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Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Profile picture of Kathryn Parkman
by Kathryn Parkman ConsumerAffairs Research Team

Pulling yourself out of debt is a long process, and finding the right balance transfer credit card can be a step in the right direction. Many credit card companies offer balance transfer cards that let you move credit balances from multiple accounts to a new card with a lower interest rate. These cards can help you consolidate your debt by turning several payments into one regular bill.

Our picks for
Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Best for long-term rewards
Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card

LabelCompany nameSummary
Capital One Quicksilver Cash RewardsRecommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
Logo
  • Balance Transfer Offer:
    0% APR for the first 15 months on transfers and new purchases
  • Balance Transfer Fees:
    Either $5 or 3% of amounts transferred, whichever is higher
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Capital One Quicksilver review

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card is best if you want to pay down debts while earning rewards. Unlike other cards, you'll earn unlimited rewards for every purchase, regardless of category, and rewards won’t ever expire. Since there’s no annual fee, you might even want to keep this card after you pay off your debts.

Benefits
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards offers an early spend bonus: Score a one-time $150 cash bonus if you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. This card also has the great automatic benefit of earning unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase with no signup needed to earn cash rewards. One of the biggest benefits of the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card is that, unlike brand-specific credit cards, you can redeem the rewards in a variety of places.

Things to know
There’s no annual fee for the card. Balance transfers can be completed throughout the 15-month introductory period, and, as long as you pay your previous month’s balance in full, you won’t be charged interest on new purchases. There’s no foreign transaction fee, so you can make a purchase that has to pass through a foreign bank without paying an additional fee.

Bottom line
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card's mixture of balance transfer features and rewards makes it a good option for people who want a simple, easy-to-understand reward system. You’ll get rewarded every time you swipe your card, whereas with other cards there are limits and restrictions.

Best for transfers and new purchases
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

LabelCompany nameSummary
Chase Freedom UnlimitedRecommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
Logo
  • Balance Transfer Offer:
    0% APR for the first 15 months on transfers and new purchases
  • Balance Transfer Fees:
    Either $5 or 3% of amounts transferred, whichever is higher
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Chase Freedom Unlimited review

If you already have a good credit score and want to consolidate debt while earning rewards, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card gives you unlimited cash back and offers protection on new purchases. Plus, you'll have access to free weekly credit score updates through Credit Journey.

Benefits
Earn 3% cash back on every purchase in your first year on up to $20,000, then unlimited 1.5% cash back after. The Chase Freedom Unlimited card also stands out because it protects new purchases against theft or damage for 120 days, up to $500 per claim or $50,000 per account.

Things to know
This card requires a higher credit score than other balance transfer cards, but the rewards can work in your favor if you get approved. All balance transfers must be completed within 60 days of opening the account. There’s no annual fee, but a foreign transaction fee of 3% applies for converting funds to U.S. dollars, so this might not be the best card if you plan on traveling overseas.

Bottom line
This card’s combination of balance transfer features and benefits make it a smart option for people who plan to use the card beyond paying off their balance transfers. It requires a higher credit score than other cards of its type, but the rewards can work in your favor if you get approved.

Best for lowest available ongoing APR
HSBC Gold MasterCard

LabelCompany nameSummary
HSBC Gold MasterCardRecommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
Logo
  • Balance Transfer Offer:
    0% APR for the first 18 months on transfers
  • Balance Transfer Fees:
    Either $10 or 4% of amounts transferred, whichever is higher
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HSBC Gold MasterCard review

The HSBC Gold MasterCard is a traditional balance transfer card, which is a good option if your top priority is paying down debts. You won’t be earning rewards on new purchases, but this card stands out for its late fee waiver and lack of penalty APR.

Benefits
If you’re someone who occasionally forgets to pay a bill, this might be the card for you. The HSBC Gold MasterCard offers a late fee waiver for cardholders who make less than one late payment per year, and your interest rate won’t increase if you fall behind on your payments. Plus, there’s no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and $0 liability for unauthorized purchases.

Things to know
There aren't any additional rewards features with this card, but the balance transfer offer and low ongoing APR might be enough to keep it on your list. After opening the account, you’ll have 60 days to transfer debts to the HSBC Gold MasterCard. There isn’t an annual fee or a charge for foreign transactions.

Bottom line
What you miss out on for rewards you’ll make up for with an extended 0% introductory APR period of 18 months and low APR rates following that period. HSBC Gold MasterCard also offers a late fee waiver for cardholders who make less than one late payment per year. Their offers are especially appealing to people who have pretty good credit but are struggling to pay down important debts.

Best for longest 0% intro APR period
Citi Simplicity Card

LabelCompany nameLogoSummary
Citi Simplicity CardRecommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
  • Balance Transfer Offer:
    0% APR for the first 21 months on transfers
  • Balance Transfer Fees:
    Either $5 or 5% of amounts transferred, whichever is higher

Citi Simplicity Card review

If you're someone who needs more time to pay off your debts, the Citi Simplicity Card is a great choice because it has a longer 0% introductory period. You’ll have nearly 2 years to pay off your transferred balance with no late fees or penalty rates.

Benefits
At 21 months, Citi Simplicity Card offers one of the longest 0% introductory APR periods for balance transfers, plus no interest on new purchases made within the first year. This is also one of the only cards with no late fees, penalty rates, annual fees or any other fees—ever.

Things to know
Citi Simplicity offers a higher balance transfer fee of 5%, which might be worth it to you if you need more time to settle your transferred debts. All balance transfers must be completed within four months of opening the account. You won’t have to pay an annual fee, but there is a 3% fee on foreign transactions.

Bottom line
This card is a great choice for those with higher debt relative to their income. Cardholders have nearly two years to pay off their transferred balance with no late fees or penalty rates. So, you'll enjoy a long introduction period with zero late fees and no penalty rates.

Best for cash back rewards and bonuses
American Express Cash Magnet Card

LabelCompany nameSummary
American Express Cash MagnetRecommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
Logo
  • Balance Transfer Offer:
    0% APR for the first 15 months on transfers
  • Balance Transfer Fees:
    Either $5 or 3% of the amounts transferred, whichever is higher
READ MORE

American Express Cash Magnet review

If you need some flexibility in your payment plans, American Express Cash Magnet Card gives you the option to carry over a balance with interest or pay in full each month, so it's easy to plan for larger expenses while managing debt. It's also a great balance transfer card if you want to pay down past debts while earning rewards, especially on larger purchases.

Benefits
It’s easy to keep track of rewards and bonuses you earn on new purchases with this card through American Express's secure online portal. With American Express Cash Magnet Card, you'll have the option to redeem your rewards dollars as statement credits toward your debt or for gift cards and merchandise. You’ll also be protected from fraudulent charges if they occur on your account.

Things to know
After the 15-month introductory period, you’ll have the option to set up a monthly payment plan for high-dollar purchases with fixed rates and no interest charge, plus keep rewards benefits. You must transfer balances within 60 days of opening an American Express Cash Magnet Card account. You don’t have to worry about paying an annual fee with this card, but a foreign transaction fee of 2.7% applies. Terms apply.

Bottom line
American Express Cash Magnet card holders enjoy a lot of flexibility when it comes to payment options and cashing in rewards. It's a smart choice if you want the option of putting rewards credits from new purchases toward paying off your transferred debt.

Best for dining and entertainment cash back
Capital One SavorOne Credit Card

LabelCompany nameSummary
Capital One SavorOneRecommended Credit:
Good–Excellent
Logo
  • Balance Transfer Offer:
    0% APR for the first 15 months on transfers and new purchases
  • Balance Transfer Fees:
    3% of the amounts transferred
READ MORE

Capital One SavorOne review

The Capital One SavorOne card is a great option for those who like to spend their discretionary funds on dining and entertainment because of Capital One’s generous 3% cash back on those purchases.

Benefits
Get unlimited 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% cash back at the grocery store and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Earn a $150 cash bonus if you spend $500 on new purchases within 3 months of opening your account. Cash back rewards won’t expire as long as you keep the account open, and there isn’t a limit to how much you can earn.

Things to know
There’s no limit to the cash back rewards that you can earn, and rewards never expire as long as you keep the account active. Capital One lets you transfer debts to the SavorOne card throughout the length of the 15-month introductory period. You’ll never have to pay an annual fee or pay a charge on foreign transactions.

Bottom line
Capital One makes it easy to transfer all your debt to one place and still earn generous cash back rewards. The 0% APR introductory period is shorter than other balance transfer cards, but you can earn more cash back rewards on dining and entertainment expenses.

What is a balance transfer credit card?

A credit card balance transfer is one way to consolidate your debt to one payment. If you qualify for a balance transfer credit card, you could pay less overall interest and even build your credit while paying off balances. Put simply, the lower your interest rate, the less you’ll end up paying—so it’s in your best interest to find the lowest interest rate available to you.

There are two important factors to pay close attention to when choosing a balance transfer card:

  • Zero interest balance transfer period. Balance transfer cards offer a no-interest grace period for balance transfers. These no-interest offers can last anywhere from a few months to over a year.
  • Balance transfer fees. Some balance transfer credit cards offer services without balance transfer fees. These offers usually expire after about two months, after which you could be charged a balance transfer fee of 3–5% of your balance.

A balance transfer credit card looks much like a regular debit or credit card, but these credit cards allow you to move credit balances from one or more cards to a new card, sometimes without paying a balance transfer fee. You can even earn rewards on new purchases, while at the end of your billing cycle paying off outstanding debt too.

Balance transfer cards typically have an introductory period to complete transferring debt. It’s important to note that you cannot consolidate debt from a previous credit card onto a balance transfer credit card from the same company.

Most balance transfer credit cards also offer rewards like cash back for purchases, points that you can redeem for goods and services or other features. However, these bonuses often require you to keep using your card, which may not be in your best interest if you’re trying to get out of debt.

How do balance transfers work?

A balance transfer is when you move debt from one source, usually a credit card, to another. You can use balance transfers to move your debts and secure better interest rates (or earn rewards) while lowering your total monthly payments.

After the 0% APR introduction, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances—including your transferred debt—are paid in full. Then, you’ll get the same rate for all balances after the introductory period.

Find a balance transfer card to help you take control of your debt


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Some cards don’t include new purchases in their 0% APR introductory period, so you may end up owing interest later. Put simply, the lower the card’s interest rate, the less you’ll have to repay. You should also keep in mind that promotional balance transfer rates are usually only guaranteed as long as you continue to make the minimum monthly payments.

Most companies charge a fee when you transfer debts to a credit card, typically 3–5%, though some are as low as 2%. Alternatively, other balance transfer cards charge a percentage fee or $5, whichever is greater. In order for the $5 minimum transfer balance to be applicable, your total debt transferred to the card must be less than $100. You cannot transfer debt from one account to a different account from the same company.

Do balance transfers hurt your credit?

Balance transfers can either hurt or help your credit depending on your circumstances. Any time you apply for a new credit card, your credit score decreases. However, if your balance transfer credit card has a low transfer fee and low-interest rate, you could pay it off completely in a short amount of time and build your credit.

To build your credit with a balance transfer card, your credit utilization shouldn't exceed 30%, which would mean you only have 30% debt charged to cards out of the sum of your available credit limits. For example, if you have two credit cards and they both have $5,000 credit limits, then your total credit available is $10,000, so you shouldn’t have more than $3,000 in total outstanding balances between the two cards. That way, your score will go up even if you open a new credit account.

Which balance transfer card is the best?

When comparing balance transfer cards consider the transfer fee. Most balance transfer cards charge a 3–5% fee when you move a debt to another account. Also think about the length of the promotional 0% APR period, which can range from 12 months to almost 2 years. Lastly, make sure you qualify for a particular card. Generally, you will not be able to transfer a debt from one account to a different account with the same company.

Compare 0% APR Balance Transfer Card Offers

Card*Offer
Capital One Quicksilver Rewards0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 15 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred
Chase Freedom Unlimited0% intro APR on balance transfers and new purchases for the first 15 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred
HSBC Gold MasterCard0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months, with a 4% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred
Citi Simplicity Card0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 21 months, with a 5% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred
American Express Cash Magnet0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 15 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred
Capital One SavorOne Rewards0% intro APR on balance transfers and new purchases for the first 15 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred
*We selected these cards because they offer longer 0% APR intro periods of 15–21 months and have no annual fees.


Compare more balance transfer credit cards

How to do a balance transfer

Transferring a balance is a fairly easy process. You just need to make sure you have all the proper account information ready to go.

  1. Check your finances
    Go through your finances to see exactly how much you owe. Start compiling financial information for the debts you are transferring. You will need account numbers and balance amounts to make the transfer as quickly as possible.
  2. Research balance transfer cards
    Read our page and expert reviews to find the credit card for you. Compare balance transfer fees, interest rates and bonus offers to make sure they fit with your financial goals. Make a plan for how to get the most out of your no-interest grace period, and calculate how much you’ll pay when the interest kicks in.
  3. Apply for a balance transfer credit card
    When you’ve found the right card, fill out the application and wait for your approval, usually about 10 days. In the meantime, start prepping your accounts for a transfer by making note of all balances and account numbers to give your new credit card to make the transfer go smoothly.
  4. Initiate the balance transfer after receiving the card
    Once you have the card, contact customer service and set up the transfer. Give them your account numbers and balance amounts, and the card company will contact your creditors to take care of it. A balance transfer can take up to 10 days, and most transfers have to be completed within 60 days of receiving the card to benefit from any 0% transfer offers. In the meantime, keep paying on your existing cards. You do not want to miss a payment because you assumed the transfer was completed.

Bottom line

Balance transfer cards are a great way to consolidate and manage your debt. They often have incentives like low interest rates and 0% balance transfer fees. If you have a good or excellent credit score (above 670), you can choose to pay more on your collective balance to pay off all (or a lot) of your debt quickly.

Want to compare more balance transfer credit cards?


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ConsumerAffairs has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. ConsumerAffairs and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Profile picture of Kathryn Parkman
by Kathryn Parkman ConsumerAffairs Research Team

As a member of the ConsumerAffairs Research Team, Kathryn Parkman believes everyone deserves easy access to accurate and comprehensive information on products and businesses before they make a purchase, which is why she spends hours researching companies and industries for ConsumerAffairs. She believes conscious consumption is everyone's responsibility and that all content deserves integrity.