- Best balance transfer credit cards compared
- Balance transfer guide for beginners
- About the author
- User questions & answers
- Expert opinions
|Balance Transfer Card
|Intro Balance Transfer APR
|Balance Transfer Fee
|U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
|0% for 21 billing cycles
|3% (min $5)
|Fifth Third 1% Cash/Back Card
|0% for 21 months
|4% (min $5)
|Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
|0% for 21 months
|5% (min $5)
|Wells Fargo Reflect® Card
|0% for 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers
|5% (min $5)
|BankAmericard® credit card
|0% for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
Most of the best transfer credit cards require at least good credit for approval. So if you’re not sure where you stand, you may want tocheck your latest credit score for free on WalletHubbefore you apply.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the very best balance transfer credit card you can get is none at all. So once you’ve paid off what you owe, turn your focus tobudgetingand making sure you don’t get into debt again.To learn more, check out our balance transfer guide.
To identify the best balance transfer credit cards, WalletHub’s editors regularly compare 1,500+ credit card offers, focusing on each card’s introductory balance transfer APR, balance transfer fee, regular APR, annual fee and approval requirements. In order to take all of these factors into account, we consider the cost associated with paying off a particular credit card balance over 24 months, usingWalletHub’s balance transfer calculator.
We use a $5,000 balance for people with good credit or excellent credit, a $3,000 balance for fair credit, and a $1,000 balance for limited credit or bad credit. Other factors, such as rewards, are used as a tiebreaker.
After crunching the numbers, we conclude the process by picking the best deals in the most popular categories, including for each credit level.
WalletHub actively maintains a database of 1,500+ credit card offers, from which we select the best balance transfer credit cards for different applicants as well as derive market-wide takeaways and trends. The underlying data is compiled from credit card company websites or provided directly by the credit card issuers. We also leverage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to develop cardholder profiles, used to estimate cards’ potential savings.
What Is a Balance Transfer?
A balance transfer is a type of credit card transaction that basically allows you to move your debt from one lender to another. More specifically, you pay off a debt owed to another lender using your card, thereby moving the balance to the card, in order to reduce the cost of that debt or consolidate multiple monthly payments into one. Some credit card companies allow you to transfer pretty much any type of debt to your card, while others will only accept credit card debt from another issuer.
The best balance transfer offers include a 0% introductory APR for transferred debt that lasts for nearly two years. In return for this interest-free period, balance transfer credit cards typically charge a fee equal to a percentage of any balance that you transfer. A high regular APR also applies to any balance remaining when the introductory period ends.
Learn more about what a balance transfer is and how it works.
What Is a Balance Transfer Fee?
A balance transfer fee is a charge equal to a percentage of the balance transferred to a credit card or a flat dollar amount, whichever is higher. For example, a typical balance transfer fee is the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount. The balance transfer fee is added to the amount transferred and becomes part of your balance.
Balance transfer fees can range from $0 to 5% of the amount transferred. However, it is rare for a credit card with a 0% introductory balance transfer APR to also offer a $0 transfer fee. The average balance transfer fee is currently 3.12%.
Learn more about balance transfer fees.
What Is a Balance Transfer Credit Card?
A balance transfer credit card is a card designed to help you pay off an existing debt at a better interest rate. Most cards have the option to transfer balances, though the ones designated as “balance transfer cards” generally offer low introductory interest rates on transfers and sometimes have low transfer fees. Learn more.
How Much Can You Save With a 0% Balance Transfer?
You can save hundreds of dollars on interest charges with a 0% balance transfer credit card, depending on how much you owe, what your current interest rate is, what kind of balance transfer deal you can qualify for, and how quickly you’re able to pay off your balance after transferring it.
WalletHub’s handy balance transfer calculator can give you a better sense of exactly how much you might be able to save.
How to Choose a Balance Transfer Credit Card
Choosing a balance transfer credit card begins with checking your credit score. Knowing your score will help you determine which cards to consider and whether you can qualify for a worthwhile offer. Most 0% balance transfer cards require good credit or better for approval.
Once you’ve narrowed down the field to cards you can qualify for, you’ll want to compare a variety of features that can affect the total cost of your transfer. They include each card’s:
- Introductory balance transfer APR (both the amount and how long it lasts)
- Balance transfer fee
- Regular APR
- Annual fee
It’s important to consider these features in the context of your particular situation, especially how long it will take you to pay off your transferred debt. For example, if a credit card offers 0% for 12 months and it takes you 15 months to get out of debt, then the regular APR will be especially important to consider.
The easiest way to take everything into account is to use a balance transfer calculator. We’ve also got more tips to help you choose a balance transfer credit card if you’re interested.
How to Do a Balance Transfer
The best way to do a balance transfer is to apply for a new credit card with a low balance transfer APR and low fees. The new card’s issuer will pay your original creditor for the amount transferred, and you will then owe that amount, plus abalance transfer feeof 0% - 3%+, to the new card’s issuer.
Here are the steps involved:
Check your credit score
Balance transfer credit cards with 0% APRs usually requiregood creditor better for approval. Knowingyour credit scorewill make it easier to compare relevant credit card offers.
Find the best balance transfer card for you
Compare cardsbased on their balance transfer APRs, balance transfer fees, and annual fees. Also, consider how much you can afford to pay each month. Using abalance transfer calculatorcan help.
Apply for your balance transfer cardSee AlsoU.S. debt is growing at a record pace. Here are 9 of the best balance transfer credit cards right now, some with 0% interest for up to 21 months
Fill out the application with your personal and financial information, including the section of the application for requesting a balance transfer. Provide the account number and the amount you want to transfer to make the request. It’s best to ask for a balance transfer when you apply because promotional 0% APR periods start as soon as the account opens.
Keep making payments
Keep up payments to your original creditor until the balance transfer goes through, or you could be marked aspast-due. You will be credited for any payments made during this period after the transfer gets processed.
Receive a decision
The issuer may allow you to transfer the full amount that you request or offer to transfer part of the balance instead. Or, your balance transfer request could be denied, depending on your creditworthiness and available funds.
Pay the rest of the balance
Try to pay off a transferred balance before your new credit card’s low introductory APR expires. A high regular rate will apply to any balance remaining at that time. If you still have a balance on your original account, continue repaying that as well.
Learn more about how to do a balance transfer.
How Long Does a Balance Transfer Take?
A balance transfer usually takes 14 to 21 days from when you submit abalance transfer credit cardapplication. But depending on the issuer, it could take as few as 3 days or as many as 42. To make a balance transfer take as little time as possible, apply online so the issuer can review your application sooner.
See how long a balance transfer takes each major issuer.
Should You Get a Balance Transfer Credit Card?
You should get a balance transfer credit card if it will save you money. To determine whether a balance transfer card will save you money, use abalance transfer calculator to compare the cost of sticking with your current card or loan to the savings available from the latest balance transfer offers.
You will also need good credit or better to qualify for thebest balance transfer cards. If you don’t know where you stand, you cancheck your credit score for free, right here on WalletHub.
Learn more about when it’s wise to do a balance transfer.
Pros and Cons of Balance Transfer Credit Cards
|Cards with 0% introductory APR promotions are common.
|Balance transfer fees can be costly.
|You can reduce the cost of debt and pay it off sooner.
|Most cards have a high regular APR.
|You can consolidate multiple balances.
|Most cards require good or excellent credit.
|Your credit score could improve in the long run.
|You could rack up more debt if you don’t pay off what you owe or adjust your spending.
|Some cards offer 0% purchases, rewards on purchases, and useful benefits.
|Your credit score could drop for a short period of time after you apply.
Learn more about the pros and cons of balance transfers.
How to Make the Most of Your 0% Balance Transfer
To make the most of a balance transfer, you first need to identify the card with the best combination of a long 0% period and low fees that you can qualify for, then apply for it, get approved and transfer your balance before the window to enjoy promotional terms expires. After that, pay at least the minimum amount required by the due date each month and bring your balance to zero before the regular APR takes effect. Setting up automatic monthly payments for the necessary amount can be a big help with this.
In many cases, it’s best to refrain from using your balance transfer credit card to make new purchases. This can make it harder to budget the payments needed to get out of debt on schedule, and your purchases might accrue interest if you don’t pay in full monthly.
Learn more about how to maximize your balance transfer.
Alternatives to a Balance Transfer
The best alternatives to a balance transfer with a credit card are unsecured personal loans, secured loans, and debt management programs.
The terms offered by secured and unsecured loans won’t be as good of a deal as a 0% APR balance transfer, however. Debt management programs are a good option if the debt situation is more dire - that is, if the monthly payment has become unaffordable.
About the Author
John S Kiernan
John Kiernan has covered the credit card industry for more than 10 years as a writer and editor for WalletHub. His work has been featured by major media outlets such as The Washington Post and The New York Times and has been cited by industry regulators such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
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I am John S Kiernan, a seasoned expert in the credit card industry with over a decade of experience as a writer and editor for WalletHub. My comprehensive knowledge and insights have been featured by major media outlets such as The Washington Post and The New York Times, and my expertise has been recognized by industry regulators, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Now, let's delve into the key concepts and information provided in the article on the best balance transfer credit cards:
- The article employs a rigorous methodology to identify the best balance transfer credit cards. WalletHub's editors review over 1,500 credit card offers, considering factors such as introductory balance transfer APR, balance transfer fee, regular APR, annual fee, and approval requirements.
- The cost associated with paying off a specific credit card balance over 24 months is calculated using WalletHub's balance transfer calculator, with different balance amounts based on credit levels.
- WalletHub actively maintains a database of 1,500+ credit card offers, utilizing data compiled from credit card company websites and information provided directly by credit card issuers.
- Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is leveraged to develop cardholder profiles, estimating potential savings and deriving market-wide takeaways and trends.
Balance Transfer Guide for Beginners:
- Defines a balance transfer as a credit card transaction allowing the movement of debt from one lender to another to reduce costs or consolidate payments.
- Highlights that the best balance transfer offers include a 0% introductory APR for almost two years, with a fee charged on the transferred balance.
- Emphasizes that balance transfer credit cards are designed to help pay off existing debt at a better interest rate, often featuring low introductory rates and transfer fees.
Balance Transfer Fee:
- Explains that a balance transfer fee is a charge, either a percentage of the balance transferred or a flat dollar amount (whichever is higher).
- Notes that fees can range from $0 to 5%, with the average balance transfer fee currently at 3.12%.
Balance Transfer Credit Card:
- Defines a balance transfer credit card as a card designed to help pay off existing debt at a more favorable interest rate.
- Mentions that these cards generally offer low introductory interest rates on transfers and sometimes have low transfer fees.
How Much Can You Save With a 0% Balance Transfer:
- Emphasizes potential savings of hundreds of dollars on interest charges with a 0% balance transfer card, depending on factors like the amount owed, current interest rate, and repayment speed.
Choosing a Balance Transfer Credit Card:
- Recommends checking credit score to determine eligibility.
- Advises comparing various features of balance transfer cards, including introductory APR, transfer fee, regular APR, and annual fee, considering individual circumstances.
How to Do a Balance Transfer:
- Outlines steps involved, including checking credit score, comparing cards, applying for the chosen card, making payments during the transfer process, and paying off the balance before the introductory APR expires.
How Long Does a Balance Transfer Take:
- States that a balance transfer usually takes 14 to 21 days, depending on the issuer.
Should You Get a Balance Transfer Credit Card:
- Suggests getting a balance transfer card if it will save money, and provides a method to determine potential savings using a balance transfer calculator.
Pros and Cons of Balance Transfer Credit Cards:
- Lists pros, such as 0% introductory APR promotions, debt reduction, and potential credit score improvement.
- Lists cons, including balance transfer fees, high regular APRs, and the possibility of accumulating more debt.
How to Make the Most of Your 0% Balance Transfer:
- Advises identifying the card with the best combination of a long 0% period and low fees, making timely payments, and paying off the balance before the regular APR takes effect.
Alternatives to a Balance Transfer:
- Mentions alternatives like unsecured personal loans, secured loans, and debt management programs, highlighting that terms may not be as favorable as a 0% APR balance transfer.
About the Author - John S Kiernan:
- Provides a brief biography of John S Kiernan, highlighting his extensive experience covering the credit card industry and the recognition of his work by major media outlets and industry regulators.
This comprehensive guide, written by an industry expert, covers the intricacies of balance transfers, providing valuable information for individuals seeking to make informed decisions about their credit card choices.