The 10 Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of January 2023

High credit card interest rates causing you pain? We’ve found the 10 best balance transfer credit cards to give you some relief.
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Balance transfer credit cards give borrowers a second chance at paying down their debts without the threat of predatory interest.

You usually need a good or excellent credit score to apply for the best balance transfer credit cards — those with 0% intro APR and low balance transfer fees. If your credit score is strong enough, you may even be able to find a balance transfer card with rewards and other perks.

But where do you find balance transfers, and how do you know if they’re a good deal? To help, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 best balance transfer credit cards currently offered.

The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

  • BankAmericard Credit Card: Best Balance Transfer Credit Card
  • Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best Cash Back Rewards
  • Wells Fargo Reflect Card: Best for Long 0% Intro APR
  • Citi® Double Cash Card: Best Incentive to Pay
  • Citi Simplicity Card: Best for No late Fees
  • Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best Travel Rewards
  • Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Best Bonus Program
  • Wells Fargo Active Cash Card: Best Flat-Rate Rewards
  • Chase Slate Edge℠: Best for Potential APR Reduction
  • Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card: Best for Flexible Payment Date

Save yourself some time and trouble — use this handy tool that matches you with the best credit card for your needs.

BankAmericard Credit Card

Best Balance Transfer Credit Card

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • 21 months of 0% APR
  • No penalty APR
  • Low regular APR
The BankAmericard Credit Card is the best balance transfer card available. While it doesn’t boast the greatest perks or rewards, it does offer a winning combination of balance transfer features — and that should be your top aim when selecting the best balance transfer card for you. Plus, it offers the lowest available regular APRs after the introductory balance transfer period.
BankAmericard Credit Card

Annual fee
N/A
Balance transfer fee
3% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum)
Intro APR on balance transfers
0% intro APR for 21 months
Intro APR on purchases
0% intro APR for 21 months
Regular APR
14.99% to 24.99%
Rewards rate
N/A
Minimum credit score requirement
Good to excellent credit (670 and higher)

More Information About BankAmericard Credit Card

First and foremost, the BankAmericard Credit Card tops our list of the best balance transfer credit cards because it truly offers the best balance transfer features: only a 3% fee and 21 months of 0% intro APR. While other balance transfer cards will drop the 0% APR and introduce a penalty APR in its place if you miss a single payment along the way, the BankAmericard Credit Card is more forgiving, with no penalty APR in sight.

After the balance transfer introductory period is over, you can expect a regular APR of 14.99% to 24.99% — 14.99% is as low as it gets on this list. While we don’t encourage you to carry a balance month to month, it’s good to know that this card offers the potential for a below-average credit APR, just in case you can’t always pay it off in full.

Aside from some solid security features and free access to your FICO credit score, the BankAmericard Credit Card doesn’t offer much in the way of long-term benefits. Once you’ve paid off your balance, look for a rewards credit card with cash back or travel points. Even so, you’ll want to keep this card open; there’s no annual fee, and having the untapped available credit will continue to boost your credit score.

 

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards

Best Cash Back Rewards

5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • Up to 3% cash back
  • $200 welcome bonus
  • 18 months of 0% APR
The balance transfer features of the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card aren’t as strong as our top contender (only 18 months for 0% APR and just 60 days to initiate balance transfers), but if you can pay off the debt in a year and a half, this card offers the better long-term deal thanks to its cash back rewards.
Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards

Annual fee
N/A
Balance transfer fee
3% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum)
Intro APR on balance transfers
0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles
Intro APR on purchases
0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles
Regular APR
16.99% to 26.99% variable
Rewards rate
1% to 3% cash back
Minimum credit score requirement
Good to excellent credit (670 and higher)

More Information About Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card

You’ll need to initiate any balance transfers in the first 60 days, which is tighter than most other balance transfer cards on our list. But once you do, you’ll enjoy 18 months of no interest on your transferred debt. And balance transfers aren’t as expensive as they are on some other cards — just 3% ($5 minimum) for each balance transfer.

If you have a solid plan to pay down the transferred debt, you can also take advantage of this credit card’s 0% intro APR on purchases (18 months) and noteworthy cash back program:

  • 3% in a category of your choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement and furnishings)
  • 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
  • 1% on all other purchases

Even more promising is the welcome bonus for this cash rewards credit card: Spend at least $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening, and you’ll earn $200.

Wells Fargo Reflect Card

Best Balance Transfer Credit Card

5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • Up to 21 months of 0% APR
  • Cell phone protection
  • Emergency roadside assistance
The Wells Fargo Reflect Card misses the bells and whistles of a travel or cash back rewards card, but it makes up for it in solid balance transfer features: 18 months of 0% APR (21 months if you can manage on-time minimum payments) and a low 3% intro balance transfer fee. It even throws in some perks like cell phone protection to entice you to keep it open after the balance is paid.
Wells Fargo Reflect Card

Annual fee
N/A
Balance transfer fee
3% intro balance transfer fee (first 120 days from account opening); 5% balance transfer fee thereafter
Intro APR on balance transfers
0% intro APR for up to 21 months for qualifying balance transfers
Intro APR on purchases
0% intro APR for up to 21 months
Regular APR
15.99% to 27.99% variable
Rewards rate
N/A
Minimum credit score requirement
Good to excellent credit (670 and higher)

More Information About Wells Fargo Reflect Card

With this balance transfer card, you’ll start with an 18-month 0% intro APR on qualifying balance transfers, but Wells Fargo will tack on three more months — for 21 months total — as long as you make on-time minimum payments during the introductory period. Plus, balance transfer fees are at the low end: You’ll pay a 3% intro balance transfer fee (first 120 days from account opening), though it bumps to 5% if you wait past 120 days. You won’t want to wait, though; the 0% intro APR is only available if you initiate your balance transfer in that timeframe.

There’s no annual fee for the Wells Fargo Reflect Card, so it won’t cost you anything to keep it open after you’ve paid off the outstanding balance (keeping it open is good for your credit score). But you’ll likely want to add a better rewards credit card to your wallet because Wells Fargo doesn’t offer much beyond its emergency roadside assistance benefit. If anything, you can keep paying your monthly cell phone bill with this card; doing so gets you $600 in cell phone protection.

Citi Double Cash Card

Best Incentive to Pay

5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • Up to 2% cash back
  • 18 months of 0% APR
The 0% intro APR for the Citi Double Cash Card isn’t as long as the best balance transfer card on our list (it’s 18 months instead of 21), but if you can handle three months less of no-interest payments, you’ll benefit from the unique rewards program. We especially like this rewards program because it incentivizes you to keep up with payments.
Citi Double Cash Card

Annual fee
N/A
Balance transfer fee
3% intro balance transfer fee (first four months from account opening); 5% balance transfer fee thereafter
Intro APR on balance transfers
0% intro APR for 18 months
Intro APR on purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% to 27.74% variable
Rewards rate
Up to 2% cash back
Minimum credit score requirement
Good to excellent credit (670 and higher)

More Information About Citi Double Cash Card

As long as you complete your balance transfer within the first four months of account opening, you’ll qualify for the 3% intro balance transfer fee — and you’ll have 18 months of zero interest as you make repayments. Combined, these features make the Citi Double Cash Card an above-average option for balance transfers.

But we especially like this card because of its rewards program. Not only does the 2% cash back rewards rate make this card a good long-term choice, but it also promotes healthy repayment practices — which could be useful for borrowers who struggled with credit in the past. Why? Because you’ll only earn 1% cash back when you swipe the card; you won’t earn the other 1% (for the full 2%) until you actually pay off that amount on the card.

You can redeem the cash back as a statement credit, direct deposit or check or as gift cards, travel perks or Amazon Shop with Points.

Citi Simplicity® Card

Best for No Late Fees

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • 21 months of 0% intro APR
  • No late fees or penalty APR
  • No annual fee
The Citi Simplicity® Card is yet another balance transfer card offering 21 months of 0% intro APR, as long as you transfer the funds over in the first four months. You’ll also only pay a 3% intro balance transfer fee in that timeframe. But what we really like about this card is that Citi doesn’t charge a late fee, nor does it assess a penalty APR.
Citi Simplicity Card

Annual fee
N/A
Balance transfer fee
3% intro balance transfer fee (first four months from account opening); 5% balance transfer fee thereafter
Intro APR on balance transfers
0% intro APR for 21 months
Intro APR on purchases
0% intro APR for 12 months
Regular APR
17.74% to 28.49% variable
Rewards rate
N/A
Minimum credit score requirement
Good to excellent credit (670 and higher)

More Information About Citi Simplicity Card

You won’t collect travel points or cash back rewards with the Citi Simplicity Card. Rather, it’s an easy way to knock out high-interest debt through a balance transfer. As long as you’re within the four-month window when you initiate the balance transfer, you can enjoy 21 months with no interest as you repay the balance — and only a 3% intro balance transfer fee.

While the goal of a balance transfer card is to make on-time payments and eliminate the debt, accidents happen. The Citi Simplicity Card doesn’t punish you for mistakes; there are no late fees and no penalty APR. This is uncommon for balance transfers; many other card issuers don’t have this type of forgiveness built into their programs.

As with many of the best balance transfer credit cards on our list, there aren’t many perks to keep your interest in the card after you’ve paid down the balance. Keep this one open, but once your credit score is in good shape, you’ll want to start your search for a travel credit card or cash back rewards card.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards

Best for Travelers

4.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • Up to 5% cash back
  • No foreign transactions fees
  • 15 months of 0% intro APR
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is a cash back rewards card that just happens to double as a great balance transfer card option. The flat-rate 1.5% cash back is easy for rewards card beginners to track, and it’s great for traveling abroad with no foreign transaction fees. For balance transfers, you can expect 0% APR for 15 months and only a 3% balance transfer fee.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards

Annual fee
N/A
Balance transfer fee
3% intro balance transfer fee (first 15 months)
Intro APR on balance transfers
0% intro APR for 15 months
Intro APR on purchases
0% intro APR for 15 months
Regular APR
17.99% to 27.99% variable
Rewards rate
1.5% cash back
Minimum credit score requirement
Excellent credit (740 and higher)

More Information About Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is a regular favorite for cash back rewards; its solid unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase makes it easy to track and easy to earn. And right now, you can earn a $200 cash bonus if you spend $500 within the first three months from account opening.

If traveling is on your horizon, this is the ideal balance transfer card: You can earn 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Plus, Capital One doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. This is a unique selling point for Capital One; in fact, Chase Freedom Unlimited (another balance transfer card on our list that offers big travel perks charges a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Clearly, the Quicksilver has a lot going for it. But who knew it was also a helpful credit card for people trying to consolidate and pay down their debt? Right now, the Quicksilver card offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 months, with only a 3% balance transfer fee. That 0% intro APR isn’t just for balance transfers, either; it also applies to new purchases.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Best Bonus Program

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • Up to 5% cash back
  • Big welcome bonus plus referral bonuses
  • 15 months of 0% intro APR
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card offers decent perks for balance transfers, particularly the 15-month 0% intro APR. The balance transfer fees are on the high end (5%), but so are the cash back rewards and bonus amounts, which make this an appealing short- and long-term credit card option.
Chase Freedom Unlimited

Annual fee
N/A
Balance transfer fee
5% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum)
Intro APR on balance transfers
0% intro APR for 15 months
Intro APR on purchases
0% intro APR for 15 months
Regular APR
17.24% to 25.99%
Rewards rate
1.5% to 5% cash back
Minimum credit score requirement
Good to excellent credit (670 and higher)

More Information About Chase Freedom Unlimited

Chase gives you 15 months of zero interest to tackle the existing credit card debt that you transfer over; you’ll just pay 5% of the balance transfer amount to port it to the new credit card. While these aren’t the best terms and rates of the balance transfer cards on our list, the Chase Freedom unlimited balance transfer card makes up for it in rewards and bonuses.

You can earn 5% cash back on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Plus, you’ll earn 3% on dining (in restaurants and via takeout and eligible delivery services) and drugstore purchases. All other purchases earn 1.5% cash back.

But it’s the bonuses that really won us over. Spend $500 in three months from account opening to earn a $200 bonus. But that’s not all: You’ll also earn 5% cash back on on grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. And the bonuses keep coming: You can earn $100 for every referral bonus, up to $500 a year.

The big downside of Chase Freedom Unlimited? As a card that rewards travel purchases, you wouldn’t expect to pay a foreign transaction fee. But on the contrary, Chase charges a 3% foreign transaction fee every time you swipe the card abroad.

Wells Fargo Active Cash Cash Card

Best Flat-Rate Rewards

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • 2% cash back
  • 15 months of 0% intro APR
  • Cell phone protection
The Wells Fargo Active Cash Card makes a compelling enough offer for qualifying balance transfers: 15 months of zero interest and a 3% intro balance transfer fee. But it’s the flat-rate 2% cash back that really catches our attention. The $600 cell phone protection is just icing on the cake.
Wells Fargo Active Cash Cash Card

Annual fee
N/A
Balance transfer fee
3% intro balance transfer fee (first 120 days from account opening); 5% balance transfer fee thereafter
Intro APR on balance transfers
0% intro APR for 15 months for qualifying balance transfers
Intro APR on purchases
0% intro APR for 15 months
Regular APR
17.99% to 27.99% variable
Rewards rate
2% cash back
Minimum credit score requirement
Good to excellent credit (670 and higher)

More Information About Wells Fargo Active Cash Cash Card

There’s no doubt that the Wells Fargo Reflect Card (higher on our list) makes the better balance transfer credit card — in terms of the actual balance transfer. You can get up to 21 months of no interest for qualifying balance transfers, three more than you’ll get with the Active Cash Card.

But if you’re thinking about the longer term, the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card could be the way to go. With it, you’ll earn 2% cash back on every purchase. While you may qualify for a better rewards credit card once you’ve paid off the outstanding balance over 18 months, the 2% rewards rate makes a compelling argument for you to keep swiping with Wells Fargo.

At the very least, keep this card open to pay your monthly cell phone bill. You’ll get $600 in cell phone protection if you do.

Chase Slate Edge℠

Best for Potential APR Reduction

4 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • 18 months of 0% APR
  • Potential to lower your interest rate
  • No annual fee
The Chase Slate Edge used to merit a closer look because an earlier version didn’t charge a fee for balance transfers. Even with today’s high 5% balance transfer fee, the Slate Edge is still worth consideration, with 18 months of 0% intro APR. More compelling is the card’s APR reduction program; responsible swiping means your interest rate could decrease by 2% each year.
Chase Slate Edge

Annual fee
N/A
Balance transfer fee
5% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum)
Intro APR on balance transfers
18 months of 0% intro APR
Intro APR on purchases
18 months of 0% intro APR
Regular APR
18.74% to 27.49% variable
Rewards rate
N/A
Minimum credit score requirement
Good to excellent credit (670 and higher)

More Information About Chase Slate Edge

Balance transfers fees are 5% of each transaction, but you’ll have 18 months to pay down the debt without worrying about accruing interest. You can get better deals with other balance transfer credit cards, but if you’ve got a credit score between 670 and 700, your ability to qualify for some of those better balance transfer cards may be hindered.

The Chase Slate Edge balance transfer card is famous for its 2% APR reduction each year — assuming you make on-time monthly payments and spend at least $1,000 annually. Over time, your rate can decrease to the Prime Rate plus 9.74%. Chase also conducts automatic credit line reviews after six months (just make on-time payments and spend $500 to be eligible), meaning you could get a credit limit increase in as little as half a year.

Once your credit score is in better shape, this is a card you’ll want to abandon for a stronger rewards credit card option. As always, leave this one open to keep your credit utilization down and age of credit up.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Best for Flexible Payment Date

3.5 out of 5 Overall

Key Features
  • 21 months of 0% APR
  • Flexible payment date
  • No annual fee
Like the BankAmericard Credit Card, which tops our list of the best balance transfer credit cards, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card has an impressive 21-month 0% introductory period. But balance transfer fees are higher (5%), and there aren’t a lot of perks to draw you in. But if you’re looking for as much interest-free time as possible to pay down your debt, this card’s a solid contender.
Citi Diamond Preferred Card

Annual fee
N/A
Balance transfer fee
5% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum)
Intro APR on balance transfers
0% intro APR for 21 months
Intro APR on purchases
0% intro APR for 12 months
Regular APR
16.74% to 27.49% variable
Rewards rate
N/A
Minimum credit score requirement
Good to excellent credit (670 and higher)

More Information About Citi Diamond Preferred Card

We like this card because of its flat 21-month 0% intro APR period, though the 0% purchase APR falls off after 12 months. You’ll have four months to conduct your balance transfer in order to qualify for the special rate, and you’ll pay 5% for each one.

There’s not a lot here to entice you to use this card after you’ve paid off your transferred balance. There’s no rewards program to speak of, but some of the perks include choose-your-own payment date, access to discount entertainment tickets (concerts, sports events, etc.) and $0 liability on unauthorized charges.

But if your credit score is in better shape after you’ve paid off your debt, you’d be wise to see if you qualify for a better rewards credit card. Just keep this one open to help with your credit history and credit utilization; doing so can boost your credit score.

What Is a Balance Transfer Credit Card?

A balance transfer credit card allows you to move outstanding debt from a high-interest account — usually another credit card —  onto the new, lower-interest card. While you’ll typically pay a fee for every balance transfer, it could be worth it if the interest rate on the balance transfer card is lower than your current credit card.

Pro Tip

While balance transfers usually involve moving debt from one credit card to another, some companies may also allow balance transfers for personal loans, auto loans and even student loans.

The best balance transfer cards offer a 0% introductory APR for a set number of months (12 to 21 is ideal). This means you can transfer the debt over for a one-time fee and then have a year or more to pay down that debt without racking up any more interest. If the interest rate on the old credit card is high, this could be well worth the cost — and might be your chance to pay off the debt entirely.

What Is a 0% Balance Transfer?

A 0% balance transfer refers to the introductory APR for a new balance transfer card. These cards charge 0% interest for a set number of months, called the introductory period, during which you can focus on paying off the outstanding balance that you’ve just transferred over from another card.

Not every credit card offers a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers. Some may charge no fees for balance transfers, but they’ll immediately start charging you interest. Others may charge a balance transfer fee and immediate interest. If you have a good or excellent credit score, you should be able to avoid such cards. But if you have bad credit, your options may be limited.

Pro Tip

Not every credit card permits balance transfers. Read the fine print to see if you’ll be able to arrange a balance transfer before applying for any new credit card.

How Does a Balance Transfer Work?

Once you are approved for a balance transfer credit card, you will need to indicate which balances you plan to transfer. Have the account numbers handy for every balance you want to shift to your new card — and the amount you’d like to transfer, though it usually makes sense to move the full balance from a high-interest card to the new, lower-interest credit card, if you’re able.

Pro Tip

Many balance transfer credit cards only offer the 0% intro APR if you act fast. Read the terms carefully; you may only have a month or two to initiate the transfer to lock in the 0% intro APR.

If you get the green light, the new credit card issuer will pay off your outstanding balance on your old credit card, then transfer that debt to the new card. This process can take several weeks, so it’s important to keep up with your regularly scheduled payments on the old card for the time being, though you should stop using it before applying for the new card, if possible.

Most 0% balance transfer credit cards charge a fee for the service — usually between 3% and 5% per transfer. Don’t let the fee deter you: If you’re drowning in high-interest debt with another card, the one-time fee is likely to be significantly smaller than what you’ll pay over time if you keep your debt on the existing card.

Pros and Cons of a Balance Transfer

Balance transfer cards can be advantageous for consolidating and eliminating debt, but they’re not for everyone. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of balance transfers:

Pros

No interest: If you qualify for a 0% balance transfer, you won’t have to pay interest for a set number of months.

One monthly payment: If you consolidate multiple credit cards on a single balance transfer card, you’ll simplify your monthly payments.

Debt freedom: With no interest, you have an opportunity to eliminate your credit card debt entirely.

Better rewards: The best balance transfer credit cards may offer better cash back rewards and perks than your current card.

Cons

Balance transfer fees: Credit card issuers typically charge 3% to 5% per balance transfer.

Balance transfer APR: After the 0% intro APR period, any unpaid balance will be subject to the new card’s regular purchase APR.

Better options out there: While these cards offer a debt solution, other rewards credit cards usually offer better perks for responsible spending.

Credit requirements: The 0% balance transfer cards are often only available to good and excellent credit borrowers.

What to Look For in a Balance Transfer Card

At a minimum, the best balance transfer credit cards need to simplify your debt situation, empower you to pay off your debt and save you money in the long run. But what does that look like on paper?

These are the hallmarks of the very best balance transfer credit cards:

0% Intro APR

The No. 1 reason to open a balance transfer credit card is the 0% intro APR. If a credit card does not offer 0% intro APR for a set number of months, it is less likely to be worth the balance transfer fee. And remember, not all 0% intro APR promotions are created equal: Some may only last a handful of months while others can last nearly two years. On our list of the best balance transfer credit cards, you can find some options with a 0% intro APR period as long as 21 months.

Balance Transfer Fee

While the 0% intro APR may be tempting, you should brace yourself for balance transfer fees on every balance you port over to the new card. These typically range from 3% to 5% and have some kind of minimum fee (often $5 or $10 per transfer). If you are transferring a huge amount of debt, this can add up; for example, transferring $10,000 at a 5% fee would cost $500. If you’ve got a lot of debt to move, prioritize a card with a lower balance transfer fee. (Note that, just because you want to move $10,000 doesn’t mean you’ll be approved for that much; balance transfer card issuers may limit how much debt you can port over.)

Some credit cards may boast no balance transfer fees, but they typically don’t offer a 0% intro APR, meaning you’ll immediately start paying interest. Thus, while it may seem counterintuitive, the best balance transfer credit cards typically charge some kind of balance transfer fee.

Annual Fee

If you’re transferring debt over to a new credit card, chances are you’ve been burned by credit card fees in the past — late fees, foreign transaction fees and annual fees alike. As you work to get out of debt, your goal should be to reduce your fees. After all, any money spent on annual fees is money that you can’t use to pay down your debt during your 0% intro APR period. The best balance transfer credit cards do not charge annual fees.

Rewards and Perks

The primary goals of a balance transfer card are getting rid of predatory credit card interest and then paying off the outstanding debt, but it’s good to think about the long term. Once you’ve paid off the outstanding balance, is the balance transfer credit card one that you’d want to continue to use? While the card may not have all the perks of the best travel credit cards and best cash back credit cards, it may offer at least some benefits. If your credit score is in decent shape, look for a balance transfer card that offers perks like:

  • Points or cash back that you can redeem as gift cards, travel credits or statement credits
  • Streaming discounts, extended warranties on purchases and/or cell phone protection
  • Travel perks like free checked bags or trip insurance

Credit Score Requirement

Not everyone can qualify for a 0% balance transfer credit card. Usually, credit card issuers require good to excellent credit scores (670 and higher). While there are balance transfer cards available to people with lower credit scores, they likely won’t have a 0% intro APR promotion. You’ll need to consider carefully if the new card’s lower APR makes the one-time balance transfer fee worth the cost.

Credit Card Issuer

Typically, you can’t transfer debt from a high-interest card to a balance transfer card issued by the same bank. For example, if you have a high-interest Citi credit card, you shouldn’t look at Citi balance transfer credit cards as the solution. Some banks and credit unions may be open to letting you do balance transfers internally, but you should always get a clear answer before applying for a balance transfer credit card.

Local banks and credit unions may offer great deals on balance transfer credit cards. For example, Oregon-based First Tech Federal Credit Union offers a balance transfer card with a 12-month 0% intro APR and no balance transfer fee. Unfortunately, the card requires credit credit union membership.

Alternatives to a Balance Transfer

If you can’t qualify for a 0% balance transfer credit card, you may want to avoid balance transfers entirely. Usually, this strategy is only effective if you qualify for the 0% intro APR.

So what should you do if you can’t get a 0% balance transfer card? Here are some other options:

Make Bigger Payments on Your Current Card

It’s not the best advice, but sometimes you’ve just got to keep on keepin’ on. Though the high interest rate of your current credit card may make progress slow, you can start making larger monthly payments on the card to see some progress. Making the minimum payment each month helps you avoid late fees, but it’s just digging you a deeper hole in terms of credit card debt. Whatever you do, stop spending with this credit card. Adding more to your outstanding balance can only hurt your situation.

Ask for a Lower Rate

If you’ve put in the work to improve your credit score, the card issuer may be amenable to lowering your rate, especially if you threaten to transfer the debt elsewhere. (They want to keep making money off you, after all.) The credit card issuer is under no obligation to lower your interest rate, but it never hurts to ask. They may reduce your variable APR or transfer your outstanding balance to a different, lower-interest card under their umbrella.

Take Out a Personal Loan

Balance transfer cards fight debt with more debt — but a better kind of debt. As it turns out, a balance transfer card is just one way to do that. Depending on your credit score, you may also qualify for a personal loan at a lower interest rate than your current credit card. If so, you can take out the loan (usually funded within a few days if approved) and then pay off the credit card debt with the money. Going forward, you’ll be paying off the personal loan instead of the credit card. Some banks and credit unions even have debt consolidation loans, a type of personal loan designed for this very purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Balance Transfer Cards

When you’re facing a high interest rate on a credit card with a balance, a balance transfer card may seem like the ticket. Still, you’ve got questions and we’ve found the answers.

What Is Balance Transfer APR?

A balance transfer APR refers to the interest rate you’ll pay on any outstanding balance you transfer from another card or loan to your balance transfer credit card. The best balance transfer cards offer a 0% intro APR for balance transfers that lasts 12 to 21 months, though some may have introductory periods as short as six months. After the introductory period, each card will have its own regular purchase APR for any unpaid balance from the original transfer.

Does a Balance Transfer Affect Your Credit Score?

The balance transfer itself does not affect your credit score, but it can and often does impact your credit score indirectly. For example, opening a new credit card may temporarily lower your credit score because of the hard inquiry on your credit report and the reduced average age of credit. At the same time, having a new credit card open decreases your overall credit utilization (as long as you keep the old card open — and you should!) and thus increases your credit score. And if you make regular payments to reduce your debt on the new balance transfer card, your overall credit utilization will decrease over time for an even bigger boost to your credit score.

Is There a Limit to How Much You Can Transfer?

Generally, credit card issuers will not allow you to initiate a balance transfer larger than the credit limit of the new balance transfer card for which you’re approved. Research balance transfer limits before choosing a card; you’ll want a credit card that allows you to move as much of your high-interest debt as possible. Card issuers will consider several factors when determining your balance transfer limit, including credit score and income.

Who Can Qualify for a Balance Transfer Card?

To qualify for a 0% balance transfer card, you generally need good to excellent credit. You may be able to qualify for less attractive balance transfer card offers with a lower credit score, but without a 0% intro APR, a balance transfer card may not be ideal for your situation.

Contributor Timothy Moore is a writer and editor in Cincinnati who covers banks, loans, insurance, travel and automotive topics for The Penny Hoarder.