Learn the steps to complete a balance transfer

If you're interested in consolidating your debt but you aren't quite sure where to start, check out our detailed guide to learn about the ins and outs of balance transfers.

Updated

While a balance transfer may seem like an easy decision for you and your finances, figuring out how to do the transfer can be a daunting task. A balance transfer is a great way to move your high-interest debt to a new card with a low or 0% APR, but there are a lot of choices available when it comes to benefits and rewards.

Read our guide to learn more about how to compare and choose a balance transfer credit card, how to apply for one and what to do with your old account once your balance transfer is completed.

Things to consider when shopping for a balance transfer credit card

The goal is to compare the offers on the market and discover which one offers you the most value. Remember to consider the following things when looking for a balance transfer credit card:

  • Promotional APR length. The typical time frame for the intro 0% or low APR is 6-10 months, although there are some cards that offer up to 12 months, or sometimes more, with no interest. It’s best to try to pay off all or most of your debt during the promotional period.
  • Balance transfer fees. Keep in mind that most balance transfers come with a fee that is typically between 1% to 3% of the debt that you are transferring. Make sure to calculate this into the total price to see if a balance transfer would be worth it for you.
  • Annual fees. Some credit cards have annual fees. These annual fees typically range from $0-$99. Keep in mind that some companies may waive the annual fee but only for the first year. Take any annual fees into account when you’re trying to budget out your debt re-payment schedule.
  • Balance transfer limit. Some cards will only allow you to transfer a certain amount of money at a time. If you have a large balance, you may have to complete the transfer in separate transactions and you might end up paying more in fees.
  • Rewards. Make sure to check if your card comes with any kind of rewards or benefits such as interest-free days, travel rewards or 0% APR on purchases.
  • Credit rating. Your credit rating will play a huge part in which balance transfer credit cards you will qualify for. If you have a fair or poor credit history, be sure to do your research to find a card with more lenient approval criteria.
  • Revert APR. If you are late or miss a payment, you may lose your promotional APR and be stuck paying the revert interest rate. To get the full benefits of your balance transfer card, it’s imperative that you make all of your payments on time.
  • Confirm how much you can transfer. You may only be able to transfer up to a percentage of the available credit limit, such as 80% or 90%. Confirm the total allowed transfer amount with the provider before you select the card.

Compare balance transfer credit cards

Scotiabank Value Visa Card

Scotiabank Value Visa Card

12.99 % APR

Purchase interest rate

Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply

Scotiabank Value Visa Card

Apply today and enjoy a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months.

  • Purchase interest rate: 12.99%
  • Cash advance rate: 12.99%
  • Intro balance transfer rate: 0.99% for the first 6 months
  • Standard balance transfer rate: 12.99%
  • Annual fee: $29
  • Minimum income: $12,000
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Promoted
Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Balance Transfer Rate Balance Transfer Fee Annual Fee Minimum Income Reward Description
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
12.99%
3.99% for the first 9 months (then 12.99%)
1%
$20
$15,000
Take advantage of an introductory balance transfer offer, annual fee waiver in the first year, and low purchase and cash advance interest rates.
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
BMO Rewards Mastercard
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Get 1 BMO Reward point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases, and get 2 BMO Rewards points for every $1 spent at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations.
Earn a bonus of up to 20,000 BMO Rewards points. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Get 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent elsewhere.
Earn 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.
Get up to 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to a maximum spend of $2,000, and earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases thereafter). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Earn 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and earn 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent elsewhere.
Earn 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles. Plus, get a 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to balance amounts transferred.
BMO CashBack Mastercard For Students
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.
Get up to 5% cash back in the first three months (up to a maximum spend of $2,000, and earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases thereafter). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months, with a 1% fee for every transferred balance.
No-Fee Scotiabank Value Visa Card
16.99%
3.99% for the first 6 months (then 16.99%)
N/A
$0
$12,000
Save with a low interest rate, no annual fee and a balance transfer offer.
Get a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% balance transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
Scotiabank Value Visa Card
12.99%
0.99% for the first 6 months (then 12.99%)
N/A
$29
$12,000
Save on interest for 6 months by consolidating your higher-rate balances with the balance transfer offer, and get an on-going 12.99% interest rate on purchases, cash advances and balance transfers.
Get a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
Scotia Momentum Visa Card
19.99%
2.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
N/A
$39
$12,000
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store and drug store purchases and on recurring bill payments (up to a $25,000 annual spend), and earn 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases (and on all eligible purchases once the $25,000 annual spend is reached).
Get a 2.99% introductory rate on balance transfers and a 0% balance transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
19.95%
1.95% for the first 6 months (then 19.95%)
3%
$0
$12,000
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
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*The products compared on this page are chosen from a range of offers available to us and are not representative of all the products available in the market. There is no perfect order or perfect ranking system for the products we list on our Site, so we provide you with the functionality to self-select, re-order and compare products. The initial display order is influenced by a range of factors including conversion rates, product costs and commercial arrangements, so please don't interpret the listing order as an endorsement or recommendation from us. We're happy to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions, but we'd like you to make your own decisions and compare and assess products based on your own preferences, circumstances and needs.

Choosing the right balance transfer credit card

If you’ve decided that a balance transfer is best for you, you’ll then need to find a card to suit your needs. When shopping around, the two most important things to consider when choosing a balance transfer card are the promotional APR length and the balance transfer fee. You’ll want to aim for a card that has a long promotional period of at least 10 months, and low or zero fees.

It can be difficult to find cards that don’t charge any balance transfer fees, but this is a plus if you do. If not, try to find one where the transfer fee is 1%. Ideally, you should be able to eliminate most, if not all of your debt during the interest-free period. Any additional rewards or benefits that may work in your favour will help you to decide on the right card, such as travel rewards or cash back perks.

Once you’ve found a balance transfer card you want to apply for, you’ll need to gather the necessary information that you’ll require to submit your application. Most importantly, you’ll need the account information for the card that you are transferring the debt from, and the exact amount you wish to transfer. Write down any important questions you may have so you can ask them before committing to the new card.

Applying for a card and completing the balance transfer

Now that you’ve chosen the perfect balance transfer card, it’s time to submit your application. You can click “Go to site” in the table above to start your application. When filling out your application – online, through the mail, or sometimes in person at a branch – you’ll be given the opportunity to include the balance transfers you wish to make. You’ll need to provide the account number and the amount you wish to transfer. This is simply a request on your part. The exact amount you’ll be eligible to transfer will be determined once your application has been reviewed and approved.

If you’re approved, your new card provider will transfer the balances on your behalf, up to the credit limit on your new card minus any transfer or annual fees. Be sure to continue to make your minimum monthly payment on your old card until you’ve confirmed that the transfer has been made.

If you submitted your application without making any balance transfer requests, you will have to make arrangements to transfer your debt once you’ve been approved. You can do this one of two ways.

  • By phone: Once you receive your new card in the mail, call the number on the back of the card, and a customer service representative will assist you in completing the transfer.

-or-

  • Online: You’ll need to sign up for online banking once you receive your card. Once you’ve created your online account, follow the instructions to complete the transfer.
  • Make sure to complete the transfer as soon as possible. If you wait longer than 60 days, you may lose the promotional APR. It typically takes 5-7 business days to be approved. If you haven’t heard back after this time, contact the bank to find out if there’s an issue. You may be asked to provide additional information. You can confirm your transfer once you’ve heard back.

Finally, what should you do with your old cards?

After confirming your transfer, you may or may not want to close your old accounts. If your old bank charges any membership fees, you can contact them to close your old card and avoid any further charges. If you have old cards that aren’t accumulating any charges, you don’t necessarily have to close those accounts. Having open lines of credit that you aren’t using can help to improve your credit rating.

Compare credit cards for 2020

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