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.


A Guide to choosing the best balance transfer credit card for you

By: Robin Saks Frankel | Last Updated: August 13, 2018


Table of contents:


How we chose our favorite balance transfer credit cards

Bankrate’s team of credit card experts have analyzed over 1,000 balance transfer credit cards based on features such as the cards’ balance transfer offers, introductory 0% APR offers, rewards rates, and more. Our proprietary grading system allows us to make unbiased and objective recommendations so that you can find the best balance transfer credit card for your situation, consolidate your debt, and pay off what you owe with minimal interest.

Review criteria

The three most important features on a balance transfer credit card are the balance transfer fee, the 0% introductory APR offer, and the regular variable APR. These three elements make up what we consider to be a card’s balance transfer offer and are weighted the most heavily in our Bankrate Score for this category. We also consider each card’s rewards rate in our score so that you can be sure that the cards we recommend are ones that you will want to keep in your wallet long after your balance has been paid off.

  • Balance Transfer Fee – A balance transfer is when you move part or all of the outstanding balance that you owe from one lender to another. While a good balance transfer credit card will offer a low fee on transferred balances — usually around 3%-5% of the transferred amount, a great balance transfer credit card will not charge a transfer fee at all.
  • 0% Introductory APR Offer – The key perk of a balance transfer card is that it allows you to consolidate your loan and pay down your balance without incurring additional interest expense. Balance transfer cards should typically have a long period — between 12 – 18 months — of 0% APR. The longer the period without APR, the better. That’s why we pay close attention to the fine print around the 0% introductory APR offer to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
  • Regular Variable APR – The regular APR on a credit card is important regardless of the category that it falls under. However, variable APR is especially meaningful for balance transfer cards because this is the interest rate that you will be charged after the introductory 0% APR period. If you have a remaining balance after the 12 – 18 months with no interest, this is the interest rate that will be applied to what you still owe.
  • Rewards – Even though rewards may not be the main motivation behind getting a balance transfer card we want to help you get the most rewards value from your credit card. Many credit card providers offer rewards as an incentive for becoming a cardholder but rewards can get confusing. They can come in the form of cash, miles, or points. The Bankrate scoring method takes into account the type of reward, how you earn them, and how to make the most of them.

Ask the experts: Bankrate’s best balance transfer credit cards of 2018

Discover it® Balance Transfer

With the Discover it Balance Transfer credit card, you can consolidate your debt, maximize cash rewards in rotating bonus categories, and double your cash back rewards at the end of your first year of card ownership. Combine the introductory 18 months 0% balance transfer APR offer and the lucrative 5% bonus cash back categories, this card stands out as one of the best reward-earning balance transfer credit cards on the market. Keep in mind that the 5% cash back is in rotating categorieseach quarter, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.

Card Details:

  • Best For: First year bonus
  • Bankrate Score: 91/100
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0%
  • Intro APR Period: 18 Months
  • Regular APR: 13.74% – 24.74% variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%

Editor’s take: The Discover it Balance Transfer credit card is an excellent choice for anyone looking to consolidate their debt while maximizing their ability to earn rewards with rotating bonus category purchases.

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. With an 18-month, 0% intro APR offer, this card has one of the longest balance transfer periods on the market. While the Citi Simplicity Card does not offer any rewards or bonuses, it is hard to beat when it comes to giving cardholders the opportunity to get out of debt.

Card Details:

  • Best For: Lengthy 0% intro APR period
  • Bankrate Score: 88/100
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0% when completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • Intro APR Period: 18 Months from date of first transfer for balance transfers.
  • Regular APR: 15.74% – 25.74%* (Variable)
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5% or $5, whichever is greater

Editor’s take: The Citi Simplicity takes the top spot on our list due to its straightforward, lengthy 18-month balance transfer offer. If you are looking for a no-frills way to consolidate and pay off your debt, this card is an excellent choice.

Read Bankrate’s full Citi Simplicity Card review.

BankAmericard credit card

The BankAmericard credit card is one of the best balance transfer cards. It has a 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days. Unlike many other balance transfer cards that have a capped amount, you can transfer a balance of up to the credit limit you’re approved for.

Card Details:

  • Best For: Low balance transfer fee
  • Bankrate Score: 92/100
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0% for 15 billing cycles for balance transfers
  • Intro APR Period: 15 billing cycles
  • Regular APR: 14.74% – 24.74% Variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the amount of each transaction or $10, whichever is greater

Editor’s take: The BankAmericard credit card is a good choice if you are looking to pay down your debt and need a high balance transfer limit.

Read Bankrate’s full BankAmericard credit card review.

The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express

The Amex EveryDay Credit Card is an excellent balance transfer card. It is one of the few cards on the market with an intro 0% APR offer on both purchases and balance transfers, as well as no balance transfer fees on transfers made within 60 days of opening the account.

Card Details:

  • Best For: Bonus rewards
  • Bankrate Score: 86/100
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0%
  • Intro APR Period: 15 Months
  • Regular APR: 14.74%-25.74% Variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0 within 60 days of account opening

Editor’s take: The Amex EveryDay Credit Card is an excellent choice if you are looking for a balance transfer credit card that will have staying power beyond paying off your debt.

Read Bankrate’s full Amex Everyday Credit Card review.

Capital One® Quicksilver® 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. You can collect your rewards in any amount, without having to accrue a minimum, and you can apply them as a statement credit or request a check to be mailed to you.

Card Details:

  • Best For: Travel extras
  • Bankrate Score: 93/100
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0%
  • Intro APR Period: 15 Months
  • Regular APR: 14.74% – 24.74% (Variable)
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%

Editor’s take: The Capital One Quicksilver Card is a great fit for frequent travelers looking to consolidate and pay down their debt over a short period of time. Eligible vehicles are covered for damage or theft, there are no foreign transaction fees, and, if you pay for your trip with the card, it offers travel accident insurance.

Read Bankrate’s full Capital One Quicksilver Card review.

Citi® Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash Card is a leader among balance transfer cards. It comes with a lengthy 18 month, 0% APR introductory balance transfer offer. Additionally, as long as you pay your balance in full every month, this card offers a competitive cash back rate on all purchases.

Card Details:

  • Best For: Cash back
  • Bankrate Score: 94/100
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0%
  • Intro APR Period: 18 Months
  • Regular APR: 15.24% – 25.24%* (Variable)
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of the amount transferred or $5, whichever is greater

Editor’s take: The Citi Double Cash Card is a great card if you are looking to transfer a smaller balance to a card with fantastic cash back earning potential.

Read Bankrate’s full Citi Double Cash Card review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

While the Chase Freedom Unlimited may not be a card designed specifically for balance transfers, this card offers a substantial 15 month 0% intro APR offer on both balance transfers and purchases. In addition to the introductory offer, you will want to keep this card in your wallet for its uncomplicated rewards program that pays a respectable flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Card Details:

  • Best For: Rewards
  • Bankrate Score: 92/100
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0%
  • Intro APR Period: 15 Months
  • Regular APR: 16.74% – 25.49% Variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 5%, whichever is greater

Editor’s take: The Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great credit card for both rewards and balance transfers. If you already own a Chase rewards card, adding this card to your wallet will maximize the value of your rewards.

Read Bankrate’s full Chase Freedom Unlimited review.

What is a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer card is a credit card that typically has either an introductory 0% APR offer for balances transferred to it from other credit cards, or a card that offers a lower-than-average APR on the balance being transferred.

Both options can reduce the interest you pay on your total credit card debt, effectively lowering your monthly payments and saving you money on finance charges. In some cases, you can consolidate all of your higher-interest credit debt onto one low-rate card, and just make one monthly credit card payment instead of several. A balance transfer is also the only way that you can pay off one credit card with another. Credit card companies won’t allow you to directly use a credit card to make a monthly payment.

Many balance transfer credit cards provide cash back for purchases. Once you transfer all of your high-interest credit debt onto one card, you can save money on finance charges each month and pay off your debt more quickly. But because they come with a low introductory interest rate, their rewards are often not as extensive, and that 0% APR won’t last forever.

How does a balance transfer credit card work?

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.
  • Annual percentage rate (APR) after the introductory rate.
  • Balance transfer fee.
  • Minimum monthly payment.

Under federal law, the introductory 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. Read the terms carefully to decide what the best offer is for your circumstances.

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.

How much 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 US 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 25 months $1,013
Citi Simplicity® Card 25 months $1,076
BankAmericard® credit card 25 months $1,102
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express 25 months $1,097
Capital One® Quicksilver® Card 25 months $900
Citi Double Cash Card 25 months $1,008
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 26 months $747

If you would like to enter your own information to calculate your savings, visit our balance transfer calculator.

How long is a 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.

If you’re looking for the longest 0% APR offer on a balance transfer, the Citi Diamond Preferred Card is a great option. You get 0% for 21-months on balance transfers (from date of first transfer), after that, a variable APR of 14.74 – 24.74 percent will apply. You have to transfer the balance within four months of opening your account and there is a transfer fee or 5% or $5, whichever is greater.

You may want to compare the Citi Diamond Preferred’s lengthy offer against a card that has a shorter 0% balance transfer offer but doesn’t charge a transfer fee. The Amex EveryDay Credit Card comes equipped with an introductory 0% APR offer for 15 months with no balance transfer fee, as long as the transfer is made within 60 days of account opening. After that, a variable 14.74 – 25.74 percent variable APR applies.

Should you use a balance transfer?

Balance transfer credit cards from our partners 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, the new one 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.

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.

In addition, stay away from using the card for further purchases while paying off the balance. It’s important to steadily reduce your credit card balance on a monthly basis.

Recap: Bankrate’s favorite balance transfer credit cards of 2018

Card Name Bankrate Score Best For
Discover it® Balance Transfer 91/100 Best overall balance transfer credit card
Citi Simplicity Card 88/100 Lengthy 0% intro APR period
BankAmericard® credit card 92/100 Low balance transfer fee
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express 86/100 Bonus rewards
Capital One® Quicksilver® Card 93/100 Travel extras
Citi Double Cash Card 94/100 Cash back
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 92/100 Simple rewards

Author Spotlight: Robin Saks Frankel is a credit cards journalist with multiple years of experience in card reviews, breaking news, points guides and editorial advice. Robin has written content for Bankrate, Nerdwallet, and multiple other financial publications. You can find her on Twitter @robinsaks.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.