How to use a balance transfer credit card

Information verified correct on January 20th, 2017

Learn the basics of transferring a balance to a new credit card.

There’s more to balance transfer credit cards than just moving your debt.

How many balances can I transfer?

You can transfer the balance of as many cards as you want, up to the credit limit you are approved for. You also have the option of transferring other types of debt to your balance transfer credit card, such as auto loans and mortgages. During the credit card application process you will provide the details of your existing debt, such as account numbers, creditor name and the amount you wish to transfer.

How much money will I save?

When you apply for a new card, you are offered an introductory rate that is low or even 0% interest for a temporary period of time. The intro period you are offered is dependent upon your credit worthiness, and it usually lasts for a temporary period such as 6, 12, 18 or 21 months.
How does a balance transfer intro APR work?

How much does it cost?

Most cards will charge a fee to transfer your debts, usually between 3 and 5% of the debt amount, so make sure to compare this to how much you’ll save on interest during the promotional APR period.
Calculate your balance transfer fee

How many times can I transfer a balance?

If you find yourself at the end of your intro APR period and still have not paid off all of your debt, you may be able to apply for another card. Keep in mind that credit bureaus will begin to notice if you apply for too many cards or can’t pay down your debt during the intro period. Use your balance transfer card as a tool to try to get out of debt for good.

How might a balance transfer credit card affect my credit score?

Can I transfer someone else’s balance to my card and vice versa?

One topic that’s often inquired about is whether or not you can transfer a balance from someone else’s card to yours. Many people would love the opportunity the help their loved ones through financial hardships. While this can definitely be done, there’s a few things you should consider before making this move.

  • Make sure you have a substantial enough credit limit. Will you be able to cover the existing debt you carry, their balance, and still keep your utilization ratio under 30 percent?
  • As the primary cardholder, you will be responsible for making interest payments when the promotional APR period ends. That’s why it’s important to verify that the debt can be repaid during the intro 0% APR period.
  • Be positive that you can trust the person you’re transferring a balance for. They should be able to demonstrate the ability pay you back on time. If they miss a payment or you default on the card, it will be your credit rating that is affected, not theirs.

On this same note, if you know someone with a low or 0% APR card who is willing to help you consolidate your debt, you could transfer your balance to their card.

Get the details on transferring debt from a partner.

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Comparison of Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Rates last updated January 20th, 2017.

Barclaycard Ring Platinum MasterCard

APR for purchases, BT and cash advance are all 8.25%

January 8th, 2016

Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

50k bonus miles + 0% APR for 12 months on BT + APR for purchases of 16.24% or cash advance of 25.49%

September 17th, 2016

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Jonathan Choi Jonathan
Intro APR for Balance Transfer APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate ) Annual fee
Barclaycard Ring Platinum MasterCard
Low interest rate on purchases, balance transfer and cash advances.
8.5% * Variable $0 p.a. Go to site More info
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and enjoy the current 0% p.a. for 12 months
0% Intro APR for 12 months (with minimum of $5 or 3% balance transfer fee) 16.49%, 20.49% or 23.49% Variable $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($89 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard
Receive $100 cash rewards bonus when you spend $500 on your card within the first 90 days. A no annual fee card with 0% introductory APR on balance transfers.
0% Intro APR for 15 months (with minimum $5, 3% balance transfer fee) 15.24%, 20.24% or 25.24% Variable $0 p.a. Go to site More info
USAA Cash Rewards American Express
You can receive up to 2.25% cash back on groceries and gas, as well as up to 1.25% cash back on most purchases.
10.40% to 26.40% $0 p.a. Go to site More info
USAA Cash Rewards Visa Signature®
You can get price protection and extended warranties for your purchases and rewards for your day-to-day purchases.
10.40% to 26.40% $0 p.a. Go to site More info
USAA Military Affiliate Card
Earn 2,500 bonus points credited to your account with your first purchase and then 1 point per $ spent. No expiration date.
0% Intro APR for 12 (with After 12 months, your APR will be 11.15% to 26.15% based on your% balance transfer fee) 11.40% to 26.40% $0 p.a. Go to site More info
USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum
Get price protection and extended warranties on products you purchase, which allows you to refund payment for products.
3% Intro APR for 12 (with 3% of the transaction amount (maximum fee is $200)% balance transfer fee) 7.40% to 24.40% $0 p.a. Go to site More info

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Credit One Bank Platinum Visa Credit Card
Credit One Bank Platinum Visa Credit Card

APR

15.65
TO
24.15

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
Target REDcard Credit Card
Target REDcard Credit Card

APR

23.15

Annual fee

0 For the first year
More info
UNITY Visa Secured Credit Card
UNITY Visa Secured Credit Card

APR

17.99

Annual fee

0 For the first year
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USAA Cash Rewards American Express
USAA Cash Rewards American Express

APR

10.40
TO
26.40

Annual fee

0 For the first year
More info
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