What are balance transfer fees and how to calculate them | finder.com
hand holding credit cards

What is a balance transfer fee?

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

Here’s what you may have to pay when you consolidate your debt.

When you’re considering a balance transfer, you’re looking to save money on paying down your debt. So why would you pay a fee to move your money from one account to another? Balance transfer fees — usually between 2% and 5% — are fees credit companies charge you to move your debt to their card.

Our pick for low balance transfer fees: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

  • $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.99% to 25.99%.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Promoted

Compare balance transfer credit cards

Name Product Filter values Introductory Balance Transfer APR APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee Minimum Credit Score
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$0
680
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$0
680
Earn up to $250 back. Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn an additional $100 back after you spend an additional $6,500 in purchases within your first 12 months. You will receive the cash back in the form of a statement credit. Rates & Fees
0% for the first 12 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$95
680
Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
0% for the first 12 billing cycles (then 13.99% variable)
13.99% variable
$0
720
A low, variable APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable)
14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable
$0
680
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees.
0% for the first 18 months (then 12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% variable)
12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% variable
$0
680
An 18-month 0% Intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 16.99% variable)
16.99% variable
$195
715
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 16.99% variable)
16.99% variable
$495
715
Mastercard Black Card members receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 16.99% variable)
16.99% variable
$995
715
Earn points every time you spend. Luxury Card enhances your purchasing power by providing you with one (1) point for every one dollar ($1) you spend. Every purchase gets you closer to the rewards you want.
9.95% for the first 6 months (then 17.99% fixed)
17.99% fixed
$39
350
Borrow up to $10,000 and get your credit score back on track.
8.90% to 25.90% variable
$0
630
This card offers the same low rate for purchases, cash advances and balance transfers.
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
14.99% to 25.99% variable
$0
680
Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
0% for the first 15 months (then 16.99% to 25.74% variable)
16.99% to 25.74% variable
$0
680
Jumpstart your financial fitness! 60 day introductory balance transfer offer, save on interest, and get your free monthly credit score.
0% for the first 15 statement closing dates (then 14.99% to 24.99% variable)
14.99% to 24.99% variable
$0
680
Transfer high rate balances and save on interest with an introductory $0 balance transfer fee for the first 60 days your account is open. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% (min. $10).
0% for the first 15 months (then 16.99% to 25.74% variable)
16.99% to 25.74% variable
$0
690
Earn 1.5% unlimited cash back for each dollar spent.
0% for the first 12 statement closing dates (then 15.24% to 25.24% variable)
15.24% to 25.24% variable
$0
720
Earn more cash back for the things you buy most.
NASA Federal Platinum Advantage Rewards Credit Card
NASA Federal Platinum Advantage Rewards Credit Card
7.9% for the first 90 days (then 11.9% to 17.99% variable)
11.9% to 17.99% variable
$0
670
Enjoy perks and save money while gaining points that never expire with every purchase.
10.99% for the first 6 months (then 24.99% variable)
24.99% variable
$0
300
2% Cashback at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus 1% cash back on all other credit card purchases.
20.99% variable
$25
300
Establish credit history - with responsible use you may be upgraded to an unsecured credit card.
21.99% variable
$39
300
Help establish, strengthen - even rebuild your credit
20.99% variable
$29
300
Establish your credit and reap the benefits. Get worldwide purchasing power and flexibility as you work to build or re-establish your credit history.
24.99% variable
$0
300
Take control and build your credit with responsible use.
Aspire Platinum Mastercard®
Aspire Platinum Mastercard®
0% for the first 6 billing cycles (then 8.9% to 18% variable)
8.9% to 18% variable
$0
620
We'll help you score major savings with a 0% introductory APR* on purchases and balance transfers for 6 months.
1.99% for the first 6 monthly billing cycles (then 11.99% to 21.99% variable)
11.99% to 21.99% variable
$0
670
1% cash back to the nonprofits, K-12 schools, colleges and religious organizations of your choice.
22.97%, 24.97% or 26.97 variable
$39
630
Get unlimited 1.5 cash back on every purchase with no limit on how much you can earn, and no changing categories.

Compare up to 4 providers

What is a balance transfer fee?

A balance transfer fee is a fee credit card companies charge to move your debt to their card — usually a flat fee of $5 or a percentage between 2% and 5%. Promotional offers of 0% APR for 12 months for a balance transfer look appealing to those looking to pay down debt fast. But, if you read the fine print, you’ll find the transfer fee.

Credit card companies charge balance transfer fees because they can. If you’re looking to transfer a balance from one card to another, you’re looking for a deal. Credit card companies bank on new customers overlooking or disregarding a transfer fee as insignificant. But if you do the math — transferring a $8,000 balance with no APR would cost an additional $400 with a 5% transfer fee. So now you’re debt has grown to $8,400.

How balance transfer fees are calculated

A balance transfer fee is charged when transferring your existing credit card debt to a new credit card. It’s generally 3% to 5% of the total balance transferred. Usually this fee is set at a minimum amount, and you’ll be required to pay the larger of the two. For example, either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. If 3% of the amount you’re transferring is less than $5, then you will be charged $5. Only a very few banks will cap the transfer fee — most only set a minimum.

Scenario 1:
You’re transferring $10,000 onto a new balance transfer credit card.The card has a 3% balance transfer fee with no cap.Because the card has no cap on the fee, you’ll pay $300 ($10,000 x .03 = $300). As you can see, balance transfer fees can add up quickly if you are transferring a large balance to a card with no cap on their fee.
Scenario 2:
You’re transferring $10,000 onto a new balance transfer credit card.The card has a 2% balance transfer fee with a max of $75. Because 2% of $10,000 is $200, you’ll pay just $75.

If you’re wondering what fee you’ll be charged to transfer a balance, check the terms and conditions of the card. You should be able to find your answer under the “fees and rates” section. If you’re still unsure, contact the provider’s customer service team to confirm what you’re expected to pay.

How to find a no-fee balance transfer card

To help you decide on the best no-fee balance transfer card for you, consider these criteria:

  • Intro APR. Some cards offer 0% APR on balance transfers, which can provide you a break from interest.
  • Ongoing APR. Will you pay off your debt before your intro APR ends? If not, consider what the ongoing APR will be. If you plan on carrying debt for a long time, low-APR cards might be a more attractive option, even if you have to start paying interest on your balance immediately.
  • Annual fee. An annual fee can knock off a bit of your savings from a balance transfer card, so factor it in when you’re doing the math.
  • Ongoing balance transfer fees. If you plan on transferring balances over long periods of time, confirm whether your card offers no fees indefinitely or only for an intro period.

Are credit cards with no balance transfer fees better offers?

It depends. You may find a stellar card that doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee and offers a low APR of 10% or less. This situation can save you hundreds of dollars. If you’re transferring a high amount to a credit card with a 0% APR for 12 months, you’ll likely pay less in transfer fees than you would in APRs.

However, no-fee balance transfer cards often come with short 0% APR periods — or none at all. If you don’t pay off your balance by the time the promotion expires, your remaining debt might be assessed at a high interest rate. With no 0% intro period, you’ll start paying interest on balance transfers immediately.

And watch out for other fees for cash advances, an annual fee and foreign exchange fee.

Tips to keep in mind with no-fee balance transfer cards

When you’re looking for a no-fee balance transfer card, consider the following:

  • Offer terms. The no-fee transfer period may expire. Read the fine print to make sure you can take advantage of a free transfer.
  • Look for other fees. You may be drawn to a card that offers $0 fee for transfers, but costs $100 a year to use. Make sure the card’s other fees don’t negate what you saved in your transfer fee.
  • Compare savings. You may save more by paying a transfer fee and enjoying a 0% APR for 12 months. Make sure you do the math to see which deal saves you the most money.
  • Number of transfers. Some credit cards give you unlimited transfers for no fee, while other limit your $0 transfer to only one.

Bottom line

If you’re committed to getting out from under your debt, finding a balance transfer card can help. Evaluate your needs, the fees and APR of your new card and what will save you the most money in the long run. No-fee cards with low APRs can help, but make sure you compare your options before you decide on a new balance transfer credit card.

Frequently asked questions

Adrienne Fuller

Adrienne Fuller leads the publishing team at finder.com. She has one goal: to deliver the accurate and transparent information she wishes she had when she made some of life's important financial decisions. When she's not helping folks save money, she's hiking with her two Catahoulas around her home in San Diego.

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

US Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Deserve® Classic Card
Deserve® Classic Card

APR

24.49
variable

Annual fee

0 For the first year
More info
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™

APR

16.74
variable

Annual fee

995 For the first year
More info
First Access Visa Card®
First Access Visa Card®

APR

29.99
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card

APR

23.9
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    ZiaOctober 20, 2018

    4% apr vs 3% fee balance transfer

    • finder Customer Care
      AnndyOctober 22, 2018Staff

      Hi Zia,

      Thanks for your question.

      The 4% APR is the amount of interest you will pay for any unpaid balance transfer amount. On the other hand, the balance transfer fee is a one-off payment that is charged when transferring your existing credit card debt to a new credit card.

      We can easily understand the difference between the two if we set a sample figure. Say, you are transferring $10,000 and your options include credit card A with 4% APR and no balance transfer fee and credit card B with 0% APR on balance transfers but charges 3% balance transfer fee.

      Credit card A will charge you about $400 on the first month and this may go down on the second month if you are able to reduce your principal balance by paying more than the required minimum repayment.

      Credit card B will charge you a one-off $300 balance transfer fee which is normally charged on your first billing after credit card approval. This is the only time you will incur this fee.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

US Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Deserve® Classic Card
Deserve® Classic Card

APR

24.49
variable

Annual fee

0 For the first year
More info
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™

APR

16.74
variable

Annual fee

995 For the first year
More info
First Access Visa Card®
First Access Visa Card®

APR

29.99
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card

APR

23.9
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
Go to site