Best Credit Cards for Balance Transfer

A balance transfer can merge multiple credit card debts into one, reducing your obligations and allowing you to take advantage of a 0% introductory APR. Balance transfer cards make your debt more manageable and allow you to clear the balance quickly and cheaply. 

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What is a Balance Transfer Credit Card?

A balance transfer credit card works much like a normal credit card, but it’s designed to help you repay a transferred balance, one that can come from one or more credit cards. It has a limit large enough to hold this balance and it comes with an intro offer that charges 0% APR for up to 18 months. 

Your obligations don’t change, as you will still be required to make a monthly payment. The difference is, this doesn’t need to cover extortionate interest charges and all of it goes towards your principal. Not only can you clear the debt quickly, but if you do so during the introductory period you won’t pay a lot of interest. 

The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

What follows is a list of the best balance transfer cards, based on key parameters such as interest rates, annual fees, rewards, and, most importantly, transfer fees and intro offers.

The card that works best for you will depend on everything from your credit score (which in turn is impacted by the number of recent inquiries to late payment penalties) to the number of transfers you need and the amount of each transfer. 

How you use your card, and whether you plan to continue making purchases during or after the intro APR period, will also impact your choice.

Discover It Balance Transfer Card

The Discover It credit card is one of the best rewards cards you can find, with great rates on all purchases and up to 18 months 0% APR on balance transfers. There are variants of this cash rewards credit card aimed at students, low-income borrowers, and more, and it’s at the top of many of our lists of the best credit cards.

  • Card Issuer: Discover
  • Intro APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months and 0% on purchases for 6 months
  • Regular APR: 13.49% to 24.49% variable APR
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% on balance transfers
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Cash Back Rewards: Up to 5%

Benefits of the Discover It Balance Transfer Card

The Discover It credit card offers up to 5% cash back for a fixed amount, along with a 1% unlimited cash back once this finishes. The 5% cash back rate changes each quarter and covers several bonus categories such as grocery stores, U.S. supermarkets, gas stations, and more.

Discover also doubles the rate of rewards that you earn at the end of your first year, a top sign-up bonus that makes this one of the best reward credit cards around.

Wells Fargo Platinum Card

As with the Discover It, the Wells Fargo Platinum card offers a 0% intro rate on balance transfers for the first 18 months. There is also no annual fee and a few extra perks that make this a great choice for balance transfers.

  • Card Issuer: Visa
  • Intro APR: 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months
  • Regular APR: 16.99% to 26.49% variable APR
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Cash Back Rewards: N/A

Benefits of the Wells Fargo Platinum Balance Transfer Card

The intro balance transfer fee on this card is 5%, which is towards the higher end, but the 0% intro period lasts for 18 months and the fees are relatively low and easy to manage. The only downside to this card when compared to other options, such as the Discover It, is the lack of a rewards program.

It does, however, have added cell phone protection of up to $600 if you use your new card to pay your cell phone bill.

Wells Fargo Propel Card

The Wells Fargo Propel has a 0% balance transfer APR that lasts for 12 months and charges a 5% balance transfer fee. As soon as the intro APR offer ends, you can get a rate of less than 16%, if you have excellent credit, and around 23% or 24% with fair or good credit.

  • Card Issuer: American Express
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months
  • Regular APR: 15.49% to 27.49% variable APR
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Cash Back Rewards: Points-based rewards program

Benefits of the Wells Fargo Propel Balance Transfer Card

With the Wells Fargo Propel card, you can earn points every time you spend, with up to 3 times as many points for money spent on hotels, car rentals, restaurants, and more. There is no monthly, yearly or quarterly maximum for these point boosts, allowing you to grow your balance quickly.

Every 10,000 points have a $100 cash value and you can earn 20,000 of them when you spend $1,000 in the first three months.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card has a 15 month intro APR period on all purchases and balance transfers, with APRs as low as 16.49%, which are offered to cardholders with high credit scores. It also has one of the best unlimited rewards programs.

  • Card Issuer: Visa
  • Intro APR: 0% APR for balance transfers and purchases
  • Regular APR: 16.49% to 25.24% variable APR
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Cash Back Rewards: 1.5% cash back on unlimited purchases

Benefits of the Chase Freedom Unlimited Balance Transfer Card

You can get 1.5% cash back with the Chase Freedom Unlimited card and there are no rotating categories, which means every $100 you spend earns you $1.50 in cash back. If you spend $500 on your statement within 90 days of the account opening, you’ll get a $150 cash bonus.

Citi Simplicity Card

The Citi Simplicity credit card has one of the longest balance transfer periods, making this a great option if you have the credit history needed to apply. As is the case with many other Citi cards, cardholders can use Citi Flex Plan to help them clear their credit card balance.

  • Card Issuer: MasterCard
  • Intro APR: 0% APR for 21 months on balance transfers and 12 months on purchases
  • Regular APR: 16.24% to 26.24% variable APR
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Cash Back Rewards: N/A

Benefits of Citi Simplicity Balance Transfer Card

With help from Citi Flex Plan and a low-interest rate (the rate you receive will depend on your creditworthiness), this could be a great option for clearing credit card debt. It doesn’t have a rewards scheme, so you won’t warn extra cash, but it’s a top credit card account overall and provides you with a number of perks and a very long intro period.

Capital One SaviorOne Transfer Card

The Capital One balance transfer credit card is great for both transfers and rewards; there is an impressive sign-up bonus, no foreign transaction fees or annual fees, and a low balance transfer rate of just 3%.

  • Card Issuer: Capital One
  • Intro APR: 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months
  • Regular APR: 15.49% to 25.49% variable APR
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Cash Back Rewards: 1% to 3% cash back

Benefits of the Capital One SaviorOne Balance Transfer Card

The Capital One SaviorOne credit card has some great rates and terms, as well as a 1% to 3% unlimited cash back rate on certain purchase categories. You’ll also get $150 when you spend $500 on your new card within the first three months of the account opening.

Other Top Balance Transfer Credit Cards

We have only just scratched the surface with regards to the best balance transfer credit cards. The more of these cards that you include in your search, the more likely you are to find the one that’s right for you. All credit card issuers have these cards, and here are a few more worth considering:

  • The Chase Slate Credit Card
  • Citi Double Cash Card
  • Amex Blue Cash Everyday Card
  • BankAmericard Credit Card
  • Capital One Quicksilver
  • Bank of America Cash Rewards Card

How to Use a Balance Transfer Credit Card

A balance transfer credit card can help you when your debts are too high, and your monthly payment is beginning to cost more than you can afford. By removing a high-interest rate from the equation, you’ll reduce the cost of the existing balance and all new purchases and could save thousands over the term.

The best way to benefit from a balance transfer offer is to repay the full credit card balance during the 0% APR period. That way, you can avoid the potentially high regular APR that kicks-in when the intro period ends. Plan your repayments ahead, make extra payments every month, and put all extra money you have towards the debt.

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t incur any late fees or a penalty APR and try to avoid making too many new purchases, otherwise, you could be in a worse position when those 0% APR billing cycles end.

How to Get a Better Balance Transfer Credit Card

Credit card comparison shopping only works if you actually qualify for these cards in the first place, and even if you do, there is no guarantee you will get the credit limit or interest rate you need. Bear the following tips in mind to improve your chances of getting the best balance transfer credit card and keep those interest charges low.

1. Improve Your Credit Utilization

Your credit utilization ratio accounts for 30% of your FICO score, second only to your payment history. It’s also one of the easiest things to change. Your credit utilization score compares all your credit limits to your debt and calculates how much of your available credit you have used. The lower it is, the better, and the more your credit score will improve.

You can reduce your credit utilization ratio by increasing your credit limit or decreasing your debt. The latter is easier said than done and you may be better off waiting for a balance transfer before you start clearing debt. 

As for your credit limits, these can be increased simply by contacting your creditor and making a request. It won’t harm your credit score and providing you don’t use that extra credit; your score will improve.

2. Limit Credit Applications

Every time you apply for a new loan or credit card, your FICO score will take a hit. First, you’ll receive a hard inquiry, which can reduce your score by between 2 and 5 points, and then your score will drop courtesy of a new account being opened.

To increase your chances of getting a balance transfer credit card, avoid all new applications and accounts until you’re ready to apply.

3. Shop Around

There are hundreds of credit card offers available from dozens of credit card companies. Many of these have sign-up bonuses and offer some kind of intro purchase APR, and by looking at all these and comparing offers, as well as annual fees, late fees, and regular interest rates, you can find the perfect card for you.

4. Forget about Rewards Programs

When given the choice between a credit card that offers 5% cash back rewards and one that has just 1% or 2%, consumers will always opt for the former, even if it has a higher rate of interest or less favorable terms elsewhere.

But when you focus too much on the rewards you overlook more important terms, and this could cost you greatly in the long run. For instance, while a little extra statement credit and a few more perks is great and can earn you a few more dollars at the end of the year, it likely won’t be enough to offset a few extra percentage points on the balance transfer fee or regular APR.

Don’t get too caught up the rewards program and avoid being lured by the promotional period and introductory offer. Calculate the costs, benefits, and cash back over the first year, and use this to compare different cards and find the best one.