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This article was last updated Nov 01, 2018, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
With all of the Fed rate increases happening lately, credit card debt that you carry is becoming a lot more expensive. What may have been a spur of the moment charge one day can turn into a burden that can lead you to rack up debt that can linger for months or even years. Since the debt you carry is typically subject to variable interest rates that change based on the Fed rate, when the Fed raises its rate, your credit card issuer increases your APR, too.
Our study found that your credit card’s APR most likely will increase by 0.25% as a result of upcoming increases to the Fed rate. That means any balances you have on your card are subject to higher interest charges.
Whether you’ve fallen into debt as a result of overspending or cash flow issues, don’t worry about suffering forever. There are several ways you can get out of debt, and a balance transfer credit card is our top recommendation. By transferring your balance from a high interest card to a card that offers a 0% intro period for balance transfers, you can save a great deal of money on interest payments and benefit from more time to pay off your debt.
In this post, we’ve rounded up the best balance transfer cards for various needs, so you can get out of debt and avoid high interest charges.
Best balance transfer credit cards
|Best overall balance transfer card||Discover it® Balance Transfer|
|Longest balance transfer period||Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever|
|Best balance transfer card if you plan to carry a balance after the intro period||HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card|
|Best no-fee balance transfer credit card||The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express|
|Other cards to consider||Chase Slate®|
How we chose the best balance transfer cards
We chose balance transfer credit cards that offer 0% intro periods of 15 months or longer. If a card offered an especially lengthy intro period or no balance transfer fee, it was ranked higher. We also considered ongoing APRs, rewards and 0% intro periods for new purchases when deciding which cards offered the most overall benefit for consumers.
Best overall: Discover it® Balance Transfer
0% for 18 Months*
Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter up to the quarterly maximum, when you activate*
13.99% - 24.99% Variable*
- INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
- Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
- Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
- 100% U.S. based customer service.
- Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
- Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
- No annual fee.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Discover it® Balance Transfer
If you’re struggling to get out of debt and decide it’s time to complete a balance transfer, then the Discover it® Balance Transfer can be your way out. The balance transfer intro 0% for 18 months (after, 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR) is above average and this card provides a cashback program.
Why we like it: The Discover it® Balance Transfer is a well-rounded card that offers long-term value for cardholders once debt is paid off. Let’s start by breaking down the balance transfer offer — there’s an intro 0% for 18 months (after, 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR) on balance transfers. This is one of the longest intro periods available and can provide you with the needed time to pay off transferred balances. While there is a 3% balance transfer fee, that’s typical and is most often worthwhile, especially considering the amount you can save on interest.
Additionally, there’s a decent intro 0% for 6 months on purchases (after, 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR). This can come in handy if you need to make new purchases but aren’t able to pay them off right away. We recommend you limit new purchases to those you’re able to pay by your due date so you don’t incur more debt.
The Discover it® Balance Transfer also has a cashback prgoram where you earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically. This benefit adds more value compared with balance transfer cards with no rewards that are primarily used just to pay off debt.
Check out our guide on how to complete a balance transfer with Discover.
Longest balance transfer period: Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
0%* for 12 months on Purchases*
0%* for 21 months on Balance Transfers*
15.99% - 25.99%* (Variable)
- The ONLY card with No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee… EVER
- 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months from date of first transfer. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.99% - 25.99%, based on your creditworthiness
- 0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 15.99% - 25.99%, based on your creditworthiness
- If you transfer a balance with this offer, after your 0% Intro purchase APR expires, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances, including your transferred balance, are paid in full
- There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
- The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period
- Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day – just say “representative”
- Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month
See additional details for Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
If you need the most amount of time possible to pay off your debt, you should look to the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever which offers the longest balance transfer period of any card in our database.
Why we like it: The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever is just that, a simple card that has no late fees, no penalty rate and a $0 annual fee. This is a great card for people looking for a long 0% intro period — there’s an intro 0%* for 21 months on Balance Transfers* (after, 15.99% - 25.99%* (Variable) APR) once the intro period ends.
While the intro period is long, this card has a relatively high balance transfer fee at 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. This can most likely be outweighed by the amount you save on interest, but you may want to consider some other cards on this list that have lower or no balance transfer fees.
When used with responsible credit behavior, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever can help you eliminate debt. While this card is relatively basic with no rewards program, that allows you to primarily focus on repaying your debt instead of accruing more. Cardholders can take advantage of potential money-saving features like Citi® Price Rewind or exclusive entertainment access with Citi® Private Pass®. Overall, if you’re looking for one of the longest time periods to pay off your debt, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has you covered.
Check out our guide on how to complete a balance transfer with Citi.
Best balance transfer card if you plan to carry a balance after the intro period: HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card
0% for 18 months
0% for 18 months
No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, and no penalty APR
- 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 18 months from account opening. Then a variable APR of 12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% will apply.
- No Penalty APR.
- Late Fee Waiver.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $0 Annual Fee.
- $0 liability for unauthorized purchases.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card
Let’s face it. You can’t always pay off your balance within the 0% intro period. In that case, it’s can be a good idea to sign up for a card that has some of the best terms for ongoing balances like the HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card. However, while a reasonable ongoing APR can help you save on interest charges, a better idea is to transfer your debt to another balance transfer card so you can utilize an additional 0% intro period and avoid interest altogether.
Why we like it: The HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card has one of the longest balance transfer intro periods around with an intro 0% for 18 months on transferred balances. The ongoing interest rate for new purchases and lingering balances after the intro period is 12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% variable APR. This is one of the lowest APR ranges for a balance card we could find. If you qualify for the lowest APR and continue to carry a balance once the intro period ends, your interest charges won’t be as high as other cards on this list that have max APRs over 25%.
This card unfortunately doesn’t come with rewards, but that may not be a bad thing since you should focus on eliminating your debt first before earning rewards. However, you do receive a late-fee waiver each year if you miss a payment or pay late. This is a helpful reminder to set up autopay for at least the minimum due each month.
Check out our guide on how to complete a balance transfer with HSBC.
Best balance transfer card with rewards
Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers*
15.49% - 25.49%* (Variable)
- Earn $100 cash back bonus after $500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Cash back bonus is not available if you have had Citi® Double Cash card opened or closed in the past 24 months
- Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
- No Annual Fee
See additional details for Citi® Double Cash Card – $100 Cash Back Offer
If you’re looking for a balance transfer card that also earns cash back on new purchases, the Citi® Double Cash Card – $100 Cash Back Offer is our top pick with it’s flat-rate cashback program and added perks.
Why we like it: The Citi® Double Cash Card – $100 Cash Back Offer has a great intro 0% for 18 months on balance transfers* and average ongoing APR at 15.49% - 25.49%* (Variable). This card has a typical balance transfer fee of 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. That most likely will be offset by the amount you save on interest by completing a transfer and paying off your balance before the intro period ends.
While the balance transfer offer is one of the highest, this card offers more than an opportunity to pay off debt with a cashback program. The cashback program allows you to earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay. This is one of the best flat-rate cashback rates around, and especially good for a card offering a long balance transfer period since many balance transfer cards lack rewards. Just don’t let the prospect of cash back lead you to overspending — remember your goal is to pay off debt, not get into more.
Check out our collection of balance transfer resources.
Best no-fee balance transfer credit card: The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
If you’re looking to save the most money possible from a balance transfer, you should consider a card that has no balance transfer fee, such as The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express. No fee balance transfer cards can save you the 3%-5% fee most other balance transfer cards charge.
Why we like it: The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express offers a combination of perks unmatched by competitors from intro periods to rewards. You have a good length of time to pay off your balance with an intro 0% for 15 months on balance transfers. There is also an intro 0% for 15 Months on purchases — great if you also want to take time to pay off new purchases. After the intro period ends, the regular purchase and BT APR is pretty standard at 14.99%-25.99% Variable.
An exceptional feature of this card is the $0 balance transfer fee. This saves you the typical 3% balance transfer fee that most other cards charge. What makes this card even more unique is the rewards program where you can earn 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases. The ability to earn rewards in addition to both intro periods help set this card apart from competitors.
Check out our guide on how to complete a balance transfer with American Express.
The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.
Other cards to consider
0% for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers*
Enjoy $0 Annual Fee
- 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 13.49%-26.99% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
- Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Credit Card
- Easy access to your FICO® Credit Score with Wells Fargo Online®
- Zero Liability protection for promptly reported unauthorized transactions
- Convenient tools to help create a budget and manage your spending with My Money Map
- $0 Annual Fee
See additional details for Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card offers a long intro 0% for 18 months on balance transfers (after, 13.49%-26.99% (Variable) APR — one of the highest on this list). The ongoing APR makes it all the more reason to pay off your debt before the intro period is over. Besides the intro period, this card doesn’t offer much additional benefit since there are no rewards.
Chase Slate® is one of two cards on this list with an Intro $0 on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that: Either $5 or 5%, whichever is greater. This feature adds value to the average intro period of 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months and allows you to save on the 3% balance transfer fee most other cards charge. After the intro period, the APR range is typical at 16.49% - 25.24% Variable. Overall, this card doesn’t come with any unique perks beyond the $0 intro balance transfer fee — but this alone can save you a good amount of money.
The information related to the Chase Slate® has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.
How balance transfer cards work
If you find yourself overwhelmed by credit card debt and are unable to make a dent in it due to high interest rates, a balance transfer can be a great way to eliminate debt.
To complete a balance transfer, the first step is finding a good offer (luckily, we’ve just done that for you!)
The best balance transfer credit cards offer 0% intro APR periods where you won’t be charged interest for a period that typically lasts 12 or 15 months, with some cards offering as long as 21 months. The majority of balance transfer cards have a balance transfer fee that is typically 3%-5% of the amount you transfer. So, transferring $3,000 to a card with a 3% balance transfer fee will incur a $90 fee.
Once you’ve settled on the best card for you, then apply and see if you’re approved. Some cards may allow you to check if you prequalify, which only performs a soft pull so your credit score won’t get dinged. It’s not an official approval — you might still be denied — but if you pass the mark, you’ll at least be able to apply knowing you have a decent shot at getting approved. Keep in mind once you submit an application, a hard credit pull will be performed.
Next, you’ll follow the card issuer’s instructions on how to transfer balances from existing credit cards to your new card. Essentially, you’re using the new card to pay off your old cards, leaving you with one card and one balance.
From the time you complete the balance transfer, the clock for your intro APR period usually starts ticking. For example, your card term may allow the intro APR to apply only to funds transferred within 30 to 90 days. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to transfer your balance as soon as possible so you don’t miss out, and read the terms and conditions.
Remember that you likely cannot transfer balances between cards of the same issuer; so you can’t transfer a balance from one Discover card to another Discover card. Also, the majority of balance transfer cards require excellent or good credit, so those with bad or fair credit will have low chances of approval.
Check out our recommendations for alternative options for people with bad or fair credit looking to transfer a balance.