Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.
Author: Bankrate Staff | Last Updated: November 12, 2018
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In this article
Quick comparison: Bankrate’s best balance transfer credit cards for November 2018
|Discover it® Balance Transfer
|Citi Simplicity® Card
||No late fees
|Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
||Recently extended 0% intro APR offer
|Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
||Financial planning and tracking
|BankAmericard® credit card
||No penalty APR
|Citi® Double Cash Card
||Balance transfer offer with cash back
|HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card
||Low regular variable APR
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®
||Balance transfer offer with straightforward rewards
|Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
||Dining and entertainment
||Rotating category cash back
Why you should trust Bankrate
Bankrate’s team of financial services experts have years of experience studying the financial services industry and offering thoughtful, tailored advice depending on your circumstance. We take your financial health as seriously as you do and focus on offering impartial and well-researched guidance for every stage of your financial life cycle. From mortgages to home loans, and personal loans to 0% APR cards, our team covers the spectrum of financial services. We are here to answer all your credit card questions. In the case of balance transfer credit cards, we have evaluated as many cards as possible to determine the best cards to suit certain lifestyles and scenarios.
We take into account every element of a balance transfer cards offering: From its introductory APR offer, its fees, and standard APRs, to additional perks and extra rewards. A good balance transfer credit card is one that allows you to consolidate high-interest debt, pay down what you owe at low-to-no interest, thereby saving you on interest and helping to improve your overall financial health. We also know that although a card may seem great on paper, it needs to work well for you, fit your lifestyle and provide the best tool for you to achieve your goals. Our Bankrate Score takes into account a number of factors but we have weighted what we consider to be the most important more heavily:
- Balance Transfer Fee: A good balance transfer credit card will offer a low fee on transferred balances and a great balance transfer credit card will not charge a transfer fee at all.
- 0% Introductory APR Offer: Balance transfer cards should typically have a long period — between 12 – 18 months — of 0% APR.
- Regular Variable APR: Regular variable APR is especially important to consider for balance transfer cards because this is the interest rate that you will be charged after the introductory 0% APR period.
- Rewards: Rewards may not be the main motivation behind getting a balance transfer card but we want to help you get the most value from your credit card. Many credit card providers offer rewards as an incentive for becoming a cardholder.
Deeper analysis on the best balance transfer credit cards
Discover it® Balance Transfer
Our editors chose the Discover it Balance Transfer credit card as our favorite overall balance transfer credit card because it enables consumers to consolidate debt, maximize cash rewards in rotating bonus categories, and double their cash back rewards at the end of the first year of card ownership. This card stands out as one of the best rewards-earning balance transfer credit cards on the market. If you are looking for a well-rounded credit card that will have staying power in your wallet, even after your debt is paid off, this card should be at the top of your list. However, if you have a history of getting in trouble with spending just to earn rewards without paying off your balance in full every month, a basic balance transfer card with no rewards offer is a better option for you.
- Pay off your debt faster with 0% intro APR for 18 months on purchases (then, 13.99% to 24.99% standard variable APR applies)
- Earn up to 5% cash back in rotating categories (up to the quarterly maximum) each time you activate.
- Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases that are not included in the quarterly bonus categories.
- One of the most lucrative perks of the Discover it Balance Transfer card is that Discover will match all of your cash back earnings at the end of the first year of card ownership.
- In addition to the introductory balance transfer offer, this card also offers a 6-month intro 0% APR period on purchases. Although we don’t recommend taking on more debt (even if it is interest-free) when you are already transferring a balance, this card has the potential to be incredibly helpful in a financial pinch.
- This card charges no annual fee.
- Your FICO® Credit Score will be on your monthly statements, mobile, and online for free when you have the Discover it Balance Transfer
- In order to earn your 5% cash back in the quarterly bonus categories, you must activate your bonus rewards. Forgetting to do so would mean earning just 1% back on all purchases.
- There is a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount of each transfer, which, depending on how much debt you are transferring, could negate your savings on the cost of interest.
- Although Discover will not charge a late fee on your first late or returned payment, there is a late or returned payment fee of up to $37 after one is forgiven.
Read Bankrate’s full Discover it Balance Transfer review.
Citi Simplicity® Card
Citibank is known for its long intro balance transfer periods, and the Citi Simplicity Card does not disappoint. If you need some extra time to pay down your debt, we highly recommend this card. The 21-month 0% intro APR offer (after which, the 15.99% – 25.99% regular variable APR applies) is the longest balance transfer period of any cards offered on Bankrate. This is the best choice for you if the typical balance transfer offer range of 12-18 months isn’t long enough for you to pay off your debt. With the additional few months of no interest, you will have the time to pay off a larger amount of debt, or it could reduce the amount that you will need to pay each month to make sure that everything is paid off before the regular ongoing APR comes back into play.
- This card boasts the longest introductory balance transfer period of any of the cards offered on Bankrate.
- The Citi Simplicity Card comes with the added perk of no late fees or penalty APR, which could be a huge money-saver if you don’t have struggle to pay your bill on time each month.
- You will pay no annual fee on this card
- The balance transfer fee on this card is 5% of the amount of each transfer (or $5, whichever is greater), which can add up to a lot! Use our balance transfer calculator to make sure that this fee does not outweigh your savings on interest.
- The Cit Simplicity Card does not offer any cash back or rewards on purchases that you make with the card.
Read Bankrate’s full Citi Simplicity Card review.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Quicksilver Card has one of the shortest intro balance transfer period of any of the cards on this list. However, it offers a straightforward 1.5% cash back rewards on everything you buy. The combination of a solid balance transfer offer and a valuable cash back structure is what drove this card to #3 on our list of the best balance transfer credit cards. We recommend the Capital One Quicksilver Card to consumers with a smaller balance that they need to transfer and who don’t already have a card that offers flat-rate cash back or rewards on all of their purchases. This is a card that we also recommend as one of the best cash back credit cards, which further emphasizes its value outside of just being a credit card with an introductory balance transfer offer.
- This card offers a respectable 15-month intro 0% APR offer on balance transfers, after which, the regular variable APR of 14.74% – 24.74% applies. If you have a relatively small amount of debt to pay off and you are looking for a card that you will want to keep in your wallet after your debts are paid, the Capital One Quicksilver Card is a solid choice.
- The 1.5% cash back on all purchases is the most straightforward way to earn cash back on all of your purchases. Without even thinking about it, you can earn money back on the purchases that you make every day.
- In addition to the 15-month balance transfer offer, the Quicksilver Card also offers an introductory 0% APR on purchases for 15 months, after which, the regular variable APR of 14.74% – 24.74% applies.
- There is a $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months of opening your account.
- While the Capital One Quicksilver Card is a solid option, it carries neither the longest balance transfer period nor the highest rewards rate of cards in this category.
- There is a late payment fee of up to $38. If you have a history of not making your minimum payment each month, you may want to look at other cards that offer late payment forgiveness.
- Like many other cards in this category, there is a balance transfer fee of 3% of each transferred amount during the first 15 months that your account is open.
Read Bankrate’s full Capital One Quicksilver Card review.
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
For consumers who struggle with both credit card debt and managing a budget that allows them to comfortably pay all of their bills in full each month, the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card is an excellent choice. Not only does this card offer a competitive 18-months 0% APR introductory period (after that the regular 13.49%-26.99% variable APR applies) on purchases and balance transfers, but it also provides the unique perk of giving consumers access to the Wells Fargo My Money Map budge and spending-management system. There are other cards on the market that are better if you are looking for rewards and cash back, but this card is our top pick if what you need is a straightforward balance transfer card that will not only provide a launch pad to get out of debt, but will also give you all the tools that you need to keep you out of debt.
- The 18-month 0% intro APR offer is one of the best-in-class offers for consumers looking to transfer their balance.
- One of the biggest perks of this card is access to Wells Fargo’s My Money Map tool, which can help you plan and track your spending as you pay off your balance and set yourself up for future financial success. A balance transfer card can help reduce the amount that you will pay to your card provider in interest, but one of the most important things that we recommend is that you set a budget and make sure that you stay debt free after you pay off your balance. The Wells Fargo My Money Map Tool can help you do just that, potentially opening doors to other financial products, like mortgages, at more favorable rates.
- Using this card to pay your phone bill each month grants you up to $600 in cell phone insurance.
- There is no annual fee for this card, which means that you won’t have an annual payment cutting into how much you can save by using a balance transfer.
- Outside of having on of the best balance transfer offers, this card is rather lackluster and offers no opportunity to earn cash back or rewards points on your spending. That being said, if you already own a card that offers rewards and/or have gotten into trouble with spending just to earn the rewards on a different card, the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa could be a good choice.
- Be vary wary of the high regular variable APR that goes into effect after the introductory APR expires. With a regular variable APR of 13.49% – 26.99%, it is easy to get into trouble if you aren’t paying your balance in full each month or paying off the entirety of your transferred balance within the promotional 18-month period.
- There is a balance transfer fee of 3% of the transferred balance during within the first 120 days of card ownership. After that, the fee increases to 5%, making it one of the more costly balance transfer fees in this category.
Read Bankrate’s full Wells Fargo Platinum Visa review
BankAmericard credit card
We recommend the BankAmericard Credit Card for consumers who have a large balance that they need to transfer and who are looking for a straightforward balance transfer card. With an 18-month introductory APR on balance transfers (after that, the regular variable APR of 14.99% – 24.99% applies), a 3% transfer fee, and a transfer limit up to the credit limit that you are approved for, this card is a solid choice for paying down debt. Most other credit cards in this category have a capped balance transfer amount, making the BankAmericard credit card an attractive option for people with large amounts of debt who will get approved for a high credit limit. However, if you are looking for a card with lasting value, you should look elsewhere. Despite its utility for balance transfers, the BankAmericard credit card does not offer any rewards or cash back.
- If you qualify, your ongoing regular variable APR can be as low as 14.99%, which is much lower than many of this card’s competitors offer.
- There is no annual fee for this card.
- This card does not charge a penalty APR
- While the BankAmercard is the best credit card for consumers with large balances, this card does not offer any rewards or cash back. If you have a smaller balance (think $10,000 or less) it will be worth your while to look at cards that have both lengthy balance transfer and rewards offers.
- Purchases outside of the U.S. will result in a 3% foreign transaction fee, making this card a bad choice if you are looking for a card that you can take overseas.
- We think it’s worth noting that this card charges a balance transfer fee of 3% or $10 (whichever is greater). This is a standard fee across many balance transfer cards, but can cut into the money you will save on interest and should be considered in any calculations that you do to determine if a balance transfer is worth it.
Read Bankrate’s full BankAmericard credit card review.
Citi® Double Cash Card
The Citi Double Cash Card is a leader among balance transfer cards that also offer cash back. It comes with a lengthy introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months. After that, it’s a variable 15.49% to 25.49%. Like the Capital One Quicksilver card, the Double Cash Card has a flat-rate cash back structure that offers 1% back when you make a purchase and another 1% back when you pay your bill each month. While this card comes with huge earning potential from the “double cash” structure, we only recommend it to consumers who are certain that they will be able to pay their bill in full each month moving forward.
- Lengthy balance transfer offer
- 2% back on all purchases (1% when you make a purchase, 1% when you pay your bill)
- This card charges no annual fee
- No need to sign up for rotating categories each quarter
- The amount of cash back you can earn is unlimited
- There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. This could cut into how much money you can save, so make sure to incorporate this into your savings calculations.
- There is a variable penalty APR up to 29.99% and applies if your payment is late or returned
- If you typically carry a balance, the interest charges will far outweigh your cash back earning. Make sure not to spend more than you normally would just to earn rewards.
Read Bankrate’s full Citi Double Cash Card review.
HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card
The HSBC Gold Mastercard credit card is best for consumers who plan to have a remaining balance after the initial 18-month 0% introductory APR period and who will qualify for the low end of the ongoing variable APR range. With the potential to have a rate as low as 12.99%, it is likely that you would continue to save money on interest charges, even after the intro balance transfer period is over. With that being said, this is a balance transfer card that does not offer cash back or rewards. If you are looking for a card that does, we recommend looking elsewhere.
- If you can qualify for the lowest APR offered for this card (12.99% variable), you will have one of the lowest APRs avaialable on the credit card market today, making any remaining balance that you carry relatively cheap when compared to other cards in this category.
- In addition to the balance transfer offer, the HSBC Gold Mastercard offers a lengthy 18-month 0% introductory APR on credit card purchases (after which, the onging variable APR of 12.99%, 16.99%, or 20.99% will apply).
- There is a balance transfer fee of either $10 or 4%, whichever is greater.
- This card does not offer any cash back or rewards, limiting its utility to balance transfers and making large purchases with 0% interest for 18 months.
- There is a late payment fee of up to $37. If you have a habit of making late payments, you might want to look for a different balance transfer credit card that does not charge late fees.
Read Bankrate’s full HSBC Gold Mastercard review.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Similar to many of the cards on this list, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is, first and foremost, a cash back card, offering 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases. If you have a balance that you feel that you can comfortable pay off within the introductory 0% intro APR balance transfer offer (after which, the ongoing 16.74% – 25.49% APR applies), this card is a good option. Where this card really shines is its utility when owned alongside either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve in order to take advantage of the Chase Ultimate Rewards Program. If you already have one of the Sapphire cards and feel comfortable with a slightly shorter balance transfer offer, we recommend the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
- In addition to a good balance transfer offer, the Chase Freedom Unlimited also offers 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months.
- There is a relatively easy-to-hit sign-up bons: $150 cash back after you spend $500 within the first three months of card ownership.
- We can’t emphasize the value of Chase Ultimate Rewards enough. If you transfer points from the Freedom Unlimited to one of the Chase Sapphire cards, you can increase your rewards by up to 50%, packing this card full of value.
- The balance transfer fee on the Chase Freedom Unlimited is $5 or 5%, whichever is greater. This is on the high-end for industry-standard balance transfer fees and is definitely something to consider if you are transferring a larger balance.
- There is a 3% foreign transaction fee on all purchases made outside the United States. If you don’t plan on leaving the country anytime soon or you have a card that boasts no foreign transaction fees, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
- The regular ongoing variable APR is 16.74% – 25.49%, which is pretty high! Make sure that you can feel confident that you can pay off your transferred balance within the introductory period so that you don’t end up paying more interest on the remaining balance than you were on your old card.
Read Bankrate’s full Chase Freedom Unlimited review.
Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card is the only balance transfer card on our list of the best balance transfer credit cards that offers point rewards that you can use towards a variety of things, such as travel, gift cards, statement credit, or merchandise offered through the ThankYou portal. If you are looking to complete a balance transfer and your heart is set on a rewards card, the ThankYou Preferred is a decent option. With 2 points per dollar on dining and entertainment purchases, this card carries an attractive offer for a niche group of consumers. If you are in that niche, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card would be a valuable addition to your wallet.
- There are cards on the market that offer 1.5% – 2% back on all purchases, and only offering that rate on dining and entertainment makes this card a lot less desireable.
- The 15-month balance transfer period is shorter than many other cards in this category.
Read Bankrate’s full Citi ThankYou Preferred review.
The Chase Freedom card is the only balance transfer card that made it onto our list that doubles as a rotating category cash back card. There is a 5% balance transfer fee, which is high, but this card also comes with a lucrative rewards structure. Each quarter, Chase announces spending categories (like electronics stores or gas stations) where cardholders can earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases once they activate the offer. Offer activation is simple and fast, you will just need to set a reminder to make sure that you don’t miss out on up to $300 cash back/year from the bonus categories alone. If you have a relatively small balance to transfer and are looking for a good rotating category card to round out your wallet, this is a good choice. If you have a high balance that you need to transfer, we recommend a card with a lower balance transfer fee and a lengthier balance transfer intro offer.
- The rotating bonus category rewards structure can be incredibly valuable. With 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases in each quarter, the cash back potential is $300/year. This number does not include the 1% back that you will receive on all spending that does not fall into one of the bonus categories.
- Combining this card with one of the Chase Sapphire cards unlocks Chase Ultimate Rewards, making this an even more valuable card to have in your wallet.
- While there are cards with longer balance transfer periods on the market, 15 months interest-free can still save you a significant amount of money on interest payments, and you can apply the cash back that you earn as a statement credit towards your balance.
- If you don’t have any interest in adding a rewards card to your wallet and are looking for a straightforward card with a lengthy balance trasnfer period, there are better options on the markte
- The 5% balance transfer fee will eat into how much you are saving on interest payments. Make sure to consider this fee when you are calculating how much you will save and how long it will take you to pay off your balance.
- The rotating categories have the potential to be incredibly lucrative. However, they require attention and quarterly action on your part. If you aren’t up to the task of keeping track of rotating categories, this card definitely isn’t for you.
Read Bankrate’s full Chase Freedom review.
Balance Transfer Credit Card FAQs
What is a balance transfer credit card?
In short, a balance transfer is when you move part or all of the debt you owe from one or more credit or store cards to another credit card that has a balance transfer introductory offer period to save on interest expenses. It basically allows you to consolidate your debt onto one card with a slow rate. So a balance transfer credit card is a tool for debt consolidation. Good balance transfer credit cards offer long introductory periods of 0% APR giving consumers up to 21 months, depending on the card that you choose, to pay off debt interest-free. Great balance transfer cards also charge low balance transfer fees (the charge, often a percentage, incurred when you make a transfer).
These cards are usually targeted towards consumers with good credit and less than $15,000 in credit card debt. Most cards have a limit on how much debt you can transfer, so be sure to check the specific terms for the card that you are applying for.
If you have a smaller amount of debt or can pay off your debt within a shorter window, you can consider getting a credit card that has both a balance transfer offer and a rewards offer. The upside of these cards is that many of them are cards that you will want to keep in your wallet, even after the balances are paid and the debts are gone. The rewards offers typically don’t apply to transferred balances, but they do allow you to earn cash back or rewards points on purchases that you make with your new card.
Things to consider before getting a balance transfer credit card
If you think a balance transfer card might be right for you, there are several things to consider. The key attributes of a balance transfer card are:
- Introductory interest rate: Balance transfer cards come with lower introductory interest rates, often 0%. The longer this introductory period the longer you have to pay down debt with low-no interest.
- Annual percentage rate (APR) after the introductory rate: Once the introductory period is over the card’s interest will revert to the standard variable APR rate which will depend on your individual creditworthiness. This rate can be very high so it’s important that you know what it is, when it will kick in, and be prepared for it.
- Balance transfer fee: Most balance transfer cards charge a balance transfer fee anywhere between 3% to 5% of the amount being transferred. This would mean that if you transfer $5,000 to a card charging a 5% transfer fee then you will incur a $250 transfer fee. Two popular cards on the market that don’t charge a balance transfer fee within the first 60 days of account opening are the Chase Slate and Amex Everyday Card.
- Annual fee: Some cards charge an annual fee and this should be factored into your calculation when choosing a balance transfer credit card.
- Minimum monthly payment: All credit cards charge a minimum monthly payment which is usually determined as a percentage of your balance, plus interest and any fees.
- Late fees and over-the-limit fees: If you make your payment late or exceed your available credit limit most credit cards will charge a fee.
Under federal law, the introductory APR rate must last at least six months. Many balance transfer credit cards will offer introductory rates for longer periods, anywhere from 12 to 21 months depending on the issuer. This can amount to significant savings for those with a lot of credit card debt.
For example, if you’re transferring a balance of $10,000 from a card with a 17% APR to a balance transfer card with an introductory 15-month 0% APR offer, over the course of a year, if you didn’t touch that balance, you’d save $1,700 in finance charges that would have accrued on the old card.
Make sure to pay attention to the fine print around the introductory offer period. For some cards, you have to execute a transfer within a certain time frame to be eligible for the introductory rate. In your calculations make sure to factor in the balance transfer fee and make sure that you can make the minimum monthly payments. Read the terms carefully to decide what the best offer is for your circumstances and make sure to avoid any cards that you can’t use effectively to pay down your outstanding debt.
How long is a typical balance transfer offer?
A balance transfer offer typically ranges anywhere from 9 months to nearly two years. Keep in mind that many cards also charge a balance transfer fee, typically ranging from 3% to 5% of the amount being transferred, so it pays to do the math before making a transfer to see how much you’ll ultimately save.
It’s important to remember that the length of time you have at 0% is a limited time offer, meaning you’ll likely have to transfer the balance within a certain period of time after opening the account to qualify for the interest-free time period.
How much money can you save with a balance transfer?
Balance transfer credit cards can save the average adult cardholder up to $1,000 or more in interest payments. Total savings will vary based on how much you owe, your current interest rate, and how much you can pay per month towards your balance. Creditcards.com reports that the average credit card debt per U.S. adult with a credit card is $5,839, and the current credit card interest rate is 17.23% at the time of this writing. Here is how the savings break down with each of our top balance transfer credit cards, assuming a $250 monthly payment:
|Credit Card Name
||Time to Payoff
||Balance Transfer Savings
|Discover it® Balance Transfer
|BankAmericard® credit card
|Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
|Citi Double Cash Card
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®
If you would like to enter your own information to calculate your savings, visit our balance transfer calculator.
Should you use a balance transfer?
Balance transfer credit cards can reduce the interest you pay on your total credit card debt, effectively lowering your monthly payments and saving you money on finance charges. These cards allow you to consolidate all of your credit debt onto one low-rate card.
These cards are typically designed for and offered to people with good to excellent credit. You may not qualify if your credit isn’t good. If you have bad credit, a personal loan might be a better option, especially if you can find a fixed-rate offer with a lower interest rate than what your credit card charges you.
Check your credit report for free before you apply.
However, if you are simply transferring balances from card to card without paying down what you owe, the new card won’t eliminate your debt woes. In fact, you could wind up exacerbating them because balance transfers can involve fees and often carry higher-than-average interest rates once the introductory period is over. Make a plan to pay down as much of your debt as you can within the introductory interest rate period.
The other big factor to consider is the credit limit on the card that you are transferring your balance to. Most balance transfer cards have a cap on the amount you can transfer. Make sure you find out how much you are allowed to transfer before applying for the card. Otherwise, you may not find out if your new account will be able to accept your balance until after the account is opened, and you’ll have to make payments on two credit cards.
All things considered, if used correctly, a balance transfer credit card can be a valuable tool to help you pay off what you owe and get out of credit card debt. The important things to remember are to read the fine print, understand all the charges, rates and fees associated with your card, and make sure that you can transfer your full balance to this new card. Have a plan in place to begin paying down as much of the balance as you can — ideally all of it — within the introductory APR window.
How to do a balance transfer effectively
Completing a balance transfer is easier than you might think. After you apply for a balance transfer credit card, make sure to gather all the information you will need: credit card account numbers, bank names and addresses and the amount that you want to transfer to your new card.
The process to complete a balance transfer will vary slightly by credit card issuer but generally, the process will be to either call the customer service department or complete the transfer online. The new credit card company will contact your old credit card company and take care of moving your balance to the new card, which could take up to two weeks to complete. It’s important to follow up on your old cards to make sure they show a $0 balance before you stop making payments on them.
However, before you apply, be sure that you are ready to dedicate a portion of your budget to paying off your balance and have a debt payoff plan in place. While these cards can save you a substantial amount of money in interest, repeat applications for low-interest accounts as soon as your introductory offer expires can damage your credit score. Make a budget and take paying off your debt within the 0% APR time frame seriously.
Need to do more research?
If you need to do more research to find the right credit card to transfer a balance, check out our related articles below. You can also browse through every balance transfer card that we have ever reviewed in our reviews section.