Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of October 2019

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If you’re paying off high-interest debt, using a balance transfer credit card with a long 0% introductory rate can save you money and time. The best balance transfer credit cards offer introductory APR periods for more than one year, and some even reduce balance transfer fees. We’ve reviewed the latest card offers and these are the best balance transfer options available right now: 

Editors' Picks

Best Overall

Citi Simplicity®

Our Rating Among Balance Transfer Cards
5.0
Citi Simplicity®
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.49% - 26.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 21 Months
Intro Balance Transfer Fee This card does not offer an introductory balance transfer fee.

Why We Chose This Card

This generous card wins several balance transfer card awards in our book. It boasts the longest 0% balance transfer APR available right now, giving you nearly two years to pay off transferred debt interest-free. Long interest-free periods can take some pressure off your budget and help you stay on track with debt repayment. This card also wins for the longest time to make 0% APR transfers, so you won’t be rushed to make transfers.

Best for Earning Rewards

Citi® Double Cash Card

Our Rating Among Balance Transfer Cards
4.6
Citi® Double Cash Card
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.74% - 25.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2% unlimited cash back on every purchase you make: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 3%

Why We Chose This Card

It’s not often a quality balance transfer card also offers good rewards, but this card does. Rewards give you a reason to keep using this card well after you’ve paid off your balance transfers. In addition to a lengthy 0% balance transfer APR offer, it has the highest flat-rate, cash-back earning rate among similar cards. It’s easy to use, too, as there are no purchase categories to watch, no reward earning limit, or annual fee

Best Introductory Balance-Transfer Fee

Chase Slate®

Our Rating Among Balance Transfer Cards
4.6
Chase Slate®
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Fair - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.99% - 25.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 15 Months
Intro Balance Transfer Fee There is an introductory fee of $0 during the first 60 days your account is open.

Why We Chose This Card

Act quickly and this card won’t charge you a balance transfer fee on top of the 0% APR offer, which is a superior deal. Balance transfer fees can add up fast if you transfer large balances, so it’s great, but rare, when a card offers a fee discount. This is also the best balance transfer card for those with fair credit. Overall, it’s an attainable, low-cost card we recommend if you’re looking for a way to reduce pricey debt.

Best With a Low Ongoing APR

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Our Rating Among Balance Transfer Cards
4.5
Discover it® Balance Transfer
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.74% - 24.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
Balance Transfer Fee 5% of the amount of each transfer
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 18 Months
Intro Balance Transfer Fee 3% Intro fee on balances transferred by December 10, 2019.

Why We Chose This Card

If you don’t pay off balance transfers before the 0% APR offer ends, the interest charges on this card may still be fairly low. Low ongoing interest rates gives this card more long-term value, too. It may still be a cost-saving tool if you want to make balance transfers from cards with high APRs in the years to come. However, the standard APR is based on creditworthiness (among other things), so not everyone will qualify for the low 13.74% APR. It’s a card worth considering for those with excellent credit.

Find Your Credit Card Match

For balance transfer cards, we believe it's most important to focus on the APRs and fees, but we know you might have different priorities. See what suits you best.
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What Is a Balance Transfer?

A balance transfer involves moving credit card debt from one account to a new credit card. Generally, people do this because they can transfer the debt to a card offering to charge no interest on transferred balances for a limited time, such as 15 months with 0% APR. 

How Do Balance Transfers Work?

When you apply for a new card with a balance transfer offer, the new card company generally asks you which credit cards you’d like to transfer debt from, the account numbers of those cards, and the amount you’d like to transfer. The amount can’t be higher than the credit limit you have, and sometimes the balance transfer limit is lower than the new card’s total credit limit. For instance, a credit card issuer may approve you for a credit limit of $15,000 with a balance transfer limit of $10,000. 

If there isn’t an introductory APR, you’ll pay the card’s regular interest rate the entire time you are paying off the balance. In either case, you’ll also usually have to pay a fee to the new credit card company to transfer the money, often about 3% of the total balance, or a minimum of $5.

Who Is Balance Transfer Right For?

You could benefit from a balance transfer if:

  • You can repay the balance quickly. If you pay off the balance within the time period before the introductory APR expires, you’ll save money on interest charges. 
  • You have good credit. You’ll likely qualify for the best balance transfer cards.

A balance transfer may not be for you if:

  • You want to continue adding charges to your card. Balance transfer offers don’t work at reducing debt levels if you are going to instantly recharge the balance. Make sure you are only transferring an amount you can afford to pay off without incurring new debt.
  • You won’t realize savings. Do the math before transferring a balance. If you want to pay off the debt quickly, make sure the cost of the balance transfer fee doesn’t outweigh how much you’ll pay in interest. Whether or not you’ll save money depends on your current card’s APR, how much debt you have, the new card’s balance transfer fee, and how quickly you plan to pay off the debt.
  • You want more time to get out of debt. Even with the longest balance-transfer periods, you have less than two years to pay your balance down to $0. If you can qualify for a personal loan at a better rate than what your current card has, you could pay off your debt in even installments over the course of a few years.

How Much Can You Save With Balance Transfer Card?

It depends how much debt you have and what interest rates you’re currently paying, but figuring out how much you can save requires two calculations: How much it would cost to transfer your balance and pay it off before the end of the introductory APR, and how much it would cost to pay down the balance on your existing card in the same time frame.

Here’s an example of a savings opportunity:

Say you want to transfer a $10,000 credit card balance with a 0% APR balance transfer offer for 12 months. The balance transfer carries a 3% fee, and on your current card, that balance has an 18% APR.

If you didn’t transfer the balance but paid off your debt within 12 months, you’d pay a total of $10,926—$10,000 of principal and $926 of compound interest you accrue while you’re paying down the balance.

If you transferred the balance, you’d incur a $300 fee (3% of $10,000). But, if you pay the whole debt off by the end of that 12-month 0% APR period, your total cost would remain $10,300.

Transferring the balance and paying off the entire debt allows you to save $626.

Tip

If the new card has a higher interest rate for after the balance transfer offer expires than your original card, only transfer the amount you know you can pay off during the introductory period.

How Does Balance Transfer Impact Credit Score

A balance transfer can cause your credit score to drop if you close the previous card or you transfer the balance to a card with a lower credit limit (or both). Closing a credit card can not only reduce the amount of available credit you have, but it could also affect the length of your credit history

If you don’t have other cards with a long credit history, consider keeping the older card open if it doesn’t have an annual fee. 

And if you transfer a balance that’s close to the card’s limit, your score may suffer for a while. But if you pay down your debt, you’ll eventually have a better credit utilization rate, which can help your credit score. 

How to Choose a Balance Transfer Card


Choose a balance transfer offer
based on both the rate you will receive now and the rate you will receive later—just in case you don’t pay off the balance before the end of the 0% APR period, you should know how much the regular APR will cost.

Follow these steps:

  1. Look at your budget and your debt: Figure out how long you need to completely pay off your balance.
  2. Do the math: Determine if you will save money by transferring your balance or balances.
  3. Explore your options: Seek out cards that allow you prequalify for an offer. It’s not a guarantee of approval, but it’s better than applying blindly.
  4. Choose the card: Apply for the card that gives you the best combination of time to pay off debt while accruing zero interest, low fees, and other features important to you, like customer service tools or rewards. 

Warning

You cannot transfer balances within banks. So if you have debt on one Chase credit card, you cannot transfer the balance to the Chase Slate.

How to Do a Balance Transfer

Balance transfers are pretty simple. If you don’t request the balance transfer when you apply for the card, you generally can initiate balance transfers for a set amount of time from another card or loan. You’ll do so online or by phone. You’ll provide basic information such as account numbers and amounts for the transfer.

Methodology

At The Balance, we're dedicated to giving you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews. To do this, we collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances.

Note

Our reviews are always impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive.

About This List

Dozens of credit cards in our database have introductory periods of 0% APR on balance transfers, and we consider all of them for this round-up. Cards with the best combination of long zero-interest periods, low fees, and rewards receive the highest ratings.

What We Score

Each credit card feature receives a score from 0 to 5, which we weight depending on how important it is to have on a credit card used for paying off debt. Those weighted scores produce the star ratings you see above.

Interest

From our database of hundreds of cards, we identify the ones with an introductory period of 0% APR on balance transfers, and we evaluate the length of that intro period (the longer, the better). But we also evaluate a credit card's ongoing APR. While the point of a 0% APR period on balance transfers is to avoid accruing interest on a credit card balance while paying it off, things don't always go as planned. So, our scoring model favors cards with relatively low standard APRs.

Fees

A card's balance transfer fee is among the most important factor we evaluate for this list of cards. How much you pay in balance transfer fees has a significant effect on your overall savings when moving a balance from one card to another. In some cases, fees could outweigh the potential interest savings.

We also believe you shouldn't pay an annual fee when getting out of debt. In general, annual fee is one of the most important factors in credit card decision. Cards with fewer overall fees tend to score higher in our system.

Credit Score

After the balance transfer length and associated fees, we look at a card's minimum recommended credit score. We do this because having a lot of credit card debt could mean you have less-than-perfect credit card, and we want to show cards that more people have a chance of getting.

That means cards that state they accept applicants with lower credit scores receive higher scores. We also give credit cards a higher score if they allow people to prequalify for a card, meaning a person can see if they have a good chance of getting approved before filling out an application that could have a negative effect on their credit score.

Rewards

You probably want to use your credit card after the introductory balance transfer period ends, so our scoring model favors cards that give you more than a no-interest offer. Cards with high rewards-earning rates, flexible redemption options, unlimited earning potential, and rewards that don’t expire fare the best under our methodology. 

As we do in all methodologies we use to score credit cards, we evaluate a card’s customer experience and security features. These generally carry a small weight but can be the difference in score between a few very similar cards. For more information about how The Balance analyzes credit cards, see our full credit card review methodology.