Allec says to research the competition first.

For example, if you know that a competing bank or credit union charges a lower fee or no fee at all, you could try and use that to persuade the issuer to cut you the same deal.

What to do if you’re unable to negotiate balance transfer fees

If you’ve contacted your credit card company or bank and hit a dead end, there are still a few options for saving money on balance transfer fees.

“Likely, your best course of action is to open a balance transfer card with no balance transfer fee,” says Horner.

These cards currently have a zero balance transfer fee and 0 percent APR promotions:

  • Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum card*: The 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers lasts for 12 months, after which you’ll be charged an 8.99 percent to 18.00 percent variable APR.
  • Wings Visa Platinum Credit Card*: This card offers a 0 percent intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (then 11.15 percent to 18.00 percent variable APR).

These types of balance transfer promotions are readily available, but don’t overlook unadvertised offers.

“Some banks will periodically run special deals where they allow low or no balance transfer fees for a 30-day period,” says Allec.

The catch is that these may be unadvertised until right before the promotion begins. He says issuers and banks may also cap the number of customers who can take advantage of these special offers, so if you come across one, you’ll need to move quickly to cash in.

Are balance transfer fees worth it?

The answer depends on your goals. If you’re more concerned with saving money on interest than paying the fee and you could save a considerable amount, even after paying the balance transfer fee, the fee could be worth it.

Consider how long you have to pay off the balance at 0 percent interest. If you can pay the balance in full before the promotional rate expires and the interest savings far exceed the fee, then it may be justifiable.

On the other hand, if your debt is relatively large and a balance transfer fee would significantly add to your debt, then not paying it might make more sense. Capitalizing on a balance transfer offer and paying the fee could end up being a waste of time and money if you’re ultimately unable to pay off the full balance when the intro period ends. Check out our payoff calculator to see how long it’ll take to pay off your debt using a 0 percent intro APR card.

How to avoid balance transfer fees

If you’re unable to negotiate a balance transfer fee and you can’t find a suitable card that doesn’t charge one, there are other options you might consider.

For example, you could apply for a debt consolidation loan instead of doing a balance transfer.

There are pros and cons to this approach.

On the pro side, there’d be no balance transfer fee to worry about since you’re getting a loan to pay off the balances versus moving them from one card to another. Using a loan to consolidate credit card balances may also be more beneficial to your credit score than a balance transfer. It would significantly reduce your credit utilization ratio and potentially improve your credit mix, especially if you have no other installment accounts, such as student or auto loans.

The biggest con, however, is that you’re less likely to find a debt consolidation loan with a 0 percent APR. So, you might be trading a no balance transfer fee for a higher interest rate. And you may still pay an origination fee to get the loan.

Another option is to simply do nothing and keep your balance where it is, while still focusing your payments on your debt. This might be something to consider if you’re working on improving your credit score to qualify for a no-fee balance transfer card.

Bottom line

If you decide to transfer a balance to a 0 percent APR card with or without a fee, be sure you have a strategy to pay it off. Most important, keep an eye on the calendar so you don’t risk triggering interest charges once the promotional period expires.

“The best thing you can do is pay down most or all of it while the introductory rate is still in effect,” says Steiner.

*Information about the Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum card and Wings Visa Platinum Credit Card has been collected independently by The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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