Best Balance Transfer Cards of May 2022

Some of the card offers on this site are from companies who are advertising clients of U.S. News. Advertising considerations may impact where offers appear on the site but do not affect any editorial decisions, such as which card products we write about and how we evaluate them. Terms apply.

Best Balance Transfer Cards of May 2022

Some of the card offers on this site are from companies who are advertising clients of U.S. News. Advertising considerations may impact where offers appear on the site but do not affect any editorial decisions, such as which card products we write about and how we evaluate them. Terms apply.

A balance transfer credit card could offer you a chance to pay less interest while paying off – or at least reducing – your balance. If you move your account balances to the card and pay it off during the promotional period, you can consolidate credit card debt and manage your monthly finances more easily. Terms apply.

  1. 2022 Award Winner

    Terms Apply

    Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card

    in Balance Transfer Credit Cards

    Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card

    The information for the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card has been collected independently by U.S. News and the card is not currently available on the site. The information has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer and it is accurate as of the date posted.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      13.74%-25.74% Variable APR

    The information for the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card has been collected independently by U.S. News and the card is not currently available on the site. The information has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer and it is accurate as of the date posted.

    The information for the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card has been collected independently by U.S. News and the card is not currently available on the site. The information has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer and it is accurate as of the date posted.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Wells Fargo

    • Credit Needed

      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      13.74%-25.74% Variable APR

    • Penalty APR

      None

    • Purchases Intro APR

      0% intro APR for up to 21 months from account opening

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% intro APR for up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      3% for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%; min: $5

    • Cash Advance Fee

      Refer to Important Credit Terms

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      3%

    • See all credit card details
  2. Terms Apply

    Discover it® Balance Transfer

    in Balance Transfer Credit Cards

    Discover it® Balance Transfer

    On Discover's Secure Website.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 5%

      cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.

    • 1%

      cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Excellent, Good, Average

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      12.24% - 23.24% Variable APR

    On Discover's Secure Website.

    On Discover's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Discover

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent, Good, Average

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      12.24% - 23.24% Variable APR

    • Purchases Intro APR

      0% Intro APR for 6 months

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% Intro APR for 18 months

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*

    • Cash Advance Fee

      Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      None

    • See all credit card details
  3. Terms Apply

    U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

    in Balance Transfer Credit Cards

    U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

    On U.S. Bank's Secure Website.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      15.24% - 25.24% Variable

    On U.S. Bank's Secure Website.

    On U.S. Bank's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      U.S. Bank

    • Credit Needed

      Good/Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      15.24% - 25.24% Variable

    • Purchases Intro APR

      0% Intro on purchases for 20 billing cycles on purchases

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% Intro on balance transfers for 20 billing cycles on balance transfers

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      2% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in U.S. Dollars 3% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in a Foreign Currency

    • See all credit card details
  4. Terms Apply

    Citi Simplicity® Card

    in Balance Transfer Credit Cards

    Citi Simplicity® Card

    On Citi's Secure Website.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)

    On Citi's Secure Website.

    On Citi's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Citi

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent, Good

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)

    • Purchases Intro APR

      0% for 12 months on Purchases

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% for intro APR for 21 months on Balance Transfer

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

    • Cash Advance Fee

      5% of each cash advance; $10 minimum

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      3%

    • See all credit card details
  5. Terms Apply

    Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

    in Balance Transfer Credit Cards

    Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

    On Citi's Secure Website.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      14.49% - 24.49% Variable

    On Citi's Secure Website.

    On Citi's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Citi

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent, Good

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      14.49% - 24.49% Variable

    • Penalty APR

      Up to 29.99%

    • Purchases Intro APR

      0% for 12 months on Purchases

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% for intro APR for 21 months on Balance Transfers

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

    • Cash Advance Fee

      5% of each cash advance; $10 minimum

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      3%

    • See all credit card details
  6. Terms Apply

    Citi Rewards+® Card

    in Balance Transfer Credit Cards

    Citi Rewards+® Card

    On Citi's Secure Website.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 5X

      ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on air travel and hotels up to $6,000 in the first 12 months and then 1 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent thereafter.

    • 2X

      ThankYou®Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter.

    • 1X

      ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • Intro Bonus

      20,000

    • APR

      14.24% - 24.24% (Variable)

    On Citi's Secure Website.

    On Citi's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Citi

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent, Good

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      14.24% - 24.24% (Variable)

    • Penalty APR

      Up to 29.99% (Variable)

    • Purchases Intro APR

      0% for 15 months

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% for 15 months

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      Intro fee 3% of each transfer ($5 min) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, 5% of each transfer ($5 min).

    • Cash Advance Fee

      5% of each cash advance; $10 minimum

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      3%

    • See all credit card details
  7. Terms Apply

    Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

    in Balance Transfer Credit Cards

    Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

    On Citi's Secure Website.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)

    On Citi's Secure Website.

    On Citi's Secure Website.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Citi

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent, Good

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)

    • Penalty APR

      Up to 29.99% (Variable)

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% for 18 months

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      Intro fee 3% of each transfer ($5 min) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, 5% of each transfer ($5 min).

    • Cash Advance Fee

      5% of each cash advance; $10 minimum

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      3%

    • See all credit card details
  8. Terms Apply

    Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

    in Balance Transfer Credit Cards

    Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

    The information for the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card has been collected independently by U.S. News and the card is not currently available on the site. The information has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer and it is accurate as of the date posted.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 3%

      Cash back in the category of your choice

    • 2%

      Cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases)

    • 1%

      Cash back on all other purchases

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • Intro Bonus

      $200

    • APR

      13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

    The information for the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card has been collected independently by U.S. News and the card is not currently available on the site. The information has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer and it is accurate as of the date posted.

    The information for the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card has been collected independently by U.S. News and the card is not currently available on the site. The information has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer and it is accurate as of the date posted.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Bank of America

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent/Good

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

    • Penalty APR

      up to 29.99% APR

    • Purchases Intro APR

      0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

    • Cash Advance Fee

      See terms

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      3%

    • See all credit card details
  9. Terms Apply

    Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card

    in Balance Transfer Credit Cards

    Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card

    The information for the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card has been collected independently by U.S. News and the card is not currently available on the site. The information has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer and it is accurate as of the date posted.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 1.5%

      cash back on all purchases

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • Intro Bonus

      $200

    • APR

      13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

    The information for the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card has been collected independently by U.S. News and the card is not currently available on the site. The information has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer and it is accurate as of the date posted.

    The information for the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card has been collected independently by U.S. News and the card is not currently available on the site. The information has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer and it is accurate as of the date posted.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Bank of America

    • Credit Needed

      Excellent/Good

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

    • Penalty APR

      up to 29.99% APR

    • Purchases Intro APR

      0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

    • Cash Advance Fee

      See Terms

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      3%

    • See all credit card details
  10. Terms Apply

    Carnival® World Mastercard®

    in Balance Transfer Credit Cards

    Carnival® World Mastercard®

    The information for the Carnival® World Mastercard® has been collected independently by U.S. News and the card is not currently available on the site. The information has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer and it is accurate as of the date posted.

    Top Rewards Rates

    • 2X

      Points per dollar spent on any purchases with Carnival Cruise Line and with the brands of the World’s Leading Cruise Lines

    • 1X

      Point per dollar spent on all other purchases

    • 1X

      Point per dollar on balance transfers made within the first 30 days, up to a maximum of 5,000 FunPoints.

    At A Glance

    • Credit Needed

      670-850
      Good to Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • Intro Bonus

      20,000

    • APR

      14.99%, 19.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness

    The information for the Carnival® World Mastercard® has been collected independently by U.S. News and the card is not currently available on the site. The information has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer and it is accurate as of the date posted.

    The information for the Carnival® World Mastercard® has been collected independently by U.S. News and the card is not currently available on the site. The information has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer and it is accurate as of the date posted.

    Rates & Fees

    • Issuer Name

      Barclays

    • Credit Needed

      Good/Excellent

    • Annual Fee

      $0

    • APR

      14.99%, 19.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness

    • Penalty APR

      None

    • Balance Transfer Intro APR

      0% introductory APR for the first fifteen billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening

    • Balance Transfer Fee

      $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

    • Cash Advance Fee

      Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater

    • Foreign Transaction Fee

      0% of each transaction in U.S. dollars

    • See all credit card details

See all of our credit cards here.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards Compared

Credit Card

Rewards Rate

Intro Bonus

Annual Fee

APR

N/A

N/A

$0

13.74%-25.74% Variable APR

5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.

1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

N/A

$0

12.24% - 23.24% Variable APR

N/A

N/A

$0

15.24% - 25.24% Variable

N/A

N/A

$0

15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)

N/A

N/A

$0

14.49% - 24.49% Variable

5X ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on air travel and hotels up to $6,000 in the first 12 months and then 1 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent thereafter.

2X ThankYou®Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter.

1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.

20,000 bonus points

$0

14.24% - 24.24% (Variable)

N/A

N/A

$0

14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)

3% Cash back in the category of your choice

2% Cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases)

1% Cash back on all other purchases

$200

$0

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

1.5% cash back on all purchases

N/A

$0

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

2X Points per dollar spent on any purchases with Carnival Cruise Line and with the brands of the World’s Leading Cruise Lines

1X Point per dollar spent on all other purchases

1X Point per dollar on balance transfers made within the first 30 days, up to a maximum of 5,000 FunPoints.

N/A

$0

14.99%, 19.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness

Commonly Compared Balance Transfer Credit Cards:

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Nazir News - CBC Trending News Daily 😰😩😐 Best Balance Transfer Cards of May 2022 | U.S. News
Nazir News - CBC Trending News Daily 😰😩😐 Best Balance Transfer Cards of May 2022 | U.S. News

Best Cards Summary


Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card

Why this is one of the best balance transfer credit cards: The Wells Fargo Reflect Card offers cardholders a 0% APR on purchases and eligible balance transfers for up to 21 months. You will be eligible for the promotional APR as long as you make balance transfers within the first 120 days and complete minimum payments on time. There is no annual fee, and qualifying customers can get a variable APR as low as 13.74% following the introductory offer. See our full review.

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Why this is one of the best balance transfer credit cards: The Discover it Balance Transfer card offers a 0% introductory annual percentage rate on balance transfers for 18 months and purchases for six months, after which a variable APR of 12.24% to 23.24% applies. This card earns 5% cash back on rotating categories you activate, such as grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants, up to a quarterly limit, plus 1% back on all other purchases. Discover charges no annual fee and matches all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year as a cardholder. See our full review.

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Why this is one of the best balance transfer credit cards: The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases for 20 months, after which the APR is a variable 15.24% to 25.24%. You will pay a balance transfer fee of 3%, or a $5 minimum. Although this card doesn’t offer a rewards program, it does provide up to $600 in cellphone protection if you pay your bill with the card. It also doesn’t charge an annual fee. See our full review.

Citi Simplicity® Card

Why this is one of the best balance transfer credit cards: The Citi Simplicity Card has a 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 15.49% - 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness. The balance transfer fee is $5 or 5%, whichever is greater. Plus, the card charges no annual fee, no penalty APR and no late fees. See our full review.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Why this is one of the best balance transfer credit cards: The Citi Diamond Preferred Card offers a 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 14.49% - 24.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Cardholders do not pay an annual fee. See our full review.

Citi Rewards+® Card

Why this is one of the best balance transfer credit cards: Citi Rewards+ Card offers a 15-month 0% annual percentage rate on purchases and balance transfers (then there is a 14.24% to 24.24% variable APR). You can earn 20,000 bonus points if you spend $1,500 in purchases with your card within three months of account opening; redeemable for $200 in gift cards at thankyou.com., and you’ll pay no annual fee. For a limited time, earn 5 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent on air travel and hotels up to $6,000 in the first 12 months and then 1 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent thereafter. See our full review.

Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

Why this is one of the best balance transfer credit cards: The Citi Double Cash Card does not charge an annual fee. All balances transferred to the card within four months of opening it will have a 0% APR for the first 18 months. After that, there is a 14.74% to 24.74% (variable) APR. See our full review.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

Why this is one of the best balance transfer credit cards: This card offers 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months on balance transfers made within 60 days of acount opening and earns you 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on up to $2,500 each quarter. Also, gas purchases count as one of the six category choices that allow you to receive 3% back on purchases. See our full review.

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card

Why this is one of the best balance transfer credit cards: With the Bank of America Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card, you earn 1.5% cash back on all spending. There is no maximum rewards amount, your rewards never expire and there's no annual fee. You'll also receive a 15-month 0% introductory annual percentage rate on purchases and on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening. Plus, you can earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus once you spend at least $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening. See our full review.

Carnival® World Mastercard®

Why this is one of the best balance transfer credit cards: Even if you have no plans to cruise, the Carnival World Mastercard can help you save with a 15-month 0% APR balance transfer offer for balance transfers made within 45 days of opening the account. There's no annual fee. If you use the card for purchases, you'll earn two points per dollar spent with Carnival Cruise Lines and one point per dollar on all other purchases. See our full review.

U.S. News Survey

U.S. News Survey: 37% of Couples Don’t Agree on How to Spend, Save and Invest Their Money

According to a new U.S. News survey, more than one-third of couples – 37% – don’t see eye to eye on how to manage their finances, saying that when it comes to spending, saving and investing their money, they only agree on some things, disagree on most things or disagree on everything. The other 63% of respondents say they agree on everything or agree on most things.

Additional Survey Findings

Almost three-quarters of respondents (73.6%) have carried a balance on a credit card in the past year, including 11.7% of respondents with balances on four or more cards.

One-third of respondents say they and their partners are in significant debt. Of those in debt, three-quarters say their relationship problems with their partners are mostly or partly tied to money, and getting out of debt would improve their relationships.

The debt solution the most people have tried in the past year is setting a budget, followed by opening a balance transfer credit card and taking out a debt consolidation loan.

Nazir News - CBC Trending News Daily 😰😩😐 Best Balance Transfer Cards of May 2022 | U.S. News
  • Almost three-quarters of respondents (73.6%) have carried a balance on a credit card in the past year, including 11.7% of respondents with balances on four or more cards.

  • One-third of respondents say they and their partners are in significant debt. Of those in debt, three-quarters say their relationship problems with their partners are mostly or partly tied to money, and getting out of debt would improve their relationships.

  • The debt solution the most people have tried in the past year is setting a budget, followed by opening a balance transfer credit card and taking out a debt consolidation loan.

Nazir News - CBC Trending News Daily 😰😩😐 Best Balance Transfer Cards of May 2022 | U.S. News

U.S. News Survey Methodology

  • U.S. News ran a nationwide survey of 1,231 respondents through PureSpectrum between Jan. 14 and Jan. 17, 2022. Only people who were in a relationship for some time of the past year answered questions.
  • The survey sample drew from the general American population, and the survey was configured to be representative of this sample.
  • The survey asked five questions relating to debt and spending habits.

Survey Results

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards Methodology

U.S. News has been helping consumers make money decisions for decades. The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards are selected based on annual fees, annual percentage rates, balance transfer offers, introductory APRs and issuer satisfaction ratings from U.S. News.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards must have a 0% APR of at least 14 months for balance transfers. A long introductory APR provides more time to pay off a card balance with no interest, and a 0% APR could apply to purchases during the same period. You can choose the best card for you by comparing 0% APR promotions, balance transfer terms and fees, and card rewards programs and cardholder benefits.

Is It a Good Idea to Do a Balance Transfer on a Credit Card?

As with most things in life, balance transfer credit cards come with positives and negatives. If you use a balance transfer credit card responsibly, it's all good news. But you need to know about the pitfalls, too, so you can avoid them.

BENEFITS

  1. Pay less interest. By moving high-interest debt to a balance transfer credit card with a 0% APR introductory offer, you save money by paying no interest for a while. Make the most of the offer by paying off as much of the balance as possible before the introductory period ends.
  2. Save time. With a balance transfer offer, you can consolidate balances from other cards onto one card and pay a single monthly payment. You can let go of the stress that comes with juggling multiple accounts.
  3. Become debt-free sooner. When you don't have interest charges, you're paying down only the principal on your debt each month. Financial freedom gets closer every single month.
  4. Increase your credit score as you pay down debt. A whopping 30% of your FICO score depends on your credit utilization ratio. This is the amount of credit you've used compared with the amount of credit you have available.

    The lower your utilization rate, the better. When you transfer a balance from a credit card and keep the account open, your utilization rate on that account will drop. But keep in mind that your new balance transfer card might initially have a high credit utilization ratio, especially if you've transferred several balances. Your score might even decrease at first because of the high ratio.

    However, your credit utilization ratio will drop as you pay down your debt, and your FICO score should improve as long as you don't make additional card purchases.

RISKS

  1. Balance transfer fees. Most balance transfer credit cards require you to pay a balance transfer fee of 3% to 5% of the transfer amount. For example, a $10,000 balance onto a card with a 5% balance transfer fee means you will repay $10,500.

    Run the numbers and make sure the balance transfer fee doesn't offset your interest savings, or look for a balance transfer card with a lower fee.

  2. Introductory offer limits. Some 0% APR offers only apply to balance transfers, but certain cards offer 0% APR introductory rates on both balance transfers and purchases. Most balance transfer credit cards require you to complete your transfers within a specified period to get the introductory rate, usually 45 to 60 days after opening your account. Read the card's terms and conditions so you know the deadline for transfers.
  3. Credit limits. You won't know your credit limit until you're approved for a balance transfer credit card, and the total of your balance transfers, fees, interest charges and purchases can't exceed that credit limit. Therefore, you might not be able to transfer and consolidate as much debt as you planned if your credit limit isn't high enough.
  4. Transfers from the same lender aren't allowed. You can't transfer a balance to a new credit card if the balance is owed to the same credit card issuer, lender or one of its affiliates.
  5. Promotional rate terms. You could lose your promotional rate if you pay your bill late, go over your card's credit limit or your payment doesn't clear. If you don't make at least a minimum payment within 60 days of the due date, a penalty APR may apply to your balance and future purchases.
  6. Other fees may apply. As with other types of credit cards, a balance transfer card may charge additional fees, such as foreign transaction, late payment or annual fees. These can all eat into your potential savings.

How Do Balance Transfer Credit Cards Work?

Learning the details of the balance transfer process is essential so you can avoid common pitfalls and make the most of a balance transfer offer.

1. ELIGIBILITY

  • Strong credit score. Typically, balance transfer credit cards require aFICO score of 670 or better. A score of at least 700 improves your chances of getting approved for the best balance transfer credit cards.
  • Low debt-to-income ratio. Your debt-to-income ratio is another important factor, which is your monthly debt obligations divided by your monthly income. A DTI of 36% or less is considered a good ratio, but this varies among lenders. Of course, the lower, the better.
  • Clean credit history. Credit card issuers might not approve your application if you have a delinquent credit card account or have declared bankruptcy in the last seven to 10 years. Ask lenders about their policies.

2. RESTRICTIONS ON BALANCE TRANSFERS

  • Balances must come from another creditor. Generally, you can only transfer balances from debts you owe to different financial institutions. You may be able to transfer a balance from someone else's account, but keep in mind that it legally becomes your debt once you do so.
  • Types of debt transferred. Issuers may restrict the type of account you can transfer balances from. Here are a few common options:
    • Credit card balances. You can transfer a balance from one credit card to another.
    • Loan balances. You may be able to transfer balances from personal or auto loans.
  • Limits on how much you can transfer. Most balance transfer credit cards have a credit limit that applies to purchases and transfers. If you reach the limit, the issuer might decline your balance transfer or only accept part of the balance you want to transfer.

3. TIMELINE

  • Initiating balance transfers. The steps you take to start a transfer vary by issuer, but once you're approved for the card, you can make the request by phone or online.

    Sometimes, you can request a transfer when you submit your application, but the issuer might not process the request until the card is in the mail.

  • Qualifying for the introductory rate. The balance transfer must be initiated or completed within a specified period to receive the introductory rate, usually 45 to 60 days from when you open your account.
  • Plan for the balance transfer to take a few weeks. Ideally, a balance transfer will go through within a few business days, but it could take several weeks.
  • Introductory periods vary. Your card's 0% APR introductory offer may vary from less than a year to almost two years. A longer promotional period gives you more time to pay off the balance. But a card with a shorter period that waives the transfer fee or offers more features could be a good option, too.

4. BALANCE TRANSFER FEE

  • Most cards charge a fee for each balance transfer. Issuers charge balance transfer fees based on how much debt you transfer to the card. Generally, this fee is 3% to 5% of the amount you transfer, or a minimum of $5 to $10. The balance transfer fee applies to each transfer, and you should remember that this fee is added to the total you have to pay back.

    Say you transfer $5,000, and the fee is 3%. You will pay $150 for a transfer fee (5,000 x .03 = 150). The amount you'll be paying back is now $5,150.

  • Some cards temporarily waive balance transfer fees. Some cards don't have balance transfer fees, or they might waive fees for a certain period of time after you open the account.

How Can You Save With a Balance Transfer Credit Card?

A balance transfer credit card can offer significant savings, especially if you're carrying high-interest credit card debt. But you need to know if you have enough cash flow to make the monthly payments on your combined debt. You don't want a situation where you can't make the payments, and you end up in more debt and trashing your credit score.

Check costs and savings before going through with a balance transfer. If you can afford to make large payments and quickly pay off your credit card debt, a balance transfer fee might cost you more than you would save on interest payments.

Once you decide to do a balance transfer, you need a plan. Without a plan, you run the risk of not paying down your balance before the promotional period ends or increasing your debt.

  1. Create a budget

    If you don't already have a budget, try software like Mint or You Need a Budget that can help categorize your purchases, set goals and eliminate unnecessary expenses. But be sure to keep a few small treats for yourself, like buying an occasional latte. If you make your budget too tight, you're unlikely to succeed.

  2. Organize balance transfer information

    Gather the following information for your balance transfer:

    • Account number, name and address of each credit card issuer and/or lender.
    • Credit card and/or loan balances.
    • Your checking account number and routing number, if you want balance transfer funds put into a checking account.

    The combined amount from balance transfers, fees, interest charges and purchases can't exceed your card limit, so be sure the accounts with the highest interest rates are included first so you save the most on interest.

    Be careful to confirm the terms of the offer, including the length of the promotional rate on balance transfers and purchases.

  3. Make your request

    You might be able to request a balance transfer online or by phone while applying for your balance transfer card. Otherwise, you may need to wait until your account is set up and then submit your request with account information and transfer amounts.

    Depending on the issuer, you may also request a balance transfer check mailed directly to you or a creditor.

  4. Continue making payments until your balance transfers

    It may take several weeks for a balance transfer request to be finalized, so continue to make minimum payments on the credit card accounts until you receive confirmation that the transfers were successful.

    If you know the amount of your new monthly payment on your balance transfer card, set up at least the minimum payment in autopay. Accidental late payments can result in a late fee or loss of the promotional rate.

  5. Keep old accounts open

    After completing balance transfers from credit cards, some people close old accounts to avoid building a balance again. However, this may hurt your credit by lowering your total available credit and increasing your credit utilization ratio. Instead, keep cards open but cut them up or store them in a drawer while paying down your balances.

    Also, choose a balance transfer card that will be useful after you pay off the balance. For instance, a no-frills credit card can be used for emergencies if the go-to rate isn't too high.

How Can You Choose the Best Balance Transfer Card?

Your main goal should be to pick a card that gives you a long enough promotional period and low fees. As with most financial products, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but taking these five steps can help you determine which card is best for you.

  1. Compare promotional period. Choosing the card with the longest promotional period is often recommended, especially if you have a lot of debt and need more time to pay it off. But if you can manage a shorter promotional period, you might find other balance transfer credit cards with another benefit, such as no balance transfer fee.
  2. Review other balance transfer terms. Several features may make one balance transfer card offer more appealing than another.
    • Zero percent APR promotion for new purchases. If you plan to use the card to make purchases while you're still paying down debt, a card that has a 0% APR offer on both purchases and balance transfers might sound perfect to you.
    • Balance transfer fee. You'll usually have to pay 3% to 5% of each balance transfer, but read the fine print for each card.
    • Regular APR. After the promotional period, any remaining balance will be subject to interest charges. This is the go-to interest rate for your balance. The balance transfer APR is often the same as the purchase APR, but your particular rate depends on your creditworthiness.
    • Balance transfer limit. You won't know your new balance transfer card's credit limit until you apply, but you can review the terms to see if there's a maximum.
    • Types of debt you can transfer. Balance transfer credit cards let you transfer balances from other card issuers.
  3. Look for other types of fees. You may be able to avoid these fees by choosing a card that either doesn't have them or by not incurring them.

    • Annual fee. Annual fees can range from about $25 to more than $550.
    • Late fee. Late payments could end your promotional rate and result in a fee of up to $39.
    • Foreign transaction fee.Some cards charge 2% to 3% of the purchase price for foreign transactions.
    • Cash advance fee. Depending on the method you use, the fee will be up to 8% of the amount withdrawn, with a $5 to $10 minimum.
      • The APR for cash advances is higher than your purchase APR, and interest starts accruing when the transaction posts to your account. Don't get a cash advance, because it will only add to your debt and stress.
  4. Calculate the benefit of a rewards program. Some rewards credit cards have balance transfer offers, although you likely won't earn rewards for those transfers. Although non-rewards cards tend to have the longest promotional periods, some rewards cards are competitive. It pays to research if a particular card is one you can use once you're out of debt.

    You should always pay off your balance before using your card to make purchases or earn rewards. However, you might use a rewards credit card for essentials such as gas and groceries, but only if the card has a 0% purchase APR. You might also spend enough to qualify for a large sign-up bonus, pay for the purchases, apply the bonus value toward your balance, and then stop using until your balance is paid off.

  5. Understand cardholder benefits. Balance transfer cards may come with additional perks or benefits. A card may offer benefits such as extended warranty coverage, travel accident insurance, theft and fraud protection, concierge service or access to your credit score.


Balance transfer cards tend to require at least good credit. That means you’ll need a FICO credit score of at least 670.


Opening any new credit card can affect your credit score. But if you commit to paying down your debt during a balance transfer card’s promotional period, you can reduce your credit utilization ratio over time, which could improve your score.

The steps required to make a balance transfer can vary, so check with your issuer if you're unsure. Most cards charge a fee of 3% to 5% of the amount you transfer, or a minimum of $5 to $10.

Balance transfer credit cards usually offer a 0% introductory annual percentage rate on the amount transferred. Some balance transfer cards also have a 0% APR offer on purchases, but your focus should be on paying off debt, not on racking up new charges.

The promotional rate for balance transfers usually ranges from 12 to 21 months, which gives you time to pay down or pay off your balance without interest charges. This is like getting an interest-free loan, so take advantage of the opportunity, and use your balance transfer credit card wisely.

Expect to pay a balance transfer fee of 3% to 5% of the balance transfer amount. If the fee is lower than the interest you'd be paying on your credit card (or cards), then you'll still come out ahead. It's possible to find balance transfer cards with no fee, but these are rare.

A balance transfer credit card could offer you a chance to pay less interest while paying off – or at least reducing – your balance. If you move your account balances to the card and pay it off during the promotional period, you can consolidate credit card debt and manage your monthly finances more easily.

Comparative assessments and other editorial opinions are those of U.S. News and have not been previously reviewed, approved or endorsed by any other entities, such as banks, credit card issuers or travel companies. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired.

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