Finder may earn compensation from partners, but editorial opinions are our own. Advertiser Disclosure

What is a balance transfer fee?

Move your debt to a new credit card and pay it off with an interest-free period.

A balance transfer is a great way to cut costs on existing debt. However, many credit cards charge a fee on the transfer which can lead to unexpected costs if you’re not careful. Here’s what a balance transfer fee is and how it works.

How does a balance transfer fee work?

A balance transfer fee is the amount your lender charges when you balance-transfer an eligible debt onto a new credit card. The balance transfer fee is usually 3% to 5% of the entire balance transfer amount. This fee is represented on the balance of the credit card receiving the balance transfer.

For example, if you are transferring $5,000 onto a new card and are charged a 2.5% balance transfer fee, the entire amount of the debt that will appear on the new card is $5,125, which is the $5,000 existing debt and the $125 balance transfer fee. Unlike an annual fee, this fee is only charged once when you first move your balance.

Is it worth paying a balance transfer fee?

It depends. If you’re transferring a high amount to a credit card with a 0% intro APR for 12 months, you’ll likely pay less in transfer fees than you would in interest.

You may also find a stellar card that doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee and offers a low APR of 10% or less. Depending on your repayment timeline, this situation can save you hundreds of dollars.

However, no-fee balance transfer cards often come with short 0% intro 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 higher interest rate. With no 0% intro period, you’ll start paying interest on balance transfers immediately. You’ll want to calculate your repayment period before settling on a balance transfer card.

How to calculate your balance transfer fees

If you’re curious how to calculate the potential costs of a balance transfer, we’ll help you break down the logistics.

For a balance transfer, you’ll typically be charged 3% to 5% of the total balance transferred. Usually, this fee has a flat minimum amount. It’s usually written as “$10 or 3%” on the card rates and fees, and you’ll need to pay the greater of these two numbers. If 3% of the amount you’re transferring is less than $5, then you’ll be charged $5. Here are a few examples:

Scenario 1:
You’re transferring $10,000 to a new 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 since $10,000 x .03 = $300. As you can see, balance transfer fees can add up quickly if you’re transferring a large balance to a card with no cap on the fee.
Scenario 2:
You’re transferring $10,000 to a new 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. You may find out that you don’t have to pay one at all.

Also, calculate what you’d save with variousbalance transfer fees using our calculator.

How much will a balance transfer cost me?

You’ll pay anywhere from nothing to hundreds of dollars on a balance transfer. How much you pay comes down to the amount of debt you’re transferring the credit card receiving the transfer, and how soon you can pay off the balance.

If you want to get an idea of how much you’ll pay on a balance transfer, use our balance transfer calculator below.

To use this calculator:

  1. Fill out the amounts and APRs of the cards you’re transferring from.
  2. Use our default values or fill out a card you’re considering transferring your balance to.
  3. Choose Calculate and find out what you could save.
Card #1

Card that you are transferring to:

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.

Our pick for a balance transfer credit card

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

  • 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
  • With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
  • Shop with confidence knowing that you have dependable protection benefits, including $0 Liability on Unauthorized Purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
Read less
Read more

Compare balance transfer credit cards

Name Product Amount saved Balance transfer APR Balance transfer fee Minimum Credit Score Filter values
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
0% intro for the first 21 months (then 13.74% to 23.74% variable)
$5 or 5% of the transaction, whichever is greater

Best of Finder 2021

An impressive 21 months intro APR on balance transfers and purchases, as well as no annual fee make this one of the top 0% APR cards available.
Citi Simplicity® Card
0% intro for the first 21 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
$5 or 5% of the transaction, whichever is greater
With an intro APR of 21 months, this card has one of the longest balance transfer offers on the market. Plus, no late fees and no annual fee.
Citi® Double Cash Card
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
Get a strong 18 month 0% intro APR on balance transfers AND up to 2% back. This is a rare card that offers both rewards and balance transfers.

Compare up to 4 providers

What are the details around balance transfer fees?

This actually depends on the card. Most credit cards will charge either 3% or 5% fee of the amount for a balance transfer. But some credit cards have no balance transfer fees. These are often cards issued by credit unions, although there are some cards issued by banks.

However, there’s a trade-off to having $0 balance transfer fees. Typically cards that come with no balance transfer fees have a shorter 0% intro APR period on balance transfers than the cards with balance transfer fees. Make sure you do the math and choose the option that will save you more money.

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 balance transfer options before you decide on a new balance transfer credit card.

Frequently asked questions

Do you still have to make payments on a no-fee balance transfer card with a 0% intro AP
Yes. Although your balance won’t accrue interest during the promotional APR period, you’ll still need to pay at least the minimum payment each month.

How do I transfer more than once?
It depends. In some cases, you may not receive the low introductory rate.

The reason is that transfer promotions usually have set rules defining when and how often transfers can occur. This is set-in-stone information.

In the rare case that you pay off a transfer balance and years later find yourself in a similar situation, you might be able to qualify for another balance transfer with a different provider.

You may also transfer balances to your new card after the intro period has ended, but you’ll pay a balance transfer fee. And you may not get the introductory balance transfer rate — instead, you’ll be charged the purchase rate APR.

What’s the limit to how much I can transfer through a balance transfer offer?
This varies from one credit card issuer to the next. Most providers will allow you to transfer 70% to 100% of your credit limit.

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • 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 provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.

2 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    ZiaOctober 20, 2018

    4% apr vs 3% fee balance transfer

      Avatarfinder 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.


Go to site