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A balance transfer credit card typically offers an introductory 0% APR period, allowing you to consolidate and pay off your debt without interest. Essentially, you are transferring what you owe from one credit card to another card that has a much more favorable interest rate. These cards are typically targeted towards consumers with good/excellent credit, who can pay down their debt within 18 months. Find information, advice and recommendations for balance transfer cards below.

Table of contents:

Bankrate’s Best balance transfer cards of 2018
Expert analysis: The best balance transfer credit cards of 2018
What is a balance transfer credit card?
How does a balance transfer work?
How long is a balance transfer offer?
Should you use a balance transfer?
Recap: Bankrate’s favorite balance transfer credit cards

Bankrate’s Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of 2018

How we chose our favorite balance transfer credit cards

We evaluated over 300 credit cards using our proprietary Bankrate Score to rank our top balance transfer credit cards. We analyze each card on factors like APR, annual fee, late fee and foreign transaction fees, rewards, intro bonus, perks, and credit threshold. Length of introductory 0% interest period and balance transfer fee are weighted more heavily for balance transfer cards.

Editor analysis: The best balance transfer credit cards of 2018

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:

  • Issuer: Citi
  • Best For: Lengthy 0% intro APR period
  • Bankrate Score: 88/100
  • Credit Needed: Excellent/Good
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0% within 60 days of account opening
  • Intro APR Period: 18 Months
  • Regular APR: 15.49% – 25.49% 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.

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BankAmericard Credit Card

The BankAmericard Credit Card is one of the best balance transfer cards. It has 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:

  • Issuer: Bank of America
  • Best For: Low balance transfer fee
  • Bankrate Score: 92/100
  • Credit Needed: Excellent/Good
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days
  • Intro APR Period: 15 billing cycles
  • Regular APR: 14.49% – 24.49% 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.

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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:

  • Issuer: American Express
  • Best For: Bonus rewards
  • Bankrate Score: 86/100
  • Credit Needed: Good/Excellent
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0%
  • Intro APR Period: 15 Months
  • Regular APR: 14.49% – 25.49% Variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0

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.

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Chase Slate

The interest-free introductory period on the Chase Slate card is better than most. Those who need a fairly forgiving card might also like that late payments won’t adversely affect their interest rate, and there are no penalties for exceeding the credit limit.

Card Details:

  • Issuer: Chase
  • Best For: Large purchases
  • Bankrate Score: 92/100
  • Credit Needed: Excellent/Good
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0%
  • Intro APR Period: 15 Months
  • Regular APR: 16.49% – 25.24% Variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 1% within the first 60 days

Editor’s take: Due to the Chase Slate’s 15 month intro 0% APR period on balance transfers and purchases, this card is a good pick for people looking to pay down their debt or make a large purchase.

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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:

  • Issuer: Citibank
  • Best For: Cash back
  • Bankrate Score: 94/100
  • Credit Needed: Excellent/Good
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0%
  • Intro APR Period: 18 Months
  • Regular APR: 14.99% – 24.99% Variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%

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.

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Discover it® Cash Back

With the Discover it Cash Back credit card, you can double your cash back rewards at the end of your first year of card ownership. Combined with an introductory 14 month 0% APR offer and lucrative 5% bonus cash back categories, this card stands out as one of the best reward-earning balance transfer credit cards on the market.

Card Details:

  • Issuer: Discover
  • Best For: First year bonus
  • Bankrate Score: 93/100
  • Credit Needed: Excellent/Good
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0%
  • Intro APR Period: 14 Months
  • Regular APR: 13.49% – 24.49% Variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%

Editor’s take: The Discover it Cash Back credit card is an excellent choice for anyone looking to consolidate their debt while maximizing rewards in the first year of card ownership.

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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:

  • Issuer: Chase
  • Best For: Rewards
  • Bankrate Score: 92/100
  • Credit Needed: Excellent/Good
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0%
  • Intro APR Period: 15 Months
  • Regular APR: 16.49% – 25.24% Variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5%

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.

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Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

The value of the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express is two-fold: a lengthy intro balance transfer period and the opportunity to earn a generous sign-up bonus. Combine those two features with this card’s 3% cash back offer on U.S. grocery spending up to $6,000, and it is hard to beat.

Card Details:

  • Issuer: American Express
  • Best For: Gas & Groceries
  • Bankrate Score: 89/100
  • Credit Needed: Excellent/Good
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0%
  • Intro APR Period: 15 Months
  • Regular APR: 14.49% – 25.49% Variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of $5, whichever is greater

Editor’s take: The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a credit card that will allow them to transfer their balance while earning rewards for everyday spending at U.S. gas stations, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. department stores.

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Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card has 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:

  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Best For: Travel extras
  • Bankrate Score: 93/100
  • Credit Needed: Excellent/Good
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0%
  • Intro APR Period: 9 Months
  • Regular APR: 14.49% – 24.49% Variable
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%

Editor’s take: The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit 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.

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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.

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 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 has a 21 month offer. You have to transfer the balance within four months of opening your account and there is a transfer fee of 5% or $5, whichever is greater.

You may want to compare the Chase Slate’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.

Should you use a balance transfer?

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.

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

Card Name Bankrate Score Best For
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
Chase Slate® 92/100 0% APR on purchases
Citi Double Cash Card 94/100 Cash back
Discover it® Cash Back  93/100 First year bonus
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 92/100 Simple rewards
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express 89/100 Grocery shopping
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card 93/100 Travel extras

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