7 Best Balance Transfer Cards

7 Best Balance Transfer Cards

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After 15 hours of research evaluating 100 products, we picked Chase Freedom Unlimited® as our top choice.

Got a balance on your credit cards? Join the club.

Less than 1 out of 3 Americans pay their credit cards in full each month, according to CreditCards.com. And the remaining cardholders? Well, more than 42% of credit card users carry a balance, and approximately 28% of credit cards are active but unused.

So a list of the best balance transfer cards available is well worth your read and may pay off in spades. Because with statistics like that, it’s not surprising that the average household has more than $16,000 of credit card debt.

If you can relate - or even if your debt is nowhere near the average amount - you might benefit from securing one of the best balance transfer credit cards around.

Wait...you want me to get another credit card?

Yes, but only if it helps you! Racking up more debt on a new card obviously won’t help, but transferring your existing debt to one of the best balance transfer cards with a lower interest rate might.

We’ve compiled a detailed list of the best balance transfer cards to help you say sayonara to high interest rates on existing balances. If your FICO score needs some TLC, you might want to check out our list of the best credit cards for bad credit or the best secured credit cards instead.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated September 3, 2019 but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

Why trust us: Faveable has spent thousands of hours researching, interviewing experts, and testing products to come up with carefully selected lists trusted by millions of consumers since 2013.

7 Best Balance Transfer Cards

  • 7. Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
  • 6. HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card
  • 5. Discover it®
  • 4. Citi Simplicity® Card
  • 3. Chase Slate®
  • 2. Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card
  • 1. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Best Balance Transfer Credit Card from American Express

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Best Balance Transfer Credit Card from American Express: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Variable APR
14.74% - 25.74%
Cash Advance APR
26.99%
Rewards Rate
3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
Bonus Offers
$150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
80 % Editor Score
80 % User Score
270 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • Great rewards on everyday spending categories
  • Generous promotional APR and no annual fee
  • Bonus for new cardholders

  • Earn up to 3% cash back on everyday spending
  • Get extra cash back and discounts through Amex Offers
  • No annual fee
  • You could earn more rewards with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
  • The card's APR is above-average
  • Its base rewards rate is mediocre
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Apply online and get a response within 60 seconds.

Bonus Offers: You'll earn $150 in Reward Dollars after you spend $1,000 in the first three months. 

Rewards: Earnn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%); 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores; 1% back on other purchases.

Annual Fee: None

Details:Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express »

HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card

HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card
Variable APR
14.24%, 20.24% or 25.24%
Cash Advance APR
27.24%
Rewards Rate
n/a
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. Variable APR of 14.24%, 20.24% or 25.24% after the Introductory period.
Bonus Offers
n/a
86 % Editor Score
82 % User Score
283 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • Long introductory APR promotion
  • Light on the fees
  • Includes additional travel perks

  • No interest on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months
  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • Travel accident insurance, lost luggage protection, and more
  • No rewards program
  • Charges a balance transfer fee
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Apply online, and get a decision within 60 seconds or less.

Rewards: None.

Bonus Offers: None.

Annual Fee: None.

Details:HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card »

Best Discover Balance Transfer Credit Card

Discover it®

Best Discover Balance Transfer Credit Card: Discover it®
Variable APR
13.49% - 24.49%
Cash Advance APR
26.49%
Rewards Rate
Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
0% on purchases for 6 months and 0% on balance transfers for 18 months.
Bonus Offers
Discover will match all the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
84 % Editor Score
85 % User Score
150 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • Promotional APR encourages balance transfers
  • Cash-back rewards
  • Great for short-term and long-term use

  • Earn up to 5% cash back on everyday purchases
  • Introductory APR on purchases
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Discover isn't widely accepted overseas
  • Complex rewards program
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Apply online and get a response within 60 seconds.

Bonus Offers: Discover will double all the cash back you earn in the first year.

Rewards: Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Annual Fee: None.

Details:Discover it® »

Best Balance Transfer Credit Card for Long-Term Use

Citi Simplicity® Card

Best Balance Transfer Credit Card for Long-Term Use: Citi Simplicity® Card
Variable APR
15.49% - 25.49%
Cash Advance APR
15.49% to 25.49%
Rewards Rate
n/a
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
0% on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months
Bonus Offers
n/a
82 % Editor Score
88 % User Score
253 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • Generous with fees
  • Extended introductory APR promotion
  • Set your own due date

  • No late fees or penalty APR
  • No annual fee
  • No rewards program
  • High balance transfer fee
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Apply online and get a response within 60 seconds.

Bonus Offers: None.

Rewards: None.

Annual Fee: None.

Details:Citi Simplicity® Card »

Overall Best Balance Transfer Credit Card

Chase Slate®

Overall Best Balance Transfer Credit Card: Chase Slate®
Variable APR
16.49%–25.24%
Cash Advance APR
26.49%
Rewards Rate
n/a
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
Bonus Offers
Transfer balances with an introductory fee of 0% during the first 60 days your account is open.
95 % Editor Score
91 % User Score
176 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • Doesn’t require a perfect credit score
  • No annual fee
  • Accepted pretty much everywhere

  • The card offers a promotional APR for new cardholders and no upfront balance transfer fee
  • Offers a free FICO score
  • No penalty APR
  • The ongoing APR is high
  • The card has no rewards program
Expert Ratings

Application Process: Apply online and get a response within 60 seconds.

Bonus Offers: There are no balance transfer fees during the first 60 days.

Rewards: None.

Annual Fee: None.

Details:Chase Slate® »

Best for Flat-Rate Cash Back

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card

Best for Flat-Rate Cash Back: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card
Variable APR
24.99%
Cash Advance APR
24.99%
Rewards Rate
1.50%
Annual Fee
$39
Intro APR
n/a
Bonus Offers
n/a
82 % Editor Score
87 % User Score
250 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • Unlimited flat 1.5% cash back rate on all purchases
  • Easily obtainable bonus of $150 when you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months of account opening
  • Value Penguin calls it one of the best cashback cards for low spenders

Travelers will appreciate that there are no foreign transaction fees associated with this credit card. Everyone will appreciate that you don’t have to be purposeful to collect your rewards, as the Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card offers a flat, unlimited 1.5% cash back rate on all purchases.

If you’re new to the world of credit cards, this card might be your perfect match. But if you’re a little more of an experienced user, you can certainly find higher percent cash back credit cards for a small annual fee that will likely be more than justified. A related example? The Capital One Spark Cash for Business credit card. Additionally, you may be interested in using one of the best Capital One credit cards for balance transfers... until you find out that it comes with a 3% balance transfer fee.

Expert Ratings

Application Process: Apply online just as you would with the other best Capital One credit cards on this list.

Annual Fee: Absolutely no annual fees! Definitely a perk of this credit card.

Rewards and Redemption Options: It’s very simple: earn an unlimited flat rate of 1.5% cash back, which does not expire. You can redeem this cash back as a statement credit or cheque.

Bonus Offers: Just about anyone using this credit card will earn a $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases within 3 months of account opening.

Details:Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Card »

Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Best Overall Cash Back Credit Card: Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Variable APR
16.24% - 24.99%
Cash Advance APR
26.24%
Rewards Rate
1.50%
Annual Fee
$0
Intro APR
0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months
Bonus Offers
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
86 % Editor Score
82 % User Score
268 Clicks

Why People Love it

  • If you have more than one Chase credit card, you can earn more by transferring points and splitting your spending between the two cards
  • Freedom and flexibility: the flat 1.5% cash back rate isn't limited to a specific category
  • The bonus offers are easily attainable and include a $150 bonus after spending $500 within 3 months after opening. Plus, you'll earn a $25 bonus after you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the same period.

There's a lot to love about the Chase Freedom Unlimited cash back credit card. It provides a high rewards rate with no nonsense in terms of rotating spending categories - just a flat 1.5% back on every purchase you make with the card. With responsible use, you won't have to pay a penny to use this card, as there's no annual fee. 

As far as actually getting the cash back you've earned, there's no minimum required for redemption, and cash back earnings can be redeemed for any amount (unlike the Chase Freedom card, which requires a minimum $20). On top of that, there's a relatively small minimum spend required to earn the lucrative account opening bonus.

The Chase Freedom Unlimited card doesn't offer any specific bonus categories, due to its nature as a flat-rate cash back credit card. So those who know their high-spending categories (like groceries, for example) may want to opt instead for a cash back credit card that caters to their spending habits.

While going through this list, you'll also notice that it's not the highest flat-rate cash back card around. There's also a foreign transaction fee, so if you want a credit card specifically for international travel you should look into opening a credit card that caters specifically to travelers. 

Expert Ratings

Application Process: Online, over the phone, or at a branch. Online is the easiest method, but it's nice to know that you have options!

Annual Fee: No annual fee! How's that for maximizing the money in your pocket? Balance transfer fees are $5 or 5% of the transferred amount (whichever is greater).

APR: 0% for the first 15 months, then a variable APR of 16.24% to 24.99%. 

RewardsYou can redeem your rewards as cash back in the form of:

  • Bank account deposits
  • Statement credits

Or, you can also redeem rewards using the Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1 cent each and may be claimed through the Ultimate Rewards portal for:

  • General merchandise purchases made through the portal, or third-party retailers (such as Amazon)
  • Travel purchases 

Bonus Offers: Earn a $150 bonus after spending $500, within 3 months after opening a new account. Additionally, you can also earn $25 if you opt to add an authorized user of the card, and that person makes their first purchase within the 3 month period.

Details:Chase Freedom Unlimited® »

Faveable Expert Tips

It’s common to carry a balance on your credit cards. We don’t recommend it, but we’re not here to lecture you. We just want to give you the facts about balance transfer credit cards so you can choose the right one for your personal finance needs.

We’ve spent hours collecting common questions about balance transfer credit cards to help you use your cards responsibly. Keep reading for detailed info on everything from the application process to rates and fees for balance transfer credit cards.

General Questions About Balance Transfer Credit Cards

What is a balance transfer credit card

A balance transfer credit card is a line of credit issued in the form of a plastic card. Any qualifying individual over the age of 18 can apply, but keep in mind perks are geared toward current credit card users with balances. We recommend that you skip this type of card if you’re a new credit card user or if you’re someone who pays off your balance in full each month.

Who is a good candidate for a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer credit card is designed for credit card users who carry balances. You might be a good candidate for a balance transfer credit card if you meet the following qualifications:

  • You have credit cards with balances that aren’t excessively high (if you have a maxed-out card with a $50,000 limit, that’s too high)
  • You are more interested in paying off existing debt than using a new credit card for everyday essentials
  • You want a lower APR for your debt than what you currently have
  • You are at least 18 years old
  • You have a stable source of income
  • You are not dealing with an undischarged bankruptcy or planning to file bankruptcy in the near future

How is a balance transfer credit card different than a regular credit card?

A balance transfer credit card is a regular credit card. It’s just referred to as a balance transfer credit card because it targets current cardholders that carry balances on other cards. When these cardholders transfer their balances to a balance transfer card, it can help them save big bucks on interest. We’ll talk more about that later.

Can I earn cash back with a balance transfer credit card?

Yes, if you choose a balance transfer credit card that offers cash-back rewards. The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express. The card also has a 0% APR for 15 months, which gives you more than a year to make interest-free payments on your transferred balance.

What is the best balance transfer credit card?

The balance transfer card that’s best for you might not be best for someone else, like your neighbor or your BFF. However, we’ve rounded up five of our favorite cards to help you narrow down your quest for the perfect card.

Here are five of the best balance transfer credit cards:

  • Discover It® Balance Transfer
  • Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
  • Citi Simplicity® Card
  • U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
  • Chase Slate® Card

Applying for Balance Transfer Credit Cards

How do I apply for a balance transfer credit card?

Visit the website for the card you want, then fill out an online application. For your convenience, we’ve provided links to the websites of our favorite balance transfer cards in the review above these FAQs.

When available, you can also apply over the phone or fill out a paper application.  

Will I get approved for a balance transfer credit card?

Yes, if you meet the card’s requirements for approval. Each card has its own unique set of guidelines applicants must meet for approval.

Credit cards generally don’t publish a detailed list of approval requirements, but here are some factors that may help you score a balance transfer credit card:

  • Low debt utilization for existing accounts
  • Steady income from a job or another source, such as alimony or pension
  • No recent or current bankruptcy status
  • Good or excellent credit (depending on the card, sometimes fair credit is okay)
  • At least 1 or 2 years at your current address

Basically, credit card companies want to know that you are a responsible applicant who is probably going to pay your bill on time. If there’s any doubt, they might not approve your application.

When will I receive my balance transfer credit card?

Probably in a couple weeks, but it may take more or less time. Some credit cards provide immediate access via an app, so ask if that’s an option if you need access to your line of credit ASAP.

Why didn’t I get an instant approval for the card I want?

When you apply online for a credit card, the credit card company evaluates your app with an automated system. Sometimes red flags keep the automated system from approving your application, so it gets sent to the underwriting department (AKA a human being) for another look.

It can take 7 to 10 days for a human being to evaluate your application, so try to be patient. If you think you know why your app got flagged, call the credit card company and explain what happened. Your input may help speed up the approval process.

Can I apply for multiple balance transfer credit cards?

Yes, but it might not be a good decision. Do you really want to transfer debt from multiple cards to a bunch of different cards?

We recommend choosing one balance transfer credit card that fits your needs. You can do this by evaluating APR (promotional as well as regular), plus comparing rewards and cash-back options. We’ve done the hard work for you in our review above, so scroll up and save yourself some time.

Should I apply for a different card if I get rejected for the balance transfer credit card I want?

Eventually, yes. Tomorrow? No.

Applying for credit isn’t like buying a lottery ticket - you can’t just buy another one if you aren’t a winner. Take some time to address the issues that caused your rejection, and then apply for other credit cards. You should receive a denial letter that details the reasons for your rejection so you know exactly which issues to tackle.

Rates and Fees for Balance Transfer Credit Cards

What factors determine my APR?

Skim the Terms and Conditions booklet (every credit card gets some version of this) and you’ll probably notice your APR is determined by your creditworthiness. What does that actually mean? It means people with good credit generally get lower APRs than people with bad credit.

Unfair? Not to the credit card company. They know that history often repeats itself in the financial world, so someone who pays other credit cards late probably won’t rush to pay the bills for a new card on time.

Do I have the same APR for transferred debt and new purchases?

Possibly, but it depends on the card.

Many credit cards offer a promotional rate for balance transfers. During this time, you’ll pay a low APR - possibly even 0% - for transferred debt and new purchases. This promotional period typically lasts between 6 months and 15 months, but we’ve seen a handful of cards with promotional APRs that last nearly 2 years.

After that, you might have the same APR for all debt, old and new. If your credit card lets you transfer in debt after you’ve had the card for a while (as opposed to when you open the account), you might have different rates. Talk to your credit card company to get the scoop on your APR for balances and new purchases.

Is the APR for my balance transfer card always the same?

No, not if you have a promotional APR (we discuss that above) when you get your card. After your promotional period ends, you can expect your APR to increase significantly.

You might also have an increased APR if you miss a payment for your monthly statement or if you withdraw cash from an APR.

Will I have an annual fee for my balance transfer credit card?

You might, but there are lots of balance transfer credit cards that don’t have annual fees. We recommend the Citi Simplicity® Card, the Discover it® Balance Transfer, and the Chase Slate® Card if you’re looking for cards with no annual fee.

How is my annual fee determined?

The credit card company determines the annual fee before you apply, so you don’t have to worry about any unpleasant surprises. Your credit history typically doesn’t affect your annual fee when you get a balance transfer credit card. Cardholders generally pay the same predetermined fee.

What if I can’t afford to pay my annual fee?

That’s a bummer, but you can’t escape the fee. The credit card company puts it on your statement rather than sending you a separate bill. There’s a good chance you’ll end up maxing out your card or having your balance go over your approved limit if you can't afford the annual fee.

You can potentially prevent this issue by paying more than the minimum amount due on your statement each month. Another option is to request a credit limit increase before your annual fee hits.

What are some common fees for balance transfer credit cards?

Some balance transfer credit cards charge a percentage of each balance transfer, such as 3% or $10. You may also end up with standard fees found on regular credit cards, including:

  • Late payment fees
  • Bounced check or reversed ACH fees
  • Cash advance fees
  • Over-the-limit fees
  • Foreign transaction fees

Sometimes you can get fees waived if you contact your credit card company.

Common Concerns Regarding Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Why wasn’t my balance transfer approved?

Occasionally a balance transfer doesn’t go through. This might be a simple issue on your credit card’s end that can be fixed, or there might be another reason for the rejection. Here are some reasons your balance transfer might not go through:

  • You requested a balance transfer that’s higher than your available credit limit or too close to your credit limit
  • Your previous credit card does not allow balance transfers (this might be the case if you are attempting to transfer the balance from a retail credit card to a new card)
  • You are currently in a payment agreement for a past-due balance
  • Your balance has been sent to a collection agency
  • You have a co-applicant on the card with the balance

In a situation like this, it’s best to contact both credit card companies and ask what’s happening. Make sure you talk to both of them, and don’t let them blame each other.

How do I know when my balance transfer is complete?

You might receive a notification if you’ve signed up for account alerts. If not, you can contact your new credit card company or your previous credit card company for the status of your transfer.

Before you transfer your balance, you can ask if there’s an estimated timeline for transfer completion

Will I get 2 bills for 2 separate cards if I transfer balances?

You might, but you shouldn’t get charged for the same debt twice. However, you’ll get 2 bills if you only transfer part of your debt or if there’s a debt-transfer fee on your first card.

If you do end up with 2 bills for the same debt, contact your first credit card company. They may have issued the statement right before you transferred your debt.

What if I only want to transfer part of my existing balance to my new card?

That’s probably okay! You don’t always have to transfer your entire balance to a new credit card.

Just make sure it’s worth it to keep a balance on your first credit card. Your new credit card might have a promotional APR that’s much lower than your existing card’s APR.

What if I can’t afford my credit card bill?

Pick up your phone and call the credit card company right now. Don’t send a letter via postal mail, and don’t email the company. It’s important to let a credit card company know what’s going on right away so you don’t get hit with late fees or negative marks on your credit report.

Will transferring a balance to a new card hurt my credit?

It might, but it’s hard to determine how it will impact your credit without seeing your current credit report. On a positive note, there’s also a chance that transferring a balance to a new card might help your credit.

If your new credit card has a higher credit limit than your existing credit card, it might help your credit if you transfer debt. That’s because your debt utilization ratio for the new card will be lower than it was for the old card. Your overall debt-utilization ration may also decrease because you're adding a new line of credit.

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Article Staff

Missy Nolan is a single mom who is too sleep-deprived to come up with a clever bio at the moment. She has been a professional writer for more than 10 years and loves staying home with her 3 kids. Well, most of the time. Missy rocks at parenting, baking, cooking, saving cute outfits she'll never wear on Pinterest, and sipping her beloved secret-menu Starbucks Pink Drink while strolling through Target.

She's your go-to girl for advice or feedback on any of the things listed above, as well as tips on healthy living, bargain hunting, marketing, and finances. Connect with Missy here or at MakeItWithMissy.com, a food blog that features healthy recipes and grocery deals.

You can also find Missy on Legit Lender, Health.com, The Nest, Catalogs.com, and OneSpace.

Editor Jenna Holtz
Researcher Ronnie Langston
Art Director Cherry Barbacena

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