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Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of 2020

Find the best balance transfer card for your financial needs.

Updated

Fact checked

Our pick for balance transfers: Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card logo

18 months

Intro APR on transfers

  • Market-leading 18 months intro APR on transfers and purchases
  • Potentially low revert rate of 14.74%-24.74% variable
  • No annual fee
Apply now

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Credit card debt can be anxiety-inducing, to say the least. But a balance transfer card can help alleviate some of that stress. Using this type of card, you can consolidate multiple debts into one balance and pay down what you owe within an interest-free period.

Our credit card experts have spent hundreds of hours researching balance transfer cards to help you find the best options for your debts and budget. Compare features, pros and cons of each card, and learn how much debt you can transfer with our balance transfer calculator.

What are the best balance transfer credit cards?

Here are our choices for some of the top balance transfer offers of 2020. If you want to compare these cards side-by-side, check out our comparison table below.

Best balance transfer card for a long 0% intro APR

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.2 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (740-850)
Apply now
on Citi's secure site
740
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
0% intro
Transfer APR
n/a
Rewards
With Citi reducing the balance transfer period on the Diamond, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card now stands as the the longest balance transfer intro APR offer on the market. This card provides plenty of time to pay down your debt without garnering interest. This card also sports a potentially low revert APR should you need to carry a balance in the future.
  • Intro balance transfer APR. 0% intro APR for the first 18 months — then 14.74% to 24.74% variable.
  • Intro purchase APR. 0% intro APR for the first 18 months — then 14.74% to 24.74% variable.
  • Foreign transaction fees. You'll pay a 3% fee on purchases made abroad.
  • Few perks. As a balance transfer-focused card, you won't find many perks such as rewards or travel protection on this card.
Annual fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
Balance transfer fee $5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
Rewards N/A

Best balance transfer card for cash back

Citi® Double Cash Card

Citi® Double Cash Card logo
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (740-850)
Apply now
on Citi's secure site
740
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
0% intro
Transfer APR
Up to 2%
Cash back
A lengthy balance transfer intro APR makes this card an easy pick for best in its category. On top of the intro APR period, it offers cashback on new purchases and a low balance transfer fee.
  • Intro balance transfer APR. 0% intro APR for the first 18 months — then 13.99% to 23.99% variable.
  • Unlimited cash back. Earn 1% cash back when you make purchases, and an additional 1% back when you pay your balance.
  • No annual fee. Keep this card in your wallet without worrying about an annual fee.
  • Potentially high fees. After your first late payment, you'll incur up to $40 in fees for each late payment. Citi may also impose a penalty APR of up to 29.99% for repeat offenses.
Annual fee $0
Purchase APR 13.99% to 23.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
Balance transfer fee $5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
Rewards Up to 2% cash back on purchases (1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay)

Best balance transfer card for groceries and gas

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card logo
Credit recommended (670-850)
Read review
670
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
0% intro
Transfer APR
Up to 5x
Points
Most balance transfer credit cards aren't geared for much more than balance transfers. With the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card, you may be able to get everyday value with responsible use, even after you pay off your balance transfer.
  • Intro balance transfer APR. 0% intro APR for the first 12 months — then to 17.99% variable.
  • Rewards. Earn 3% cash back at US gas stations. Purchases at US gas stations earn 5% back, and all other purchases earn 1%.
  • Balance transfer deadline. You'll need to perform your balance transfer by a rolling deadline based on when you opened your account.
Annual fee $0
Purchase APR 13.49% to 17.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 12 months (then 17.99% variable)
Balance transfer fee 3%
Rewards 5x points on gas at the pump, 3x points on groceries and 1x points on all other purchases

Best balance transfer card for low ongoing interest

Simmons Visa®

Simmons Visa® logo
Credit recommended (740-850)
Read review
740
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
0% intro
Transfer APR
n/a
Rewards
The no-annual-fee Simmons Visa® comes with a solid intro APR period on balance transfers. However, its main attraction is its low ongoing APR: 8.25% variable on purchases and balance transfers. This is a stellar deal considering the average credit card APR is around 17%.
  • Low APR. Enjoy a 8.25% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers.
  • No annual fee. Don't pay anything to own the card.
  • Intro APR. Get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 12 months after account opening, then 8.25% variable.
  • No rewards. This is primarily a card for a low interest rate. If perks are what you're after, check out rewards credit cards.
Annual fee $0
Purchase APR 8.25% variable
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 12 months (then 8.25% variable)
Balance transfer fee $10 or 3% of transfer during promo or $0 after promo
Rewards N/A

Best balance transfer card with no balance transfer fee

Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card

Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card logo
Credit recommended (580-850)
Read review
580
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
0% intro
Transfer APR
n/a
Rewards
The Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers, with a terrific low revert rate of 5.99% to 18% variable, all with no balance transfer fee. The main catch? You'll need to be a member of the NFCU to use this card.
  • No balance transfer fee. This card is low on fees, including balance transfer fees.
  • Intro APR. Get a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers made within the first 30 days of account opening for 12 months. After that, your purchase and balance transfer APR will be 5.99% to 18% variable.
  • Travel protections. You'll enjoy a few travel protections with this card, including emergency assistance, cell phone protection and auto collision damage waivers.
  • Penalty APR. Your APRs on all balances may increase to 18% variable if you make a late or returned payment. This is a sky-high rate — the average credit card APR is 17%.
Annual fee $0
Purchase APR 0% intro for the first 12 months (then 5.99% to 18% variable)
Balance transfer APR 0% intro for the first 12 months (then 5.99% to 18% variable)
Balance transfer fee None
Rewards N/A

What’s changed in 2020

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is back to its popular 18 months intro APR on balance transfers (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable).

Unfortunately, Amex removed intro balance transfer periods from the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, allowing the Navy Federal Credit Union® Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards Credit Card to take its place.

  • Why trust us? Finder’s credit card experts spend nearly 400 hours each week researching, comparing and writing about credit cards. Because of our extensive experience, we know the lay of the land when it comes to balance transfer cards. We want to share our knowledge with readers, helping them to pick the best card. We also follow strict editorial guidelines that keep our content unbiased and accurate.

Balance transfer cards by issuer

Click any company logo below to see all the balance transfer cards offered by that brand.

AMEX logoBank-of-America-LogoBarclaycard-Logo
Capital-One-LogoChase-LogoCiti credit cards logo
Discover provider logoPenfed Card provider logoTD Bank provider logo
US Bank provider logoUSAA provider logoWells Fargo Card provider logo

Compare balance transfer cards

Select your credit score from the options below. Then, input your credit card with the largest balance and its APR into the transfer amount and current APR filters. Hit calculate and you’ll see just how much each card can save you. When you’re ready to select a card, click the green button to start your application.

%
Name Product Amount saved Balance transfer APR Balance transfer fee Recommended minimum credit score Filter values
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
740
Long 18 months intro APR periods on purchases and balance transfers. Plus Citi Entertainment℠ for deals on dining and going out.
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
740
This one of the most valuable flat cashback cards. It comes with 2% cash back (1% when you buy plus 1% when you pay) and 18 months to pay off transfers.
Luxury Card Mastercard® Titanium Card™
0% intro for the first 15 billing cycles (then 14.99% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
700
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
TD Cash Credit Card
0% intro for the first 15 billing cycles (then 12.99%, 17.99% or 22.99% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
680
3% on dining and 2% on groceries make this a valuable card for food purchases. Use it while traveling, too, with no foreign transaction fees. Available in: CT, DC, DE, FL, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, SC, VA, VT
CardMatch™ from creditcards.com
See issuer's website
300
Use the CardMatch tool to find cards you're likely to qualify for with your credit score, without a hard pull on your credit.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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.

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).

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.

What will it cost me?

There are two main costs to keep in mind when it comes to the costs of a balance transfer: APR and transfer 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.

Because the main purpose of a balance transfer card is to help you pay off debts with higher interest, it’s a good idea to make sure you understand how the purchase APR, balance transfer APR, and revert rates work on your new card. It might be a good idea to avoid making purchases on your new card until you’re sure you’ve got a handle on paying off your transferred balance within the promotional period.

Transfer fee

A transfer fee is the price of transferring a balance to a balance transfer card. This is usually between 3% and 5% of the amount you’re transferring, though some balance transfer cards charge no fee as part of their welcome offer.

Check out our balance transfer calculator to see how these figures work together.

When is a balance transfer worth it?

A balance transfer is worth it when the money saved on interest outweighs any balance transfer fees.

Let’s say you owe $4,000 on a credit card with an interest rate of 19% and you intend to pay $300 each month. Instead, you move the debt to a balance transfer card with a 0% intro APR for 15 months and a 3% transfer fee. Although you would pay $120 in balance transfer fees, you would pay off the debt in just under 14 months and avoid paying any interest during this time.

If you kept the debt on the original card, you would pay $529 in interest. By moving the debt to the balance transfer card, you end up saving $405 dollars. In this case, the balance transfer card is clearly worth it.

Below we look at four common options for tackling this kind of debt. See how they stack up.

Four options for repaying credit card debt

Details of the original card
  • Credit card balance: $4,000
  • Original card int. rate: 19%
  • Monthly payment: $300
  • Cost in interest: $529
Balance transfer to card with 0% APRPay off card faster: $515 monthly paymentDebt consolidation loan at 5% APRPaying the minimum
Cost in interest$0$303$124$5,740
Cost in transfer fees$120$0$120$0
Total cost$120$303$244$5,740
Time to pay off debt14 months9 months14 months10+ years
Savings$405$226$285-$5,211

In this case, a balance transfer card is the best option. Although you’ll pay a transfer fee, you’ll save the most in interest over time.

What are the benefits of a balance transfer credit card?

  • 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.

What to avoid with balance transfer credit cards

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 0% 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 0% 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.

Do I really need a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer credit card can be a nifty tool to save money, but it’s not always the optimal choice. Consider passing on this card type if:

  • The interest you save is outweighed by the fees you’ll pay.
    Most cards charge fees when you transfer a balance. If you pay these costs, you might end up paying more than you would if you had just continued paying off your existing balance.
  • You’re using a balance transfer to cover up bad financial habits.
    Even after you transfer a balance, you still have to pay it off. Consider whether a balance transfer is a one-off action while you pay off your debt for good — or whether you’re just shifting debt around.
  • Will my credit card be useful after I make my balance transfer?
    Some balance transfer cards don’t have much to offer besides 0% intro APRs. Consider whether you want to add another card to your wallet — especially one that doesn’t offer many other impressive features.

How to choose a balance transfer credit card

Consider these questions as you decide on a balance transfer card:

  • How long of an intro APR period do you want?
    Intro periods for 0% APR typically reach as high as 18 to 21 months — for example, with the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card. Some cards, such as the SunTrust Prime Rewards, have intro APRs higher than 0% but offer their promotional rates for very long periods.
  • Do you want rewards?
    If you want rewards, you may need to sacrifice the length of your card’s intro APR. Many balance transfer cards with rewards have intro periods only around 15 months.
  • Are you OK with paying balance transfer fees?
    Some cards offer no balance transfer fees for either a promotional period or at all times. Keep in mind that some cards that never charge transfer fees come with less-attractive intro APRs or interest rates.
  • What annual fee are you willing to pay?
    Many balance transfer cards have no annual fees. If your card has an annual fee, consider how this will cut into your potential savings from a balance transfer.
  • What is the card’s normal APR?
    If you don’t plan on paying off your balance before your intro APR expires, check the card’s ongoing APR. Your remaining balance will accumulate interest at that rate following your intro APR period.

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 the US.

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 Security number and date of birth.
  • Your residential status.
  • Financial details, such as your annual salary and other income.

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

  • Account details for the debt you’re hoping to transfer.
  • The amount to transfer to your new card.

You asked, we listened: Top 5 common questions

There can be a lot of fine print when it comes to balance transfers. Here are the five most common questions we receive on the subject.

  1. How much can I transfer? The minimum and maximum amount you can transfer during a balance transfer is typically determined by your card’s credit limit.
  2. What credit score do I need? Generally, you need a good credit score or better to qualify for a balance transfer card.
  3. What kinds of debt can I transfer? Aside from credit card debt, you can transfer nearly any type of monthly payment owed, such as student loans, auto loans and personal loans.
  4. What mistakes should I avoid in my application? Applying for a balance transfer card with your existing credit card issuer is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
  5. What happens if I can’t pay off my balance in time? If you can’t pay your full balance in time, the revert APR will kick in and you’ll need to start paying that interest on future payments.

Compare balance transfer cards by credit score

How much debt can I transfer?

Balance transfer calculator

To help you through this process, use our balance transfer calculator to find out how much you could save by making a transfer.

To use the calculator:

  1. Fill out your current credit card information by inputting the balance and APR on each line below. If you know the details about the card you’re transferring to, fill those out to see how much you’ll save.
  2. We’ll input some default values for you if you don’t have a specific card in mind.
  3. Hit “calculate” to see your savings.
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.

4 tips to making the most out of your balance transfer card

The best way to leverage the benefits of a balance transfer card is to focus on doing away with your debt, rather than the perks banks and providers use to lure you in:

  1. Make sure you’ll save money. A balance transfer card with an annual fee and high transfer fees can eat into your savings. The interest you’ll save on your debt should outweigh the card’s costs.
  2. Pay more than the minimum. Knock out your balance quicker by paying as much as you can beyond your statement’s minimum. Find the magic number by dividing your remaining balance by the months left in your intro period.
  3. Avoid additional purchases. Many cards prioritize your payment toward new purchases, which could threaten your ability to repay your transfers before the end of your intro. Hold off on swiping your card until your balance is down to $0.
  4. Heed the revert rate. If you don’t pay off your balance by the end of your intro period, your rate reverts to the everyday APR. Adopt your revert date as your payoff deadline if you can to avoid paying more than you need to.

Ask the experts

Craig Israelsen
  • Craig Israelsen
  • Executive in Residence
  • Utah Valley University
Michele Langbein
  • Michele Langbein, Ph.D.
  • Professor of Business Management
  • Point Park University
John Ulzheimer
  • John Ulzheimer
  • Credit Expert
  • johnulzheimer.com
Eric Rosenberg
  • Eric Rosenberg
  • Personal Finance Expert
  • personalprofitability.com
Kashif A. Ahmed
  • Kashif A. Ahmed
  • Adjunct Professor of Finance
  • Suffolk University
Andrew Burnstine
  • Andrew Burnstine
  • Associate Professor
  • Lynn University

Balance Transfer Statistics

Just 1% of US credit card accounts took out a balance transfer in 2018.

Nonetheless, roughly $54 billion in existing debt was moved to a balance transfer card by cardholders that year. That makes up about 9% of the total credit card debt across all cardholder accounts, according to a recent report from the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

Balance transfers performed by credit score

Generally, the most valuable balance transfer credit cards or opportunities are found on credit cards requiring good or excellent credit.

See our breakdown of balance transfers based on cardholder credit score.

Balance transfers performed by credit score
Credit scoreDebt transferredOverall percent
Excellent$38.8 million72%
Good$13.5 million25%
All other scores$1.62 million3%

Source: Consumer Credit Card Market Report, August 2019, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

As you can see, most balance transfer activity is performed by those with excellent or good credit. Those with fair or poor credit, on the other hand, are less likely to transfer a balance using a credit card.

The average debt amount transferred by credit score

The size of the average balance transfer differed based on credit score. As you’ll see below, those with higher credit scores transferred more debt with their balance transfer.

The average debt amount transferred by credit score
Credit scoreAverage balance transfer 2015Average balance transfer 2018
Excellent$5,049$5,453
Good$3,235$4,136
Fair$2,313$2,845

Source: Consumer Credit Card Market Report, August 2019, Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

The amount of debt transferred across all segments also grew from 2015 to 2018. This is most likely thanks to a growing economy over this period.

Intro period length across balance transfer cards

We dove into our credit card database to take a look at how the intro APR periods across balance transfer cards broke down.

Intro period length across balance transfer cards
Intro PeriodPercentage of Balance Transfer Cards
6 Months8.06%
9 Months2.42%
12 Months40.32%
13 Months1.61%
14 Months2.42%
15 Months39.52%
18 Months4.84%
21 Months0.81%
As you can see from the data above, you’re most likely to find a balance transfer offer with an intro period of 12 or 15 months. Despite their small length, 6-month intro periods were the third most common, with the much coveted 21-month period the scarcest of all periods.

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.

Find the right balance transfer card for your financial situation by thoroughly comparing your options.

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