Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Our Objective Rating of the Best Cards for Transferring a Balance

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Balance transfer cards can allow you to move an accumulated balance from one or more high-rate credit cards to one with a balance transfer offer, potentially saving you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest charges. We've spent thousands of hours analyzing the credit card market in order to identify the best credit cards for balance transfers.

The best cards for a balance transfer are those that drop the APR to zero or close to it, and do so for an extended period of time. Additionally, the credit card companies that keep transfer fees minimal and make it easy to conduct a transfer are preferred over those that make you jump through hoops.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards for September 2022

Best Overall, Best for Long 0% Introductory APR Period : Citi Simplicity®


Rating as a Balance Transfer Card
4.8
Citi Simplicity®
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 17.74% - 27.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 21 Months
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

We chose Citi Simplicity as our top choice for balance transfer credit cards because it offers one of the longest 0% introductory APR periods for balance transfers (21 months) in the market. It also lives up to its name in most other respects, having no annual fee, late fees, or penalty rates. Citi lowered its balance transfer fee on Simplicity either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer (whichever is greater), which is more in line with industry standards and is a welcome development during this time of financial uncertainty.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Outstanding 0% APR offer for 21 months from account opening on balance transfers

  • 0% introductory APR offer on new purchases for 12 months from account opening

  • No penalty rates or annual fees

Cons
  • High balance-transfer fee

  • 3% foreign transaction fee

  • No rewards program or one-time bonus offer

Runner up to Best Overall : Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card


Rating as a Balance Transfer Card
4.8
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.74% - 26.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 21 Months
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Months
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card is our runner-up for the best overall balance transfer credit card because it offers a 21-month 0% APR both balance transfers and 0% for 12 months on purchases for new applicants. It has no annual fee and offers complimentary FICO score access to monitor the progress of your credit score as you pay off your debt. Additionally, the card offers purchase protection on your charges, including $0 liability on unauthorized purchases.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Outstanding 0% APR balance transfer deals available (and one of the best at 21 mos.)

  • Equally strong 0% purchase APR offer

  • No annual fee

Cons
  • No grace period on purchases made during 0% APR balance transfer offer period

  • Balance transfer fee ($5 or 5%) reduces savings on interest costs

Best for Long 0% Introductory APR Period : U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card


Rating as a Balance Transfer Card
4.2
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.74% - 26.74% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 20 Billing Cycles
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 20 Billing Cycles
Balance Transfer Fee Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater.
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The U.S. Bank Platinum Card is our pick for the best balance transfer card with a long introductory APR period. This is our top choice due to its exceptionally generous 0% APR on purchases and transfers for 20 billing cycles. To qualify for the 0% APR promotion, balance transfers must be made within the first 60 days of account opening. There is a standard balance transfer fee of 3% ($5 min.) but no annual fee. In addition to the APR promotion, this card also offers up to $1,200 cell phone protection (up to $600 per claim) every 12 months with a small $25 deductible. Cardholders also receive free credit score access, credit alerts, and Score Simulator through TransUnion’s CreditView. These complimentary tools allow you to monitor your credit score’s progress and see how certain behaviors will affect your score.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Long 0% APR offers

  • Cellphone protection

Cons
  • Few perks or bonuses

  • Limited value after the intro period ends

Best for Business : U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card


Rating as a Balance Transfer Card
4.5
U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 14.24% - 23.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 20 Billing Cycles
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 20 Billing Cycles
Balance Transfer Fee Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater.
Cash Advance APR (%) 28.24%
Cash Advance Fee Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.
  • Why We Chose This Card
  • Pros & Cons
Why We Chose This Card

The U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card is our pick for the best balance transfer option for small businesses due to its exceptionally generous 20-month 0% APR period for transfers made in the first 30 days of account opening. Balance transfer offers are relatively uncommon for business credit cards and this card should be an excellent choice for business owners who need to pay down debt over time. There is a standard balance transfer fee of 3% but no annual membership fee.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Generous 0% APR offer, plus low ongoing APR

  • No annual fee

Cons
  • No rewards or bonus

  • Minimal benefits

  • U.S. Bank's small business credit card customer service is below par

Final Verdict

Balance transfer offers are an excellent way to pay off debt without being charged interest. Promotional periods vary, but most provide at least 12 months of 0% APR financing so each payment goes toward reducing your balance instead of paying interest to the bank. Since there are many balance transfer credit cards available, there should be one that aligns with your goals.

The Citi Simplicity is our choice as the best overall credit card for balance transfers. It includes a 0% APR promotion for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers. The fee for balance transfers is relatively low at 3% (min. $5), and there is no annual fee. Plus, this card does not charge a late fee or a penalty rate if you miss a payment.

Compare The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Credit Card Annual Fee Balance Transfer Promo Balance Transfer Fee
Citi Simplicity® Best Overall $0 0% APR for 21 months on balance transfers and purchases 5% ($5 min.)
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card Runner up to Best Overall  $0  0% APR for 21 months on balance transfers and purchases 5% ($5 min.)
U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card Best for Long 0% Introductory APR Period  $0  0% APR for 24 billing cycles on balance transfers and purchases 3% ($5 min.)
U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card Best for Business  $0  0% APR for 20 billing cycles on balance transfers and purchases 3% ($5 min.)

Editorial Picks for Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Citi Simplicity®

Best Overall

The Citi Simplicity card is the best overall because it has a long 0% APR for balance transfers and new purchases with some of the lowest fees of any card. There are no annual fees, late fees, or penalty rates and the balance transfer fee is just $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

Read the full Citi Simplicity Review.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card

Runner-up to Best Overall

As our choice for the best overall runner-up, the Citi Diamond Preferred offers one of the longest 0% APR promos available for both balance transfers and purchases. It also includes free access to your FICO score and protection for your purchases.

Read the full Citi® Diamond Preferred Credit Card Review.

U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

Best for Long 0% Introductory APR Period

Consumers who need a little extra time paying off their introductory offers will like the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card. Its 0% APR promotion for balance transfers and purchases is 24 months, which gives cardholders almost two years of no-interest financing.

U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card

Best for Business

Business owners can take advantage of this 0% APR promotion for 20 months to pay down debt. If there's a balance left over, standard APRs are as low as 14.24%, which is considerably lower than the average.

Read the full U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card Review.

What Is a Balance Transfer?

A balance transfer is the process of moving existing debt, typically from another credit card, to a new credit card account. Typically, the balance transfer includes a special promotional interest rate that is much lower than the current debt. The promotional rate is most often 0% APR and may be offered for a range of time, typically between 12 and 21 months. This gives those who are carrying debt an extended period to pay down a balance without incurring interest.

In the current economic environment, credit card issuers may be more conservative in terms of approving balance transfer credit card applications and subsequent transfer requests.

How Do Balance Transfers Work?

Balance transfers are usually initiated soon after a new credit card account is opened. One potential complication to such timing is that until the new account is approved, its credit line is not known, and so the amount you’ll be allowed to transfer cannot be determined until after you apply. So you could, for example, seek a balance-transfer card with the hope of moving, $10,000 of existing card debt to it, for example, but yet qualify for only a $5,000 credit line on your new account. That could leave you stuck with continuing to pay high interest on half of the debt or scrambling to seek alternative low-cost financing for it.

Balance transfers are usually subject to a transfer fee (ranging from 3% to 5% of the balance being transferred). This fee may be waived as part of an initial promotional period, though this is a relatively rare occurrence since card issuers often rely on the fee in order to generate income from balance-transfer offers.

How Long Does a Balance Transfer Take?

Balance transfers generally take about a week (5 to 7 business days) to complete, but it can take 14 to 21 days for some issuers to move a balance from another issuer to your account. It’s best to initiate a balance transfer when you get a new card that offers a 0% APR balance transfer introductory period, as transfers to new accounts can take longer compared to existing accounts.

It is a good idea to check your existing accounts online or by phone to determine the status of any transfers that have been initiated. Continue making at least the minimum payment due on the original balance to avoid late payment fees.

Who Is Best Suited to a Balance Transfer Credit Card?

The ideal candidate for a balance-transfer card is someone carrying high-interest debt on another credit card who has the ability and discipline to pay off any transferred balance before the period of low introductory APR expires. This allows the cardholder to take advantage of the offer’s low-interest period without having its savings offset by the cost of carrying a balance at high interest after the offer is over.

Although balance transfer options may be available for all credit types, the best offers and terms are for those with good or excellent credit. In particular, they should not have a history of late payments, be currently overdue on their bills, or have exceeded credit limits in the past.

Who Is Unsuited To a Balance Transfer Credit Card?

Balance-transfer cards are not for those who are unwilling or unable to focus all their available financial resources on paying down a transferred balance. If you can’t afford to eliminate most or all non-essential spending for at least a year, or lack the discipline to do so, transferring a balance to another credit card may not be for you. 

That’s because even with a 0% APR offer in effect, continuing to increase the balance you owe on a credit card typically serves only to compound your financial problems. It’s best, then, to refrain from any and all discretionary card spending until your transferred balance is eliminated.

Transfers are also to be avoided by those seeking not to solve their debt problems but to get a temporary reprieve from them. Even the longest 0% APR transfer period will eventually end, and the regular APR you’ll then pay on a remaining balance will probably be similar to that of the card from which you transferred the funds in the first place. You will only have kicked your financial challenges down the road, rather than squarely addressing them.  

Be wary of a balance-transfer card, too, if you can’t qualify to receive 0% APR, or another low rate, on the transfer, or can’t be approved for a credit line sufficient to cover the amount you need. The size of both credit lines and transfer rates are subject to your credit quality. If your credit record is wanting, you may not get a big-enough credit line or a low-enough interest rate to justify moving the balance, especially if a transfer fee is involved.

How Much Money Can Be Saved with a Balance-Transfer Card?

The potential savings from getting a balance-transfer card varies depending on multiple factors including the amount you transfer, the APR you’re currently paying, the new promotional APR, the promotional period, and any transfer fee involved.

Still, the savings can be substantial, as the example below illustrates.

Current Card

Existing balance

$5,000
APR 18.9%
Principal and interest payments over 12 months if debt paid off $5,527
Potential Balance Transfer

Balance transfer amount
$5,000
Promotional APR (for 12 months) 0%
Transfer fee (3% x $5,000) $150
Principal and interest payments over 12 months if debt paid off $5,000
Total cost, including $150 transfer fee $5,150

In this example, the cost of keeping the balance on the current card would be $5,527 and the cost with the balance transfer card would be $5,150, resulting in a savings of $377 over 12 months if you switched to the balance transfer card.

Do Balance Transfers Affect Credit Scores?

As with opening any other new credit card account, getting a new balance transfer credit card can temporarily cause a dip in credit score. A new credit inquiry typically reduces credit scores by 3 to 5 points, and the new account may affect your average age of accounts.

Another factor that can affect credit score is if you use up all or even most of the credit line for the balance-transfer card. Since card issuers prefer customers who live well within their means, the lower your “credit-line utilization,” the better, at least as far as your credit score goes. As you pay down your balance and lower the utilization, your score should improve.

Your score may also receive a further hit if, after the transfer is complete, you close an older account from which the balance was transferred. Such a closing can potentially lower the total average age of credit in your name because a longer average helps contribute to a higher score.

How Can I Find a Good Balance Transfer Card?

By and large, the best balance-transfer card is the one that has the longest 0% APR period, the lowest transfer fee, and the lowest long-term APR after the “free interest” period expires. Other factors to consider include whether new purchases are also eligible for 0% APR, and if the card offers any other features.

Follow these steps to finding the best balance-transfer option:

  • Understand your creditworthiness: The higher your credit score, the better offers you will be eligible for.
  • Choose the combination of 0% APR period and ongoing interest rate that best suits you: Figure out how long it will take to pay off your debt and select a card that aligns with that timeframe.
  • Factor in any transfer fee: When comparing cards, then, be sure to include the impact of a fee as you run the math.
  • Consider any rewards the card offers: Earning rewards can make keeping the card valuable for you beyond the introductory APR offer.
  • Weigh any other features: Look at other perks and benefits, such as cell phone or rental car insurance, that may be valuable for you after you've paid off your balance.

What’s Involved in Performing a Balance Transfer?

To take advantage of 0% APR offers, balance transfers usually must be initiated at the time of account approval, or within a few months of that date. At that point, you can initiate a transfer simply by entering the amount you wish to transfer and the account number of the card from which you wish to move the funds into an application associated with the balance-transfer card.

Transfers can be initiated at a later date as well by calling or requesting online through your new account’s issuer website although, as noted, the promotional 0% APR offer may no longer be in effect. However, card issuers often mail or email subsequent balance transfer promotional offers to their existing customers.

Methodology

We gather scores of data points on more than 300 credit cards manually from both card-issuer websites and publicly available sources. Automated tools help us monitor changes in key data as annual percentage rates, introductory rates, introductory periods, bonus offers, rewards earnings rates, fees, and card benefits to ensure we provide accurate information to readers. We use this data when performing our assessments to determine the best balance transfer cards based on these factors for the different types of reader categories above.