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Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of December 2022

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

Balance transfer credit cards are a great way to save money while you pay off debt. These types of credit cards offer a low introductory APR -- the best balance transfer credit cards even start with an intro 0% APR. Pay off your balance before the intro period ends, and you can avoid interest fees entirely. On our list of the best balance transfer credit cards, you'll find top choices that offer the longest intro periods and the fewest fees.

Great for: Long 0% intro APR

Apply Now for Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

On Wells Fargo's Secure Website.

Rating image, 5.00 out of 5 stars.
5.00 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor

Credit Score:
Good/Excellent (670-850) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Apply Now for Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

On Wells Fargo's Secure Website.

Intro APR Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. 0% intro APR, up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers

Purchases: 0% intro APR, up to 21 months from account opening

Balance Transfers: 0% intro APR, up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers

Regular APR

16.74% - 28.74% variable APR

Rewards

N/A

Annual Fee

$0

Welcome Offer

N/A

  • A clear leader with a 0% intro APR offer that is among the longest we've come across. The card also includes an innovative intro APR extension with on-time payments. Read Full Review

    • Long 0% Intro APR offer
    • No annual fee
    • Cell phone protection
    • Balance transfer fee
    • 0% intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers. Intro APR extension for 3 months with on-time minimum payments during the intro period. 16.74% to 28.74% Variable APR thereafter; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a BT fee of up to 5%, min $5.
    • $0 Annual Fee
    • Get up to $600 of cell phone protection against damage or theft when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your eligible Wells Fargo card (subject to a $25 deductible).
    • Through My Wells Fargo Deals, you can get access to personalized deals from a variety of merchants. It's an easy way to earn cash back as an account credit when you shop, dine, or enjoy an experience simply by using an eligible Wells Fargo credit card.
    • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions

Great for: Balance transfers and cash back

Rating image, 5.00 out of 5 stars.
5.00 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor

Credit Score:
Good/Excellent (670-850) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 6 months

Balance Transfers: 0%, 18 months

Regular APR

15.74% - 26.74% Variable APR

Rewards Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. 5% cash back at different places each quarter up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically

1% - 5% Cashback

Annual Fee

$0

Welcome Offer Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Cashback Match

  • Get the best of both balance transfer and cash back worlds with this card. Not only do you get a great intro APR on balance transfers, but you also get a rich cash back program. Read Full Review

    • Great intro APR offer
    • Sign-up bonus offer
    • Robust cash back program
    • No annual fee
    • FICO® Score for free
    • No fixed bonus categories
    • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
    • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
    • Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
    • Every $1 you earn in cash back is $1 you can redeem.
    • No annual fee.
    • Click "Apply Now" to see terms and conditions.
Rating image, 5.00 out of 5 stars.
5.00 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor

Credit Score:
Good/Excellent (670-850) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Intro APR Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. N/A

Purchases: N/A

Balance Transfers: 0%, 18 months

Regular APR

17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)

Rewards Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. 2% cash back: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay

Up to 2% cash back

Annual Fee

$0

Welcome Offer

N/A

  • Earn up to 2% on purchases - 1% when you buy, and 1% when you pay the minimum each month. Add that to no annual fee and an 18 month 0% intro APR offer on balance transfers and this card is a winner. Read Full Review

    • Industry-leading cash back
    • 0% intro APR balance transfer offer
    • No annual fee
    • Free credit score monitoring
    • Foreign transaction fee
    • No 0% intro APR on purchases
    • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
    • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
    • Balance Transfer Only Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 17.74% - 27.74%, based on your creditworthiness.
    • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back. Intro APR does not apply to purchases.
    • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
    • There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).

Great for: Balance transfers and purchases

Apply Now for BankAmericard® credit card

On Bank of America's Secure Website.

Rating image, 5.00 out of 5 stars.
5.00 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor

Credit Score:
Good/Excellent (670-850) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Apply Now for BankAmericard® credit card

On Bank of America's Secure Website.

Intro APR Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. 0% Intro APR for 21 billing cycles for any purchases, or any balance transfers made in the first 60 days

Purchases: 0%, 21 billing cycles

Balance Transfers: 0%, 21 billing cycles

Regular APR

14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Rewards

N/A

Annual Fee

$0

  • Few cards in this category can compete with this offers long 0% intro APR offer. Read Full Review

    • No annual fee
    • FICO® Score for free
    • No penalty APR
    • Great 0% intro APR offer
    • No rewards
    • Balance transfer fee
    • New longer intro period! 0% Introductory APR for 21 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR will apply.  A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers.
    • No annual fee.
    • No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply.
    • Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app.
    • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
    • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Great for: Long 0% intro APR

Apply Now for Citi Simplicity® Card

On Citi's Secure Website.

Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor

Credit Score:
Good/Excellent (670-850) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Apply Now for Citi Simplicity® Card

On Citi's Secure Website.

Intro APR

Purchases: 0%, 12 months

Balance Transfers: 0%, 21 months

Regular APR

17.74% - 28.49%

Rewards

N/A

Annual Fee

$0

Welcome Offer Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening.

Lower intro balance transfer fee

  • With a long 0% intro APR offer, no late fees, no annual fee, and no penalty rate, this card is an unmatched pick. Read Full Review

    • Great intro APR
    • No annual fee
    • No late fees
    • No penalty APR
    • No rewards
    • Foreign transaction fee
    • No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
    • 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 17.74% - 28.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
    • There is an introductory balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater, for balance transfers completed within 4 months of account opening.
    • Stay protected with Citi® Quick Lock and $0 liability on unauthorized charges

Great for: Balance transfers and purchases

Apply Now for U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

On U.S. Bank's Secure Website.

Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor

Credit Score:
Good/Excellent (670-850) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Apply Now for U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

On U.S. Bank's Secure Website.

Intro APR Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 18.24% - 28.24% (Variable).

Purchases: 0%, 18 billing cycles on purchases

Balance Transfers: 0%, 18 billing cycles

Regular APR

18.24% - 28.24% (Variable)

Rewards

N/A

Annual Fee

$0

Welcome Offer

N/A

  • With an 18 billing cycle intro APR offer for both balance transfers and purchases, this is one of the best low interest credit cards we've come across. Read Full Review

    • Long 0% intro APR offer
    • No annual fee
    • Cell phone protection
    • Free credit score monitoring
    • No rewards
    • Foreign transaction fee
    • 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 18.24% - 28.24%.
    • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your U.S.Bank Visa® Platinum Credit Card. Certain terms, conditions, and exclusions apply.
    • Choose a payment due date that fits your schedule
    • No Annual Fee
    • Terms and conditions apply.
Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor

Credit Score:
Good/Excellent (670-850) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Intro APR Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. 0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any purchases, or any balance transfers made in the first 60 days

Purchases: 0%, 18 billing cycles

Balance Transfers: 0%, 18 billing cycles

Regular APR

16.99% - 26.99% Variable

Rewards Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. 3% cash back in your choice category, 2% at grocery stores & wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), 1% on all other purchases.

1% - 3% cash back

Annual Fee

$0

Welcome Offer Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. $200 online cash rewards bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening

$200 cash rewards

  • Includes a big bonus in the no-annual fee category, a great 0% intro and transfer APR offer, and a flexible cash rewards program that enables you to earn premium cash back in a category of your choice. Read Full Review

    • Competitive sign-up bonus
    • Bonus cash back in a category of your choice
    • No annual fee
    • Great 0% intro & transfer APR offer

    • Foreign transaction fee
    • Limit on bonus cash back
    • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
    • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
    • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase. That means you could earn 3.75%-5.25% cash back on purchases in your choice category.
    • No annual fee and no expiration on rewards.
    • New longer intro period! 0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 16.99% - 26.99% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers.
    • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
    • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Savvy consumers use credit card balance transfer offers to refinance or consolidate credit card debt. And when used correctly, the best balance transfer credit cards can save you hundreds of dollars in interest. To get the best results with these credit cards, it helps to understand how balance transfers work.

What is a balance transfer credit card?

Balance transfer credit cards are cards that can receive balance transfers -- a feature not offered by all credit cards. A balance transfer is moving a balance from one account to another. Once you've completed a balance transfer, the original account is paid off, and you make payments on the account that received the transfer.

You're essentially using the balance transfer card to pay off your debt. The best balance transfer credit cards come with a 0% introductory APR -- similar to 0% intro APR credit cards -- on a qualifying balance transfer. This means that you won't pay credit card interest on the balance transferred for the intro period, which can be anywhere from a few months to 20 or more billing cycles. After the introductory APR ends, the card issuer will start charging the card's regular variable APR on any remaining balance. Paying off your balance quickly will help you avoid getting an interest charge when the intro APR period ends.

The type of debt you can transfer depends on your balance transfer card. Sometimes a card issuer will only let you transfer credit card balances, whereas others let you transfer all kinds of debt. Consumers typically use balance transfer cards for credit card debt.

The total amount of the transfer plus any transfer fees must be less than the balance transfer card's credit limit. If it isn't, you'll find your balance transfer denied. You can't transfer a balance between two cards from the same card issuer, either. A balance transfer from a Chase credit card to a Citi credit card is fine, but a transfer between two Chase credit cards wouldn't be allowed.

What is a balance transfer fee?

A balance transfer fee is a fee charged for moving a balance onto a new credit card. The balance transfer fee is charged by the balance transfer card (the card that receives the balance). It's typically between 3% and 5%.

The balance transfer fee is charged as a percentage of the amount transferred and typically added to your overall credit card balance. For example, if you transfer $1,000 to a credit card with a 3% balance transfer fee, you'll be charged a $30 balance transfer fee. Your new balance on the balance transfer card will be $1,030.

How to do a balance transfer

Here are a few steps on how to do a balance transfers:

  1. Search for one of the best balance transfer credit cards. Try to find a card with a long enough intro period so that you'll be able to pay off your debt within that time frame.
  2. Open the card and transfer the balance. You'll need the credit card number of the card with the balance as well as the amount to transfer. Most card issuers let you transfer balances online. So you'll log in to the account for your balance transfer card and look for the balance transfer option. Alternatively, you can call the credit card company and do the balance transfer by phone.
  3. Make your payments. You're still required to make payments on the original card until the balance transfer is processed. You'll know that has happened once the original card balance changes. From this point on, you'll make payments on the balance transfer card.

How to do a balance transfer with Chase

Balance transfers with Chase can be completed by logging into your Chase account and doing the following:

  1. Click "Transfer a balance." You can find this option in multiple locations. On the Account Summary page, it will be underneath the balance transfer card's available credit. On the credit card's page, it will be available in the "Things you can do" drop-down menu.
  2. Select a balance transfer offer. Chase will list any balance transfer offers available for the card you chose. Click on the offer you want, and then click "Next."
  3. Enter the required information. You'll need to provide the full card number for the credit card with the balance and the balance transfer amount.
  4. Submit the balance transfer.

How to do a balance transfer with Discover

Balance transfers with Discover can be done by going to your online Discover account and following these steps:

  1. Click "Balance Transfers." There's a "Manage" option at the top of your account page, and underneath, you'll find the "Balance Transfers" link.
  2. Select a balance transfer offer. Depending on which Discover credit cards you have, there may be multiple balance transfer offers available to you.
  3. Fill out the form. Discover will ask you for the balance transfer amount and the credit card number of the card with the balance.
  4. Submit the balance transfer.

How to do a balance transfer with Wells Fargo

Balance transfers with Wells Fargo are available through your online Wells Fargo account when you follow these steps:

  1. Click "Request Balance Transfer." To find this option, place the cursor over "Accounts" and look under the "Manage Cards" heading.
  2. Select a balance transfer offer. The offers available will depend on which Wells Fargo credit cards you have.
  3. Complete the balance transfer form. Wells Fargo asks for the creditor name, credit card number, and transfer amount.
  4. Submit the balance transfer.

What happens to the old credit card after the balance transfer?

The credit card that originally had the balance will remain open after the balance transfer. Although you can continue using it, you should strongly consider waiting until you've paid off all your credit card debt. You don't want to make the same mistakes and run up a costly balance.

How to compare balance transfer credit cards

Comparing credit cards is all about saving the most money, and choosing one of the best balance transfer credit cards can save you big.

Here are the steps to compare balance transfer offers:

  1. Check the length of the offers. Most of the best credit card balance transfer deals have 0% intro APRs, so you can compare them by how long their intro offers last. If you need as much time as possible to pay off debt, pick the card with the longest 0% intro APR.
  2. See which cards have balance transfer fees. Free balance transfer credit cards help you avoid extra fees, but they may not have the longest 0% intro offers. You'll need to calculate whether you'll pay less with a longer intro offer or by not paying balance transfer fees. Use our balance transfer calculator to see how much you could save with a balance transfer.
  3. Use other features as a tiebreaker. You may find that multiple balance transfer credit cards are dead even. In that case, you can choose one based on other features the cards offer, such as cash rewards or a welcome bonus. For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is one of the best balance transfer credit cards and one of the best cash rewards credit cards.

Avoiding other fees, such as an annual fee or late fee, is also smart. The Citi Simplicity® Card card doesn't charge a late fee, although you should avoid making late payments as you can lose your 0% intro APR offer. None of the cards on this list charge an annual fee. You should avoid cards with an annual fee, as it can eat into any savings you get from the introductory APR.

To learn more about how to pick the best balance transfer credit card, check out the video below.

Does a balance transfer affect your credit score?

Balance transfers can hurt and help your credit. When you use a balance transfer card, it affects three factors used to calculate your credit score:

  • New credit (10% of your FICO® Score): The credit card application will cause a hard credit inquiry, which negatively affects the new credit category. It's not a serious issue, though, as most consumers only see their FICO® Scores drop five points or less from a hard inquiry.
  • Length of credit account history (15% of your FICO® Score): A new credit card causes your average length of credit account history to decrease, and this can hurt your credit.
  • Credit utilization (30% of your FICO® Score): Your new balance transfer card's credit limit will increase your total credit, causing your credit utilization to go down. That's good for your credit score. But your credit utilization on each individual card is also important. If you end up with high credit utilization on the balance transfer card, then that could have a negative impact.

Although your credit score may or may not drop after a balance transfer, it will likely go up as you pay down your credit card debt. After all, building a positive payment history is one of the best ways to rebuild credit. And a balance transfer credit card allows you to do that faster while also saving on interest.

Is there a limit to how much you can transfer?

You can never transfer a balance that's larger than your credit limit. Some balance transfer credit cards will only let you transfer up to a percentage of your credit limit -- usually 70% to 95% -- while others will let you reach your credit limit. Keep in mind that any balance transfer fees will add to your balance as well. If you're transferring a $1,000 balance to a card with a 3% balance transfer fee, you'll need a credit limit big enough to cover a $1,030 balance.

Is a balance transfer credit card right for you?

It's important to consider the benefits and drawbacks of doing a balance transfer with a balance transfer credit card. While the best balance transfer credit cards can save you hundreds in interest, they can also end up costing you.

A balance transfer credit card is a good idea if:

  • You want a lower interest rate. The biggest perk of 0% intro APR balance transfer credit cards is how much money they can save you. If you have credit card debt that you'll be paying off over six months or longer, then a balance transfer could lead to big savings.
  • You want to consolidate debt. When you have debt spread out across multiple credit cards, it can be difficult to manage. A balance transfer card allows you to consolidate debt so you only need to make one payment per month.
  • You're trying to boost your credit score. Credit card debt often results in a high credit utilization ratio, a factor that has a big impact on your credit score. Since opening a balance transfer card adds to your total credit, it will lower your credit utilization. That balance transfer could save you money and raise your credit score.

A balance transfer credit card is not a good idea if:

  • You don't have a plan to pay off your debt. A balance transfer only helps if you take advantage of the opportunity by paying off as much debt as possible before the intro APR period ends, and you don't overspend now that your debt isn't costing you any interest. Otherwise, you could reach the end of the intro period with the same amount of debt or more.
  • You have subpar credit. To qualify for the top balance transfer credit cards, you'll typically need good credit. If your credit is bad or average, it's a good idea to focus on building your credit. That way you don't need to settle for a subpar balance transfer card.
  • You could pay off existing credit card debt within a few months. When you're this close to paying off your debt, it's usually better to stick with your current credit card. A balance transfer fee could wipe out anything you'd save on interest. Even if it's a balance transfer credit card with no fee, the credit card application will still take time and cause a small dip in your credit score.

Alternatives to balance transfers

If you're not sure that a balance transfer credit card is the best option for you, consider these alternatives:

Personal loans for debt consolidation

By paying your debts with a personal loan, you'll have a fixed loan term, payment amount, and interest rate. Consolidating debt is a great way to ensure you can afford your monthly payments and get your debt paid off in full. Even though debt consolidation loans don't offer 0% intro APRs, you can find personal loans with low interest rates. You also won't need to worry about the APR going up like it does with balance transfer cards at the end of the intro period.

Home equity loans/home equity lines of credit

Since a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC) uses your home as collateral, they tend to offer some of the lowest interest rates you can find. Either is an affordable way to pay off debt, but you will need equity in your home to qualify. The fact that your home is the collateral also adds to your risk.

Nonprofit credit counseling agencies

When you work with a credit counseling agency, it can give you advice on how to budget and pay back your debts. A credit counseling agency can also negotiate a debt management plan with your creditors. This option can be especially helpful if your credit isn't the best, as it's hard to find balance transfer credit cards for bad credit.

Negotiating your credit card debt

Credit card companies are often willing to negotiate your credit card debt with you if you're having trouble making your monthly payments. Some might even have low interest credit cards you can consider. Many offer hardship plans that can reduce your card's interest rate, fees, or minimum payment amount. Even if your card issuer doesn't, you may still be able to negotiate any of those items.

The Picks
Card Rating Great For
Rating image, 5.00 out of 5 stars.
5.00 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Great For:

Long 0% intro APR

Rating image, 5.00 out of 5 stars.
5.00 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Great For:

Balance transfers and cash back

Rating image, 5.00 out of 5 stars.
5.00 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Great For:

Balance transfers and cash back

Rating image, 5.00 out of 5 stars.
5.00 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Great For:

Balance transfers and purchases

Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Long 0% intro APR

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Balance transfers and purchases

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Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Rewards

FAQs

  • You usually need a FICO® Score of 670 or higher to qualify for a balance transfer credit card. Most balance transfer cards, especially the ones with a 0% intro APR, are intended for consumers who have good or excellent credit.

  • A standard balance transfer fee is 3% or 5% of the transaction amount with a $5 minimum. To find out how much a specific credit card charges, check the fees section in its pricing and terms.

  • A balance transfer card alone most likely won't affect your ability to get a mortgage, but credit card debt could.

    Lenders check your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio when you apply for a mortgage. If you have a high DTI ratio due to credit card debt, that could negatively impact your mortgage application. Large amounts of credit card debt can also affect your credit score, which is another item that mortgage lenders consider.

  • A balance transfer credit card can accept balance transfers from other cards. When you set up a balance transfer, your balance transfer card is paying off your other credit card(s). The amount you transfer will be taken off the original credit card and put onto the balance transfer card.

  • You could see a small drop or increase in your credit score after completing a balance transfer. This could be due to new inquiries on your credit report, a change in your average age of accounts, or changes in your credit utilization rate. Over time, as you pay off your balances and avoid late payments, you should see your credit score improve.

  • A balance transfer can take anywhere from two days to six weeks. It depends on multiple factors, including the card issuers of both cards and whether you're a new cardholder for the balance transfer card. Capital One takes about 10 business days. Bank of America, Discover, and U.S. Bank all take up to 14 days or two weeks. Chase and Citi take up to 21 days. These are maximums, so in many cases, your balance will transfer more quickly.

Ask the experts

Francisca Beer, Ph.D.

Francisca Beer, Ph.D.

Professor of Finance, California State University, San Bernardino

Who would be a good candidate for a balance transfer credit card?

Meticulous and knowledgeable consumers who are serious about paying down debt. Balance transfers can be problematic for customers for several reasons. Some customers overlook that a transfer means making monthly payments even if the APR is 0%. Others do not account for the transfer fee when evaluating the benefits of a transfer. Yet others do not understand the impact of a transfer on their credit limit when they use an existing card. Some do not understand when penalty rates will be applied.

Do you need good credit for a balance transfer credit card?

The transfer request will most probably be rejected when a customer has filed for a bankruptcy in the past. Transfers might also be declined for customers with past due payments or a low credit score. In some cases, the credit score is used to calculate the length of the 0% introduction period.

What do consumers need to know about 0% intro APR offers?

Generally speaking, if the balance transferred can be paid off within the 0% APR intro period, the transfer is probably a good idea. If the balance cannot be paid within that period of time, it's important to know what the APR will be. It's probably better to avoid using the card for anything else than paying the transfer balance. So customers should steer clear of using the card for both transfer and new purchases.

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