Completing a balance transfer — where you transfer a credit card balance to another credit card — to a card with a low APR is a smart way to accelerate your debt repayment and save money. The best balance transfer cards will give you 12 months or more at 0% APR, so you’ll have plenty of time to pay down your debt without worrying about interest charges.
Our picks for the best balance transfer cards:
Citi Double Cash Card
Earn cash back twice: 1% when you buy + 1% when you pay
Why We Like It
The Citi Double Cash Card lets you earn cash back twice. Earn 2% cash back on all purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% when you pay. To earn cash back, just be sure to pay at least the minimum due on time.
In addition to unlimited cash back on all your purchases with no confusing categories, this card also offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months and no annual fee.
Earn $100 cash back (in the form of a statement credit) after spending $2,000 in the first 6 months; plus, earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases in the first 6 months, for up to $150 back
Why We Like It
If you have good to excellent credit and want a rewards credit card that allows you to earn valuable cash back on your most common purchases, the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express may be a good match for you.
You’ll earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 spent per year, 2% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Cash back is received in the form of statement credits. There’s also an easy-to-earn welcome bonus, a nice perk for a card that has no annual fee. (See Rates and Fees.)
This is also a good card for large purchases. Terms apply.
Citi Simplicity Card
Get 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months
Why We Like It
The Citi Simplicity Card is a great option for anyone who is looking for a long introductory APR period. Cardholders can enjoy a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months.
Cardholders also don't need to worry about fees: There are no late fees, penalty fees, or annual fees with this no-frills, high-impact card.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card
Earn 20,000 points when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months
Why We Like It
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express card is best for frequent travelers looking for a rewards card with no annual fee.
You’ll earn 3X points per $1 spent on dining out and take out, gas stations, rideshare and transit, flights, hotels, car rentals, homestays, and popular streaming services.
The card has an introductory 0% APR offer on purchases and balance transfers, giving you a full year before you have to pay interest charges on eligible transactions.
The Wells Fargo Propel offers cell phone protection, as well. Use the card to pay for your cell phone bill and you’ll get up to $600 in protection against theft or damage, subject to a $25 deductible. Terms apply.
Citi Diamond Preferred
0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months
Why We Like It
The Citi Diamond Preferred is a great option if you need to finance a large purchase or have existing credit card debt and would like to pay it down over time. Cardholders can enjoy a 0% intro purchase APR for 18 months from date of account opening and a 0% intro balance transfer offer for 18 months from the date of first transfer. After that, the standard variable APR will apply.
In addition to its introductory APR, this card also has no annual fee, making it a solid, inexpensive option.
How to pick the right card for you
Many credit cards are advertised as balance transfer cards, but they vary widely in terms of their promotional periods, fees, and regular APR. When evaluating credit card offers, consider these factors:
- Length of promotional balance transfer offer: If you have a substantial amount of debt, you want the longest promotional APR offer possible to give you more time to pay off your debt without paying interest charges. Ideally, you want to choose a card that offers a 0% intro period of 12 to 18 months so you have over a year to pay down your balances.
- Regular APR: Once the promotional APR offer expires, the APR will revert to its regular fixed or variable APR. The normal interest rate on credit cards can be quite high. If you tend to carry a balance, it’s worth shopping around for a card that has a lower regular APR to reduce interest charges.
- Annual fee: While some balance transfer cards charge an annual fee, not all do. To keep your costs low, look for a card that has a low annual fee or no fee at all.
- Balance transfer fees: When you transfer a balance from a high-interest card to one that offers a 0% introductory period, most card issuers charge a balance transfer fee, which is often between 3-5% of the amount of each transfer. To put that in perspective, if you transferred over $3,000 to a card with a 5% balance transfer fee, you'd pay $150. Look for a card that has a lower fee, or for cards that will waive the fee for the first few months after opening an account.
- Issuers: In most cases, you can’t transfer the balance from a card to another card with the same issuer. For example, if you have the Chase Freedom Unlimited card, you can’t transfer your balance to another Chase card. Instead, you’d have to transfer the balance to a card from another company.
FAQs about balance transfer cards
Do balance transfers affect your credit score?
While a balance transfer can help you tackle your debt, it can negatively impact your credit score. When you apply for a new card, even when it’s for the purpose of completing a balance transfer, the issuer will perform a hard credit check. Too many hard credit inquiries can cause your score to drop. If you’re approved for the card, the age of your credit accounts will decrease as well, which can damage your credit score slightly.
You can minimize the effect on your credit score by not closing any current accounts. Also, make sure you make all of your payments on time. Your payment history is the single biggest factor used in determining your credit score. While applying for a new balance transfer card can negatively impact your credit score, if you're able to pay off your balance in full by the end of the 0% introductory period, your credit utilization may improve, which could result in a boost to your credit score in the long run.
How long do balance transfers take?
The length of time it takes for a balance transfer to be completed varies by issuer. In general, you should expect your balance to transfer over to the new card within a week. However, it can take as long as 21 days.
What is the best credit card for balance transfers?
There’s no one best balance transfer credit card for everyone. When evaluating potential cards, consider your current credit score, the length of the promotional APR periods, the regular APR on each card, balance transfer fees, and other factors like late fees and if the card has a penalty APR..
How much can you transfer on a balance transfer credit card?
How much you can transfer onto a new credit card is dependent on your credit limit. For example, if you have $10,000 in credit card debt and the new 0% APR credit card has a credit limit of $6,000, you won’t be able to transfer over the full balance.
Can you make multiple balance transfers?
While you can complete multiple balance transfers — as long as you transfer to a card from a different issuer — having to do multiple transfers is a sign there are bigger issues with your debt. While completing a balance transfer can make you feel like you’re better managing your debt, doing it more than once signals that you may have a spending or cash flow problem.
Before doing another balance transfer, take a hard look at your credit card statements and identify areas where you can cut back. It’s also a good idea to create a budget for yourself and find ways to boost your income so you can regain control of your money.
Are balance transfers worth it?
Transferring high-interest debt to a card with a low interest rate can make sense. If you're considering a card with an intro balance transfer APR, take a good look at the card details before you apply. And if you're interested in perks beyond a 0% introductory offer, many cards also offer cashback rewards, bonus points on certain purchases, flexible rewards programs, or benefits like lucrative sign-up bonuses and no foreign transaction fees.
How we chose these cards (methodology)
To select the best balance transfer cards, we looked for cards from our partners that offer no annual fees and lengthy promotional 0% APR offers. With the chosen cards, you can get up to 18 months at a 0% APR introductory rate, giving you over a year to repay your entire balance without worrying about costly interest payments.
We also looked for cards from multiple credit card issuers, as you typically can’t transfer your balance to a card from the same issuer. We did not evaluate all available credit cards in the market.
The final word on the best balance transfer cards
If you’re struggling with credit card debt, a balance transfer can help you save money and pay off your credit card balances faster. The best balance transfer cards give you over a year to pay down your debt with low fees, making them an effective tool for managing your credit card debt.