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Compare Balance Transfer Credit Cards in 2021

Save money by moving existing debt to a balance transfer credit card.

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Balance transfer credit cards allow you to consolidate your credit card debt onto one card with lower payments so you can pay it off in a predetermined number of months. You can save hundreds – or sometimes thousands – of dollars in interest payments by paying a one-time balance transfer fee. Here’s what you need to know about how balance transfer credit cards work and how to compare them.

What are balance transfer credit cards?

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.

Balance transfer credit cards offer customers the opportunity to transfer most types of debt to a new credit card with a low intro APR (annual percentage rate) 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 balance much faster. Here’s a quick explainer:

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.
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).
Tangerine World Mastercard
19.95%
1.95% for the first 6 months (then 19.95%)
3%
$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).
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.
Get a bonus of 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 3x the AIR MILES for every $25 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $25 spent elsewhere.
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). 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 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
Get 3x the AIR MILES for every $25 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $25 spent elsewhere.
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Get a 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to balance amounts transferred.
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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.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

19.95 % APR

Purchase interest rate

Eligibility criteria, terms and conditions, fees and charges apply

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Apply today and earn 2% cash back in up to three spending categories of your choice.

  • Purchase interest rate: 19.95%
  • Cash advance rate: 19.95%
  • Balance transfer rate: 1.95% for the first 6 months, 19.95% thereafter
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Credit score: 680+
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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.
Balance transfer credit card explainer
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.

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 (SIN) and date of birth.
  • Your residential status.
  • Financial details, such as your annual salary and other income.

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

  • Account details for the debt you want to transfer.
  • The amount to transfer to your new card.

What will a balance transfer credit card cost me?

There are 3 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 low APR, you can put these savings towards paying down your 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 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.

Pros and cons of 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 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 low 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.

Top 5 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.

Other frequently asked questions

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