NerdWallet's

Best Balance Transfer Cards of 2018

Sick of paying interest? Dump your debt onto one of these cards and get rid of it faster.

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Best for long intro 0% APR period

Citi Simplicity<sup>&reg;</sup> Card - No Late Fees Ever

on Citibank's secure application

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

  • 0% Intro Balance Transfer APR period: 21 Months
  • Ongoing APR: 15.99% - 25.99% Variable APR
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
  • What our experts like about it

Best for long-term value

Discover it&reg; Balance Transfer

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Best for purchases and transfers (excellent credit)

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

on US Bank's secure website

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Best for purchases and transfers (good credit) - tie

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa&reg; Card

on Wells Fargo's secure website

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card

  • 0% Intro Balance Transfer APR period: 18 Months
  • Ongoing APR: 13.49% - 26.99% Variable APR
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% intro for 18 months, then 5% ongoing
  • What our experts like about it

Best for purchases and transfers (good credit) - tie

BankAmericard&reg; credit card

on Bank of America's secure website, or call (800) 322-7707

BankAmericard® credit card

  • 0% Intro Balance Transfer APR period: 18 Months
  • Ongoing APR: 14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
  • What our experts like about it

Best for purchases/transfers with a late-fee waiver

HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card

on HSBC's secure website

HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card

Best for repeated transfers over time

Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®

on Barclays's secure website

Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®

  • 0% Intro Balance Transfer APR period: 15 Months
  • Ongoing APR: 13.99% Variable APR
  • Balance Transfer Fee: Balance Transfers that post to the account within 45 days of account opening: Either $5 or 2% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Balance Transfers that post to the account after 45 days of account opening: $0
  • What our experts like about it

Not sure which card saves you the most?

Take a quick quiz and we'll find out.

Begin hereBegin here

Benefits

Benefits

Who it's good for: Someone who needs extra time to pay down debt interest-free.

This card gets the nod for its extra-long introductory 0% APR period for balance transfers, its $0 annual fee and free FICO score. Citi allows you to transfer any kind of debt to your card, including student loans and auto loans, as long as the account number is at least five digits long and doesn’t include any letters.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

The card charges a balance transfer fee of 5% or $5, whichever is greater. You also can’t transfer balances from other Citi accounts, and you won't earn rewards. The 0% APR period for purchases is significantly shorter than that for transfers.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The long 0% intro APR period on the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever makes this a solid card if you need breathing room to pay off your debt.

More on this card
Discover it® Balance Transfer Review
For a different 0% APR structure
Discover it® Cash Back

Benefits

Benefits

Who it's good for: Someone who prefers to use one card for everything.

Most balance-transfer cards don't give you much of a reason to keep using them after the 0% period expires. The Discover it® Balance Transfer is different because of its rewards program. It pays 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, and 1% on everything else. In recent years, those categories have included such common merchants as gas stations, restaurants and Amazon.com. There's also a new-cardholder bonus that gets bigger the more you use the card.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

The 0% period on purchases is considerably shorter than that for balance transfers. That means that if you’re still carrying a balance when the 0% purchase APR runs out, you’ll have to pay interest on your purchases starting from the date of each transaction. That could add up quickly. (Learn more about how grace periods work.) The card also comes with a 3% balance transfer fee, and you can’t transfer balances from other Discover cards. Finally, having to activate the categories each quarter can be a hassle.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Get it for the long 0% APR period. Keep it for the rewards. However, if you plan to put a lot of purchases on the card while paying down your transferred balance, consider the alternative Discover card in the link at left; it has matching 0% APR periods for purchases and transfers.

More on this card
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card Review
For flat-rate rewards and 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Benefits

Benefits

Who it’s good for: Someone with excellent credit who lives in U.S. Bank's marketing area (see Drawbacks, below) and is looking for a long 0% APR period for both purchases and balance transfers.

This card's introductory 0% APR period for both purchases and balance transfers is the star of the show. It gives you plenty of time — 20 months! — to pay down these balances interest-free. The annual fee is $0.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

There's a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount transferred or $5, whichever's greater. The card offers no rewards. Like most credit cards, it doesn't allow same-issuer transfers. It also requires excellent credit.
According to the issuer, this card is currently available only in U.S. Bank's marketing area, which it defines as these states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The issuer says it is "addressing" the geographic restriction.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The is a strong option if you're planning to pay off debt and make new purchases on the same card.

More on this card
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card Review
For no balance transfer fees and low ongoing APRs
Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard®

Benefits

Benefits

Who it’s good for: Someone with good credit looking for a solid 0% APR period for both purchases and balance transfers.

This card comes with a cushy 18-month introductory 0% APR period for both purchases and balance transfers. With its $0 annual fee, it gives you ample breathing room when paying down balances. It also gives you access to a free FICO score.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

This card has a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount transferred or $5, whichever's greater, for the first 18 months. (After that, you'll pay 5% or $5, whichever's greater.) The card doesn't come with rewards and doesn't allow same-issuer transfers.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

For those paying down debt or planning to make a major purchase, the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card and its generous introductory APR are worthy of attention.

More on this card
BankAmericard® credit card Review

Benefits

Benefits

Who it’s good for: Someone with good credit looking for a solid 0% APR period for both purchases and balance transfers.

The BankAmericard® credit card gives you a lengthy introductory APR period: 0% on Purchases for 18 billing cycles and 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR. The card doesn't impose a penalty APR, so if you're late with a payment, your 0% promotion won't automatically end, as is the case with some cards. (You'll still be subject to a late fee of up to $38, though, so you should always pay on time.) You also can access your FICO score for free.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

A balance transfer fee applies: 3% of the amount transferred or $10, whichever is greater. The card offers no rewards, so there isn't much incentive to keep using it once the 0% period ends.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The BankAmericard® credit card is a straightforward 0% intro APR card: good for transferring and paying down debt, great for financing a big purchase.

Our pick for

Purchases/transfers and late-fee waiver

  • Intro APR

    0% Introductory APR on credit card purchases and balance transfers for the first 18 months from account opening.

  • Regular APR

    12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% variable APR

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • recommended credit score

More on this card
HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card Review

Benefits

Benefits

Who it's good for: Someone with good credit looking for a decent 0% period (and maybe a little forgiveness).

The HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card gives you a long 0% intro APR period on transfers as well as purchases. If you're the occasionally absent-minded type, the issuer offers a break on late fees. The fee is waived on your first late payment and on any late payment that occurs more than 12 billing periods since your last waiver. Even so, it's best to make doubly sure you pay on time.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

The card charges a balance transfer fee of 4% or $10, whichever is higher. No rewards.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

The fee will cost you an extra dollar per $100 transferred compared with cards with a 3% fee, but the lengthy 0% intro period makes it worth a look.

Our pick for

Repeated transfers over time

More on this card
Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® Review

Benefits

Benefits

Who it’s good for: Someone with good credit who wants a long-term option to transfer balances to a lower rate (although not 0%) with no fee.

The Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® offers an interesting choice for balance transfers. You can get a 0% introductory APR or a $0 balance transfer fee — but not both. The APR is 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% Variable APR. Transfers in the first 45 days (which qualify for the 0% intro APR) incur a fee of 3% (minimum $5). After 45 days, there is no transfer fee, but you'll pay the ongoing interest rate — which is still lower than what typical 0% cards charge after the intro period ends. That makes it an option for someone looking to pay down debt over a few months, rather than a year or more. Further, no transfer fee means you can make such transfers repeatedly. The annual fee is $0.

Drawbacks

Drawbacks

If you expect to only ever need to make a single transfer, you'll probably be better off with a different card. You can find longer 0% periods on other cards.

Bottom Line

Bottom Line

Having the Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® gives you the option to put major purchases on your rewards cards and then avoid paying the high APRs charged by such cards by shifting balances to a lower rate for no fee.

ADDITIONAL OPTIONS

Several other credit cards offer introductory 0% APR periods of at least 15 months for balance transfers. These include several rewards credit cards.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

APR: 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 15.49% - 25.49% Variable APR. Balance transfer fee: 3% (minimum $5). Annual fee: $0. Highlights: This card gives you 1% cash back on all purchases and another 1% back when you pay them off. Complete card details.  

Truly Simple® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank

APR: 0% introductory APR for your first 15 billing cycles after the account is opened on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 24.99% Variable APR.  Balance transfer fee: 4% (minimum $5). Annual fee: $0. Highlights: Complete card details.  

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR. Balance transfer fee: 3%. Highlights: This card gives you 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Complete card details. 

Chase Freedom®

APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.99% - 25.74% Variable APR. Balance transfer fee: 5% (minimum $5). Annual fee: $0. Highlights: This card gives you 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter. All other spending earns 1% cash back. Complete card details.  

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.99% - 25.74% Variable APR. Balance transfer fee: 5% (minimum $5). Annual fee: $0. Highlights: This card gives you 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Complete card details.  

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

APR: 0% Intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers, then a 14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable APR. Balance transfer fee: 4% (minimum $10). Annual fee: $0. Highlights: This card pays you 1.5% cash back on all purchases. You also get an annual anniversary bonus of 10% of all cash back earned in the past year. Complete card details.  


HOW THEIR 0% INTRO PERIODS COMPARE

Card 0% intro period for transfers
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever 21 months
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card 20 months
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card 18 months
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer 18 months
Discover it® Balance Transfer 18 months
BankAmericard® credit card 18 billing cycles
HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card 18 months
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card 15 months
Chase Freedom® 15 months
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 15 months
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card 15 billing cycles
Truly Simple® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank 15 months
Barclaycard Ring® Mastercard® No 0% period

OTHER RESOURCES

How does a balance transfer work?

In a balance transfer, you use one credit card to pay off another, effectively transferring the debt to a new card. Transferring a balance makes sense if you can move the debt to a card with a significantly lower interest rate. Ideally, you'll get a year or more at 0% interest, so you can pay down the debt more quickly.

Learn more: What is a balance transfer, and should I do one?

How to choose a balance transfer card

With a few exceptions, balance transfer credit cards require good or excellent credit. Generally, that means a credit score of about 690 or better.

If you can qualify, the first thing to look at when choosing a balance transfer card is the issuer. In most cases you can't transfer balances among cards from the same issuer — for example, from one Chase card to another. Double-check this information on your current account before applying to avoid getting a card you can’t use. This is especially important for store cards, which might not be clearly branded with the issuer’s name.

Next, look at the 0% APR period for balance transfers (the longer, the better) and the balance transfer fee (lower is better, and a handful of cards charge no fee or offer an introductory $0 fee). A good transfer card will also have no annual fee.

For more, see our guide to choosing a balance transfer card.

How to make the most of your balance transfer credit card

Paying off debt is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration — even with a balance transfer card. Make sure all your effort pays off by following this guidance.

Use your balance transfer credit card only for debt. The cards that save you the most while paying off debt generally don’t offer the best rewards. That's why it's usually best to use two cards: One for paying off debt, and one for making new purchases. If your card offers 0% APR only on balance transfers — not purchases — this practice could also help you stave off unexpected interest charges.

Know when the promos end. Your card’s introductory 0% APR and balance transfer fee promotions don’t last forever. Pay off your balances within the promotional period, if possible, to avoid interest and fees. To find out when these periods end, read your credit card statements. Or, call your issuer and ask.

Pay on time. If you’re late on a payment, poof! — your card’s 0% balance transfer APR will probably disappear. That’s because promotional terms often get voided if your account isn’t in good standing. Aside from losing the card’s most valuable feature, you might also have to pay a late fee (of up to $38, typically) and a penalty interest rate (often about 30%).

Avoid this basket of bad news by setting up auto-pay, if you’re confident you’ll have enough money in your account to cover at least the minimum. Make extra payments throughout the month, as your budget allows. 

Make a plan. To make the most of your card, take stock of your debt and figure out what you’ll have to do to become debt-free. Calculate how much extra money you can put toward your credit card payments each month, and track your progress as you chip away at those balances.

Methodology

NerdWallet’s credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.

Last updated November 14, 2018.

Claire is a personal finance writer at NerdWallet. Her work has been featured by Forbes, USA Today and The Associated Press. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @ideclaire7.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Balance Transfer Cards of 2018

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