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Balance Transfer

5 Things to Do Once Your Balance Transfer is Complete

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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Now that you’ve been approved for a balance transfer card and completed your transfer, you’re on your way to becoming debt-free. The lingering debt you had on another credit card will no longer be charged high interest rates during the 0% intro APR period on your new card. However, you won’t rid yourself of debt by simply transferring your balance — there’s much more you’ll need to do.

Your journey to becoming debt free has just begun. By following the steps below, you can soon be on your way to a healthier financial life.

Discover it® Balance Transfer

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Annual fee
$0
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 6 months
Intro BT APR
0% for 18 months
Balance Transfer Fee
3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Regular APR
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card

The information related to Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card

Intro Purchase APR
0% for 18 months
Intro BT APR
0% for 18 months on qualifying balance transfers
Regular Purchase APR
13.74%-27.24% (Variable)
Annual fee
$0
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent/Good

Excellent/Good

5 things you need to do once your balance transfer is complete:

1. Cut up your new card.

New purchases will only push you back into debt. While it may be tempting to use your new card for purchases, resist the urge. Charging new purchases to your balance transfer card has the potential to further increase your debt.

Purchases may not qualify for that 0% intro APR. New purchases will often be charged the card’s standard interest rate, unless your new balance transfer card also offers a 0% intro APR period for purchases.

Payments made on your new card may not go fully towards new purchases. Credit card issuers have the freedom to allocate your minimum payment towards whatever debt you have. This means that your minimum payment may go towards your balance with the 0% intro APR, not your newest charges. This may lead you to rack up interest charges from your new purchase balance.

What if you need to charge new purchases to a credit card after a balance transfer? First, take a real hard look at the expense and whether it’s actually necessary. If you’re already looking to rack up new credit debt so soon after completing a balance transfer, there may be a bigger spending issue at play here.

Try to pay for the item in cash, so you won’t have to worry about racking up additional debt.

As a last resort, we’d suggest using your old credit card to pay for new purchases. All payments you make will go towards your balance — no need to worry about where the payment goes. Beware if you carry a balance you will be charged the standard purchase APR. So, any charges that you do make on your old card should be paid in full before the statement due date.

2. Don’t close your old credit card.

You could hurt your credit score if you do. You may be tempted to close the card you transferred debt from, but cancelling an old card can do more damage than good. It’s more beneficial to keep your old card open, since the average length of your credit history is a big factor of your credit score — and the longer your credit history, the better.

While opening a new card lowers your average length of credit history, it doesn’t lower it as much as closing your old card would. For example, if your old card has been open for 10 years, and you open a new balance transfer card, the average length of your credit history will be five years. But, if you closed your old account, it would drop to less than a year — which is a big difference.

Closing your old card would also hurt your utilization rate. This is an even bigger factor in your credit score. Utilization is the amount of your total credit limit you use — so, if you spend $2,000 a month across two credit cards with a combined limit of $8,000, your utilization would be 25%.

3. Set up autopay — and pay more than the minimum due.

Autopay is a great feature that can prevent you from missing payments and incurring late fees. It’s also a helpful way to set up automatic payments that are greater than the minimum due — which can lead to a significant reduction in your debt, since paying only the minimum due isn’t enough to rid yourself of debt.

Once you figure out how much you can afford to put towards your debt each month, set up autopay for that amount — like, say, $200 — and watch your debt decrease. You can always adjust your autopay settings to higher or lower amounts, as needed.

4. Set a calendar reminder for two months before your balance transfer expires.

If you don’t pay off your balance before the intro period ends, any balance remaining will be charged the standard interest rate. Some cards may also charge you all the interest you accrued and didn’t pay during the intro period — called deferred interest. Though this is uncommon with cards from major credit card issuers, it’s something to keep in mind if you think you may continue to carry a balance post intro period.

We understand you may not be able to pay off your balance during the intro period, and that’s okay. You still have options to avoid accruing interest. One option is to apply for a new balance transfer card, so you can take advantage of another 0% intro APR period. Just remember that balances can’t be transferred between cards from the same issuer.

The other option is to take out a personal loan. You can consolidate debt from your credit card by taking out a personal loan that often has lower interest rates and more flexible credit requirements than balance transfer credit cards. Compare personal loan offers here.

5. Start budgeting.

You just completed a balance transfer, so the odds are you may not have the best financial management skills — but that’s okay. You can still take steps towards managing your finances by creating a budget, and it can be as simple or as detailed as you like. There are several different types of budgets that you can do, like the penny tracker or the “leftovers” spender, that can help you take control of your spending — and there are plenty of free budgeting apps that you can compare here.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Alexandria White
Alexandria White |

Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at [email protected]

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Balance Transfer, Best of

Credit Scores That Get Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication. This site may be compensated through a credit card partnership.

Disclosure : By clicking “See Offers” you’ll be directed to our parent company, LendingTree. You may or may not be matched with the specific lender you clicked on, but up to five different lenders based on your creditworthiness.

If you’re someone who struggles with credit card debt and high interest rates, a balance transfer might be a way to dig yourself out of indebtedness. There are various balance transfer credit cards that offer long 0% intro APR periods that provide you with ample time to pay off your balance. Depending on your credit score, you may qualify for some of the cards we list below.

Keep in mind that the credit score ranges listed below don’t guarantee that you will be approved for a card simply because you fall within the given credit range. Lenders consider numerous factors when determining eligibility.

Excellent credit

Discover it® Balance Transfer

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Intro BT APR
0% for 18 months
Balance Transfer Fee
3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Regular APR
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
Duration
0% for 18 months
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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on Capital One’s website

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Intro BT APR
0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
Balance Transfer Fee
3%
Regular Purchase APR
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
Duration
0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Chase Freedom®

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on Chase Bank’s secure website

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Chase Freedom®

Intro BT APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Balance Transfer Fee
3% when you transfer during the first 60 days of account opening, with a minimum of $5
Regular Purchase APR
17.24% - 25.99% Variable
Duration
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

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The information related to Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Intro BT APR
0%* for 21 months on Balance Transfers*
Intro Purchase APR
0%* for 12 months on Purchases*
Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 26.99%* (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee
5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

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The information related to Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Intro BT APR
0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers*
Balance Transfer Fee
3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Regular Purchase APR
15.74% - 25.74%* (Variable)
Duration
0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers*
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent, Good

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card

The information related to Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card

Balance Transfer Fee
3% for 120 days, then 5%
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 18 months
Regular Purchase APR
13.74%-27.24% (Variable)
Duration
0% for 18 months on qualifying balance transfers
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent/Good

Excellent/Good

Good credit

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

LEARN MORE 

The information related to Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Intro BT APR
0%* for 21 months on Balance Transfers*
Intro Purchase APR
0%* for 12 months on Purchases*
Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 26.99%* (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee
5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

LEARN MORE 

The information related to Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Intro BT APR
0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers*
Balance Transfer Fee
3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Regular Purchase APR
15.74% - 25.74%* (Variable)
Duration
0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers*
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent, Good

Fair credit

We recommend using LendingTree to shop for the best personal loan (Disclaimer: LendingTree is the parent company of MagnifyMoney). You can fill out a single online form, and may receive up to five loan offers from lenders, based on your creditworthiness. By using LendingTree to look for a personal loan, a soft credit pull is performed, which means your credit score will not be negatively impacted. Here are options for fair credit:

Platinum Mastercard® from Aspire FCU

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on Aspire Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Read Full Review

Platinum Mastercard® from Aspire FCU

Intro BT APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 2% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater
Regular Purchase APR
8.90% - 18.00% Variable
Duration
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree is our parent company

LendingTree

Loan Amount
up to $50,000
Term
24 to 60 Months
APR Range
As low as 3.99%
Origination Fee
Varies
Credit Required
Minimum 500 FICO®
Soft Pull
You can get your rate without hurting your score.

LendingTree is our parent company. LendingTree is unique in that you may be able to compare up to five personal loan offers within minutes. Everything is done online and you may be pre-qualified by lenders without impacting your credit score. LendingTree is not a lender.


A Personal Loan can offer funds relatively quickly once you qualify you could have your funds within a few days to a week. A loan can be fixed for a term and rate or variable with fluctuating amount due and rate assessed, be sure to speak with your loan officer about the actual term and rate you may qualify for based on your credit history and ability to repay the loan. A personal loan can assist in paying off high-interest rate balances with one fixed term payment, so it is important that you try to obtain a fixed term and rate if your goal is to reduce your debt. Some lenders may require that you have an account with them already and for a prescribed period of time in order to qualify for better rates on their personal loan products. Lenders may charge an origination fee generally around 1% of the amount sought. Be sure to ask about all fees, costs and terms associated with each loan product. Loan amounts of $1,000 up to $50,000 are available through participating lenders; however, your state, credit history, credit score, personal financial situation, and lender underwriting criteria can impact the amount, fees, terms and rates offered. Ask your loan officer for details.

As of 28-Feb-2019, LendingTree Personal Loan consumers were seeing match rates as low as 3.99% (3.99% APR) on a $10,000 loan amount for a term of three (3) years. Rates and APRs were based on a self-identified credit score of 700 or higher, zero down payment, origination fees of $0 to $100 (depending on loan amount and term selected).

Bad credit

*The credit score ranges listed above are for FICO Scores and obtained from Experian.

FAQ

The amount of time your have to complete your transfer will vary by credit card. Many cards require you to complete your transfer between 30 to 60 days from account opening, but check your specific card agreement for specifics. A good rule of thumb is to complete your transfer as soon as possible; the 0% intro APR period often starts from the day your account is opened.

Many cards charge a balance transfer fee ranging from 3 to 5% of the amount you transfer. So if you transfer $1,000 to a card with a 3% fee, you will accrue a $30 fee and owe $1,030. But be advised: There are cards that have $0 intro transfer fees.

Any remaining balances will accrue interest. The rate depends on your card agreement.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Alexandria White
Alexandria White |

Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at [email protected]

TAGS: ,

Advertiser Disclosure

Balance Transfer

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards: 0% APR, 21 Months

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

If you’re carrying a balance on your credit card, you’re not alone. Fifty-nine percent of Americans carry a balance month-to-month, with the average balance $6,354 per cardholder, according to a study by CompareCards. Carrying a balance from one month to the next is never ideal, but it can happen to the best of us.

If your balance is incurring high interest charges, you should consider transferring your debt to a balance transfer card. These cards offer no or low interest and can save you a substantial amount of money. There’s often a 3%-5% balance transfer fee, but it can be worthwhile — just do the math to make sure by using this balance transfer calculator.

Most balance transfer cards require good or excellent credit, so you may not qualify depending on your credit score. It’s a good idea to check your credit score before you apply for a card, so you know which cards provide you with the best approval odds. LendingTree, our parent company, lets you view your credit score for free and provides insight into what affects your score and outlines steps you can take to improve it. If your score prevents you from qualifying for a balance transfer card, you can explore taking out a personal loan instead.

We’ve selected the best balance transfer cards from our database of over 3,000 credit cards, so you can find the card that best fits your needs — whether it’s a card with a long intro 0% APR period, no balance transfer fee, or a low promo APR for several years.

Longest balance transfer offers

When you’re looking to transfer a large balance, it may be in your best interest to choose a balance transfer card with a long intro period. Most balance transfer cards have intro periods of 12 or 15 months, but that may not be enough time to pay off your debt. Consider cards offering no interest for 18 or 21 months.

Here are some of the best cards:

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

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The information related to Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Intro Purchase APR
0%* for 12 months on Purchases*
Intro BT APR
0%* for 21 months on Balance Transfers*
Regular Purchase APR
16.99% - 26.99%* (Variable)
Annual fee
$0*
Balance Transfer Fee
5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good
The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever offers the longest balance transfer period: intro 0%* for 21 months on balance transfers*. This provides you with nearly two years to pay off transferred balances without incurring any interest charges. In addition, this card comes with an intro 0%* for 12 months on purchases*, which is helpful if you plan to use this card for more than just a balance transfer. After the balance transfer and purchase intro periods end, there’s a 16.99% - 26.99%* (Variable) APR). Just know, this card has a higher balance transfer fee than most cards at 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

Discover it® Balance Transfer

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on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Regular APR
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 6 months
Intro BT APR
0% for 18 months
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
Balance Transfer Fee
3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good
The Discover it® Balance Transfer offers three months less than the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever, with an intro 0% for 18 months on balance transfers (after, 14.24% - 25.24% Variable APR). However, this card has a lower 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*.

The Discover it® Balance Transfer stands out from other balance transfer cards by offering a rewards program: 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate, 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically. While this is a great perk, don’t let this distract you from your primary goal — getting out of debt, not earning rewards, so it’s best not to rack up new charges on a balance transfer card.

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card

The information related to Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card

Regular Purchase APR
13.74%-27.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR
0% for 18 months
Intro BT APR
0% for 18 months on qualifying balance transfers
Annual fee
$0
Balance Transfer Fee
3% for 120 days, then 5%
Credit required
excellent-credit

Excellent/Good

Excellent/Good
The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card also offers an intro 0% for 18 months on qualifying balance transfers, but this applies to new purchases as well. After the intro period ends, a 13.74%-27.24% (Variable) APR for purchases and balance transfers applies. The balance transfer fee is 3% for 120 days, then 5%. While this card has no rewards, you can receive cell phone protection up to $600 (subject to a $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when your monthly cell phone bill is paid with your card.

No balance transfer fee cards

If you want to maximize savings with a balance transfer, you should consider cards that don’t charge a balance transfer fee. These cards can save you the typical 3%-5% fee most balance transfer cards charge. Just know, cards with no balance transfer fees often have shorter intro periods of 15 months or less. You can read our roundup for an extensive list of no balance transfer fee cards.

Here are some of the best cards:

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is a well-rounded card that offers an intro 0% for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases (after, 15.24%-26.24% Variable APR). In addition to the intro periods, you can benefit from a rewards program tailored to U.S. supermarket spenders where you earn 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases.

The intro offers, coupled with the rewards program make The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express the frontrunner among balance transfer cards. This card presents cardholders with the unique opportunity to transfer a balance and make a large purchase during the intro period without incurring interest, and earn rewards on new purchases.

The information related to The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Slate®

The Chase Slate® offers the same 0% intro apr on balance transfers for 15 months and 0% intro apr on purchases for 15 months as the previous two cards. After the intro period ends, there’s a 17.24% - 25.99% Variable APR. This is a no-frills card that won’t earn you rewards or noteworthy perks, but can help you get out of debt.

The information related to Chase Slate® has been collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Low rate balance transfer cards

If you think it will take longer than 21 months to pay off your credit card debt, you might want to consider a low rate balance transfer card. Rather than pay a balance transfer fee and receive a promotional 0% APR, these cards offer a low interest rate for three years or more. The longest offer can give you a low rate that only goes up if the prime rate goes up. If you can’t get that offer, there is another good option offering a low rate for three years.

Variable Rate Credit Visa®Card from UNIFY Financial CU

APPLY NOW Secured

on UNIFY Financial Credit Union’s secure website

Variable Rate Credit Visa®Card from UNIFY Financial CU

Regular Purchase APR
8.74%-17.99% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
N/A
Intro BT APR
N/A
Balance Transfer Fee
$0
If you need a long time to pay off debt at a reasonable rate, and have great credit, it’s hard to beat this deal from Unify Financial Credit Union. The Variable Rate Credit Visa®Card from UNIFY Financial CU offers an ongoing 8.74%-17.99% Variable APR. Plus, there’s no balance transfer fee.

Note: Membership to Unify Financial Credit Union is required to open this card, but anyone can join through one of their affiliate partners, the Surfrider Foundation or Friends of Hobbs, at no additional charge.

Prime Rewards Credit Card from SunTrust Bank

APPLY NOW Secured

on SunTrust Bank’s secure website

Prime Rewards Credit Card from SunTrust Bank

Regular Purchase APR
13.49%–23.49% Variable
Intro BT APR
3 year introductory offer at Prime Rate (currently 5.50% variable APR) on balance transfers made in the first 60 days after account opening.
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 1% Unlimited Cash Back on all qualifying purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee
None for all balances transferred within 60 days of account opening, then $10.00 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater
The Prime Rewards Credit Card from SunTrust Bank offers a 3 year introductory offer at Prime Rate (currently 5.50% variable APR) on balance transfers made in the first 60 days after account opening. After, 13.49%–23.49% Variable APR. There’s also an intro balance transfer fee: None for all balances transferred within 60 days of account opening, then $10.00 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater. Beware, the low variable APR doesn’t apply to new purchases, and new transactions will incur a 13.49%–23.49% Variable APR.

Balance transfer card for fair credit

Platinum Mastercard® from Aspire FCU

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on Aspire Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Read Full Review

Platinum Mastercard® from Aspire FCU

Regular Purchase APR
8.90% - 18.00% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 6 months
Intro BT APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months
Annual fee
$0
Balance Transfer Fee
$5 or 2% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater
Credit required
fair-credit

Average

If your have fair credit, you may qualify for the Platinum Mastercard® from Aspire FCU. On their site, Aspire states a “fair to good credit score [is] required.” This is good news for people with less than stellar credit. However, the balance transfer offer is significantly lower than cards for good or excellent credit — 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months (after, 8.90% - 18.00% Variable APR). Regardless, six months is better than nothing. And, with careful planning, you can pay off transferred balances during the intro period.

Note: This is a credit union card, so membership is required. Anyone can become a member of the Aspire Federal Credit Union by joining the American Consumer Council at no additional cost.

Learn more

Checklist before you transfer

Never use a credit card at an ATM

If you use your credit card at an ATM, it will be treated as a cash advance. Most credit cards charge an upfront cash advance fee, which is typically about 5%. There is usually a much higher “cash advance” interest rate, which is typically above 20%. And there is no grace period, so interest starts to accrue right away. A cash advance is expensive, so beware.

Always pay on time

If you do not make your payment on time, most credit cards will immediately hit you with a steep late fee. Once you are 30 days late, you will likely be reported to the credit bureau. Late payments can have a big, negative impact on your score. Once you are 60 days late, you can end up losing your low balance transfer rate and be charged a high penalty interest rate, which is usually close to 30%. Just automate your payments so you never have to worry about these fees.

Get the transfer done within 60 days

Most balance transfer offers are from the date you open your account, not the date you complete the transfer. It is in your interest to complete the balance transfer right away, so that you can benefit from the low interest rate as soon as possible. With most credit card companies, you will actually lose the promotional balance transfer offer if you do not complete the transfer within 60 or 90 days. Just get it done!

Don’t spend on the card

Your goal with a balance transfer should be to get out of debt. If you start spending on the credit card, there is a real risk that you will end up in more debt. Additionally, you could end up being charged interest on your purchase balances. If your credit card has a 0% balance transfer rate but does not have a 0% promotional rate on purchases, you would end up being charged interest on your purchases right away, until your entire balance (including the balance transfer) is paid in full. In other words, you lose the grace period on your purchases so long as you have a balance transfer in place.

Don’t try to transfer between two cards of the same bank

Credit card companies make balance transfer offers because they want to steal business from their competitors. So, it makes sense that the banks will not let you transfer balances between two credit cards offered by the same bank. If you have an airline credit card or a store credit card, just make sure you know which bank issues the card before you apply for a balance transfer.

Comparison tools

Savings calculator – which card is best?

If you’re still unsure about which cards offer you the best deal for your situation, try our calculator. You get to input the amount of debt you’re trying to get a lower rate on, your current rate, and the monthly payment you can afford. The calculator will show you which cards offer you the most savings on interest payments.

Balance transfer or a loan?

A balance transfer at 0% will get you the absolute lowest rate. But you might feel more comfortable with a single fixed monthly payment, and a single real date your loan will be paid off. A lot of new companies are offering great rates on loans you can pay off over 2, 3, 4, or 5 years. You can find the best personal loans here.

And you might find even though their rates aren’t 0%, you could afford the payment and get a plan that takes care of your debt for good at once.

Use our calculator to see how your payments and savings will compare.

Lender
Regular Purchase APR
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
16.99% - 26.99%* (Variable)
Discover it® Balance Transfer
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
APPLY NOW Secured

on Discover Bank’s secure website

Rates & Fees

Variable Rate Credit Visa®Card from UNIFY Financial CU
8.74%-17.99% Variable
Apply Now Secured

on UNIFY Financial Credit Union’s secure website

Prime Rewards Credit Card from SunTrust Bank
13.49%–23.49% Variable
Apply Now Secured

on SunTrust Bank’s secure website

Platinum Mastercard® from Aspire FCU
8.90% - 18.00% Variable
APPLY NOW Secured

on Aspire Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Questions and Answers

It depends, some credit card companies may allow you to transfer debt from any credit card, regardless of who owns it. Though, they may require you to first add that person as an authorized user to transfer the debt. Just remember that once the debt is transferred, it becomes your legal liability. You can call the credit card company prior to applying for a card to check if you’re able to transfer debt from an account where you are not the primary account holder.

Yes, you can. Most banks will enable store card debt to be transferred. Just make sure the store card is not issued by the same bank as the balance transfer credit card.

As a general rule, if you can pay off your debt in six months or less, it usually doesn’t make sense to do a balance transfer.

Here is a simple test. (This is not 100% accurate mathematically, but it is an easy test). Divide your credit card interest rate by 12. (Imagine a credit card with a 12% interest rate. 12%/12 = 1%). In this example, you are paying about 1% interest per month. If the fee on your balance transfer is 3%, you will break even in month 3, and will be saving money thereafter. You can use that simplified math to get a good guide on whether or not you will be saving money.

And if you want the math done for you, use our tool to calculate how much each balance transfer will save you.

With all balance transfers recommended at MagnifyMoney, you would not be hit with a big, retroactive interest charge. You would be charged the purchase interest rate on the remaining balance on a go-forward basis. (Warning: not all balance transfers waive the interest. But all balance transfers recommended by MagnifyMoney do.)

Many companies offer very good deals in the first year to win new customers. These are often called “switching incentives.” For example, your mobile phone company could offer 50% off its normal rate for the first 12 months. Or your cable company could offer a big discount on the first year if you buy the bundle package. Credit card companies are no different. These companies want your debt, and are willing to give you a big discount in the first year to get you to transfer.

If you transfer your debt and use your card responsibly to pay off your balance before the intro period ends, then there is no trap associated with the 0% APR period. But, if you neglect making payments and end up with a balance post-intro period, you can easily fall into a trap of high debt — similar to the one you left when you transferred the balance. As a rule of thumb, use the intro 0% APR period to your advantage and pay off ALL your debt before it ends, otherwise you’ll start to accumulate high interest charges.

Balance transfers can be easily completed online or over the phone. After logging in to your account, you can navigate to your balance transfer and submit the request. If you rather speak to a representative, simply call the number on the back of your card. For both options, you will need to have the account number of the card with the debt and the amount you wish to transfer ready.

You will be charged a late fee by missing a payment and may put your introductory interest rate in jeopardy. Many issuers state in the terms and conditions that defaulting on your account may cause you to lose out on the promotional APR associated with the balance transfer offer. To avoid this, set up autopay for at least the minimum amount due.

No, you can’t. Balances can only be transferred between cards from different banks. That includes co-branded cards, so be sure to check which issuer your card is before applying for a balance transfer card — since you don’t want to find out after you’ve been approved that both cards are backed by the same issuer.

Many credit card issuers will allow you to transfer money to your checking account. Or, they will offer you checks that you can write to yourself or a third party. Check online, because many credit card issuers will let you transfer money directly to your bank account from your credit card. Otherwise, call your issuer and ask what deals they have available for “convenience checks.”

In most cases, you cannot. However, if you transfer a balance when you open a card, you may be able to. Some issuers state in their terms and conditions that balance transfers on new accounts will be processed at a slower rate compared with those of old accounts. You may be able to cancel your transfer during this time.

Yes, it is possible to transfer the same debt multiple times. Just remember, if there is a balance transfer fee, you could be charged that fee every time you transfer the debt. Also, don’t keep on transferring your debt without making payments because you won’t accomplish much.

You can call the bank and ask them to increase your credit limit. However, even if the bank does not increase your limit, you should still take advantage of the savings available with the limit you are given. Transferring a portion of your debt is more beneficial than transferring none.

Yes, you decide how much you want to transfer to each credit card. For example, if you have $3,000 in debt, you can transfer $2,000 to Card A and $1,000 to Card B.

No, balance transfers are excluded from earning any form of rewards whether it’s points, miles or cash back.

No, there is no penalty. You can pay off your debt whenever you want without a penalty. It’s key to pay off your balance as soon as possible and within the intro period to avoid carrying a balance post-intro period.

Mathematically, the best balance transfer credit cards are no fee, 0% intro APR offers. You literally pay nothing to transfer your balance and can save hundreds of dollars in interest had you left your balance on a high APR card. Check out our list of the best no-fee balance transfer cards here. However, those cards tend to have shorter intro periods of 15 months or less, so you may need more time to pay off your balance.

If you are running out of time on your intro APR and you still have a balance, don’t sweat it. At least two months before your existing intro period ends, start looking for a new balance transfer offer from a different issuer. Transfer any remaining balance to the card with the new 0% intro offer. This can provide you with the additional time needed to pay off your balance. Ideally, look for a card that has a 0% intro APR and also no balance transfer fee.

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Alexandria White
Alexandria White |

Alexandria White is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Alexandria at [email protected]

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