CreditDonkey is a credit card comparison and financial education website. This website is made possible through financial relationships with card issuers and some of the products and services mentioned on this site. Advertiser Disclosure†

Updated January 7, 2016

How to Choose a Balance Transfer Credit Card

Read more about Balance Transfer
Editorial Note: This content is not provided by the card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.
This article contains references to products from our partners. We receive compensation if you apply or shop through links in our content. You help support CreditDonkey by reading our website and using our links. (read more)

Here are three factors to keep in mind when choosing the right balance transfer credit card for your wallet:

  1. Introductory APR
    Many balance transfer credit cards come with a special introductory rate. Before you go with the lowest rate available, review the introductory period and the regular APR rate after it ends. The last thing you want to do is transfer your balances to a card that will eventually carry a higher rate than you're currently paying if you don't think you can pay off the balance during the introductory period.

  2. Balance Transfer Fee
    Balance transfers often come with a fee that typically ranges from 3% to 5% of the balance that you are transferring. The difference between no balance transfer fee, 3%, and 5% may not seem like much, but if you have a large balance, it can make a huge impact on your bill.

  3. Fine Print
    You will want to take the time to read all of the fine print surrounding the allowed balance transfers. For instance, most cards only give you a certain window of time to make the transfer in order to get the promotional rate. And most credit card companies will only let you transfer from another bank.

Balance Transfer Promotions: July 2018

Paying off credit card debt may seem like an uphill battle, especially with rapidly accruing interest, but a balance transfer credit card could help level out the field.

  • Low Interest Rate: Barclaycard Ring Barclaycard Ring offers 0% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable 13.74% APR will apply. There is a balance transfer fee for Balance Transfers that post to the account within 45 days of account opening: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Balance Transfers that post to the account after 45 days of account opening: $0

    There is no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. Apply Now | Rates & Fees

  • No Balance Transfer Fee Promo: American Express is a CreditDonkey partner. Amex EveryDay offers 10,000 Membership Rewards® points if you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your new card account. Enjoy a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.74% to 25.74%. There is $0 balance transfer fee. Balance transfers must be requested within 60 days from account opening.

    This card earns 2x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000/year in purchases, then 1x) and 1x points on other purchases. If you use your card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period, you will earn 20% more points on those purchases (less returns and credits). There is no annual fee. Terms apply.

  • Long Promo Period: Citi Simplicity offers a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and purchases for 18 months. After that, a variable APR, currently 15.74% to 25.74% depending on your creditworthiness. There is a 5% balance transfer fee ($5 minimum). There are no late fees, no penalty rates and no annual fees.

  • Cash Back Rewards: Chase Freedom Unlimited lets you earn a $150 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. You earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. There is also a 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. The balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum. The cash back rewards will not expire as long as your card account remains open. There is no annual fee.

  • Business: Ink Business Cash lets you earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year. Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn. There is no annual fee.

    Plus, there is a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. After the intro period, a variable APR applies, currently 14.99% - 20.99%.

Related: Balance Transfer Calculator

Is a balance transfer or a personal loan better? A balance transfer is a good option if you can pay off (at least most of) the balance before the intro APR period ends. You will have to be very disciplined to make the monthly payments required to pay off your balance.

If you have more debt, a personal loan may be better for you. You won't get 0% interest, but you'll get a plan with a fixed rate and fixed monthly payments. You can pick the length of the term based on what you can afford each month. Some people find this kind of structure easier to stick to.

Balance Transfer Tips to Know

© CreditDonkey

  • You can only transfer between different banks. Banks want new customers, so you can only transfer over a balance from another bank. In other words, you can't have an existing balance on a Chase credit card, and open another Chase card to transfer the balance for the promotional APR.

  • You must transfer within a certain window. For most cards, you have to make the transfer a within a certain number of days after account opening to get the intro rate. For most cards, it's 60 days. But some are also 45 days or 90 days. Pay attention and act fast.

  • Note the promotional rate expiration date. This is different from bank to bank. For some banks (such as Citi and Discover), the intro APR length will start applying from date of first transfer. But for most banks, it starts applying from account opening. So the sooner you make the transfer, the more time you have to pay off the balance interest-free.

  • Don't make purchases on the new card. With a balance transfer, your goal is to reduce your balance. So don't add to it with new purchases.

    You must be especially careful if the new card does NOT have the same intro APR rate for new purchases. If this is the case, if you do not pay the entire statement balance (including the amount subject to the introductory APR) by the payment due date, you may lose the grace period on new purchases. This will cost you more in interest for new purchases.

  • Pay on time. If you are late with a payment, you'll be slapped with a massive late fee. And for most banks, if you are over 60 days late, they could end your intro APR and apply the penalty APR. Always pay at least the minimum payment due, preferably more.

  • Don't use a credit card at an ATM. Most cards will allow you to take out cash at ATMs, but the fees are very high. In addition to a fee (typically 5% of the amount of each cash advance), there will also be a high APR that starts applying as soon as you get the cash.

    This should only ever be done for true emergency situations where you need cash and you don't have enough in your bank account. Repay the cash advance as soon as you can.

How to Transfer a Credit Card Balance

Transferring a balance is easy. There are a few ways you can do it:

  • Call the new card issuer. Call the new card's customer service and tell them that you'd like to make a balance transfer. You will have to provide the account information for the old card with the balance and how much you'd like to transfer. The card issuer will handle it from there.

  • Initiate the transfer on the new card's online account. On your new card's online banking site, you should be able to see an option to transfer a balance. You'll also see your credit limit available for balance transfers. Make sure the offer is for the same intro APR, length, and fee as when you applied.

    You will then input your account number of the old card with the balance and how much you'd like to transfer. Confirm the transfer and your part is done.

  • Use a balance transfer check. You may get blank checks in the mail with balance transfer offers. You can fill them to pay off other debts. However, make sure you read the terms and make sure it's the same intro rate, length, and fee.

    And don't confuse balance transfer checks with convenience checks (which are treated as cash advances). Convenience checks don't have the same terms and have a very high APR rate that starts applying right away. Because this is a common innocent mistake, we don't advise you use this method.

Note: It can take 2-3 weeks for the transfer to go through. In the meantime, keep on making payments on the old card until you have verified that the transfer is complete.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When is a balance transfer a bad idea?
    A lot of credit cards charge a balance transfer fee. This is usually 3% to 5% of the amount you're transferring. It can add up to quite a bit. Usually, if you can pay off your balance in a few months, then it's better to just stick with your current card.

    To avoid this fee, check out our top 5 credit cards with no balance transfer fee.

    Rule of Thumb:

    • If the transfer fee is 3%: Don't transfer if you can pay off the balance in 4-5 months or less.
    • If the transfer fee is 5%: Don't transfer if you can pay off the balance in 7-8 months or less

  • How do you avoid paying interest on a credit card?
    The only way to truly avoid paying interest is to pay off your entire balance in full each month, and on time. A balance transfer with a 0% APR promotion period will stop you from accumulating more interest during that time. But your balance still includes interest that had previously accumulated on the old card.

  • What happens when my 0% promotion period ends?
    You will go to the regular APR rate, which may vary based on your creditworthiness. The interest will start applying on the remaining balance going forward. All balance transfer cards recommended by us do not apply retroactive interest.

  • What's the catch with 0% interest?
    No catch. Banks offer these promotions to get new customers. Federal Law prohibits card issuers from using "bait and switch" tactics, so banks will abide by their 0% interest advertised. This is provided that you abide by cardholder agreements and pay on time. Delinquent payments could cause you to lose the 0% interest rate and get the penalty rate.

  • What is better: no balance transfer fee or long intro APR period?
    Usually no fee is the best. If you have a large balance to transfer, a 3% or 5% balance transfer fee can be a lot. However, if you need a long time to pay off the balance, you may still benefit more with a longer intro period.

    Tip: Citi Simplicity offers an intro period of 18 months, but has a balance transfer fee.

  • How do you transfer a balance from one credit card to another?
    There are a few ways:

    • Phone the card issuer.
    • Initiate the transfer on your NEW credit card account's online website.
    • Use the balance transfer checks mailed to you by the company.

  • What happens if I miss a credit card payment?
    Usually, you'll be charged a late fee if you don't make at least the minimum payment by the due date. If you are more than 60 days late, then the bank could take away your intro APR rate and slap you with the penalty rate (which is as high as 30%).

  • What if your balance transfer credit card limit isn't high enough?
    If your credit isn't good enough, you may not be given a high credit limit. In this case, you can consider a personal loan. You won't get 0% interest, but most likely, it'd still be less than what your credit card is charging. You'd get a fixed rate and fixed monthly payments. This plan may make it easier for you to get a handle on paying down that debt.

  • Do balance transfers work within the same bank?
    No. You can only transfer a balance between different banks. If you have a balance with Chase, you cannot open a Chase credit card and transfer the balance.

  • Can I transfer multiple balances from different cards?
    Yes, as long as you have enough credit limit. You can consolidate multiple outstanding debt by transferring them all to the new card. Some banks may have more specific rules. For instance, Bank of America only lets you submit up to 3 balance transfers.

  • Can I transfer credit card debt from another person?
    Yes. Most banks let you transfer a balance from any credit card. If you do this, the other person's debt becomes your responsibility.

  • Can you balance transfer from a store card to a credit card?
    Yes. Balance transfers don't have to be only for credit card debt. You can also transfer debt from a store card or personal loans.

  • Can you use a balance transfer to pay off a personal loan?
    Yes. Balance transfers don't have to be only for credit card debt. You can also transfer debt from a store card or most personal loans.

  • Can you transfer a balance twice?
    Yes. If you haven't finished paying off your balance by the time the intro APR period ends, you can transfer it again to another card with an intro APR. You can keep on doing that as long as you're able to keep opening new cards. However, if the new card(s) imposes a balance transfer fee, you'd be paying that fee over and over.

  • Can I earn points on credit card balance transfers?
    No. Generally, credit card rewards can only be earned on new purchases.

  • Can I pay off my credit card early?
    Of course. That is a good thing. There is generally no penalty for paying off a balance early.

Dig Yourself Out of Debt

How to Get Out of Debt

Finding yourself deep in debt can be a discouraging reality. And in the past several years, more and more consumers have found themselves in this situation.

Meghan C is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Write to Meghan C at Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped consumers make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

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.

Disclaimer: The information for the Citi Simplicity® Card and Ink Business Cash Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditDonkey. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

More from CreditDonkey:

10 Smart Ways to Get Out of Debt

10 Smart Ways to Save $1,000 a Month

Save Money on Credit Card Debt

More Articles in Reviews

Balance Transfer

Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Slate

Looking to make a large purchase or pay down credit card debt? Chase Slate or Chase Freedom Unlimited might be for you.

Leave a comment about How to Choose a Balance Transfer Credit Card?

Email (won't be published)

Barclaycard Ring Review

With a low APR on balance transfers and purchases and a community-driven approach, the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® might be the world's best social credit card.

    Credit Card Deals with No Annual Fees

    For your next credit card, you want a lucrative deal. What you don't want is to pay for the privilege with an annoying and pricey annual fee. We canvassed current offerings by credit card companies on CreditDonkey for the cash back, reward points, balance transfers, low interest, and small business offers you should consider.

    Cash Back Rewards

    We think you'll agree with us when we say ...

    Airline Rewards

    The best airline credit card racks up miles fast with reasonable fees and amazing rewards.

    Credit Card Deals

    Applying for a card with a bonus or an introductory offer can be a great way to get a head start on earning rewards or to get a handle on your debt.

    Credit Card Bonus Offers

    Take advantage of credit card bonuses for new customers, including bonus cash, reward points, and airline miles.

    Best Credit Cards

    Here are the CreditDonkey picks for "Best Credit Cards" from our partners in the following categories ...

    Credit Card Rewards

    So you've decided you want to earn rewards for your spending but aren’t sure how to pick the right card?
    How to Pay Off Credit Cards

    How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt Fast

    Balance transfers can help you pay off credit card debt faster. Read on to learn how to shrink your balance and pay less interest.

    Chase Ultimate Rewards: What You Need to Know

    Get the most out of Chase credit cards. Read this in-depth guide to Chase's Ultimate Rewards program. We'll explain how to get the maximum value.

    Best Chase Credit Card

    Find the best Chase credit card in our rankings of top offers and promotions. Read the latest reviews and score the best deals with this guide.

    Study: Credit Cards for Young Professionals

    The best credit cards for young adults have good rewards and benefits but low fees. Use this must-read guide to help narrow down your search.

    Review: Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Chase Slate

    Looking to make a large purchase or pay down credit card debt? Chase Slate or Chase Freedom Unlimited might be for you.

    Review: Chase Freedom vs Freedom Unlimited

    Does Chase Freedom or Freedom Unlimited make more sense? Read this in-depth comparison of these cashback cards to learn which is better. The answer may surprise you.

    Chase Trifecta: Combine Points to Maximize Ultimate Rewards

    Chase Ultimate Rewards program lets you transfer points between your Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card accounts, making it easy to earn, combine and and redeem them for maximum value.

    Best Buy Credit Card Review: Worth the Annual Fee?

    Before you apply for a Best Buy credit card, read this review to see the pros and cons. The expiring rewards, retroactive interest, and high APR are just a few of the hidden surprises we uncovered.

    Walmart Credit Card Review: Read Before You Apply

    Is the Walmart Credit Card worth applying for? Read this expert review and comparison of the Walmart store card and Walmart MasterCard before you apply.

    23 Best Ways to Use Chase Ultimate Rewards

    Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for the most value. This guide highlights some of the best redemption opportunities with Chase points and airline transfer partners.

    Capital One Quicksilver vs Chase Freedom Unlimited

    Both Capital One Quicksilver and Chase Freedom Unlimited give 1.5% cash back with no annual fee. Which one is better? We break down the surprising differences.

    Chase Balance Transfer Offers

    Check out the current Chase balance transfer offers and start saving. Whether you're transferring a balance to or from a Chase card, know these vital tips.

    Chase Freedom Unlimited vs Citi Double Cash

    Chase Freedom Unlimited gives you 1.5% cash back, while the Citi Double Cash earns 1% cash back twice. Which is better? Learn the surprising truth.
More Articles in Reviews

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.

†Advertiser Disclosure: Many of the card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which CreditDonkey receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CreditDonkey does not include all companies or all offers that may be available in the marketplace.

*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.