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Updated November 18, 2014

Study: Credit Cards for Balance Transfers 2014

Here are the top balance transfer credit cards from our partners
Read more about Balance Transfer

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Paying off your credit card balances is one of the best moves you can make to improve your financial situation. But if you can’t afford to wipe your debt clean, then transferring your balance to a low interest credit card is your next best option.

A balance transfer credit card can help consolidate and eliminate your debt by offering you a low interest rate. Unfortunately, most of those rates are available only for a certain amount of time. This time limit puts a ticking clock on your debt repayment plan, which, for Mission: Impossible fans, might make things more exciting.

CreditDonkey.com considered the issue of time plus a host of other factors to narrow down the field of balance transfer credit cards to only the best cards from our partners. Not all of these will be the right one for you, so be sure the one you choose is the one that best matches your needs.

Roundup Methodology

Here are the main factors we considered in comparing balance transfer credit cards:

  1. Length of Intro Period
  2. Regular APR
  3. Balance Transfer Fee

Of all the main factors, the length of the introductory period is the most crucial. This should be the first thing you look for when you consider a balance transfer. During this period, most cards offer a 0% APR on balance transfers. Make sure you can pay off most, if not all, of your debt before that period runs out. After that, interest rates tend to jump to the regular APR, usually between 10% and 22%, and maybe even higher depending on your creditworthiness.

If you plan to carry a balance and the credit card balance transfer offer you are considering does not have a similar introductory APR (including promotional length) on purchases, you may want to avoid using that card for new purchases. Promotional interest rate offers may cause you to lose the grace period on purchases if you do not pay the entire statement balance (including the amount subject to the introductory APR) by the payment due date. If you plan to carry a balance, check the credit card issuer's terms to find out about the effects of the promotional APR offers on the grace period for new purchases.

You also need to watch out for additional costs, like a balance transfer fee. This is what it will cost you to move your balance from the old card to the new one.

We rated each factor on a 1-5 scale to come up with our best-of list.

Keep in mind you also have to consider which credit card company you currently use. Rarely will issuers let you transfer balances from one of their cards to another – they usually do it for new customers only.

Intro No Balance Transfer Fee Credit Card: Chase Slate

Chase Slate
Apply for Chase Slate
At Chase's Secure Site
  • $0 introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% of the amount transferred with a minimum of $5.
  • Pay less interest. Save on balances and new purchases.
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. After the introductory period ends, a variable APR of 12.99%, 17.99%, or 22.99%.
  • $0 Annual Fee.
  • This offer is for people with a good to excellent credit history which means, among other things, that your credit history is clear of bankruptcy and seriously delinquent accounts.
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
12.99%, 17.99%, or 22.99% (V)
$0

  • Intro Period: 0% on balance transfers for 15 months, 4/5
  • Regular APR: 12.99%, 17.99%, or 22.99% variable APR, 3/5
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0 balance transfer fee during first 60 days, 5/5
  • CreditDonkey Score: 4/5

Chase Slate is the best option on CreditDonkey for those looking to relocate their debt without paying a balance transfer fee. The card won’t charge you a balance transfer fee during the first 60 days as you consolidate balances and take advantage of the introductory 0% interest rate. That intro APR will last for 15 months.

Slate also comes with Chase’s Blueprint payment program, which gives cardholders more control over how they manage their balance. In our review, we liked that Blueprint “offers different payment plans that achieve different goals.”

Why We Like It
Chase Slate is the best card on the market that offers 0% APR without a balance transfer fee. The Blueprint program will help you pay your balance faster to avoid future interest charges.

Its Downsides
The 15-month introductory period is shorter than some competing cards. Also, to be approved for the Slate card, you will need excellent/good credit.

Who It Works Best For
People who can pay off their debt within the 15-month period.

Long Term Balance Transfer Credit Card: Citi Simplicity

Citi Simplicity Card
Apply for Citi Simplicity Card
At Citi's Secure Site
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 12.99% - 22.99% based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • No late fees - EVER
  • No penalty rate - EVER
  • No annual fee - EVER
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day.
Car Rental InsuranceExtended Warranty$0 Fraud LiabilityIdentity Theft Assistance
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
0%* for 18 months*
0%* for 18 months*
12.99% - 22.99%* (Variable)
$0*

  • Intro Period: 0% on balance transfers for 18 months, 5/5
  • Regular APR: 12.99%-22.99% variable APR, 3/5
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% ($5 minimum), 3/5
  • CreditDonkey Score: 4/5

Some debts take longer to pay off than others, and that’s where the Citi Simplicity comes in. The Simplicity is designed to give you some breathing room. With this card, you’ll enjoy 18 months of no interest on balance transfers and on purchases.

The Simplicity does charge a balance transfer fee, but the card stands out from the competition for not charging penalty fees or increasing your interest rate if you miss a payment. That flexibility is why we called the card “a smart pick for people who carry a balance.”

Why We Like It
The Simplicity card goes a long way toward making credit cards, well, simple. The lengthy introductory period gives people plenty of time to get back on the road to financial freedom, while the lack of late fees will help out if there are some bumps along the way.

Its Downsides
Some might find the card too simple, as the Simplicity lacks a rewards program or any other perks.

Who It Works Best For
The Simplicity should be the first choice for people who are looking for a balance transfer card with a long introductory period that will be forgiving of the occasional late payment.

Low APR Balance Transfer Credit Card: Barclaycard Ring

Barclaycard Ring MasterCard - 1% Back on Balance Transfers
Apply for Barclaycard Ring MasterCard - 1% Back on Balance Transfers
At Barclaycard's Secure Site
  • Get a 1% Statement Credit back on the amount of balance transfers made in the first 60 days of account opening
  • No Balance Transfer Fees - start saving immediately!
  • A low 8% variable APR on balance transfers and purchases
  • No Annual Fees
  • Choose your card benefits and features
  • Get rewarded through the new Giveback™ program, where Barclaycard Ring members get money back for good performance
  • Get exclusive access to our online community and vote on the card features you like and view the financials of the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard online
  • Learn more about personal finance from Barclaycard and other members
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
N/AN/A
8% (Variable)
$0

  • Intro Period: N/A, 0/5
  • Regular APR: 8% variable APR, 5/5
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0 for the first 60 days, 5/5
  • Balance Transfer Back: 1% statement credit on transfers made in first 60 days, +1 bonus point
  • Rewards: Giveback rewards +1 bonus point
  • CreditDonkey Score: 4/5

Balance transfer cards work great if you can pay off the balance before the introductory period runs out. But, in the real world, even 18 months might be too short for people carrying significant debt. In this case, managing your debt is more important than paying it off and a card like the Barclaycard Ring can help.

Unlike other balance transfer cards, the Ring doesn’t offer an introductory period. Instead, the card offers a variable 8% interest rate. This low rate gives cardholders the option to reduce their debt load on their own schedule. Barclaycard makes moving your debt to the Ring enticing with no balance transfer fee and a 1% statement credit on all balances transferred within 60 days of opening an account.

In the place of a traditional rewards program, the card offers Giveback, which lets cardholders share in some of the company’s profits. The Barclaycard website makes it clear that Giveback is not based on the actual profits of the program but rather a calculation made available on the card website. Even though this is fairly new, in our review we found that the Giveback could be “a great opportunity for early adopters.”

Why We Like It
The Ring is a no-nonsense credit card that, with its low interest rate and reduced fees, can really help someone who needs time to get out of debt. Also, as a “crowd sourced” card, the Ring gives users a say in how the card works.

Its Downsides
No 0% introductory period. The ongoing low interest rate might tempt people to just carry a balance instead of becoming debt-free.

Who It Works Best For
The Ring is a great choice for people who need several years to pay off their existing debt.

Balance Transfer Credit Card with Cash Back: Discover it

Discover it
Apply for Discover it
At Discover's Secure Site
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months - then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months. Then the variable purchase APR applies, currently 10.99% - 22.99%.
  • Over 5,000 cardmembers rated 4.8 out of 5 stars* and now Discover "Ranked Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Credit Card Companies in a Tie" by J.D. Power*.
  • 5% cashback in categories that change each quarter up to the quarterly maximum after you sign up for 5%. 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on monthly statements, online and in our mobile app.*
  • No annual fee, no late fee for your first late payment - APR won't go up for paying late, no overlimit fee and no foreign transaction fee*.
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text-and never responsible for unauthorized Discover card purchases.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms,balance transfer terms and other info by clicking "Apply."
Cash Back RewardsBonus Cash BackNo Limits on RewardsExtended WarrantyPurchase ProtectionReturn Protection$0 Fraud Liability
Intro APR for PurchasesIntro APR for Balance TransferRegular APRAnnual Fee
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
10.99% - 22.99% Variable*
$0

  • Intro Period: 0% on balance transfers for 18 months, 5/5
  • Regular APR: 10.99%-22.99% variable APR, 4/5
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%, 3/5
  • Rewards: rotating bonus cash back categories (qualifying categories change each quarter throughout the year), 1% on all other purchases, +1 bonus point
  • CreditDonkey Score: 4.3/5

If you’re looking for a balance transfer card that offers both a low interest rate and cash back rewards, then you should consider Discover it. The card gives you 18 months to tackle your debt before raising the APR. In addition, you get 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months.

While the Discover it card has a 3% balance transfer fee, it will also give you access to cash back rewards for new purchases, ranging from 1% to 5%. The higher rate is limited and applies only to rotating categories up to a quarterly maximum, but the 1% is unlimited on all other purchases. When we reviewed this card, we found it to be the “go-to card to keep more money in your pocket.”

Why We Like It
The Discover It is one of the best low interest rewards card on CreditDonkey. Discover also promises “100% U.S. based customer service available anytime” and a free FICO credit score on your monthly statement.

Its Downsides
The balance transfer fee could delay any payoff you would see from using a cash back rewards card. Discover is not accepted as widely as other cards.

Who It Works Best For
The Discover it is best for people who can pay off their debt quickly in order to take better advantage of the card’s other features. Also, the lack of a foreign transaction fee makes it a good choice for international travelers.

Alternative Credit Cards to Consider

These cards are just a sample of what is being offered. CreditDonkey also has you covered for more options for balance transfer cards with strong introductory offers. Also be sure to read our guide on the Balance Transfer Game.

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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

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Comments about Study: Credit Cards for Balance Transfers 2014

  • Irma I Cardenas from Texas
    on September 19, 2014 9:10 PM said:

    I 've used the balance transfer offers for the first two cards and strongly agree with your assessment. Helped me get two unexpected major purchases harnessed. I do watch the expiration date of each offerclosely.

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Discover It Review

A generous cash back and 18-month balance transfer offer makes the Discover It Card the go-to card to keep more money in your pocket. When you consider the rewards, low fees, and good customer service, it’s pretty easy to see why Discover It is ...
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About CreditDonkey®
CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy financial decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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*See the card issuer's online application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However, all information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button you can review the terms and conditions on the card issuer's website.

CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.