Is a balance transfer worth it?

Save money on interest payments and pay down your debt faster.

Last updated:

Happy young family taking a selfie on vacation.

If you only make the minimum payment on your credit card balance, your account will accrue interest and this can create spiraling debt. Before you know it, you could be stuck paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest seeing your debt go down. That’s where a balance transfer comes in.

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
Go to site
Promoted

The pros and cons of a balance transfer credit card

There are two types of balance transfer credit cards — rewards credit cards and cards with a long 0% intro APR period. The specific benefits and drawbacks will vary based on your card choice. Here are the general pros and cons of using a balance transfer credit card.

Pros

  • Faster debt repayment. Avoid accumulating and paying interest on your debt during the intro APR period, so you can pay it down faster.
  • No annual fee. Pay off your debt faster by minimizing fees. Most credit cards with 0% intro APR period on balance transfers have no annual fee.
  • Potential rewards. If you go with a rewards credit card, you can earn cash back on your purchases after you pay off your balance transfer.
  • Signup bonus. Earn a potential signup bonus if you get a rewards credit card that offers one.

Cons

  • Balance transfer fees. Depending on the card you’ll usually pay between 1% and 4% of the amount you transfer, but it’s possible to can find some credit cards with no balance transfer fee.
  • Balance transfer amount limits. Card issuers limit your balance transfer amount either up to the size of your debt or up to a certain percentage of your debt between 50%-70%.
  • Balance transfer restrictions. You usually can’t make balance transfers between accounts within the same bank or affiliated financial institutions.
  • Interest on unpaid balances. If you fail to pay off your balance during the 0% intro APR period you’ll accrue interest on your outstanding balance. It’s important to have a debt repayment plan in place is to avoid paying interest.

Is a balance transfer worth it?

A balance transfer may be worth considering if you’re carrying a balance on your current credit card and you’re stuck paying high interest on it.

Compare balance transfer credit cards

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.
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Balance transfer repayment calculator

Card #1
$
%

Card that you are transferring to:

%
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

Bottom line

If you’re looking to pay off your credit card debt faster by not paying any interest for a period of time, a balance transfer credit card could be worth considering. If you’re still not sure whether a balance transfer credit card is right for you, you can compare other credit cards until you find the right fit for your needs.

Frequently asked questions

Ask an Expert

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Go to site