Find out if a balance transfer credit card is right for you | Finder Canada

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Is a balance transfer right for me?

Understanding the balance transfer process and whether it's right for you.

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A balance transfer is a great way to pay off your existing credit card debt at a much lower rate, but these deals are restricted by many terms and conditions.

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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Is a balance transfer a good idea?

Several factors may influence whether or not you would benefit from a balance transfer card.

  • Is your interest rate making it difficult to pay down your balance?

    When interest rates are high enough to make it nearly impossible to pay down your principal a balance transfer may be a good idea to get a better rate.

  • Can you qualify for a high enough credit limit?

    To transfer the whole balance from one or more accounts you’ll have to qualify for a high enough credit limit.

  • Is the intro period going to be long enough?

    Some balance transfer cards offer a low or 0% intro APR for a certain length of time when you first transfer. Promotional periods generally range from 6 to 10 months, which can give you time to pay down your newly-transferred balance.

  • How much will you actually save?

    Balance transfers can come with fees — usually from 1% to 3% of the amount being transferred. The fee, intro APRs, long-term APRs, introductory period and your budget should be considered when you’re calculating potential savings.

  • Can you keep from spending more?

    Keeping your old cards open will make for a lot of freed up credit. Temptation can build, so you’ll need to keep that urge to shop in line.

  • Is your credit score good?

    Your ability to qualify for the card that’s right for your situation is also something to keep in mind. Getting another card with a high revert rate or an intro that’s not long enough may not be the best solution.

How a balance transfer works

Balance transfers are fairly straightforward. The goal of a balance transfer is to move one or more debts onto a new credit card. Usually, this is done to consolidate debt or get a lower APR.

To start a balance transfer you’ll need to gather your current account information, including the amounts you want to transfer, the bank name (and its institution number), transit number and account number.

You’ll give the information you’ve gathered to the new credit card provider and the transfer will get started. During the time of the transfer, you’ll have to continue making your regular monthly payments. Transfers can take anywhere from a few business days to a few weeks depending on all parties involved.

How much you can transfer

Some banks will allow a minimum of $100, others may set the minimum at $500.

In terms of maximums, it depends on the institution. Typically the maximum sits between 70% and 100% of your approved credit limit.

Confirm what the minimum and maximum transfer amounts are by checking your relevant product disclosure statement.

Credit Limit70%80%90%95%
$2,500$1,750$2,000$2,250$2,375
$5,000$3,500$4,000$4,500$4,750
$7,500$5,250$6,000$6,750$7,125
$10,000$7,000$8,000$9,000$9,500
$12,500$8,750$10,000$11,250$11,875
$15,000$10,500$12,000$13,500$14,250

Which banks you can transfer your balance to

You generally can’t transfer your debt to a card with the same bank. Co-branded cards and shop cards may not be transferred to some providers. For example, you can’t transfer a balance from a Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card to a Scotiabank card because you’re already a Scotiabank cardholder.

What the revert APR is

Your low or 0% intro balance transfer rate will only last for the length of the promotional period, after which it will revert to a much higher interest rate. If this rate is higher than your current one, it may not be worth transferring the balance if you can’t pay the balance off before the intro APR period ends — though this also depends on what the balance transfer fee is.

How long a balance transfer takes

This depends on the financial institutions involved. It usually takes about 2 weeks to complete. The balance transfer intro period may begin as soon as your account is approved, though some providers don’t start it until the transfer is complete.

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 10,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Apply by October 31, 2021 . 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 up to 5x the AIR MILES Reward Miles on groceries Valid until May 31, 2021.Plus, get 3x the AIR MILES for every $25 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and 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 up to 5x the AIR MILES Reward Miles on groceries Valid until May 31, 2021. Plus, 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.
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.
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 July 1, 2021.
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).
Earn 7.5% cash back on all purchases for the first 3 months (up to $2,000 in total purchases). Plus, get a 2.99% introductory rate on balance transfers and a 0% balance transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by May 2, 2021.
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Bottom line

How much you can get out of a balance transfer card depends on your specific financial situation. Be sure to take your time while researching companies and solutions to find the one that best meets your needs.

Getting out of debt can feel like an endless cycle, but you may be able to take great strides forward with planning and patience.

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