Understand how balance transfer limits work so you can find the right credit card to consolidate your debts.
Balance transfers offer a low introductory interest rate for existing debts you move to the new card. This means you can save money on charges and pay off the balance faster. Our comparison of balance transfer credit cards includes 0% offers for periods of 12 months or more. These offers are generally available to new customers only.
When you apply for a new balance transfer credit card, you are assigned a credit limit. This limit affects your balance transfer as you can only use a certain percentage of it to move existing debts. You can view a table of maximum balance transfer limits for banks and other financial institutions further down the page.
Comparison of Balance Transfer Credit Cards
How do balance transfer limits work?
A balance transfer is a money saving credit card feature that’s typically offered to new customers. A financial institution can provide a special promotional rate of interest on any credit card debt you transfer to the new credit card. You save money during the promotional period because your interest payments are lower.
When the promotional period ends, the balance transfer rate will revert to a standard rate of interest, usually the cash advance rate or the purchase rate of the card. The minimum balance transfer amount is generally $200 – $500. The maximum amount you can transfer is usually based on a percentage of your credit limit. Each card provider has different rules about maximum balance transfer limits.
How much can I transfer?
Every card will come with different terms for how much you can transfer onto it. Sometimes that amount is 100% of the credit limit that you qualify for; sometimes it is 95% or lower. For example, if you qualify for a $10,000 credit limit with a maximum transfer of 95%, you’ll be able to transfer $9,500. Even if a card comes with the ability to transfer up to 100% of the credit limit, that limit is determined by your credit history and eligibility, not by how much debt you have. The amount you can transfer is also affected by the balance transfer fee: The typical fee is 3-5% of the total amount transferred to your new card. So, if you are approved for a credit limit of $5,000 with a balance transfer fee of 5% and you have requested $5,000 to be transferred to your new card, you will not be able to transfer the full $5,000 because the balance transfer fee ($250) will put you over your credit limit of $5,000.
Credit limits and balance transfer limits
Finding the right balance transfer credit card with the right balance transfer limit is a straightforward process. Look at how much debt you want to transfer and think about whether you used the maximum credit limit available when you originally applied for the credit card. This previous decision could affect the new limit offer made to you when you apply for a balance transfer. To put this in perspective, check out the following case studies, where Jessica and Daniel both recently transferred a balance to a new credit card so they could save money on credit card interest payments.
Jessica, Boston, 36
Jessica applied for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard so she could pay down the $5,000 she owes on her Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card. The Barclaycard has a balance transfer offer of 0% APR for 12 months and cardholders can use up to 100% of their credit limit toward a balance transfer. She previously took the maximum credit limit offered to her by Indigo card, $6,000. However, Barclaycard could only offer her a limit of $3,000 on her new credit card.
Jessica was able to transfer $2,850 from her Indigo credit card on to her new Barclaycard credit card under the balance transfer promotion. She used the interest free period on her Barclaycard to save money on that debt so she could concentrate on paying down the remaining $2,150 on her Indigo card.
Daniel, Los Angeles, 29
Daniel applied for the Barclaycard Ring Mastercard to use on an overseas trip. Mastercard offered him a $10,000 limit but he decided he only needed a credit limit of $2,000 as he was using the card mainly as a backup on his travels. Daniel ended up maxing out the Barclaycard Mastercard on his trip. When he got home, he applied for a balance transfer to the UNITY Visa Secured Card, which offered a 0% intro APR for 6 months with a one-time 3% balance transfer fee. UNITY offered a $5,000 credit limit to Daniel but he decided to set his limit at $2,100.
As UNITY lets cardholders use up to their credit limit for a balance transfer, the limit on the UNITY card was enough to cover the whole debt. Remember, your borrowing power is based on your income/assets compared to your expenses/liabilities. If you take the maximum credit limit, it will be difficult to transfer the full amount to a new credit card if your income/asset ratio has not changed. It’s also important to compare balance transfer credit cards so you can find the right deal and save money on your credit card payments.
Balance transfer chalculator
Your current credit cards:
Card that you are transferring to:
Intro Term (months)
Balance Transfer Fee
Your monthly repayment
At this rate, you will not pay off your debt.
At this rate you will pay off your debt during the card's intro period
At that rate you will not pay off your debt. You will need to make higher repayments.
Months that it will take you to pay off your debt:
With a balance transfer
Without a balance transfer
Money saved transferring debt to a balance transfer card:
Savings = $1,000