Balance Transfer Cards For Fair Credit [2024]: Yes, They Exist

CREDIT CARDS - BALANCE TRANSFER CREDIT CARDS
Two of our three recommended options include the Citi Double Cash and Citi Custom Cash. (Citi is a FinanceBuzz partner.)
Updated April 18, 2024
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In general, there aren’t many options for balance transfer cards if you have a fair credit score. Fortunately, the available options are quite good.

We like how the Citi Double Cash® Card and Citi Custom Cash® Card provide long intro APR offers on balance transfers while also offering excellent rewards rates. So even after you’ve taken advantage of a balance transfer, you can continue using either card to earn valuable cash back on everyday purchases.

Let’s explore the best balance transfer cards for fair credit to see which one is best for you.

In this article

Key takeaways

  • Most balance transfer credit cards that provide 0% intro APR offers require a good or excellent credit score to qualify. However, there are a few cards available with less strict credit qualifications that also provide balance transfer offers.
  • We recommend the Citi Double Cash because it has the longest introductory APR period of the available offers. It’s also one of our favorite cash back cards because of its simple and elevated rate.
  • If you don’t need quite as long of an intro APR offer, consider the Citi Custom Cash. It has a higher rewards rate that can help you earn a lot of cash back in eligible everyday categories, such as restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores.

Balance transfer cards for fair credit

Compare balance transfer cards for fair credit

Card name Recommended credit Balance transfer period Annual fee
Citi Double Cash® Card Citi Double Cash® Card
4.8
Excellent, Good, Fair 0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers (then 19.24% - 29.24% (Variable)) $0
Citi Custom Cash® Card Citi Custom Cash® Card
4.7
Excellent, Good, Fair 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers (then 19.24% - 29.24% (Variable)) $0
Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Card Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Card
3.3
Excellent, Good, Fair 0.99% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers (then 11.24% to 18.00% (variable)) $0

Citi Double Cash® Card

Pros
  • $0 annual fee
  • Long intro APR offer
  • Simple rewards rate
Cons
  • Has 3% foreign transaction fee

The Citi Double Cash makes sense if you want a no-stress balance transfer card with a flat rewards rate.

Why we like it: With the Citi Double Cash, you get 0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers (then 19.24% - 29.24% (Variable)). Considering many balance transfer periods last about 12 months, this offer goes well beyond the average length. That gives you plenty of time to avoid interest charges and pay down debt.

The Citi Double Cash also has a $0 annual fee and provides 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases; plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24.

Even better, new cardmembers can earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

What we don’t like: This isn’t the card to take on international trips, as you have to pay 3% foreign transaction fees on applicable purchases.

Read our full Citi Double Cash Card review for more details.

Citi Custom Cash® Card

Pros
  • $0 annual fee
  • Long intro APR offers
  • Elevated rewards rate
Cons
  • Has 3% foreign transaction fees

The Citi Custom Cash makes sense if you want a high rewards rate coupled with long intro APR offers.

Why we like it: With the Citi Custom Cash, you can take advantage of these intro APR offers.

  • Intro APR on balance transfers: 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers (then 19.24% - 29.24% (Variable))
  • Intro APR on purchases: 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then 19.24% - 29.24% (Variable))

The Citi Custom Cash also has a $0 annual fee and provides 5% cash back in your top eligible spending category each billing cycle (up to the first $500 spent, then 1% cash back), plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases; plus, as a special travel offer, earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025.

Eligible 5% spending categories include:

  • Restaurants
  • Gas stations
  • Grocery stores (not discount superstores or warehouse clubs)
  • Select travel (airline, hotel, cruise line, and travel agency purchases)
  • Select transit (car rentals, ferries, commuter railways, subways, taxis/limousines/car services, and more)
  • Select streaming services (Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Paramount+, Disney+, Netflix, Spotify, and more)
  • Drugstores
  • Home improvement stores
  • Fitness clubs
  • Live entertainment (concerts, live sporting events, amusement parks, and more)

If you’re a new cardholder, you can earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

What we don’t like: You have to pay 3% foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad or from foreign merchants.

Read our full Citi Custom Cash Card review for more details.

Pros
  • $0 annual fee
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
Cons
  • Must be a member of Navy Federal Credit Union
  • Doesn’t earn rewards

The Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum makes sense if you’re currently a Navy Federal Credit Union member or eligible to join and want a low intro APR offer.

Why we like it: The Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum provides 0.99% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers (then 11.24% to 18.00% (variable)).

That’s not as good as a 0% intro APR offer, but it’s close. And if you consider this card doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee (almost all balance transfer cards charge 3% to 5% balance transfer fees), this could be a better offer in some situations.

Note that if you like to travel abroad, the Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

What we don’t like: You have to be a member of Navy Federal Credit Union to qualify for this card. Active duty, retired, and veterans of all branches of the armed forces are eligible for membership, as are their family members, including grandchildren. Department of Defense civilians are eligible to join as well.

Also, you don’t earn any rewards for making eligible purchases.

How to choose the best balance transfer card for fair credit

Credit requirements

If you have a fair credit score, you likely won’t qualify for cards that require a FICO score of 670 or higher. Rather than trying to apply for those cards and potentially impacting your credit score with hard inquiries, only consider cards that are known to have less strict credit requirements.

Intro APR offers

The best balance transfer offers tend to provide 0% intro APR for at least a 12 month period. However, it’s possible to find intro APR periods that last up to 15, 18, or even 21 months. Keep in mind that the longer the intro APR period, the longer you have to avoid interest charges and pay off your transferred balance.

Annual fees

Most balance transfer cards don’t charge an annual fee, so you shouldn’t have to worry about this factor too much. But it’s always a good idea to check credit card annual fees whenever you compare credit cards. If a card has an annual fee, you need to weigh the benefits of the card versus the cost to see if the fee would be worth paying for you.

Earning potential

A secondary benefit of many balance transfer credit cards is that they also earn points, miles, or cash back. Having any sort of rewards rate could be a long-term benefit for you well after you’ve taken advantage of a balance transfer offer.

Perks and benefits

While the intro APR offer is the primary benefit on balance transfer cards, it’s worth looking into other built-in perks and benefits you might receive as a cardholder. For example, if two cards are generally similar but one provides purchase protection or travel insurance, it might make sense to apply for the card with more benefits.

How to boost your credit

Follow these steps to improve your credit score over time.

  1. Make on-time payments: Paying your bills on time and not making late payments is a huge factor in determining your credit score. If you often forget payment dates, use automated alerts or set up automatic payments.
  2. Use multiple credit products: Having a good mix of open credit, such as both credit cards and loans, can help boost your credit score.
  3. Check your credit report: It’s possible to have errors on your credit report, which could negatively impact your credit score. Make sure to frequently check your credit report for errors. If you find errors, dispute them with the applicable credit companies and bureaus.
  4. Keep low balances: It’s best to have a low credit utilization, which is how much credit you’re using of your available credit. That means not carrying high balances.
  5. Increase your credit limit: Having more available credit can make it easier to have a better credit utilization ratio. Some card issuers allow you to request credit limit increases without affecting your credit score.
  6. Keep old accounts active: Your average credit history is a factor used to determine your credit score. That means it’s beneficial to keep old credit cards active even if you don’t use them much.
  7. Space out your new credit accounts: New credit inquiries could have a small impact on your credit score, and too many inquiries in a short period of time might look risky to a lender. Even applying for a new balance transfer card could affect your credit score by a small amount.

Balance transfer card alternatives

Doing a balance transfer might not make sense if you don’t qualify for a balance transfer credit card, don’t have much debt, or you don’t think it will help you pay off debt. In these cases, consider other alternatives.

  • Personal loan: A personal loan might make sense if you have a substantial amount of debt that a balance transfer card wouldn’t be able to cover. For example, if you want to do a balance transfer for $10,000, but your balance transfer card only has a $5,000 limit, you would need to consider other options.
  • Credit counseling: A credit counseling company or agency could help you create a debt management or debt payoff plan if you’re not sure how to do it yourself or you’ve become overwhelmed with trying to get out of debt.
  • Budgeting: You can create your own budget plan and pay off your credit card debt a little at a time. This requires a lot of self-motivation and persistence. If you want some extra help and direction, consider using a budgeting app.

Tip
Note that the best debt payoff method is the one that works for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. If a certain method makes sense to you and gives you motivation to pay off your debt, that’s likely your best option.

FAQ

Can I do a balance transfer with fair credit?

Yes. Here are a few balance transfer credit cards that recommend having at least a fair credit score for approval.

  • Citi Double Cash® Card
  • Citi Custom Cash® Card
  • Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Card

What credit score do I need for a balance transfer card?

The best balance transfer credit cards typically require a good or excellent credit score to qualify. However, there are a few balance transfer cards with less strict credit requirements, such as the Citi Custom Cash and Citi Double Cash.

What could be the easiest balance transfer card to get approved for?

The Citi Double Cash is a balance transfer card that typically requires at least a fair credit score to qualify. It provides 0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers (then 19.24% - 29.24% (Variable)).

Note that credit card issuers often check multiple factors, not just your credit score, to determine your creditworthiness. Other factors could include your total income, debt, and payment history.

Can I get balance transfer card with bad credit?

You likely won’t be approved for a balance transfer card if you have a bad credit score. In general, balance transfer cards require at least a 670 or higher FICO score. In some cases, depending on the card, you might qualify with a fair credit score in the 580 to 669 range.

Balance transfer cards for fair credit: bottom line

The best balance transfer cards often have intro APR periods of at least 12 months, with longer periods reaching up to 18 or more months.

You won’t typically qualify for many balance transfer cards with a fair credit score, but it’s possible to get approved for the Citi Double Cash and Citi Custom Cash. We especially like the Citi Double Cash because it’s easy to use and has a long intro APR offer.

If these cards aren’t the right fit for you, check out the best credit cards for fair credit.

Methodology

The companies we chose for our balance transfer cards for fair credit list may be current or past FinanceBuzz partners. We did not review all companies in the market. When evaluating these companies, we considered factors such as balance transfer period, credit score needed, and overall benefits.

Earn Cash Back Twice

4.8

Citi Double Cash® Card

Current Offer

Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back

Annual Fee

$0

Rewards Rate

2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases; plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24

Benefits and Drawbacks
Card Details

Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI® Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is a Senior Credit Cards Writer at FinanceBuzz. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post, Debt.com, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

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