Do you have a high balance on your credit card?
For many of us, it can feel like we're spinning our wheels in the mud trying to make a dent in that looming balance.
High-interest charges and fees can eat away at our attempts and make it feel like we're getting nowhere.
Fortunately, transferring that high balance to a low- or no-interest balance transfer credit card can help make your payment efforts much more manageable.
By continuing to pay high-interest rates and fees, you're simply throwing money away!
The right balance transfer credit card can not only help lower your monthly credit card payment, but may even help improve your credit in the process as you continue to pay down the debt.
But which credit cards give you the best deal?
We've reviewed the strongest contenders to help you make an informed decision.
Four Points to Keep in Mind
Be aware of transfer fees, interest rates, promotional periods and annual fees
Look for low or no balance transfer fees. Most credit cards will charge you a fee of 3–5% of whatever the balance is you want to transfer.
This means you'll pay, for example, $150 if you transfer a $5,000 credit card balance at 3%.
Ideally, you'll want to choose a card that has low or no balance transfer fees, but be sure you look at the other points below as well.
Check the introductory interest rate on transferred balances. The best balance transfer credit cards have a low introductory rate on your transferred balance.
It's common for cards to even offer a 0% intro period for a set period of time.
You'll want to ask yourself, however, if you can realistically pay down your balance significantly during that time.
Otherwise, a balance transfer credit card may not be the best option for you.
Note how long the promotional period lasts. Think of this as breathing room to pay down your balance.
The longer the period, the more time you have to pay at that low or no interest rate.
Keep in mind, however, that when the promotional period ends, the interest goes up—sometimes by a lot—so make sure you have your balance paid down or off completely by then.
Don't forget to factor in the annual fee. Some balance transfer credit cards will charge you an annual fee for the "privilege" of using them.
Look for cards that have no annual fees.
How We Picked These Cards
Several factors to consider
In our hunt for the best balance transfer credit cards, we looked at a variety of factors that made it easier for consumers to pay down their debts in the allotted time.
We asked ourselves the same questions real people should ask about balance transfer cards:
- How much did the credit card company charge for a balance transfer?
- How long was the introductory promo period, and was there any annual fee?
- What do real customers and specialized review sites have to say about the best credit cards for balance transfers?
The cards with the best answers made our list.
They all excelled in these areas, providing a good balance of low fees, long intro periods, and low-interest rates.
Learn more about how a balance transfer credit card can save you money on interest rates and fees while helping you to pay down your debt
A whopping 18 months to pay down your balance and free FICO score check
Oftentimes, when you choose a balance transfer credit card, you sacrifice a rewards program in the process, since the lower interest rate and low-balance transfer rate is the reward.
The Discover it card allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds by giving you a rare 0% interest rate for 18 months plus 0% APR on purchases for six months in addition to a cash back rewards program and lucrative sign-up bonus.
Decent interest rate on purchases after the introductory period. The APR on the Discover it card is 11.99–23.99% variable after the initial 18 months (for balance transfers) or six months (for purchases).
That means the Discover it card is one of the few rare cards that doesn't surge interest rates when the introductory 0% interest period ends.
Discover matches all cash back earned at the end of your first year. This introductory offer is outstanding if you want a balance transfer card that also gives you cash back.
You don't need to enroll or follow any steps to enjoy this benefit as it happens immediately and automatically at the end of your first year's enrollment.
People love the long balance transfer payment time and the fact that interest rates don't go through the roof after the intro period
This means you get plenty of time to pay down higher balances, and even if you do choose to make purchases with this card, the purchase APR won't eat you alive with high-interest rates and fees.
Many cardholders remark that being able to see a significant difference in paying down their debt further motivates them to keep this card even after the introductory period has expired.
See your Free FICO credit score. Plus, how many inquiries were made on your credit.
Watch your credit report progress as you pay down your high balances with your free FICO Credit Scorecard.
You can access your Scorecard from within the Discover website member's area as well as how many inquiries were made on your credit.
When you sign up, Discover also monitors the use of your social security number on risky Dark Web sites where stolen personal information can proliferate.
Before you sign up, keep in mind that Discover isn't accepted everywhere—especially if you plan to travel outside the U.S.
If you're thinking about using the Discover it card as a travel credit card, you'd be better served by a credit card that specifically focuses on travel rewards, such as airline or hotel miles.
The Discover it card falls short as a travel credit card and is much better used to pay down high credit card balances instead.
No annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. This makes the Discover it card a great balance transfer card that doubles as a travel credit card because you'll avoid the high costs of converting currency when traveling.
May not be accepted everywhere. The reason why this card occupies the top spot in our list is because it offers so many benefits.
The only real downside to using it for purchases is that Discover may not be accepted in as many places as the more commonplace Visa and Mastercard.
If you're looking for a reliable cash back card that you can use for travel rewards, check out our comparison of the Discover it Cashback Card & Barclaycard Arrival.
Helps you get out of debt—if you have $15,000 or less
The Chase Slate is one of our favorite cards and rightly occupies the number two spot on our list simply because it helps you pay down high balances with a $0 balance transfer fee and a 0% APR period of 15 months, which is longer than most.
It does this, however, at the cost of having no sign-up bonus or rewards program.
If you can live with that and want to put your nose to the grindstone to pay down that debt, the Chase Slate is a balance transfer card that's in your corner.
No balance transfer fees and a long 0% APR intro period. With no balance transfer fees and a 0% introductory APR for 15 months, you don't get quite as long of a time frame to pay down your balance as you do with the Discover it card.
But you also don't pay balance transfer fees either … except:
You need to transfer your balance within the first 60 days of opening. After 60 days, the balance transfer fee is 5% or $5, whichever is more.
5% doesn't sound like much, but if you transferred a $10,000 balance, it would set you back $500, which is quite a chunk of money you could use to pay down that balance.
People with lower credit card debt love the simplicity and the savings they get with the Chase Slate
With no balance transfer fees and a 0% introductory APR, transferring $15,000 or less from a non-Chase credit card to the Chase Slate is a smart decision to help you pay down your debt quickly.
Just remember to transfer your balance within the first 60 days of opening your account to avoid balance transfer fees.
Get your FICO score for free. Like the Discover it card, you can access your FICO score for free from your Chase account area after logging in.
Being able to pay down your balance over time without high-interest charges is a sure-fire way to improve that score.
Can't transfer over $15,000 or transfer a balance from another Chase card. If you're wanting to transfer a high balance from another Chase card, the Slate may not be right for you, as you cannot transfer balances to or from the same card issuer in this case.
Before you sign up, keep in mind that there's no rewards or points program
If you're looking for a credit card that offers cash back, points, or has a robust rewards program but also doesn't charge for balance transfers, the Chase Slate may not be what you're looking for, as it has neither a points nor a rewards program.
Higher ongoing APR than other cards. With a variable APR of 15.99–24.74%, the rates of the Chase Slate are higher than the Discover it, but because the Slate is a Visa card, it's accepted in more places.
Chase has plenty of cash back credit cards for you to consider.
This card lives up to its name—with no late fees ever
The Simplicity card reflects its name in every sense of the word—with no late fees, no penalty APR, and no annual fee.
It also offers additional perks but at a bit of a cost, which could trip you up if you aren't careful.
We've also compared this card in detail against the Discover it Cashback Match.
The longest intro period of all balance transfer cards. With an astounding 21 month intro APR period, this card gives you over a year and a half to pay down your debt.
There is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3%, whichever is greater, but this is fairly typical even among balance transfer credit cards.
No penalty APR is forgiving if you're more forgetful. Although you should always pay your credit card on time, Citi won't stick you with a high penalty APR if you happen to miss a payment.
If you're over 30 days late, however, it could ding your credit score, and you'll still pay interest on those late charges.
If your payment is returned, there's also a $35 penalty fee, but again, these charges are still in line with similar cards.
People love the long intro APR and the no late fees or penalty fees of the Citi Simplicity card
With an unheard-of 21 months to pay down your debts, the Citi Simplicity offers the longest possible time-frame to pay down your debt.
After the intro period expires, however, you could be stuck with up to a 24.99% APR.
That means you should pay down your debt quickly, and switch to another card with a more reasonable APR.
Additional perks include an extended warranty and Price Rewind. If you find a lower price on the same item elsewhere, Citi will refund you the difference through its Price Rewind program.
You can also enroll in an extended warranty program as well as take advantage of some other perks as a cardholder.
No rewards program and a high variable APR could cost you. The variable APR of the Citi Simplicity can go as high as 24.99%, which is a bit steep even for users with "Good" or "Excellent" credit.
There's also no rewards program, which could be a deal-breaker if you're looking to snag some good deals.
Still, if you want to pay off high-interest credit cards with the longest possible 0% intro APR, this card should definitely be on your shortlist.
Before you sign up for the Citi Simplicity, you should of some pretty strict application rules
The 1/8 rule states that you can only submit a Citi application once every 8 days.
There's also the 2/65 rule, which allows for no more than two applications every 65 days.
This means that if you were attempting to stagger your credit cards by submitting multiple applications for different cards, you'd want to do so on day 1, day 9, day 66, and day 74 to avoid being impacted by either or both of these rules.
Citi has a wide variety of balance transfer cards available, so it's important to evaluate closely, to see which one is right for you.
Citi Diamond Preferred
This card offers the same long intro APR as the Citi Simplicity, plus a rewards program
Love the idea of a long intro APR period to pay off high balances, but still want the perks of a rewards program?
The Citi Diamond Preferred card may be right for you.
If you have "Good" or "Excellent" credit, take a closer look at these benefits:
Long 0% intro APR for 21 months to help you pay down high balances. You can't beat a 21 month 0% intro APR and like the Citi Simplicity, the Citi Diamond Preferred offers this generously long rate to help you pay down those high balances.
A rewards program available, albeit with limited offerings. If you absolutely must have a card with a rewards program, you'll be glad to know that the Diamond Preferred card offers one, though it's somewhat limited in what you can redeem your rewards for.
Instead, your focus with this card should be paying down that high balance.
Save the rewards perks for a card that specializes in them.
People love the long intro APR period for paying down balance transfers
Just like the closely-related Citi Simplicity card, the Citi Diamond Preferred card gives you the same long rate but adds a rewards program as well.
Still, even with "Good" credit, the high APR knocked this card further down on our list.
Additional identity theft solutions give you peace of mind. At signup, you're also enrolled in Citi's free Identity Theft Solutions program, protecting against fraudulent transactions, with zero liability for unauthorized purchases.
The additional fees can eat away at the money you'd save doing the transfer. You have to be aware of things like a variable APR as high as 29.99% after the introductory period, a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% (whichever is greater), and a foreign transaction fee.
Our recommendation if you're leaning toward the Diamond Preferred card is to use it to pay down your balance, then look elsewhere.
Before you sign up for the Citi Diamond Preferred Card, you should think about what you really want beyond the balance transfer
Do you want a card with a robust rewards program?
A card for travel?
As one of the largest credit card issuers, Citi has cards to meet nearly every need.
The ones profiled here are just the tip of the iceberg.
HSBC Platinum Mastercard
This card is ideal for people who want to transfer their balances while enjoying cash back rewards
In addition to being one of our front-runners for balance transfers, the HSBC Platinum Mastercard also stands out for its cash back program.
There's a highly lucrative signup bonus currently in effect as well which can earn you a significant cash back sum your first year.
If you have "Good" or "Excellent" credit, it's worth taking a closer look at this card for the sign-up bonuses alone.
Highly competitive signup bonus. If you spend at least $500 on the card within the first three months of opening your account, you can get a $150 cash rewards bonus.
Unlimited 2% cash rewards for the first six months. For a limited time, you can get 2% cash rewards on any purchase made within the first six months.
The rate then goes to 1.5% thereafter.
People love the 10% bonus cash reward on top of the existing cash reward welcome bonus
If you're planning to make a big purchase within the next six months, this may be the right card for you, since you'll enjoy unlimited 2% cash back plus an anniversary bonus detailed below.
10% Anniversary bonus on all cash rewards earned once a year. On top of these lucrative rewards, you can also qualify for a 10% anniversary bonus on your cash rewards.
If you factor in that the average consumer spends $1,430 per month, you can earn an additional $47.
That's on top of the cash rewards and sign up bonus, which can bring the total welcome bonus to around $200.
No balance transfer fees but variable APR could be better. There's a 0% intro APR for 15 months which is not quite as long as comparable cards.
Then the variable APR of 13.99%, 17.99%, or 23.99% kicks in, according to your creditworthiness.
Before you sign up, you should know about the travel bonuses that come with the HSBC Platinum Mastercard
Having a card with a $150 cash back bonus and 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months is great, but you can also get some notable travel benefits, like $500,000 in rental coverage and up to $1 million in travel insurance.
You can also redeem your points for flights and hotel reservations, making this card stand out as a travel rewards credit card that doubles as a decent card for balance transfers.
No annual fee or foreign transaction fee makes for cheaper travel. Most cards ding your bill around 3% of the total amount when swiping overseas.
The HSBC Platinum Mastercard does not, meaning the savings can add up while you're traveling.
If you want a card with a solid welcome bonus, cash back rewards, and flexible spending for travel, the HSBC Platinum Mastercard is definitely worth considering.
For more information on this card, check out how it compares to the Amex Blue Cash Everyday.
Chase Ink Business Cash
A solid balance transfer card great for small business owners
So far we've covered a handful of all-purpose credit cards that can help you pay down high balances.
But are there any good balance transfer credit cards for businesses with "Good" or "Excellent" credit? There is—and it's the Chase Ink Business Cash card.
A must-have for office supplies. If you tend to spend a lot on office supplies or cable/telecom purchases, this card can give you 5% cash back (up to $25,000) on those purchases.
This high cash back rewards rate alone makes it a popular choice for small businesses.
Treat your clients or your office to a great meal and earn rewards. You can earn 2% cash back (up to $25,000) on gas and dining, so go ahead and treat the whole office (or that new client) to a great meal without feeling the pinch in your wallet.
You'll earn the standard 1% on all other purchases.
People love the savings they get on everyday office supply purchases with the Ink Business Cash card
Whether your office plows through pens or tears through toner, it's nice to know that there's a card that pays you back for spending on the office supplies you need to keep your business going.
Getting 5% cash back is above average in terms of cash back rewards, so if you find yourself ordering printer paper again, it may be worth giving the Ink Business Cash card from Chase a closer look
Simple and straightforward cash back rewards. Since there are no rotating categories to worry about, businesses who want a simple and straightforward cash back rewards program will find the Chase Ink Business Cash a top choice.
$300 bonus cash back sign-up bonus. Spend $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account and get $300 bonus cash back.
This is on top of the 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months and a respectable ongoing variable APR of 14.24–20.24%.
Use it to pay down business debts and keep your office running smoothly while you earn cash back.
Before you sign up for the Chase Ink Business Cash card, you should know that you can get employee cards at no extra cost
This can come in handy to help you not only manage spending for your business but also help you earn cash back rewards even faster.
Kiplinger's Personal Finance rated this card as "a great card for small business."
Not the best card for business travel. There's a 3% foreign transaction fee on this card, so it may not be the best choice for business-related travel expenses.
Be sure to check out our reviews of business travel cards and hotel branded travel cards if you travel frequently in your line of work.
Barclaycard Ring Mastercard
No balance transfer fees and helps you pay down your debt
The Barclaycard Ring Mastercard is rather innovative in that it's the first "crowdsourced" credit card, meaning cardholders can vote on product features they'd like to see, plus earn rewards based on how well the card does financially.
No balance transfer fees—ever! Most credit cards, including those profiled here, will give you a period of time where you have to make your balance transfer in order to avoid the fees.
The Barclaycard Ring simply doesn't charge them—at any time.
That alone makes this card a rock-solid contender in helping to pay down your debt.
A longer promotional APR period than most cards. With 15 months of 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers, it's not as long as some cards we've reviewed, but it is longer than most.
After that, the variable APR is 13.99%, which is lower than most.
People love the motivation of having a tight-knit finance-focused community
You wouldn't think of the words "tight-knit community" and "motivation" when it comes to credit cards, but the Barclaycard Ring will prove you wrong.
The card comes with an incredible community of users who offer tips, advice, and motivation to their fellow cardholders to help you manage their debt more easily.
No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. Go ahead and travel without feeling the pinch of foreign transaction fees or annual fees.
Rewards are based on how well the card performs. The Giveback Rewards program differs from most in that it's inextricably tied to the card's performance overall.
Some months you might get some cash back, but other times you may not.
Before you sign up, you should know that you'll need excellent credit to apply
One major drawback of this card and what kept it from being at the top of our list is that you must have "Excellent" credit.
Still, if you fall into that category and don't mind the hit-or-miss rewards program, the Barclaycard Ring should be worth your serious consideration.
This card is a reliable card with no balance transfer fees and a membership rewards program
The Amex EveryDay credit card tries to be something for everyone but falls short of hitting the bullseye in most categories.
Although it is intended to be for everyday use, you may be better served applying for credit cards that are slated specifically for travel or cash back rather than a card that tries to be all things to all people.
The membership points program is great for grocery shopping. You'll earn two Membership Rewards points for every dollar you spend at supermarkets in the U.S., up to $6,000 per year.
After that, you'll earn one point per dollar.
No annual fee and 0% introductory APR period for 12 months. There's a decent introductory APR if you want to put a major purchase on the card.
However, there is a balance transfer fee of 3% or a minimum of $5 (whichever is greater), which pushed it further down on our list.
After the intro period, the variable APR is 13.99–23.99%.
People love the additional 15,000 membership rewards points bonus they get for referring a friend
American Express has a longstanding history of offering lucrative rewards to cardholders and their friends or family.
With the Amex EveryDay credit card, you'll get an additional 15,000 membership rewards bonus points and your referral will enjoy the same bonus welcome points detailed below.
It's an easy way to quickly build up your points towards more of the things you want.
Bonus 10,000 Membership Points. You can earn 10,000 bonus points, which equates to roughly $100 if you spend $1,000 or more in the first three months of opening your account.
It's not the best signup bonus out there but certainly not the worst either.
Earn points for travel purchases. You can earn two points per dollar on travel purchases booked through amextravel.com.
If you don't mind booking through Amex's website, you could earn more points, but even standalone travel credit cards do a better job here.
Before you sign up, you should know that you get a 20% points bonus if you use your card 20 times or more in a billing cycle
If you get an average value of one cent per point, this means your rewards rate could be as high as 1.2% on everyday purchases or 2.4% in the bonus categories.
Not terrible, but other cards do a better job with their respective rewards points programs.
Not accepted as widely as Visa or Mastercard. Although more stores are accepting Amex cards than before, it's still not as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard.
You'll hit the grocery store points cap quickly. If you spend an average of $115 per week, you'll quickly hit the 2x membership points cap for supermarket spending, so keep that in mind before you splurge at the grocery store!
Not as useful as a card specifically tailored to certain types of purchases. You'd be better served by having a credit card specifically devoted to travel, or cash back, or rewards—not one that tries to do everything.
If you want a solid balance transfer credit card that also gives you points back for simply buying groceries, the Amex EveryDay could be worth a closer look—just be mindful of the points cap.
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa
Can help you save money on balance transfers and protect your cell phone
The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa isn't a bad card for balance transfers by any means, but there are other cards out there that do a better job with better rewards.
Longer than average 0% APR period. You'll enjoy a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months.
You'll still have to pay a balance transfer fee of 3% or $5 (whichever is greater) during those first 18 months.
After that, the cost goes up to 5% per balance transfer.
Purchase APR is higher than comparable cards. After the introductory period, the variable APR changes to 16.15%-25.99%, higher than other cards we've reviewed here.
People love the built-in budgeting tools that come with Wells Fargo Online
From managing your spending to seeing your credit score, Wells Fargo provides cardholders with a wealth of helpful online tools to help them rein in debt and build good spending and saving habits.
Free access to your FICO score. You'll need to create an account with Wells Fargo Online, but in doing so, you'll get free access to your FICO credit score.
See your spending habits over time. Wells Fargo's My Money Map helps you create a budget and track your spending, helping you manage your debt and see where you need to improve.
Additional cell phone protection available. You can get up to $600 in cell phone insurance (minus a $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft.
You'll need to pay your cell phone bill with this card in order to activate this protection.
Before you sign up, you should know that the low intro APR offer on purchases and balance transfers is only available online
In order to get the lowest possible intro APR for 18 months on both purchases and balance transfers, you'll need to apply for the Wells Fargo Platinum card online.
Amex EveryDay Blue Cash
This credit card gives you cash back and no-fee balance transfers
Like its closely-related Everyday Credit Card, the Amex Blue Cash follows the same type of structure, but with cash back instead of Membership Points.
No APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After this period, the purchase APR and balance transfer APR are 13.99-24.99% variable depending on your creditworthiness.
Not the lowest APR of the bunch, but fairly standard as far as balance transfer credit cards go.
There's also no annual fee.
Great for people who eat at home often. You can earn up to 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year—then 1%) plus 2% cash back at gas stations and 1% everywhere else.
If you like cooking at home, this card can pay you back for it.
People love how quickly they can earn cash back from grocery shopping with this card
Although you do get 3% cash back on grocery purchases, there's a hard cap of $6,000 which averages out to $115 per week.
Keep that in mind if you're looking to get the most out of your points or your cash back as it won't take long to hit that cap.
Plagued by the same limitation as the Amex Everyday card. It's simply not accepted as frequently as Visa or Mastercard, and still suffers from the other kinds of limitations, such as a 2.7% foreign transaction fee and high APR.
Before you sign up, you should check out the sign-up bonus
Spend $1,000 or more on purchases within the first three months of opening your account to get a $150 sign-on bonus in the form of a statement credit.
We've compared this card to the Chase Slate for a deeper-dive into specifics.
The best balance transfer credit card is the one that helps you get out of debt—and stay that way
Balance transfers are just one piece of the puzzle of debt management.
Being able to do things like check your credit score and get access to budgeting and savings tools are two major ways to not just get out of debt, but break the cycle and prevent future debt from eating up your finances.
That being said, the credit cards we've profiled here will help you make a noticeable dent in paying down that debt—but it's up to you to continue practicing good budgeting and spending habits in the future!