One of the most effective ways of reducing credit card debt is with a balance transfer. If you do it consciously and responsibly, you can get rid of debt faster and save money while doing so.
When choosing a balance transfer credit card, you want to make sure you get the product that you get saves you the most. This includes how many months of 0 percent APR you’re going to get—the longer the intro period, the more flexibility you’ll have, and the more money you can keep in your pocket.
Another thing to consider is a balance transfer fee. The majority of cards charge a fee when you transfer a balance—typically, between 3 and 5 percent of your balance. If you’re transferring a large sum, this fee can get rather costly.
Credit cards that don’t charge a balance transfer fee are rare, especially in the COVID-19 era. Still, you can find a few on the market. Read on to learn which credit cards don’t charge a balance transfer fee and determine whether any of them are a good option for you.
Platinum Card from Navy Federal Credit Union: Best for no balance transfer fee
The Platinum Card from Navy Federal Credit Union is an excellent option for a balance transfer. It charges no balance transfer fee and currently offers 0 percent APR on balance transfers for 12 months (5.99 percent to 18 percent thereafter). The low, ongoing APR makes this card a good deal even once the intro offer expires.
The card also charges no annual, foreign transaction or cash advance fees, which makes it an excellent option that offers flexibility and opportunities to save in many situations.
Note that this card requires a Navy Federal Credit Union membership, available to military members, veterans and their families.
SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card: Best for long intro offer
The SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card doesn’t offer 0 percent APR, but you can qualify for a three-year introductory interest rate of 4.75 percent (current prime rate) on balances you transfer during the first 60 days of opening your account.
After that, you’ll pay a variable APR rate of 12.74 percent to 22.74 percent. You won’t pay any balance transfer fees if you do the transfer during the first 60 days after you open your account but the balance transfer fee goes up to 3 percent (minimum $10) after that.
This card also gives you an unlimited 1 percent cash back on each dollar you spend, and you’ll get a $100 statement credit when you spend $500 on your card within three months of opening the account. No annual fee applies.
More balance transfer credit cards to look into
While the options are currently limited if you’re shopping for a no balance transfer fee credit card, there are cards that charge the fee but still offer plenty of value.
For example, some of these cards may offer a long introductory period, lucrative rewards or a high intro bonus, which can help you offset the balance transfer fee and provide value after the balance transfer intro offer expires.
|Card||Balance transfer terms||Rewards|
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card||
|Citi® Double Cash Card||
|Citi Rewards+® Card||
The information about the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card was last updated on 03/08/2021
What to look for in a balance transfer card
As you compare balance transfer credit cards on our list and elsewhere, make sure to check for the following features and benefits:
- Length of interest-free introductory offer: Balance transfer cards usually offer 0 percent APR for anywhere from six to 21 months. Make sure to compare offers to find one that is long enough for your debt repayment needs. The more debt you have, the more time you might need.
- Ongoing APR: Even if you qualify for a card with an interest-free introductory period, make sure to compare interest rates and how they stack up since your rate will eventually reset once your 0 percent APR offer is over.
- Balance transfer fee: Paying the fee may be well worth it in terms of interest savings, but you should try to avoid it if you can.
- Time limits: Some 0 percent APR credit cards extend 0 interest offers only to balances transferred within a short amount of time, usually 60 days. Make sure to check for these limits before you apply.
- Other limitations: Many cards in this category let you avoid interest on balance transfers and purchases, but not all do. Make sure you know your personal preference before you pick a card and apply.
- Additional fees: Balance transfer credit cards rarely charge an annual fee, but you should still check. Also, look up additional fees you may need to pay, such as late fees and over-the-limit fees.
How to calculate a balance transfer fee
Most balance transfer fees work out to 3 percent or 5 percent of balances you transfer over, although individual offers vary.
Keep in mind that when you transfer balances to a balance transfer card, this fee is charged to your balance upfront. If you were to transfer $10,000 in high interest credit card debt to a balance transfer card, for example, your fee could work out to 3 percent of your balance ($300) or 5 percent of your balance ($500) upfront, depending on the credit card you sign up for.
Is paying a balance transfer fee worth it?
You may be wondering why anyone would pay a balance transfer fee when there are cards that don’t charge this fee at all. The reality is, paying a balance transfer fee is often worth it if you’re able to save money on interest over a longer timeline.
It can make sense to pay a balance transfer fee if you have a lot of debt at a high APR and you need as much time as possible to pay it off without interest. Make sure to run the numbers for your situation and use a credit card balance transfer calculator to determine which card works best for your needs.