The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

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The 30-Second Review

The best balance transfer credit cards are designed to help you consolidate debt. You only make one payment on one card instead of two or three or four payments on different (typically high-interest) cards. We reviewed over 50 to find our favorites: ones with lengthy 0% APR grace periods and low, or even no, transfer fees.

56
Credit Cards
5
Favorites
Our Favorite

The best introductory offer around: no balance transfer fees for 60 days and 0% intro APR for 15 months.

Some Other Top Picks

If you’ve got a lot of debt, you’re probably very familiar with the whole “make a payment every month; watch interest eat up half of that payment” thing. Even if you’re making more than the minimum payments on your credit cards, you’re still seeing a lot of your hard work — and money — go straight to interest payments, thanks to credit card APRs that might be anywhere from 12 to 25%. It can make those debts seem insurmountable.

Our Favorite

Chase Slate® $0 intro balance transfer fee
0% introductory APR

But everyone’s debt is different, and there are lots of different balance transfer credit cards to choose from. Our favorite is Chase Slate® because it has the best introductory offer out there: No balance transfer fees for 60 days, and 0% intro APR for 15 months. No other cards have that double-whammy of savings, making it especially appealing if you’re transferring a lot of debt.

If you’ve done the math and know you need a little more time to pay off your balance, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has the longest 0% intro APR grace period of them all — a whopping 21 months. And for those who want to pay down old debt, but are ready to take on “new debt” responsibly, there are balance transfer credit cards that offer perks. Our favorite is the Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer, which offers 5% cashback on rotating product categories, 1% cashback on everything else, and a gracious 18 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers.

Our only caveat is that all of the best balance transfer credit cards are for people with at least average — if not good or excellent — credit. Our pick for a poor credit balance transfer credit card is the Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee, which requires a cash security deposit to open the card, but then offers a relatively low 10.99% APR for the first six months.

Our Picks for the Best Balance Transfer Cards

Best If You Have a Big Balance

Chase Slate® $0 balance transfer fee for 60 days and 0% intro APR for 15 months.

Chase Slate® is the only balance transfer credit card that offers both a $0 intro balance transfer fee and 0% introductory APR. If you’ve got a lot of debt to transfer, this might be the right card for you. Let’s break it down:

If you’re looking to transfer a large amount of credit card debt in order to pay it off interest-free, Chase Slate® lets you make that transfer without paying any fees. Other cards charge balance transfer fees of at least 3%, which means an extra $3 is tacked on to your debt for every $100 you transfer. If you have $5,000 in credit card debt, that’s an extra $150 you won’t have to pay if you use Chase Slate®.

Don’t dillydally though: That no-transfer fee expires after 60 days — if your account has been open for longer than that, balance transfers include a 5% fee.

Chase Slate® also offers a 0% introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 15 months after you open your account. After 15 months, expect a variable 13.24% to 23.24% APR depending on your creditworthiness.

(Heads-up: If you currently have a Chase credit card with promotional pricing, you will not be eligible for a second Chase promotional pricing offer. If you already have a Chase credit card in a similar Chase Rewards Program, you may not be eligible for Chase Slate®.)

  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Monthly FICO® Score and Credit Dashboard for free
  • No Penalty APR – Paying late won’t raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply
  • $0 Annual Fee

Longest 0% Intro APR Period

Citi Simplicity® Card – No Late Fees Ever 3% balance transfer fee and 0% intro APR for 21 months — plus no late fees.

The Citi Simplicity® Card – No Late Fees Ever charges a 3% balance transfer fee, but once you’re done with that, it offers 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 21 months — the longest of any card out there. Even better: there is no penalty or fee for making a late payment. If you need to work down your debt slowly by making smaller payments over a longer period of time — and are worried you might slip here and there — this is a great option.

What do “smaller payments” look like in reality? If you have $3,000 in credit card debt, paying it off over 21 months means making payments of $143 per month (plus the initial 3% balance transfer fee, which would be $90 in this example). Paying your $3,000 debt off on a balance transfer card like Chase Slate®, which offers a 15-month 0% intro APR, means contributing $200 per month. Paying it off in 12 months tallies up to $250 per month.

The caveats: You must make your balance transfers within the first four months of opening the account, and this card is really only for people with good or excellent credit — something to consider before applying.

Best If You Want Cashback Rewards

Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer 5% cashback on rotating categories, 1% cashback on everything else, and 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months.

There are actually two Discover cards we like for balance transferring that also offer cashback rewards: the Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer card and the Discover it® Cashback Match™ card. We’ll start with their similarities — their cashback rewards.

Both cards earn 5% cashback in different purchase categories that change every quarter (gas, for example, and then restaurants) and 1% on every other purchase. Discover will also match the cashback rewards new members accrue in their first year for both cards: “You could turn $200 into $400 with Cashback MatchTM,” the ads say.

Their differences lie in their balance transfer offerings, and the one that is right for you depends on your debt and your spending habits.

The Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer card has a 3% balance transfer fee, then offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months, and a 0% intro APR on purchases for six months. That means you have 18 months to pay off the outstanding debt you transferred to your card interest-free, but you’ll start paying interest (expect a variable APR of 11.24% – 23.24%) on any new debt after six months.

Another Great Rewards Option

Discover it® Cashback Match™ Same rewards, but 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months.

This card is good for people who have a large amount of “old debt” that they’re working to pay off, but are also ready to manage “new debt” responsibly and pay it off in full every month.

The Discover it® Cashback Match™ card also has a 3% balance transfer fee, but offers 0% intro APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 12 months — a little less time to pay off your balance transfer than The Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer card, but a little more time to pay off any new debt interest-free.

If you’re using your balance transfer credit card for day-to-day purchases, having a card that offers cashback rewards makes sense. However, don’t let a cashback rewards program lure you into additional debt; make sure you pay off those new purchases in full every month.

One more thing to be aware of: Some merchants do not accept Discover, so make sure it isn’t the only payment tool in your wallet.

Best If You Have Poor Credit

Discover it® Secured Card – No Annual Fee A relatively low 10.99% introductory APR for six months.

The Discover it® Secured Card – No Annual Fee is designed to help you build or rebuild your credit. It’s a “secured card,” which means you pay Discover a security deposit that is equal to the credit line they offer you (a $500 deposit for a $500 credit line, and so on).

Those with poor credit don’t get the perk of a 0% APR, but we liked the Discover it® Secured Card – No Annual Fee because it has a relatively low 10.99% into APR on balance transfers for the first six months, which is a lot better than the 20% or more you pay on high-interest credit cards. As you build up your credit score, you’ll be eligible for better credit card options with lower and lower APRs.

We also liked the Discover it® Secured Card because it lets you earn cash back right away: 2% on restaurants and gas stations (up to $1,000 in purchases every quarter) and 1% on all other purchases. Discover will even match your cash back earnings after 12 months if you are a new cardmember.

To take advantage of the Discover it® Secured Card – No Annual Fee, you have to transfer your balance within four months of opening the account, and once that six-month introductory period is over, you’ll pay 23.24% APR on any unpaid balance transfers, as well as on all new purchases.

Our Top Picks at a Glance

0% Intro APR Period

Balance Transfer Fee

Balance Transfer Window

APR After Intro Period

Cashback Rewards

Chase Slate®

15 mo.

0% for 60 days / 5% after

Ongoing

13.24% to 23.24%

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

21 mo.

3%

4 mo.

13.24% to 23.24%

Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

18 mo. balance transfer / 6 mo. for new purchases

3%

4 mo.

11.24% to 23.24%

X

Discover it® Cashback Match™

12 mo. balance transfer and new purchases

3%

4 mo.

11.24% to 23.24%

X

Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee

N/A*

3%

4 mo.

23.24%

X

*0% intro APR is not available with the Discover it® Secured Card – No Annual Fee card.

How to Choose the Best Card for You

Only you can determine which balance transfer credit card is your best option, but here is a list of questions to consider as you make your decision:

What’s your credit score?

Take a look at your credit score before you start applying because some of the best balance transfer cards are only available to people with good or excellent credit. If you have good or excellent credit, consider Chase Slate®. If you have poor credit, consider the Discover it® Secured Card – No Annual Fee.

Where’s your debt coming from?

None of the credit cards on our list allow you to transfer debt from another credit card within the same issuing system — Chase Slate® won’t let you transfer debt from other Chase cards or from loans made by Chase and its affiliates; you can’t transfer Citi debt onto the Citi Simplicity® Card – No Late Fees Ever.

So take a look at your debt. If the majority of the balance you’re carrying is on Discover cards, you don’t want to apply for any of our Discover options, and so on and so on. Don’t get stuck with a balance transfer credit card that you can’t use to transfer balances.

How much debt are you trying to pay down?

We don’t know what credit limit you’ll get on your new balance transfer credit card, but if your outstanding debt is higher than your balance transfer card’s credit limit, you’re going to need to make more than one balance transfer to get everything paid off and to take advantage of the 0% intro APR period.

Remember: Chase Slate® charges a 5% balance transfer fee for all balances transferred after the first 60 days, and all of the Citi and Discover cards on our list only allow you to transfer balances for the first four months after opening your account.

How much of a monthly payment can you afford?

Take a look at your household budget and figure how much money you can put aside every month to pay off your outstanding debts. Then see which balance transfer card allows you to fully pay off those debts, with the monthly payment you can afford, in the 0% intro APR period available.

Some of us will be able to pay off our outstanding debts within a year. Others will be better off making smaller monthly payments and looking for balance transfer cards that offer 0% intro APRs for 15 months, like Chase Slate®; 18 months, like the Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer; or 21 months, like the Citi Simplicity® Card – No Late Fees Ever.

Are you planning to also use this credit card for day-to-day purchases?

If you’re planning to use this card to make day-to-day purchases, consider one of the Discover it® cards so you can take advantage of the cashback rewards. Pay off your new purchases in full every month so you don’t accumulate new debt.

Are you planning to also use this credit card to finance a large purchase?

If you are thinking about using a balance transfer card’s 0% intro APR period to both transfer a balance and finance a new large purchase, such as an upcoming vacation, you wouldn’t be the first person to make this decision.

In that case, stay away from the Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer card, because it only gives you a 0% intro APR on purchases for the first six months — unless you know you can pay that large purchase off before the six-month period expires.

Is your income variable?

If you don’t receive steady paychecks, consider a card like the Citi Simplicity® Card – No Late Fees Ever, which doesn’t penalize you for late payments.

Did You Know?

Don’t close out your cards after you transfer your balances.

You might be tempted to close your old credit cards after you transfer your balances, but it’s better to keep them open. Your credit score is partially based on the amount of debt you have compared to the amount of credit available to you, and you want that debt-vs.-credit number to be as low as possible.

For example, if you have $1,500 on Card A (with a $3,000 credit limit) and $500 on Card B (with a $3,000 credit limit), you have $2,000 in debt and $6,000 in available credit. If you get a balance transfer card with a $5,000 credit limit and transfer both of those debts to the card, you now have $2,000 in debt and $11,000 in available credit — which is better for your credit score.

There’s another reason to keep those cards open, and it has to do with what credit score services call “age of credit.” Simply put, the longer you’ve been able to keep a credit account open, the better it looks on your credit score. Close those accounts and you lose all of that good credit you’ve built up.

When should you close out an old credit card? Consider closing out an old card if it has an annual fee. You don’t need to pay $100 or so every year for a credit card you’re not actively using.

Our Favorite

Chase Slate® 0% intro balance transfer fee
0% introductory APR

Transferring a balance can help you get a better credit card.

As your credit score goes up, better credit cards — with better interest rates and rewards — become available to you. Applying for a balance transfer credit card and successfully transferring and paying down a balance will likely make your credit score increase. Once your score is high enough, you can apply for one of those cards designed for people with good or excellent credit, and reap the rewards (think cashback, airline points, the works!). Just make sure to pay off that balance every month.

If your balance transfer card’s credit limit is less than your outstanding credit card debt, transfer your highest interest debt first.

Let’s say you have $5,000 in outstanding credit card debt, but your new balance transfer card only has a $3,000 credit limit. Look at your outstanding credit card debt and figure out which card is charging you the most interest. Transfer that debt first. As you start to pay off your balance transfer credit card, you can continue to transfer more outstanding debt.

The Bottom Line

Balance transfers can be great ways to consolidate debt, and the best balance transfer cards offer no-fee transfers or 0% intro APRs so you can pay off those balances while saving money.

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