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The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards: Identified, Evaluated, Ranked

The burden of debt is a heavy one to bear. It’s difficult to live a normal life when you’re constantly worrying about how you’ll pay off your credit card debt or afford anything other than the basic necessities.

Luckily, a respite is within your reach. With the best balance transfer credit card in your hand, you can turn things around and get the fresh start you need to become financially healthy again.

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The Best Credit Cards for Balance Transfer — Top 3 Picks

Top 3 Picks

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards

1.5% cash-back on every type of purchase

No foreign transfer fees

Excellent shopping rewards

Apply Now READ REVIEW

HSBC Gold Mastercard Credit Card

Great regular APR rates

Perfect for frequent travellers

Luxury rewards

Apply Now READ REVIEW

Citi Simplicity Card

21 months of 0% APR

No annual fee

Perfect for getting out of debt

Apply Now READ REVIEW

The Best Credit Card for Balance Transfer - 6 Offers Reviewed

1. Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards

Great rewards

No foreign transfer fees

1.5% cash-back on every purchase

Intro APR

0% for 15 months

Apply Now

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This is one of the best credit cards to transfer balance if you’re looking for a well-rounded financial product and have a good or excellent credit rating. With a great introductory offer and a no-fuss cash-back reward, this card is bound to be useful to anyone.

Read full review

Regular APR

15.74% - 25.74% variable APR

Annual fee

None

Credit score

Good – Excellent

2. HSBC Gold Mastercard Credit Card

Excellent travel benefits

Great APR rates

No foreign transaction fees

Intro APR

0% for 18 months

Apply Now

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This is a great card that offers some pretty sweet rewards in addition to a fairly long introductory period with 0% APR. It gives you a great cash-back reward, too. Expect 5% cash-back (up to a quarterly maximum each time you activate the card) for rotating product categories.

Read full review

Regular APR

12.74% – 20.74%

Annual fee

None

Credit Score

Good – Excellent

3. Citi Simplicity Card

21 months of 0% APR

Great for getting out of debt

No annual fee

Intro APR

0% for 21 months

Apply Now

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Citi Simplicity Card offers one of the longest introductory periods where the APR stays at 0% for 21 months. This unique card gives you a lot of time to pay off your debts without paying any interest, which is perfect for many consumers.

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Regular APR

16.24% – 26.24% variable

Annual fee

None

Credit score

Good – excellent

4. UNITY Visa Secured Credit Card

Can apply with poor credit score

Low foreign transaction fees

Easy application process

Intro APR

9.95% for the first six months

Apply Now

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This is one of the few cards that can be obtained even by customers with a bad credit score, or no credit score at all. It’s a no-nonsense secured card that can help you build your score back up and control your spending urges.

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Regular APR

17.99% fixed

Annual fee

$39

Credit score

No requirements

5. Discover it Balance Transfer Card

Great cash-back rewards

Long 0% APR period

No foreign transaction fees

Intro APR

0% for the first 18 months

Apply Now

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This is a really great card that offers some pretty sweet rewards in addition to a fairly long introductory period with 0% APR. It gives you a great cash-back reward, too. Expect 5% cash-back (up to a quarterly maximum each time you activate the card) for rotating product categories.

Read full review

Regular APR

13.49% – 24.49%

Annual fee

None

Credit score

Good – Excellent

6. Amex EveryDay Credit Card

Great for supermarket shoppers

Excellent customer service

Membership program

Intro APR

0% for 15 months

Apply Now

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This is an American Express card that’s geared towards consumers who make daily runs to the supermarket. Each purchase gives you membership points towards the American Express Membership Rewards program, and you can get up to a 20% boost in bonus points for frequent use.

Read full review

Regular APR

14.49% – 25.49% variable APR

Annual fee

None

Credit score

Good – Excellent

The Best Balance Transfer Cards — Our Methodology

The idea behind balance transfer is fairly simple. Imagine you had a $60000 credit card debt. It’s a lot of money, and your low monthly payments and high interest rates paint a gruesome picture in your head — at this rate, you’ll never pay it off. Unless you want to spend the next decade struggling to make ends meet, you need a different solution. Since hoping for a large inheritance from a royal relative you never knew you had is pretty far-fetched, it’s time to turn to something simpler: good balance transfer credit cards.

The entire purpose of a debt transfer credit card is to find a bank or a card provider that will give you low interest rates which you can then use to minimize your debt and get a much-needed fresh start. The process is easy: you apply for the best credit card for transfer balances that you can find (you can even find credit cards with 0 percent transfer fees), and then you move your balance from the old card with a high interest rate, to a new card with a much lower interest rate. As a result, you’ll apply more of your payments to the principal balance instead of interest charges, meaning you can chip away at your debt much faster.

We’re here to help you find the best credit card deals for balance transfer. We’ve tested out dozens of companies and decided to make a list of the ones that are worth your time and can make it easier to settle your debts. We looked for things like interest free credit card transfer deals, APR for balance transfers, and general terms and conditions that the financial institutions provided. However, we’re going to give you more than just claims. We intend to show you our method first. Each step is explained in depth, so if you want to make an informed decision and pick a product that can truly help you, we suggest that you read through it before making your choice.

Here are the categories we looked at in our search for the best credit card for transfer balance.

Balance Transfer Fees

What are you going to do with a card that has exorbitant transfer fees? Even if they offer a wide range of other benefits, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you pick a card with more than a 6%-to-7% transfer fee. You can easily find a 0 percent credit card with no transfer fee, so there’s really no need to settle for something that’s just going to hurt your balance in the long run. You want to look for a product that has a balance transfer fee that ranges from 3% to 5% and offers great benefits, or something with a 0% fee. For example, if your credit card balance is $10,000, a 3% fee would cost you $300. As you can see, this isn’t much at all, especially considering how much you’ll save in the long run. The best credit card for cash back with a 0 balance transfer fee will never harm your financial health if you use it right.

Interest Rates on Transfer Balances

All of the cards on our list have been specifically designed for balance-transfer purposes. They have lower interest rates than regular cards; even 0% interest rate periods are not uncommon. The best 0 transfer credit cards will have a 0% period that’s long enough to give you time to deal with your debts, and start over on a more positive note. We looked for companies with interest free balance transfer options, and found only the ones that also gave decent repayment conditions to go with it. Bear in mind that there are different types of debt you can transfer to a credit card. Car loans, pricey appliances, furniture, and other types of monthly payments can be transferred, meaning you can put all of your expenses on one card. The best credit card offer for balance transfer will minimize the hassle you have to go through each month. Instead of worrying about three different credit cards, you’ll be able to focus on one card and one monthly installment to pay for it.

Length of the Promotional Period

If the 0%-interest-rate promotional period lasts for six months and then bounces to 30%, you haven’t really accomplished much. Debts, especially large debts, can take a long time to repay, and top balance transfer cards will give you more breathing room by providing a longer promotional period. Of course, every customer–and their debt–is different. We’ve done the legwork and found all the relevant info, but it’s on you to calculate how much your monthly installments will cost, and whether you can pay off the debt before the promotional period ends.

Annual Fees

Debt transfer cards commonly have an annual fee. Even though these fees are usually low, we aimed to find balance transfer cards with no fee. If a financial institution does require a yearly payment, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s bad. But we did try to minimize any kind of cost our customers might be subjected to. Added expenses are bothersome because a lot of people forget about them — until it’s time to pay them. The best credit cards for transfers are usually very straightforward and the providers will tell you quite clearly what kind of expenses you can expect if you opt to purchase their product. It’s entirely possible to find a no fee and no interest credit card. It’s a matter of finding the right offer to suit your financial abilities.

Starting Offers

In addition to the 0% interest rate, a lot of companies will also offer some additional benefits. You can find credit cards with high balance transfer limits, bonus cash back categories, sign-up bonuses, and various redemption options. These starting offers make each product unique and can turn a good offer into a great one. We’ve examined every offer in detail and found what makes these products special to help you find the best credit card transfer offers.

Credit Score Requirements

We’ll be honest with you — people with good credit scores will get better offers. It’s more difficult to find products that allow interest free credit card transfers for those with bad credit, but we dug deep and found card providers that won’t swindle you. You will find the best balance transfer card for bad credit on our list. After the main table and the reviews, we’ve also included a few tips that can help you get approved for a balance transfer card and fix your credit score so you can recover your finances slowly but surely.

Regular APR

A zero-percent interest rate sounds amazing. Your debt is slashed, you have much less to pay off, and once you’re done, you’ll be a whole new person with complete financial solvency. But hold your horses for just a second — a 0 balance transfer and 0 interest credit card won’t stay at 0 forever. While the best cards for balance transfers will have a long 0% interest-rate period, the interest will climb back up after a certain time. It could be a year, eighteen months, or even two years, but it will never stay at 0%. We’ve done the work and found plenty of 0 balance transfer interest free credit cards, and we’re ready to help you choose the best one. In addition to our list, we’ve also provided a guide to balance transfer that outlines all the important information you need to take into account before you get a card. The only way to really pay off your debt or recover your finances is to make a solid repayment plan that you can stick to.

Things to Watch Out For

No company is perfect. While every financial product on our list fully checks out, sometimes you have to read the fine print in order to use them to their full potential. To find the best credit card offers for balance transfer with no balance transfer fee, you also have to take your financial needs into consideration. What might work for one customer might not work for someone else. So be sure to look for the no interest balance transfers credit cards which are tailored to your needs.

Pros and Cons

If you’ve got no time to read the whole review, then read a short summary. Each review includes a small pro and con section that will give you a quick overview of the things to keep in mind when choosing your perfect credit card with balance transfer.

The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards - Reviews

At a Glance

  • Balance transfer intro APR: 0% for 15 months
  • Regular APR: 15.74% – 25.74% variable APR
  • Annual fee: None
  • Credit score: Good – Excellent

Overview

This is one of the best credit cards to transfer balance if you’re looking for a well-rounded financial product and have a good or excellent credit rating. With this card, you don’t have to worry about chasing rotating cash-back categories where you get cash-back on groceries one month and gas the next. You get the same 1.5% cash-back on all your purchases, making this one of the simplest, and most useful cards you can get. You will also have access to a round-the-clock concierge assistant.

Rewards

In addition to the 1.5% cash-back on every purchase, you also get a one-time $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within three months of the account opening. When it comes to interest free balance transfer credit cards, this one offers a fairly long introductory period of 15 months. It can be more than enough time to pay off your debt, but there are a few other cards that offer longer introductory APRs. The cash-back rewards are the most useful thing here — you don’t have to bother with sign-ups to get the 1.5%, and there are no rotating categories where one month you end up with cash-back on something that’s entirely useless to you. There’s also no limit to how much you can earn from this.

The Capital One Quicksilver card offers high rewards without minimum redemption, and since you get zero interest balance transfer for 15 months, it can be a great way to save.

APR and Fees

There are no annual fees or foreign transfer fees. It’s very rare for a balance transfer card for good credit to have no foreign transfer fees — for the most part, card issuers charge 3% on each foreign transaction. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about that with Capital One Quicksilver. This product is particularly useful for people who travel a lot. Imagine taking a family vacation for two weeks. If you spend around $250 per day, you would end up saving over $100 dollars on that vacation alone just because you didn’t have to worry about foreign transaction charges.

The introductory APR is 0% for 15 months, and after that, it increases to a 15.74% to 25.74% variable APR.

Best For

This is one of the best credit cards for balance transfers with excellent credit because it’s very straightforward. It an all-around good product with a great introductory offer and a no-fuss cash-back reward system that is bound to be useful to anyone. You need a good credit rating to become eligible for this product.

At a Glance

  • Balance transfer intro APR: 0% for 18 months
  • Regular APR: 12.74% – 20.74%
  • Annual fee: None
  • Credit score: Good – excellent

Overview

HSBC’s Gold Mastercard credit card stands out among the majority of cards that are currently on the market because it offers some really great benefits. In addition to a splendid 0% APR introductory offer that lasts 18 months, you also get some added perks and benefits that you can enjoy if you’re a frequent traveller. If you’re looking to pay off your debt, get some unique rewards, and avoid a pesky annual fee, this card is a pretty great option.

Rewards

HSBC Gold Mastercard rewards are useful for travellers. You don’t get any cash-back benefits or frequent flier miles, but you do get travel accident insurance, emergency roadside services, and even a trip-planning assistance service. There are also a few enjoyable shopping benefits — extended warranty, price protection, and purchase protection. This is generally the best credit card for balance transfer with good credit because most of the benefits are geared towards consumers with a good credit history.

HSBC also offers access to discounts on selected golf courses, ground passes, and golf lessons. Of course, the card is secured with ID theft-protection technology and it gives you access to Mastercard Global Service, a 24-hour service where you can report lost or stolen cards.

APR and Fees

The introductory offer lasts for 18 months, which is one of the longer introductory periods in the industry. After the initial period ends, you can expect an APR between 12.74% and 20.74%, depending on your exact credit score. This card is good for customers with excellent credit since the 12.74% APR is one of the lowest APRs you can get.

HSBC doesn’t have an annual fee, but they do have a balance transfer fee, which is a little pricier than some of the other cards on our list. You will have to pay either 4% of the total balance or $10 (whichever is higher) to do a balance transfer, where with some of the other cards the balance transfers are either free or go up to 3% of the total balance.

There is no foreign transaction fee to worry about here. Another unique selling point is the late-fee waiver. Once per year, the company will waive any late-fee, giving you some flexibility.

Best For

This is one of the top balance transfer credit cards for customers with excellent credit who want to get several useful travel benefits. Its extensive low-APR period, several shopping benefits, and the absence of foreign transaction fees make this card a very solid choice for any consumer who meets the credit score requirements.

At a Glance

  • Balance transfer intro APR: 0% for 21 months
  • Regular APR: 16.24% – 26.24% variable
  • Annual fee: None
  • Credit score: Good – Excellent

Overview

Citi Simplicity Card offers one of the longest introductory periods where the APR stays at 0% — 21 whole months. What makes this card unique is the time it gives you a lot of time to pay off your debts without paying any interest, which is perfect for a lot of consumers. If time is all you need to get your finances in order, Citi Simplicity Card is the choice for you.

Rewards

In addition to the 21 months of 0% APR, another thing that makes this one of the top rated balance transfer credit cards is the fairly long 0% APR for new purchases — 12 months. So, for a year, you won’t have to pay for anything extra on any of your purchases.

Besides this Citi Simplicity doesn’t offer any other special types of rewards. It’s a very straightforward card for customers who need a little extra time to get their finances in order. The long introductory period can really be used to its full advantage, especially by customers who are trying to save more. If the card offered rewards, it wouldn’t be such a great product for those trying to get out of debt.

APR and Fees

The Citi Simplicity Card has one of the pricier balance transfer fees on our list. The industry standard falls around 3%, but this card will have a $5 or 5% transfer fee which you have to take into account when you transfer money. This card also has a higher ongoing APR that ranges from 16.24% to 26.24% after the introductory period ends. As with most of these cards, how high the APR goes will depend mostly on your credit rating and credit history.

The best way to use this card is to transfer all your debt to it at once, and then simply pay it off in installments before the 0% period ends. The card has no annual fee but it does have foreign transfer fees. If you plan to travel, it’s probably not a great idea to bring this card with you.

Best For

This is the best card for balance transfers for customers who are trying to get out of debt and get a fresh start. The fact that it doesn’t give you any special rewards or cash-back options is a huge pro, not a con. Get this card if your main focus is recuperating your accounts and getting a handle on your overspending.

At a Glance

  • Balance transfer intro APR: 9.95% for the first six months
  • Regular APR: 17.99% fixed
  • Annual fee: $39
  • Credit score: No requirements

Overview

This is one of the few cards that can be obtained even by customers with bad credit. This no-nonsense, secured card can help you build your score back up and control your spending urges. Generally, there aren’t too many balance transfer cards that are made for poor credit customers, but this is one of the most competitive products on the market. In addition to its good introductory period, the card’s regular APR is also decent. The Unity card responds to TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax credit unions, and if you use it responsibly, you’ll be able to build your credit score slowly and apply for an unsecured card later on.

The application process for the UNITY card is quick and fuss-free, and you get a high credit line. You can deposit anywhere from $250 to $10,000, where most of the cards this type allow for deposits up to $3,000 or $5,000.

Rewards

This card offers no special rewards and that is a good thing. It’s the best credit card for balance transfer with poor credit for customers who have absolutely no credit history at all. You can apply for it even with a score as low as 300.

APR and Fees

The APR is very competitive compared to other balance transfer credit cards for bad credit. You’ll get a 9.95% rate for the first six months, after which the APR will rise to the fixed 17.99%.

There is an annual fee of $39. Compared to other cards of this type, this falls somewhere under the industry standard. If you’re late with your payments, you’ll have to pay a late payment fee that goes up to $10, and there’s also a returned payment fee that can go up to $25.

There is also a foreign transaction fee of 2%, which is better than the industry standard of 3% for these types of cards.

Best For

Customers who are looking to fix their credit score or build it up from scratch. If you are looking for balance transfer credit cards for fair credit, this is the best financial product for you.

At a Glance

  • Balance transfer intro APR: 0% for the first 18 months
  • Regular APR: 13.49% – 24.49%
  • Annual fee: None
  • Credit score: Good – Excellent

Overview

This is a great card that offers some pretty sweet rewards in addition to a fairly long introductory period with 0% APR. It gives you a great cash-back reward, too. Expect 5% cash-back (up to a quarterly maximum each time you activate the card) for rotating product categories. In addition, you’ll be able to enjoy exceptional customer service and great rewards that make you eligible for the Cashback Match rewards program.

Rewards

First of all, you’ll get some of the best cash-back offers in the industry. With 5% cash-back for rotating categories each month, you can make full use of this card and save more than you’d be able to with other products. You’ll also get 1% cash-back on all purchases above the quarterly cap.

Free balance transfer cards such as this one rarely come with so many rewards, but Discover is an exception. Its Cashback Match program is one of the best features — at the end of the first year, all the cash you earned will be matched dollar for dollar. This means that if you earn $300 at the end of the year, you’ll actually get $600.

APR and Fees

Discover has one of the longest 0% APR periods in the industry. You get 18 months of no interest, and then you move on to a 13.49% to 24.49% variable APR. There’s also a six-month zero-interest period on new purchases made with your card.

Discover has no foreign transaction fees and no yearly fees. It does, however, have a balance transfer fee of 3%, which later rises to 5% after the promotional period.

Best For

This isn’t the best credit card balance transfer for average credit scores — you’ll need a good or excellent score to apply. However, it’s a great choice for consumers who like cash-back rewards and need a longer 0% APR period.

At a Glance

  • Balance transfer intro APR: 0% for 15 months
  • Regular APR: 14.49% – 25.49% variable APR
  • Annual fee: None
  • Credit score: Good – Excellent

Overview

This is an American Express card that’s geared towards consumers who make daily runs to the supermarket. Each purchase gives you membership points towards the American Express Membership Rewards program, and you can get up to a 20% boost in bonus points for frequent use. Amex also has a strong customer service, some excellent insurance features, and security features that make it stand out among the rest. If you shop at supermarkets often and need a credit card for balance transfer with no transfer fee, this should be one of your top choices.

Rewards

With the Amex EveryDay Card, you can earn two points per $1 at supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year. You can earn one point per $1 for other types of eligible purchases. The rewards tend to change from month to month, but the company’s current offer for Membership Rewards, is that you can earn 10,000 membership points when you use the card to make $1,000 in purchases, as long as you do it within the first three months. Membership points never expire as long as you have an active account.

This card doesn’t offer the best introductory rewards we’ve seen, but it’s a pretty good everyday card for those who want to make the best of their grocery shopping. It’s one of the better 0 interest balance transfer credit cards around, especially because it offers a 20% boost to rewarded bonus points if you use the card 20 times in a billing period.

APR and Fees

You don’t have to worry about APRs for the first fifteen months. This isn’t the longest 0% interest-free period we’ve seen, but it’s still a decent amount of time to help you pay off your debts. Once the introductory period expires, you can expect a variable APR that ranges between 14.49% and 25.49%. This is pretty standard and it’s neither better nor worse than most other cards out there.

This card has foreign transaction fee of 2.7% per transaction. As long as you don’t use this card when you’re abroad, you should be fine. Besides this, Amex has no annual fees that you have to worry about.

Best For

This is one of the best credit cards for balance transfer if you shop at supermarkets often and want to gather points and use the American Express Membership Rewards program. In general, this card is usually aimed at consumers with larger families that shop every day.

Seven Things to Know About Transfer Balance Credit Cards

You need to know what you’re getting into before getting a balance transfer card. Even credit cards with 0 balance transfer fees can end up costing you a lot if you don’t use them right, and you have to understand that they’re not really get-out-of-jail-free cards. There are both unexpected benefits and things to be wary of with these types of cards, and you should be fully aware of them before you proceed. To that end, here’s what you need to keep in mind when choosing the best credit card to pay off debt.

Your debt is still there.

Even the best credit card for transfer balances will not erase your debt. Unless you know a friendly wizard or a generous millionaire, it’s unlikely any of your debts will disappear overnight – you simply have to pay them off. However, 0 balance transfer cards can go a long way in helping you accomplish this goal. They help you pay off your principal instead of your interest quicker than regular cards, which means your debt will effectively be smaller. 

To illustrate, we’ll present an example of what the best credit card for zero balance and transfer fees can do for you. Let’s say you have a $2,000 debt with 17% interest on it. To pay it off, you decide to cash out around $50 every month for five years, meaning you end up paying off the initial $2,000, plus more than $1,000 in interest alone. But if you choose one of the available no interest transfer credit cards, you can pay off this debt with much less interest. 

Balance transfer cards can be used to simplify multiple payments.

Have multiple debts on multiple credit cards? Instead of tracking down all your different bills, you can consolidate everything onto one 0 balance transfer card and simplify your life. The best credit card for no interest balance transfer will make things easy because there will be only one debt to keep track of and repay. This can be especially great if your provider has no fee on balance transfers, like some of the cards from our list. If you’re a disorganized person who keeps accruing late fees, this kind of solution can be a real godsend.

Fees are inevitable.

Even the best cards for balance transfer will have some sort of fees that you have to pay if you want to use them. This is especially true of balance transfer cards for bad credit, which tend to come with more user-fees. You will be able to find some pretty great card providers that don’t charge transfer fees, but you’ll usually sacrifice the length of the promotional 0% interest period. For some consumers, this can be a great deal. If you don’t need much time to pay off your debt, 0 balance transfer offers are a great choice for you. You can transfer all of your debt at no charge, pay it off quickly, and be completely in the clear. 

Before you officially sign up for 0 balance transfer cards, it’s a good idea to calculate everything in advance and figure out how much you’ll have to pay each month to pay everything off before the 0% interest period ends.

Low interest promotions expire.

Low interest periods will end even on the best credit card transfer deals. While you can find 18 month 0 APR balance transfer deals, you have to count on the fact that interest will skyrocket after the initial period ends. In some cases, it will be even higher than the interest rate you were trying to run away from. 

So, should you avoid balance transfer cards? No. But you have to use them the way they’re meant to be used — to get out of debt faster. If you end up adding new purchases to your old and new credit cards or if you stop sticking to a rigorous payment plan, you could end up racking up even more debt. Even the best low interest credit cards for balance transfers won’t save you then. Figure out a solid plan, pay your installments on time each month, and make sure you wipe out all (or at least the majority) of your debt before the promotional period ends.  

New purchases might not have the same interest rate.

If you aren’t careful, you could easily add a lot more to your debt than you had anticipated. The good thing about credit cards with best balance transfer offers is that they can keep your spending in check if you know all the details. Most credit card companies will give you a lower APR, but only for the initial balance transfer. Interest for newer purchases will be collected at the regular APR. 

Some credit card companies will extend a low APR to new purchases as well, but this is a double-edged sword. While it’s tempting to buy new things now that you don’t have to worry about high interest rates, you’ll still be adding to your debt and might not be able to pay things off as fast as you’d wanted to. The real key here is discipline. You really need to stick to your initial repayment plan: it’s the only way to get your finances back on track. 

You shouldn’t keep applying for more balance transfer cards.

Let’s say you’ve found the best credit card for transferring balance – one with great terms and an extensive, low APR period. However, you got a little excited and ended up overspending. Now the low APR period is about to end, but you still haven’t managed to pay off all of your debt. What can you do now? How about applying for yet another one of those good balance transfer cards?

While this might seem like a good idea, you should be careful. It’s entirely possible to apply for another balance transfer card, but this could lower your credit score. If you keep opening low-interest accounts but maintaining high debt levels, banks might end up flagging you as a risky borrower.

You’ll need good credit.

Well, you won’t necessarily need it, but you’ll get much better offers with it. The best credit card for bad credit balance transfers will give you a slightly longer low-APR period, but for the most part, good credit is the thing that will get you better benefits. Before the Great Recession of 2007, balance transfer cards for bad credit were more common and banks were more willing to approve them. However, after the whole disaster, it became increasingly more difficult to find low interest credit card offers for balance transfers

This might not be such a bad thing — instead of lending out bad credit that the borrowers could never repay, banks are now more careful. However, if you’re struggling with your credit score and want to get a balance transfer card, don’t worry. On our list you can find options for low interest balance transfer credit cards even for poor credit scores. It’s important to do your research: calculate how big your monthly repayments should be in order to pay off your debt in time. If you’re worried about getting rejected for a balance transfer card, read our next section. It gives you a few tips that can help you get approved. 

What to do if you get rejected for a balance transfer card

The best credit cards for consolidation are very useful tools. Because you pay lower or no interest rates for a period of time, using them means you can get out of debt faster. But while balance transfer cards are great, it’s not actually that easy to get approved for for them. 

There are two things that could prevent you from executing a balance transfer: 

  1. The card issuer turns down your application for a balance transfer card.
  2. The card issuer approves your application, but when you attempt to transfer money from one account to the next, the transfer gets declined.

Even the best bank promotional offers might not get you the card you need, but we’re here to help. 

If you get rejected for a balance transfer card, here are some of the possible reasons:

1. You have a low credit score

When you apply for one of the products from our best credit card for balance transfer and rewards list, the card issuers will run a credit check on you. If your credit score is too low, you might not end up making the cut, even if you were pre-screened for a balance transfer offer. 

Sometimes, instead of outright rejecting your application, you might be offered a card with a higher balance APR. Balance transfer cards are usually designed for customers with good to excellent credit scores, but there are some cards that are suitable for bad-credit customers. 

Banks generally want to issue cards to people who have a low chance of defaulting on a loan, and that’s why it might be difficult to get approved until you fix your credit. Fortunately, you can find the “How to Get off the Debt Treadmill” section on this page that will give you tips on how to improve your finances so you can apply for balance transfer cards for good credit.

In general, every single interaction with a bank or credit union will become easier once you’ve improved your credit. You’ll get better deals, better APRs, and more benefits. Some other factors that could affect your chances of getting approved are: having a lot of missed or late payments, and open accounts that are maxed or close to their limit.

More finicky banks might also have issues with borrowers who have a short credit history. If you’ve had a credit card for only a short while, credit card transfer offers might be more difficult to come by because banks don’t know what to expect. If this seems strict, that’s because it is. Banks have become more cautious in the last decade. However, you can still find plenty of options for the best credit cards to consolidate debt on our main list. 

2. You applied for a balance transfer card with the same card issuer

There is one guaranteed way to get rejected immediately — simply apply with the same credit card issuer who issued your original credit card. Most companies aren’t willing to let you lower your agreed-upon APR because that’s an automatic loss of profit for them. If you want to find the best credit card balance transfer offer, look towards other credit card issuers.

Also, bear in mind that applying for too many balance transfer cards could damage your credit score. Multiple transfer requests will look problematic on your credit file. 

Why your balance transfer got rejected even after you received your balance transfer card:

In most cases it’s because you don’t have enough available credit to complete the transfer. Your credit company will allow you a certain amount of money. If you request to transfer more than the limit, you’ll automatically get rejected. 

Credit card issuers can limit balance transfers to a set amount or percentage of your credit line. The best cards for transfer balance will allow for a higher percentage when doing a transfer.   

How to increase your chances of getting your credit transfer approved

1. Know your credit score.

An astounding number of people are completely unaware of their own credit score. When you go into a bank to apply for a financial product and don’t even know your own FICO score, there’s a big chance you’ll be caught off guard. Most credit cards offer once-a-month credit score access, so simply contact your bank and you can check your own score.

 2. Know the credit card issuer.

Do your research to find the best card to consolidate debt. Most credit card issuers will clearly state the requirements for approving a balance transfer card, and you need to be aware of them before applying. There’s no sense in applying for a card with a financial institution that only accepts applicants with a good or excellent credit score if you can’t meet the standards, and it’s only likely to affect your credit score and make it more difficult to apply in the future.

3. Pay off as much of your debt as you can.

If your credit score is problematic, remember that you can increase it by simply paying your bills on time. Make at least the minimum payments, and you’ll be well on your way to adding more points to your FICO score. After several months of good payment habits, you’ll be closer to the best credit card for balance transfer 0 APR.

4. Know your credit limit.

Check in advance whether your credit card actually has enough room to accommodate a balance transfer.

5. Polish up your credit reports.

Errors on credit reports are actually fairly common. One of the easiests ways you can improve your chances of getting low interest credit cards for transfer balance is by simply double-checking your credit reports. Look for misreported payments and let credit bureaus know if there’s a mistake there. Once it gets fixed, your score could jump by a few points.

What to Do When Balance Transfer is Denied

Getting denied for a balance transfer doesn’t necessarily mean that the rejection is permanent. You could ask the credit card company to reconsider. Depending on the circumstances and how you go about the request, you might end up getting approved. First, check why you got rejected in the first place:

1. The company rejected you because of poor credit or low income.

You can still get the best balance transfer card for fair credit even if your credit card issuer rejected you. If there are any extenuating circumstances that are causing negative check marks on your credit report, you can try explaining the situation to the company. A lot of the time, card issuers will want to listen to what you have to say. 

If you were rejected because you have low income but happen to have other sources of income that you didn’t report sooner, let the credit card issuers know. If this was the only thing getting in your way, you should be able to get approved for balance transfer cards for fair credit after clearing things up.

2. The company rejected you because you lacked available credit.

Don’t worry, the best credit card offers for balance transfer are still within your reach. If you were rejected because you lacked credit, you could resubmit your application by using a smaller amount of money in the request. After you’ve done this, you’ll have to decide whether to pay off the remaining amount, or apply for another balance transfer card with another issuer. 

Remember that any additional application could potentially affect your credit score. Work on increasing your score before making another application. 

Seven Ways to Finally Get Out of Debt

There’s more to getting out of debt than simply finding the best card to transfer balances. It’s always easy to say that you’ll start spending less and paying off more at the end of the month when all the bills catch up with you. You have to save every penny, you start regretting all those times you ate out, and you feel guilty about spending on luxury instead of just the essentials. However, once you receive your paycheck, all self-control goes out the window and you simply stop worrying. What’s one more beer, one more Uber ride, or one more pair of shoes? 

Getting out of debt is primarily about education, discipline, and planning. Choosing one of the best balance transfer cards with no transfer fee from our list is one step. We’re about to show you a few other steps you can take to drag yourself out of debt and start enjoying more financial freedom.  

Make a list.

Before you do anything else, take stock of the situation. There’s no sense in finding the best business credit card for balance transfer if you aren’t even sure how much you owe in the first place. Of course, most people know about the big things like mortgages or car payments. But we often disregard the smaller expenses like Netflix subscriptions or gym memberships. They don’t seem like much, but they tend to add up quickly.

Begin by learning your credit score. A lot of people don’t even know their FICO score, which usually makes it impossible to organize their own finances properly. If you want to find the best credit card for a balance transfer, you should at least know your credit score before you go to the bank. This will help you negotiate better deals and know exactly what to expect.

Once you know your score, you can check your latest credit reports and search for any discrepancies. Making sure your financial reports are completely accurate is an important part of organizing your money. Very often, people aren’t even aware of errors that are bringing down their credit score. Once you fix them, you can improve your score and apply for credit cards offering balance transfers more easily.

The next step to getting the best credit card for large balance transfers is to gather all your recent bill statements for all credit cards and loans. This includes student loans. Once you have everything, you’ll get a good overview of your major monthly expenses. Compare this to your income and you’ll know where you stand.  

Lower your interest rate.

This is where the best credit card for balance transfers with no transfer fee comes in. If you lower your interest rates, you’ll be able to pay off all of your debts quicker — just make sure you’re paying off the principal of the debt and that you’re still paying on time. 

Start by negotiating with your credit card issuer first. You might be able to get a better deal and score a lower interest rate on your current credit card. If you can’t get a better deal, it’s probably time to look elsewhere. Before reaching for one of the available money transfer credit cards, look for a regular credit card with a better interest rate than the current one. This way, you’re investing in your future. Here’s an example of the kind of difference this can make: 

Imagine you had a $5,000 debt on your credit card and an interest rate of 29.96%. If you made $200 payments each month, you’d need around 40 months to pay off the debt and you’d pay $2,937 in added interest. Now imagine you had a 15.24% interest rate on your debt. To pay off the balance, you’d need 31 months, and you’d be charged $1,054 in interest – a significantly smaller amount and a much shorter period of time. 

But what about your old credit card debt? Well, for this you can look into the best debt transfer credit cards. When you’re transferring balances on credit cards with a 0% APR, you can pay off your debt much quicker because you’re only paying off the principal. That $5,000 debt you have can be paid off before the 0% APR period ends, meaning you’ll save a ton of cash and become completely debt-free with a little discipline.

Another way you can lower your interest rates on debt is to get a low interest rate loan. You’ll need at least a good credit score to get a decent interest rate. Personal loans often have much lower interest rates than credit cards, so you can technically use a personal loan to pay off a credit card, especially if you’ve been missing your payments and need to find cash quickly. In addition to credit cards with no balance transfer fee, loans can be a very good way to get debt off your back as long as you find a lower interest rate. 

And one more thing you can do in addition to using transfer balance cards — consolidate your student loans. Check SudentLoans.gov to see what kind of consolidation options are available and opt for income-based repayment if possible. 

Pay more when you can.

You do not have to pay only the minimum payment on your car loan, mortgage, or credit card debt. In fact, paying as much as you can each month is a great idea — it means you’ll not only get out of debt faster, but pay less in the long run. This is particularly true for customers who end up choosing a credit card with transfer balance offers and get a card with a 0% APR. Interest free balance transfers credit cards mean that you’re paying off principal only, and all of your cash goes towards repaying the debt itself, instead of interest. 

Be wary of prepayment penalties. Certain banks will require you to pay a penalty expense if you pay in advance. Most of the good banks will not have prepayment penalties, but it’s always a good idea to ask the bank representatives to explain the exact terms and conditions of repaying credits and loans. 

Figure out the small expenses.

Even with the best balance transfer credit card for fair credit, your monthly credit payments are only one part of the equation. In addition to utility bills, rent, mortgage, car loans, and credit debt, you have a bunch of smaller expenses that tend to add up quickly. For example, do you know how much money you spend on coffee each month? What about takeout? What about clothes, or magazine subscriptions, or bottled water? Even if you manage to get a deal for zero percent credit card transfers and lower your APR, you still have to organize other aspects of your life to minimize unnecessary expenses. 

There are plenty of small ways to save money, and most of them are easy to implement into your daily routine. Before you pick your best credit card for miles and balance transfer, try to make smaller steps. For example, cook your own lunch and bring it to work instead of eating out, or make your own coffee instead of stopping by Starbucks every day.

Here are some more easy ways to save: 

  • Introduce a no-spending day once a week
  • Insulate your windows to save on utility bills for heating
  • Exercise at home instead of going to the gym
  • Use coupons
  • Swap books with friends instead of buying new ones
  • Go grocery shopping on a full stomach
  • Instal LED lights
  • Be careful with sales — no deal is going to cost you less than simply not buying items you never needed in the first place
  • Install a filter and stop drinking bottled water

Make a budget.

Having a general idea of what you’re supposed to do is great, but having a fully functional, detailed plan is better. We managed to find you the best balance transfer deals, but they won’t mean much unless you make a solid repayment plan. This essentially means you need a budget — particularly if you are having financial struggles. 

But how do you go about making a budget? 

There are several options. First, you could simply hire someone to do it for you. While hiring a financial consultant or an accountant seems like an unnecessary expense, it’s actually a pretty good investment for most people, especially if they plan to tap into the stock market. They might be able to advise you further on how to pick the best balance transfer cards for fair credit and how to get your debt payments in order. 

But bear in mind that you don’t have to hire an accountant or a financial consultant. You can absolutely make a budget on your own. All you need are a few templates. You can find Excel templates to use online, or you can use a budgeting app such as Mint to keep track of everything. Another simple method is the “envelope method.” The envelope method works like this: you take several envelopes, and then allocate specific amounts of money from your monthly income to different categories. For example, you might wish to put $100 in the groceries envelope, $30 in the utilities envelope, $300 in the credit debt envelope. Bear in mind that you don’t have to use actual envelopes, you can use a simple Excel spreadsheet or even write things down on paper. Here are some more suggestions on what kind of categories you can have:

  • Utilities
  • Groceries
  • Car-loan payments
  • Credit card debt 
  • Personal hygiene and clothes
  • Retirement fund
  • Savings
  • Entertainment
  • Unforeseen expenses

You can color-code envelopes according to importance. The entire trick here is to allocate funds towards specific things and then stick to the plan. Once you get your transfer balance credit card and pay off credit debt, you’ll be able to allocate a lot more towards your other life goals. 

Hustle on the side.

For some people, their paycheck just doesn’t cut it. If finding a different job is not an option, then finding a side-hustle can be a great way to earn more. You don’t have to find a part-time job to get by either. Selling items on Etsy, eBay, or Amazon can bring in a very pretty penny, and so can Skype tutoring, babysitting, or data entry jobs. If you have a skill, you could teach classes on it, or cash it in some other way. For example, if you know how to write, you could write other people’s resumes. A side hustle, in addition to a card for balance transfer, can help you get a fresh start. 

Avoid temptation.

We’re all tempted by certain material things. Whether it’s a weekly visit to your favorite restaurant or obsessive Amazon shopping, we know there are a few expensive habits that we just can’t seem to break. Very often, these expensive habits are the reason we need the best credit card to transfer balance in the first place. We rake in so much debt that it becomes a real struggle to pay it off, and there seems to be no way out. 

So, how do you quit these spending habits? The simplest way to go about it is to avoid temptation. If you tend to shop online too much, unsubscribe from every promotional email campaign and avoid the internet when you come home from work. If your eye is always drawn to a nearby mall on your way to work, take a different route to get there. You could also try putting your credit cards away in your sock drawer — until you are debt-free, you should probably avoid using them. 

FAQ

Do balance transfers affect your credit score?

Balance transfers themselves usually don’t affect a consumer’s credit score. However, applying for too many credit cards to pay off other credit cards could potentially affect your score if you apply for too many at the same time or apply for them too soon. This can be especially problematic if you’re applying for a credit card balance transfer for business with too many banks at the same time. About 15% of your credit score is based on the length of time an account has been open. The longer it’s been open, the higher your score will be. Opening several accounts at the same time could knock down your average and hurt your score. 

How do you do a balance transfer on a credit card?

It’s easy: you check the balance and the interest rate on your credit card, pick a new card with a better APR, and then simply contact the new credit card company and ask to do a balance transfer. You’ll need to provide the numbers of both accounts. It typically takes a few days to process a transfer. 

How much can you balance transfer on a credit card?

It depends on your credit card limit. The best credit cards for balance transfers allow you to transfer up to 100% of your credit limit, but you might be capped at 75% of the balance transfer if your credit limit doesn’t allow for more. 

What happens if you don’t pay off balance transfer?

If you don’t pay off your balance transfer within the 0% intro period, you might end up paying even more in interest than you initially would have had you just stuck to the old card. Balance transfer cards are really useful and can completely recuperate your financial health, but only if you use them the way they’re intended. If you see them as an excuse to spend more and take a longer time to pay off your debt, you’re likely to end up in even bigger debt. 

Can I do more than one balance transfer?

You can. Most card providers will allow for two to five balances to one card, and if you pick no interest credit cards for balance transfers, you can pay off all your credit card debt with one card. 

Are 0 balance transfers a good idea?

Yes, balance transfers with a card that gives you a 0% APR period can be a great idea. Everything you pay during that period goes towards the principal of your debt instead of the interest. If you manage to pay off your entire debt before the 0% period ends, you’ll be saving a lot of money that you would have otherwise spent on paying off interest. Our list of top balance transfer credit cards can help you choose the right product for you. 

Should I pay off one credit card or reduce balances on all debt?

It’s generally better to pay off one credit card first and then move on to the next one. However, if you get a balance transfer card, it could be a good idea to transfer all your debt to that card. This only works if you plan to pay it all off before the promotional low APR period ends. 

Is there a downside to balance transfers?

Yes — high APRs after the promotional period ends. Even the best transfer credit cards can have a high APR after the promotion ends, especially if your credit score is anything less than excellent. However, if you pay everything off before that, these types of cards can be a great idea.

Should I close credit cards with zero balance?

It depends on several factors. Closing a credit card with zero balance could increase your balance-to-limit ratio because it reduces your available credit, meaning your credit score could get knocked down. However, if you have a great credit score this is unlikely to affect it too much. There’s also the issue of temptation — if an open account invites you to overspend and get into debt again, then it might be in your best interest to close it.