Compare Balance Transfer Credit Cards in 2020

Deal with your credit card debt: Move existing debt to a new balance transfer credit card

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If you have debt across one or more credit cards, you could consolidate it to a single balance transfer credit card – and pay it off with 0% or low interest for a predetermined number of months. While you can save hundreds – or sometimes thousands – of dollars in interest payments, you’ll need to watch out for the one-time balance transfer fee. Read our guide below for everything you need to know about balance transfer credit cards to find out if it’s the right decision for you.

What are balance transfer credit cards?

A balance transfer is the result of moving all – or part – of your existing debt to a new credit card provider, typically to save money on the overall interest you’d pay on that debt.

Balance transfer credit cards offer new customers the opportunity to transfer most types of debt to a new credit card with a low or 0% intro APR for a set period of time (usually up to 6-10 months). This provides some often much needed breathing room to help cardholders get their debt under control, and start paying down the principal much faster because more of each payment goes towards paying down debt.

Compare balance transfer credit cards

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 15,000 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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Let’s break down how balance transfers work

A balance transfer credit card allows you to move debts, like loans and credit card balances, to a new card with a lower interest rate. This allows you to pay off your balances faster and save money on interest.

Here are the steps to complete a balance transfer:

1. Compare and apply for a card

Look for balance transfer offers with the lowest rate possible (ideally 0%) for as long as possible (often 6, 12, or even 21 months if you have great credit). Submit your application.

2. Transfer the balance

Follow the instructions provided by the card issuer to transfer your existing balances to your new card.

3. Pay off the debt

Be sure to pay down the balance within the intro offer period, so you can save the most money on interest, get out of debt, and avoid any repercussions of the revert rate.

What will a balance transfer credit card cost me?

There are three main fees to keep in mind when it comes to considering a balance transfer credit card: APR, balance transfer fees and annual fees.

APR

Your purchase APR affects how much interest your balance accrues each month. If you have an APR of 19% and a balance of $4,000, you can expect to rack up an additional $63.60 a month in interest charges, assuming you make no payments. When you’re offered a 0% or low APR, you can put these savings towards paying down the actual debt.

Balance transfer fee

A balance transfer fee is a one-time fee that’s charged to transfer your debt to the new credit card. This fee is usually between 1% and 3% of the total amount transferred, though some balance transfer cards charge no fee as part of their welcome offer. Watch out for this fee – the cost can take away from savings you might get with a low or 0% APR.

Annual fee

You’ll need to take the annual fees of the credit card into consideration, as a high annual fee can add to the debt you already have. Some balance transfer cards come with no annual fees, while others might have annual fees into the hundreds of dollars.

Balance transfer repayment calculator

To help you through this process, use our balance transfer calculator to find out how much you could save by making a transfer.

Card #1
$
%

Card that you are transferring to:

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months
%
%
$
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this calculator, the results should be used as indication only. Certain assumptions have been made around the repayments made. This calculator is neither a quote nor a prequalification for a credit card.

How to calculate your balance transfer repayment

Here’s what the calculator is doing behind the scenes:

  • First, it adds all your existing card balances.
  • Then, it adds the fee you’ll pay for a balance transfer to the new card, as well as the new card’s annual fee (if applicable).
  • Lastly, it takes that total and divides it by the length of your new card’s intro APR.

If you were to do the math by hand, you’d use this formula:

(Total of existing card balances + Balance transfer fee of new card + Annual fee of new card) / Length of intro APR

When is a balance transfer worth it?

A balance transfer is worth it when the money saved on interest outweighs any balance transfer and annual fees.

Let’s say you owe $4,000 with an interest rate of 19% and you intend to pay $300 each month. Here are four common options for tackling this kind of debt:

Options for repaying credit card debt using a balance transfer credit card

Specs of original card
Credit card balance: $4,000
Original card interest rate: 19%
Annual fee: $0
Monthly payment: $500
Cost in interest: $329.45

Credit card: 0% apr, 3% transfer feeCredit card: 1% apr, 1% transfer feeLoan: 5% aprMinimum payment of 3%
Interest$0.00$15.07$212.00$2,481.00
Transfer fees$120.00$40.00$120.00$0.00
Total cost$120.00$55.07$332.00$4,735.32
Time to pay off debt8 months8 months24 months19+ years
Savings$209.45$274.38-$2.55$4,405.87

In this case, a balance transfer card with an APR of 1% and a lower balance transfer fee of 1% is the best option. Although the APR is higher than the 0% APR, the balance transfer fee savings make the card a slightly cheaper choice.

How do I compare balance transfer credit cards?

In addition to the APR and balance transfer fee, here are a few more factors to weigh when choosing a balance transfer card:

Revert APR

Revert APR

If you can’t pay your debt in full by the end of the intro period, any unpaid balance will begin to accrue interest at the revert rate. Depending on the card, you could face interest of 19.99% or higher – so budget wisely.

Penalties

Penalties

Some credit cards may enforce harsh penalties if you miss a payment, including eliminating your intro APR period altogether.

Rewards

Rewards

Most balance transfer credit cards are designed specifically to help you pay off your debt, though some may offer rewards, making them a decent ongoing choice after you’ve paid off your balance.

Annual fee

Annual fee

Some balance transfer credit cards come with annual fees. These can reduce your overall savings and prove a needless burden after you’ve paid your balance.

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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Benefits and things to avoid with balance transfer credit cards?

  • Saves you money. A low-interest rate keeps more cash in your pocket and slashes unnecessary interest on purchases made long ago.
  • Gets you out of debt faster. Low interest allows you to pay down your debt more quickly by applying more of your monthly payment toward your principal balance.
  • Simplifies your finances. Transferring the balances of multiple debts can consolidate many monthly payments into just one bill.

While a balance transfer credit card comes with many benefits, be on the lookout for potential pitfalls when paying down your debt.

  • Applying too often. Each card application requires a hard pull of your credit report, which can shave several points off your score.
  • Paying less than the minimum. To pay down as much of your balance before your 0% promo APR ends, divide the amount you’re transferring by the number of months you have to pay it down.
  • Forgetting the offer end date. After your intro period ends, you’ll pay your approved revert rate on any remaining balances. Consider setting a reminder for a few months before your promo expires.
  • Racking up additional debt. A 0% intro APR balance transfer card is most effective if you use it to concentrate on paying down your existing debt. Because repayments are applied to new purchases first, you threaten your ability to pay off your transferred debt in time.

How to apply for a balance transfer card

Most balance transfer card providers offer cards to applicants who are at least 18 years old and reside in Canada. While the exact information you’ll need to complete your application can vary by provider, you’ll likely submit:

  • Your personal contact information.
  • Your Social Insurance Number and date of birth.
  • Your residential status.
  • Financial details, such as your annual salary and other income.

Some credit cards allow you to request your balance transfers on the application itself with:

  • Account details for the debt you’re hoping to transfer.
  • The amount to transfer to your new card.

You asked, we listened: Top 5 common questions about balance transfer credit cards

There can be a lot of fine print when it comes to balance transfers. Here are 5 common questions answered:

  1. How much can you transfer? The minimum and maximum amount you can transfer during a balance transfer is typically determined by your card’s credit limit. Some providers will allow you to transfer up to 100% of your credit limit, while others will allow up to 70% or a specified dollar amount (such as $7,500).
  2. What credit score do you need? Generally, you need a good credit score of 650 or higher to qualify for balance transfer credit cards, however some providers may accept customers with fair credit ratings.
  3. What kinds of debt can you transfer? Aside from credit card debt, you can transfer nearly any type of monthly payment owed, such as personal loans and lines of credit.
  4. What mistakes should you avoid in your application? Applying for a balance transfer credit card with your existing card provider is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. This is because providers (or their affiliates) don’t typically allow existing customers to qualify for a balance transfer promotion, after all, they’re not going to compete for their own business.
  5. What happens if you can’t pay off your balance in time? If you can’t pay your full balance before the promotion ends, the revert APR will kick in and you’ll need to start paying that interest on future payments.

Bottom line

Balance transfers can be a good way to make a dent in your debt when high interest charges are eating away at your payments. Before you apply, make sure the switch will save you time and money by taking a look at the APR, balance transfer fee and annual fee.

Find the right balance transfer credit card for your financial situation by thoroughly comparing your options.

Frequently asked questions about balance transfer credit cards

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