If you’re looking for ways to reduce and ultimately eliminate high-interest credit card debt, you have several options.
You can dramatically reduce your exposure to interest charges by forgoing credit card usage entirely or scrupulously paying off your credit card balances in full each month. You can seek out low-APR credit cards that don’t charge you as much to carry balances from month to month. Or you can look for credit cards with attractive balance transfer promotions or low regular balance transfer APRs.
The best balance transfer credit cards often have generous 0% APR introductory periods that stretch for longer than 12 months. Many have attractive regular balance transfer APRs that remain significantly below other cards’ balance transfer rates (and, often, below their own purchase APRs). Some also have low or nonexistent balance transfer fees.
Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards
These are the best credit cards for balance transfers on the market right now. Each does at least one thing really well, whether it’s delivering 0% APR on balance transfers for well over a year or combining a great balance transfer offer with generous cash-back rewards.
Best Overall: Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card has a lot going for it beyond its unusually long introductory APR promotion — enough to make it our top overall pick in this category.
That introductory promotion promises 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (billing cycles). After that, variable regular APR applies (currently 19.99% to 28.74%, depending on your creditworthiness).
- Earn 5% cash back on eligible Chase Travel purchases.
- Earn 3% cash back on eligible drugstore and restaurant purchases.
- Earn 1.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
- During the first year your account is open, earn an additional 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases up to the first $20,000 spent. That's a value of up to $300 cash back.
- No annual fee.
- Enjoy extended warranty coverage and complimentary secondary coverage on car rentals purchased in full with your card.
Apply Now for the Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card
Best for Purchases and Balance Transfers: U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card is a straightforward credit card with an excellent balance transfer promotion: 0% intro APR for the first 18 months of card membership for a limited time only. To qualify, transfers must be made within 60 days of account opening.
What sets this card apart is its matching 0% intro APR promotion for purchases. Its 18-month stretch is a rarity in the low-APR world.
Following the conclusion of the 0% periods, variable regular APR applies (currently 19.49% to 29.49%, depending on your creditworthiness and prevailing rates) on both purchases and balance transfers.
- No annual fee.
- Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%.
- Get complementary auto insurance coverage when you pay for your entire car rental with your U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card.
- Foreign transaction fees are 3%
- Enjoy cell phone protection worth up to $600 per incident (less a $25 deductible).
Best for Business Owners: U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard®
This offer is no longer available.
Few small business credit cards offer introductory balance transfer promotions. One of the lone standouts in this category is the U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard®.
This promotion is enough to match some of the most generous consumer rewards credit cards on the market. Enjoy 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for the first 15 billing cycles your account is open — then, variable regular APR applies, currently 18.99% to 27.99%.
- For a limited time, earn $500 bonus cash back after spending $4,500 in eligible purchases on the account owner’s card during the first 150 days your account is open.
- Enjoy 3% cash back on eligible net purchases at office supply stores, restaurants, gas stations and EV charging stations, and cell phone or service providers purchases.
- Get an annual $100 statement credit for recurring software subscription expenses, such as FreshBooks or QuickBooks.
- No annual fee or fee for additional employee cards.
- Terms and Conditions Apply
Best for Flat-Rate Cash Back: Citi® Double Cash Card
The Citi® Double Cash Card is a cash-back credit card with a nice balance transfer promotion: 0% APR for 18 months on all balance transfers initiated within four months (120 days) of account opening. Following the end of the promotional period, variable APR is 18.99% to 28.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
The Citi Double Cash Card’s standout feature is a flat-rate cash-back program that works as follows:
- Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases when you make them
- Earn an additional 1% cash back on all monthly payments, provided you at least make the minimum payment on time
Put that together, and you’ve got an unlimited 2% cash-back rate.
- Limited Time Offer: Through 11/14/22, earn $200 cash back after spending $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening.
- Once you reach the $25 redemption minimum, you can redeem cash back by statement credit, paper check, or gift card.
- No annual fee.
- 3% foreign transaction fee.
- The balance transfer fee is the greater of $5 or 3%.
- Like other Citi cards, Double Cash comes with Private Pass benefits (exclusive event and experience access).
Learn More About the Citi Double Cash Card
Best for No Late Fees: Citi Simplicity® Card
The Citi Simplicity® Card is, well, simple. Though it doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus or cash-back rewards, it has one of the best balance transfer promotions in the business: 0% APR for 21 months from account opening.
The introductory rate applies to all balances transferred within four months (120 days) of account opening. Then, variable regular APR applies, depending on prevailing interest rates and your creditworthiness — currently 18.99% to 29.74%.
But Citi Simplicity really stands out for one low-key reason: This card never charges late fees. That’s absolutely critical if you’re struggling to make ends meet — or your scheduled payment fails to go through through no fault of your own.
- Enjoy 0% APR on purchases for 12 months from account opening, then variable regular APR applies.
- No annual fee.
- No foreign transaction fees.
- The balance transfer fee is the greater of $5 or 3%.
- Additional value-adds include 24/7 customer service and the ability to choose your payment due date.
Learn More About the Citi Simplicity Card
Best Sign-up Bonus: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is a cash-back credit card with no annual fee and a very attractive 0% APR balance transfer promotion that lasts for 15 months from account opening.
This promo pairs with an equally long purchase APR promotion as well. Thereafter, variable regular APR applies (currently 18.99% to 28.99%), based on your creditworthiness and prevailing rates.
Beyond the balance transfer and purchase promotions, Citi Custom Cash stands out for its generous, easy-to-attain sign-up bonus: Earn $200 bonus cash, fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou points, after spending $1,500 in eligible purchases during the first 6 months your account is open.
That’s not the highest dollar value you’ll find on a credit card sign-up bonus, but it’s super easy to snag. Most of us can afford that rate of spending.
- Earn 5% cash back on the first $500 in purchases in the top eligible spending category each month.
- Above the $500 monthly spending cap, earn 1% cash back on top category purchases and on all other eligible purchases as well.
- Spending categories eligible for the bonus include restaurants, gas stations, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, live entertainment, home improvement stores, and drugstores.
- No annual fee.
- Foreign transactions cost 3% of the transaction amount.
Learn More About the Citi Custom Cash Card
Best for Contactless Payments: BMO Harris Bank Platinum Mastercard®
The BMO Harris Bank Platinum Mastercard® comes with a convenient set of features for people who prefer contactless payments. The standout is BMO’s Tap & Go® solution, which enables quick, secure tap payments at any contactless point of sale.
Plus, add your card to Google Pay, Apple Pay, or Samsung Pay for seamless transactions in person and online.
- 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from account opening
- Matching 0% APR purchase promotion for 15 months from account opening
- Enjoy unique experiences around the world with Mastercard Priceless Cities
- Use BMO’s Total Look feature to see your BMO and non-BMO financial information at a glance
Methodology: How We Choose the Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards
We use several key factors to assess balance transfer credit cards and point our readers to the best on the market.
The most important of these factors relate to the balance transfers themselves: the promotional interest rate, the length of the promotional period, any associated fees, and the like. We also look for other key value-adds, such as rewards and bonus point offers for new cardmembers.
Promotional Interest Rate
This being a roundup of the top balance transfer credit cards, the promotional interest rate is absolutely critical. All the cards on this list waive interest entirely — 0% APR — for the duration of their promotional periods.
Promotional Period Length
The longer the promotional period, the better. We prefer cards with 0% APR balance transfer offers stretching 12 months or longer, and 15 months or longer is ideal. The best exceed 20 months.
Balance Transfer Fees
A choice few cards waive balance transfer fees altogether, though most charge between 3% and 5% of the total transfer amount. That’s acceptable, but again, lower is better here.
Low-APR Purchase Promotion
We’re big fans of credit cards with dual balance transfer and purchase promotions, preferably both at 0% APR. You’ll notice that many of the credit cards on this list tick that box, and we’re always looking for more.
Credit Card Rewards
Balance transfer credit cards aren’t known for amazing rewards program, but there’s more choice on this point these days than in the past. Where possible, we look for cards offering the best of both worlds: long 0% APR balance transfer promotions set against generous cash-back or travel rewards schemes.
New Cardmember Welcome Offer (Sign-up Bonus)
Who doesn’t love a good sign-up bonus? We certainly do. Which is why we prefer balance transfer credit cards that also offer solid boosts for new cardholders able to clear a pre-set spending threshold during the first few months of membership.
Other than the balance transfer fee, the most relevant fee here is the annual fee. Fortunately, most balance transfer credit cards don’t charge annual fees, and we’re skeptical of those that do.
Balance Transfer Card FAQs
Still have questions about balance transfers and balance transfer credit cards? These are a few questions that invariably come up for new balance transfer card users.
What Happens When You Make a Payment on a Balance Transfer Credit Card?
If you intend to use a new credit card to make low- or no-interest balance transfers, remember that your minimum monthly payment will always go toward that low- or no-interest balance.
If the card doesn’t also have a special introductory purchase APR, any purchases you make with that card will accrue interest charges unless you pay them off in full by each statement due date.
To avoid interest charges on low- or no-APR balance transfer cards without purchase APR promos, you have two options:
- Pay off all purchases in full each month and make the monthly minimum payment on any transferred balances, OR
- Refrain from making any purchases at all
If neither option sounds appealing to you, look for low- or no-APR balance transfer cards with identical purchase APR deals. That way, you don’t have to choose which type of balance to pay down first.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay Off Your Balance Transfer in Full During the Promotional Period?
It depends. Some cards defer interest during the 0% APR period, which means you’re liable for all the interest you would have paid on the balance during the period if you don’t pay off your balance in full by its end.
Read your cardholder agreement’s fine print to find out if this is the case. Even if it’s not, if you transfer a high-interest balance to a card with a temporary promotional balance transfer APR and then fail to pay it down before interest rates spike, you’ll find yourself dealing with another pile of debt that’s rapidly accumulating interest.
Should You Use Your Balance Transfer Card for Purchases?
If you can afford it, sure. Ideally, your card should have an identical 0% APR promotion on purchases as well.
But even if you use your card responsibly, your balance could well be higher at the end of the promotional period than when you first opened the account if you make large purchases during that time.
If you’re really committed to reducing your debt and living within your means, you should refrain from making large purchases with credit cards used primarily for balance transfer purposes.
What Are Balance Transfer Fees?
Most credit cards charge a fee for each balance transfer. This fee usually ranges from 3% to 5% of the total transfer amount, but it can be a flat dollar amount (usually $5) on smaller transfers.
Balance transfer fees one-time fees assessed separately from interest charges, which accrue by the month.
How to Select the Best Credit Card for Balance Transfers
Gearing up to apply for a balance transfer credit card, but not sure you’re thinking about your options properly?
Take a step back and think about what you’re hoping to get out of your card. Consider:
- Whether the card has an annual fee
- Whether the card earns rewards, and if so, how generous its rewards program is
- Any sign-up bonuses or other promotional offers offered in addition to the balance transfer offer
- Whether the card has a 0% APR promotional period for purchases as well
- Any other benefits or perks of cardmembership
Then, assess the quality of the balance transfer offers themselves. Pay special attention to:
- The length of these cards’ promotional interest periods (if applicable)
- The APR once the promotional period expires
- Any terms or restrictions that lessen their appeal
When you’ve done all this, you’ll probably be closer to a decision than before. All that’s left is to weigh the pros and cons of each finalize and choose the card that best fits your needs.