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Best balance transfer card for everyday: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Best balance transfer card for low ongoing interest: HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card
Best balance transfer card for an intro balance transfer fee: Chase Slate® credit card
Best balance transfer card for a long 0% intro APR: Citi Simplicity® Card
Best balance transfer card for 0% intro balance transfer and unlimited cash back: Citi® Double Cash Card
Current credit cards on the market with balance transfer offers were evaluated primarily based on the length of balance transfer intro APR and balance transfer fee costs. Secondary factors that were considered include purchase intro APR offer availability and length, standard APR, annual fee, additional benefits and rewards programs.
A balance transfer credit card allows you to move your existing debt — other card balances, medical payments, student debt and even personal loans — to a new card with a lower rate, sometimes as low as 0%. Lower rates typically run for 6 to 18 months, after which the interest reverts to a higher rate.
During that introductory period, you can make serious headway in paying down your debt with the bonus of simplifying your many bills to just one.
You’re typically required to pay a one-time fee to transfer your balance with these cards, often a percentage of the amount you’re transferring to the new card. These fees are often added to the amount you transfer to the new card, rather than paid as a separate fee. You may also be on the hook for an annual fee.
Still, a lower APR can result in significant savings.
Compare balance transfer cards by credit card issuer
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How much money do I save? How much does it cost?
A number of factors need to be considered when figuring how much a balance transfer can save you versus how much it costs. Luckily, it can be broken down into a few simple steps:
Find out how much it would cost without a balance transfer.
Calculate the amount of interest you’ll pay without transferring the balance. For a balance of $4,000 with an interest rate of 19% and a monthly payment of $300, you would spend about $525 in interest payments and it would take 15 months to pay off your debt.
Calculate how much the balance transfer would cost.
Typically, a balance transfer fee runs between 3% and 5% of the amount being transferred. Check the card you’re transferring to for its specific balance transfer fee. Let’s say you’re transferring your $4,000 balance to a card with a 5% balance transfer fee. That would add $200 to your debt, making your total transferred amount $4,200.
Figure out how long of an intro period you need to pay off your debt.
Once you have the full amount you’re transferring, you can find out how much time you need to pay it off without interest. For your $4,200, you would need 14 months to pay off the balance without interest. Thankfully, there are balance transfer cards with 15-, 18- and 21-month intro APR periods.
Determine what will save you more.
A card with a higher balance transfer fee may also come with a longer introductory APR. However, you may not need as long to pay off your debt if you have a lower balance or are able to put more toward the balance each month. Be sure to take into account that not paying your debt off before the intro period ends means having to pay interest on it again. If that interest rate is higher than your last, you could be worse off. Budget honestly to avoid getting trapped in a debt cycle.
To help you through this process, use our balance transfer calculator to find out how much you could save by making a transfer.
Balance transfer calculator
To use the calculator:
- 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.
- We’ll input some default values for you if you don’t have a specific card in mind.
- Hit “calculate” to see your savings.
Read more about balance transfer credit cards
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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