Can you earn reward points on a balance transfer?

You typically only earn rewards on purchases.

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There are many credit cards that offer rewards for spending, but you likely won’t get any points for a balance transfer. This is because balance transfer transactions are different from purchases.

Even if you want that 0% intro APR balance transfer offer with a rewards card, consider if you can make it worth the transfer — and if purchase rewards are something to focus on.

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 when your new credit card account is opened by July 1, 2020.

  • 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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Does a balance transfer count as a payment?

Typically balance transfers don’t count as payments. When you make a balance transfer, it’s usually counted as its own type of transaction or as a cash advance.

Rewards are usually earned on payments — and since balance transfers aren’t classified as payments, they’re not likely to earn rewards.

Can you earn points on a balance transfer?

Not likely. Credit card providers rarely offer rewards for shifting your debt from one card to another. However, you may still be able to enjoy promotional offers that give you cash back rewards or bonus points towards a rewards program simply for becoming a card holder.

Although it may seem similar to earning rewards points on a balance transfer, the key difference is that you’re rewarded for opening a new credit account, not for putting a balance on your card. Keep your eye out for cards with attractive introductory offers such as air miles bonus points, high cash back rates and credits you can redeem for free meals and entertainment.

Compare balance transfer credit cards

Consider opening a rewards card that has a balance transfer offer. This will allow you to keep earning rewards long after you’ve completed the balance transfer.

Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Balance Transfer Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Reward Description
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
12.99%
3.99% for the first 9 months (then 12.99%)
$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.
Scotiabank Value Visa Card
12.99%
0.99% for the first 6 months (then 12.99%)
$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 July 1, 2020.
No-Fee Scotiabank Value Visa Card
16.99%
3.99% for the first 6 months (then 16.99%)
$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 July 1, 2020.
Tangerine World Mastercard
19.95%
1.95% for the first 6 months (then 19.95%)
$0
$60,000
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).
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
19.95%
1.95% for the first 6 months (then 19.95%)
$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).
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
$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.
Receive up to 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%)
$0
$15,000
Get 1% cash back on all eligible purchases.
Get up to 5% cash back in the first three months (up to a maximum spend of $2,000). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months, with a 1% fee for every transferred balance.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
$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 up to 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%)
$0
$15,000
Get 1% cash back on all 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 1% cash back thereafter). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
Scotia Momentum Visa Card
19.99%
2.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
$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 July 1, 2020.
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Is it worth earning points on a balance transfer?

Not really. Even if you could earn a point for each dollar transferred, you’d have to transfer at least $10,000 of your debt just to redeem your points for a $100 gift card.

You should also factor in the following costs and risks:

  • Annual fee.

    Reward credit cards typically have annual fees ranging from $70 to $500 or more. So, in most cases, this cost would cancel out the value of the points right away.

  • Balance transfer fee.

    Depending on the card, you could pay a one-time processing fee worth 1% to 3% of the debt. That would be an extra $100 to $300 on a $10,000 balance transfer, meaning you’d likely pay more than you’d earn from reward points.

  • Balance transfer interest charges.

    Even if a card has no interest for 6 months, if you transfer enough debt to get value from the points, you probably wouldn’t be able to pay it off during the introductory period.

    Any debt remaining after that time would be charged interest at the standard rate for your card, which is usually between 16% and 22%.

Basically, if you have existing credit card debt you want to pay off, you’re usually better off getting a 0% intro APR balance transfer credit card. You can focus on paying down your debt without worrying about points and save as much money on interest as possible.

Once you’ve paid off your debt, you could consider getting a card that earns points for your everyday spending. Just remember that these cards offer the most value when you pay your balance in full each month.

What about credit cards that offer 0% intro APRs on balance transfers and introductory bonus points?

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Some credit cards offer new customers both introductory 0% APR balance transfers and bonus points. But to get the bonus points, you usually need to spend a specific amount on new purchases when you first get the card.

For example, a card might offer 40,000 bonus points if you make $3,000 worth of eligible purchases in the first three months.

If you’ve already transferred your older debt to the card, meeting this spending requirement adds to your balance. Plus, new purchases are charged interest at the purchase rate for that card, which could be as high as 22% APR.

How to decide if it’s worth getting a credit card with bonus points and an intro APR

If you really want to get points and a balance transfer, these are the key factors to consider:

  • What can you get with the bonus points?

    Check out the rewards or frequent flyer program to figure out the value of the bonus points. Sometimes these offers can be worth hundreds of dollars, although it depends on how you use them.

  • What are the bonus point spending requirements?

    Look at how much you need to spend and how long you have to meet this requirement. Is it reasonable considering your existing balance?

  • Can you pay off your debt during the balance transfer promotional period?

    Consider how long you’ll get the promotional balance transfer rate based on the size of your debt.

  • Can you afford to pay off both your balance transfer and the debt from any bonus-point spending?

    When you use a credit card for both a balance transfer and new purchases, you’ll likely have different interest rates for each part of the balance.

    When this happens, any payments you make will automatically go towards paying off the debt with the highest interest rate, usually your new purchases. If you can’t afford to pay off all your debt during the introductory period, you could end up paying more later on.

Bottom Line

Ultimately, you’ll need to evaluate whether a rewards program or a balance transfer card is best for your situation. If you have a large amount of debt you’re paying back at high-interest rates, a balance transfer card is likely the best solution for you.

However, if your debt isn’t that high, but you spend a lot on everyday purchases or travel a good deal, a cashback or travel rewards card could help you score in a huge way.

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