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How long is the longest 0% intro APR balance transfer credit card?
Compare our picks for longest balance transfer promotions.
Save money by paying low or no interest on your debt by transferring it to a credit card with a balance transfer promotional period. Note that any debt remaining after the promotion ends will be charged interest at the card’s standard rate — which is usually much higher.
Depending on the size of your debt, the difference between a 6-month and 24-month 0% intro balance transfer promotional period could mean hundreds or thousands of dollars saved on interest charges. That said, the longest offers aren’t necessarily right for everyone.
What's in this guide?
- What is the longest balance transfer period?
- Compare long-term balance transfer credit cards
- How to compare the longest 0% APR credit cards
- How long of a balance transfer offer do I need?
- Other factors to consider
- Tips for making the most of a long balance transfer offer
- Bottom line
- Frequently asked questions
What is the longest balance transfer period?
The longest balance transfer promotional period to date has been up to 36 months. However, there are currently no cards that offer this long of an intro period.
Right now, 21 months is the longest 0% intro balance transfer APR in the industry. This provides the opportunity to transfer and pay off debt with a long payment window. However, the longest deals are the toughest ones to get, requiring a good to excellent credit score. There are some great offers of 15, 18 and 21 months with 0% intro APR.
Our pick for a balance transfer intro of 21 months
Citi Simplicity® CardRead more
Compare long-term balance transfer credit cards
How to compare the longest 0% APR credit cards
It’s always important to research and compare your options. These are the key features to consider when looking at balance transfer credit cards:
- Introductory offer.
In general, you’ll want the lowest promotional interest rate over the longest term.
- Revert rate.
This is the regular rate that interest reverts to once the promotional period ends. This is important in case you still have outstanding debt on your card when the revert rate applies.
- Balance transfer fee.
Some credit cards charge a one-time balance transfer fee ranging from 3% to 5% of your balance transfer amount. Be aware that cards with longer promotional periods tend to charge a higher balance transfer fee.
- Maximum transfer amount.
This could be your new card’s credit limit, or even up to a certain percentage of your credit limit, ranging from 75% to 90%. For example, if you’re approved for a credit limit of $5,000 on a card that allows transfers of up to 75% of your limit, the maximum amount you could move to the new card would be $3,750, less any fees.
- Other balance transfer conditions.
This varies with each card, but there may be other conditions limiting where you can transfer your balance from. For example, some cards only allow balance transfers from other credit cards and store cards, while some accept debts from personal loans or even mortgages.
- Annual fee.
Credit card annual fees can have an impact on the value you get from a balance transfer offer, so make sure your savings more than offset any card fees.
How long of a balance transfer offer do I need?
You might not need to go out of your way to find the longest transfer offer on the market — you only need an intro period long enough for you to pay off your balance transfer comfortably.
If you do the math on how long you need to pay off your balance within your monthly budget, you might have more flexibility when it comes to which card you choose to apply for.
Other factors to consider
While the following factors aren’t usually a major priority when considering a balance transfer credit card, they should still generally be factored into choosing a new card.
- The cash advance rate.
This is the interest rate you’ll be charged when you get cash from an ATM or for cash-equivalent purchases such as gambling tokens.
- Cash advance fee.
A charge of up to 5% of your transaction amount may be applied to every cash advance transaction you make on your card. This is in addition to the cash advance interest rate.
- Complimentary extras.
Many credit cards include additional perks, such as complimentary travel insurance or concierge services. These extras are usually reflected in the cost of the annual fee, so make sure you’re not paying for things you don’t need and eroding your interest savings.
Some cards have their own rewards programs or frequent flyer programs, which let you earn points for new spending on your credit card. Since they often come with higher annual fees, carefully consider what you need and what you’re actually paying for. Note that balance transfers usually aren’t eligible for these points, and new purchases could attract high-interest charges if you already have a balance transfer on the card.
- Foreign transaction fees.
This fee applies when you use your card abroad or for online purchases from an international retailer. It’s usually around 2% to 3% of each transaction.
An additional note on purchase rates: If you know you’ll need to make purchases with the new card straight away, you may want to look at 0% intro APR balance transfer and purchase rate credit cards — just make sure you know when each of the promotional periods end as one can be shorter than the other.
Tips for making the most of a long balance transfer offer
To get the most out of your balance transfer, consider the following tips:
- Consider closing your old account if you have trouble not spending.
Closing your old account will prevent you from being charged any further costs, such as the annual fee, and eliminate the temptation of using your old credit card. Make sure the balance is zero after the transfer is complete and then call your issuer to request account closure. Note that closing your account could negatively affect your credit score.
- Make regular repayments.
Make full use of the interest-free period by drawing out a schedule of regular repayments. Aim to pay off your full balance within the promotional period if possible, and follow that schedule responsibly to achieve your debt freedom.
- Use savings to help pay down the balance.
Channel all resources towards paying off your debts, including spare cash and savings. This tip is especially relevant if you’re near the end of the balance transfer promotional period and you still have debt remaining.
- Avoid making new purchases.
Dedicate all available resources towards paying down your debt. Even if the card is offering 0% intro APR on purchases, remember that any new purchases will accrue interest and set you back.
Research your options and do the math to determine which card will deliver the greatest savings and convenience in the long run. Remember to only buy what you need and spend the rest on repaying that debt. When you compare providers for balance transfer cards, be sure to factor in how well they serve your plan on the whole rather than just the longest intro rate.
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