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
Good Balance Transfer Credit Cards
Good for long-term rewards
Capital One Quicksilver Credit Card
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.
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.
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.
Good for transfers and new purchases
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card
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.
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.
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.
Good for longest 0% intro APR period
Good Simplicity Card
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.
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.
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.
Good for dining and entertainment cash back
Capital One SavorOne Credit Card
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.
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.
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
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
|Capital One Quicksilver Rewards||0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 15 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||0% intro APR on balance transfers and new purchases for the first 15 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred|
|Citi Simplicity Card||0% intro APR on balance transfers for the first 21 months, with a 5% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred|
|Capital One SavorOne Rewards||0% intro APR on balance transfers and new purchases for the first 15 months, with a 3% balance transfer fee on amounts transferred|
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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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