Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of 2019

Review the best balance transfer credit cards to find zero percent introductory APRs to save on interest while lowering your debt.

Mike Brown
Mike Brown
Updated: June 26, 2019

Note from the editor: Our research, news, ratings, and assessments are scrutinized using strict editorial integrity. In full transparency, our company may receive compensation from partners listed on our website. Learn more about how we make money by visiting our advertiser disclosure.

If you want to pay off a credit card balance while avoiding high interest fees, you might consider getting a credit card that offers a 0% introductory APR or an overall lower annual percentage rate (APR) than you’re currently paying. But how do you choose the right balance transfer credit card for your needs?

The best balance transfer credit cards generally offer no annual fee and an introductory interest rate on balance transfers and/or purchases. These intro deals serve as the main perk for most of these cards—sign-up bonuses and high rewards rates will be hard to come by—so they’re ideal for people focused on paying down debt rather than earning rewards. However, some cards do offer both rewards and good balance transfer incentives, so it’s important to compare your options and consider how you’ll use your card.

To help, LendEDU compared and ranked the best balance transfer cards based on the weighted averages of specific data points relevant to cardholders. These are our top picks.

LendEDU’s 10 Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of 2019

Discover It Card—14-Month Balance Transfer Offer

Discover It Card—14-Month Balance Transfer Offer

$0 annual fee Double cash bonus at end of your first year

Discover It Card—14-Month Balance Transfer Offer

  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly categories, plus 1% back on everything else
  • Discover doubles your cash back rewards at the end of your first year
  • Pay 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 14 months
Apply Now

on Discover's secure website

Intro APR

0% APR for 14 months

Regular APR

14.24% – 25.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good

Card Highlights

The Discover it Credit Card offer is unusual amongst its rivals as it offers a decent rewards program in addition to an intro APR offer. Several cash back offers come with this card. First, there is a 5% bonus cash back rate on purchases that fall within Discover’s quarterly rotating categories—up to a quarterly maximum of $1,500 in purchases. The quarterly schedule includes purchases at grocery stores, gas stations, Amazon.com, and even Uber. All other purchases are subject to an unlimited 1% cash back rate.

Plus, at the end of your first year, Discover doubles all of your cash back rewards, giving you a rewards rate as high as 10% on some purchases.

APR & Fees

  • There is no annual fee for this rewards card.
  • New cardholders will receive a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months.
  • After the introductory period ends, the APR for both types of transactions increases to 14.24% to 25.24%, depending on your credit score.
  • Balance transfers are subject to a balance transfer fee between 3% and 5%.
  • The standard cash advance APR is 27.24%, and the cash advance fee is either $10 or 5%, whichever is greater.
  • There’s no charge for the first late payment, but afterward, late payments can be charged up to $37.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees.

Bottom Line

You’ll have a hard time finding a good balance transfer offer with a rewards credit card, so if you're interested in more than just paying down debt, this card may be best for you.

HSBC Gold Mastercard

HSBC Gold Mastercard

$0 annual fee 0% APR for 18 months

HSBC Gold Mastercard

  • Pay 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 18 months
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection
  • Roadside service, trip planning assistance, and travel accident insurance
Apply Now

on HSBC's secure website

Intro APR

0% for 18 months

Regular APR

13.24%, 17.24%, or 21.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The HSBC Gold Mastercard is a good balance transfer card with an introductory APR on purchases as well. This is valuable since, if you have an outstanding balance you’re transferring to the card, you may need some time paying off new purchases as well. Note that for eligibility, balance transfers have to post within 60 days of account opening.

The card also comes with some other valuable travel and shopping perks, including MasterAssist trip planning assistance, Master RoadAssist roadside assistance, $1 million in travel accident insurance, and extended warranties and purchase protection for items you buy with your card.

APR & Fees

  • The card comes with a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months after opening a new account.
  • After the 0% introductory period ends, there is a variable APR of 13.24%, 17.24%, or 21.24%, depending on your credit score.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of $10 or 4% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • There are no annual fees, foreign transaction fees, or penalty APRs.
  • The card comes with one late fee waiver per year.

Bottom Line

The HSBC Gold Mastercard is good for someone who not only wants to make a balance transfer but who also plans to make purchases with their card. The only major downside is that there aren’t any rewards associated with the card.

Chase Slate Card

Chase Slate Card

$0 annual fee 0% APR for 15 months

Chase Slate Card

  • Pay 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for the first 15 months
  • Purchase protection against damage or theft
  • No annual fee and no penalty APR
Apply Now

on Chase's secure website

Intro APR

0% for 15 months

Regular APR

17.24% – 25.99% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

Chase Slate Credit Card is another strong option for those seeking a 0% APR offer on both purchases and balance transfers. However, there are no other special benefits offered to cardholders, aside from some common perks like free credit score reporting, and limited protection.

APR & Fees

  • Pay 0% APR for balance transfers and purchases for the first 15 months after account opening.
  • Regular APRs fall between 17.24% – 25.99% after that.
  • The first balance transfer comes with no fee, provided that it occurs within the first 60 days of opening the account. After that, a charge of either $5 or 5% applies to the transfer amount.
  • When a cash advance or overdraft advance occurs, an APR of 27.24% applies, as well as a cash advance fee of either $10 or 5%.
  • Late payments on balances less than $100 can be charged up to $15. For a balance between $100 and $250, a maximum penalty of $27 applies. Finally, for payments over $250, there is a maximum fee of $37.
  • Returned payment fees run up to $37 for any amount. Aside from these transaction fees.
  • Foreign transaction fees are 3%.
  • There is no annual fee.

Bottom Line

Overall, this is a decent balance transfer credit card, but watch out for late payment penalties and other fees.

PNC Core Visa Credit Card

PNC Core Visa Credit Card

$0 annual fee $100 sign-up bonus

PNC Core Visa Credit Card

  • Get $100 after spending $1,000 in the first three months
  • Pay 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
  • Travel and emergency protection
Apply Now

on PNC's secure website

Intro APR

0% for 15 months

Regular APR

12.24% – 22.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The PNC Core Visa Credit Card can be a good option for someone who wants an introductory interest rate period and also who wants a relatively low interest rate after that period ends.

The PNC balance transfer option features an introductory 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for the initial 15 billing cycles after you open a new account. Balance transfers have to be done within the first 90 to qualify.

This card can work especially well for existing PNC customers because it easily integrates with PNC Online Banking and Virtual Wallet.

Other features of the card include electronic bill payment, online account tools, and $0 fraud liability. Also, if cardholders link their PNC credit card to a qualifying checking account from PNC and make at least five credit card transactions, they’ll get what’s described as a “higher relationship rate.”

APR & Fees

  • Pay 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for the first 15 months.
  • Regular purchase and balance transfer APRs range from 12.24% to 22.24% (variable).
  • There is a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3%, whichever is greater, during the first 90 days. After that, the balance transfer fee increases to $5 or 4%.
  • There cash advance APR is 25.24%, and the cash advance fee is $10 or 5%, whichever is greater.
  • The penalty APR is currently 31.24%.
  • There is no annual fee.
  • There is a 3% foreign transaction fee.

Bottom Line

The PNC Core Visa Credit Card comes with a solid 0% interest offer, since many cards only discount your rate for the first 12 months. It’s also good option for PNC customers, since you can integrate your accounts and receive additional benefits. But there are downsides to consider, including the balance transfer fee and the foreign transaction fee.

Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card

Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card

$0 annual fee 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months

Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card

  • Pay 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 12 months
  • Low standard interest rates
  • No balance transfer, foreign transaction, or annual fees
Apply Now

on Navy Federal's secure website

Intro APR

0% on balance transfers for 12 months

Regular APR

8.24% – 18% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good

Card Highlights

Navy Federal Credit Union serves current and former U.S. servicemembers. They have checking and savings products as well as loans and credit cards. So, naturally, the Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card is a strong option for military members and veterans.

>> Read More:Best Credit Cards for Military Service Members and Veterans

The card features a 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months. The card is also geared toward people with average to good credit, so you may be more likely to receive approval for this card than with other options requiring excellent credit—as long as you’re a credit union member.

Also, there are no balance transfer fees, and after the intro APR period, the variable APR remains competitively low with this card.

Finally, the card includes features such as collision damage waivers, travel, and emergency assistance and extended warranty protection.

APR & Fees

  • Pay 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 12 months.
  • All purchases—and any remaining balance after the balance transfer APR expires—are subject to a comparatively low 8.24% to 18.% APR.
  • There are no annual fees, balance transfer fees, foreign transaction fees, or cash advance fees.

Bottom Line

The Navy Federal Platinum Card features a 12-month period of no interest charges on balance transfers, but not purchases. This is shorter than other periods, and many balance transfer card offers include purchases during the intro offer period as well. However, the Navy Federal Platinum card excels in other ways, including the competitively low APR and the fact there are no fees, including balance transfer fees. If you’re a current or former military service member, this card is worth checking out.

BankAmericard Credit Card

BankAmericard Credit Card

$0 annual fee 0% APR for 15 months

BankAmericard Credit Card

  • Pay 0% APR on purchase balances and balance transfers for 15 billing cycles
  • No balance transfer fee for the first 60 days
  • No annual fee or no penalty APRs
Apply Now

on Bank of America's secure website

Intro APR

0% for 15 billing cycles

Regular APR

15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good

Card Highlights

From Bank of America, the BankAmericard Credit Card is a simple, straightforward card to help people pay down high-interest balances.

The card features an introductory 0% APR for a new accountholder’s first 15 billing cycles on both purchases and balance transfers. Balance transfers have to be made within 60 days of opening the account to qualify. The balance transfer fee for the first 60 days after opening an account is $0 as well.

The BankAmericard Credit Card features access to online and mobile banking, plus digital wallet technology. There’s also access to the free ShopSafe online security shopping service and $0 Liability Guarantees for transactions that are fraudulent.

If you ever pay late, there’s no penalty APR with this card, either.

APR & Fees

  • Pay 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months.
  • After the introductory 0% APR period ends, there’s a variable APR of 15.24% to 25.24%.
  • There’s no balance transfer fee for the first 60 days, then it’s 3% after that.
  • There’s no annual fee or penalty APR for missed payments.

Bottom Line

The 15 months introductory APR period on the BankAmericard Credit Card applies to both balance transfers and purchases; combined with the ability to transfer balances without paying a fee, these intro rates make this card a strong option. We also like that this card is forgiving—if you pay late, you aren’t dinged with a penalty APR.

Wells Fargo Platinum Card

Wells Fargo Platinum Card

$0 annual fee 0% APR for 18 months

Wells Fargo Platinum Card

  • Pay 0% APR on purchases and transferred balances for the first 18 months
  • Mobile phone protection, credit score reporting, and budgeting tools
  • No annual fee
Apply Now

on Wells Fargo's secure website

Intro APR

0% for 18 months

Regular APR

13.74 – 27.24 Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

Although the Wells Fargo Platinum Card does not necessarily have "platinum" benefits, it fares well in the realm of balance transfer fees and annual percentage rates. This credit card is meant for customers who want a low-cost credit card and who might not qualify for a card with extensive rewards or other benefits.

On top of the card’s introductory APR offer, Wells Fargo offers the My Money Map tool, which can help you manage your budgeting and spending habits, as well as access to your FICO score reporting. Finally, cardholders will receive mobile phone protection if they pay for their cell phone bill with their card.

APR & Fees

  • Pay 0% APR on both balance transfers and purchase balances for 18 months.
  • Afterward, this rate increases to between 13.74% and 27.24%.
  • There is also a cash advance APR between 26.24% and 28.24%.
  • Cash advance fees are either $10 or 5% of the transaction amount.
  • There is no annual membership fee.
  • For balance transfers that occur within the 18-month introductory period, a fee of either $5 or 3% is charged. After this intro period, the fee is 5% for balance transfers.
  • A $12.50 fee is charged for over-drafted balances under $50; balances over this amount are charged $20.
  • Foreign transactions are charged 3%.
  • Penalty fees on late and returned payments are up to $37.

Bottom Line

Overall, this card offers good deals when it comes to balance transfer expenses. If cardholders don’t mind a general lack of other benefits, this card can be considered an excellent deal.

Citi Simplicity Credit Card

Citi Simplicity Credit Card

$0 annual fee 0% APR for up to 21 months

Citi Simplicity Credit Card

  • Pay 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months from the date of the first transfer (made within the first four months)
  • Pay 0% APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening.
  • No annual fee
Apply Now

on Citi's secure website

Intro APR

0% on balance transfers for 21 months & purchases for 12 months

Regular APR

16.24% – 26.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Citi Simplicity Card is one of the best balance transfer cards available thanks to its lengthy low APR period. This card boasts a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 21 months from the date of your first transfer, as long as that transfer takes place within the first four months. There is also a 0% APR offer for purchases, lasting for 12 months from the date of account opening.

The introductory period for the balance transfers is the longest on this list, so it’s a strong option for people paying down a large balance. However, there is a fairly high 5% balance transfer fee to be aware of.

The card comes with Citi Identity Theft Solutions, purchase protection, and EMV chip technology. Other features include Apple Pay capabilities, automatic account alerts, and the ability to choose your own payment date.

APR & Fees

  • Pay 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months from the date of the first transfer.
  • Pay 0% APR on purchases for the first 12 months.
  • After the introductory rate periods expire, the card’s standard APR is 16.24% to 26.24%.
  • There is a 5% balance transfer fee.
  • There is no penalty APR, and this card doesn’t have an annual fee.

Bottom Line

The long 21-month balance transfer period is the biggest perk of this card. On the other hand, the 5% balance transfer fee is higher than other cards on this ranking, so you should consider it only if you know you’ll take more than 15 months to pay off your balance.

Citizens Bank Clear Value Mastercard

Citizens Bank Clear Value Mastercard

$0 annual fee 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months

Citizens Bank Clear Value Mastercard

  • Pay 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 billing cycles
  • Zero liability protection, extended warranty protection, and price protection
  • Up to 21-day grace period on all purchases
Apply Now

on Citizens Bank's secure website

Intro APR

0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months

Regular APR

14.99%, 18.99%, or 22.99% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

With the Citizens Bank Clear View Mastercard, you’ll pay 0% intro APR for the first 18 billing cycles after opening an account. That only applies to balances transferred to your Citizens Bank card, —not purchases. However, there is a grace period of up to a 21 days for purchases made with the card, and the card is equipped with zero liability protection, extended warranties, and other shopping protections.

APR & Fees

  • Pay 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 18 billing cycles
  • The variable APR for purchases made with the card are 14.99%, 18.99% or 22.99%. That also applies to balance transfers after the intro period ends.
  • The APR for cash advances is 24.49%, and the penalty APR can be as high as 29.99%.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $10 or 3% of the amount of a transfer, whichever is greater.
  • There is a 3% foreign transaction fee as well.
  • If someone makes a late payment, they may lose their introductory APR, and then also receive the penalty APR.

Bottom Line

If you could potentially make a late payment, the Citizens Bank Clear View Mastercard probably isn’t for you. However, if you want a long balance transfer introductory APR period, and middle-of-the-road interest rates after that, it could be a good option.

Citi Diamond Preferred Card

Citi Diamond Preferred Card

$0 annual fee 0% APR for 18 months

Citi Diamond Preferred Card

  • Pay 0% APR for 18 billing cycles
  • Get VIP access to exclusive events, restaurants, and movie screenings
  • 5% balance transfer fee
Apply Now

on Citi's secure website

Intro APR

0% for 18 months

Regular APR

15.24% – 25.24 Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Good/Excellent

Card Highlights

The Citi Diamond Preferred Card features a 0% introductory APR for 18 months on both balance transfers and purchases. The 18-month period for balance transfers begins from the date of the first balance transfer, as long as it’s made within four months of opening your account. For purchases, the period begins on the day you open your account.

This card comes with a few additional bells and whistles as well. For example, cardholders will get access to Citi Private Pass, which includes offers for VIP packages, plus invites to concerts, sporting events, and other exclusive activities.

The card also comes with Citi Identity Theft Solutions, chip technology, and Citi Concierge. Citi Concierge team members can help cardholders with travel, dining, entertainment, and shopping.

APR & Fees

  • Pay 0% APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 18 billing cycles.
  • Following the 0% APR period, there is a variable APR of 15.24% to 25.24%.
  • There is also a balance transfer fee with this card—either 5% or $5, whichever is greater.
  • The cash advance APR is 27.49% (variable).
  • There is a cash advance fee of either $10 or 5%, whichever is greater.
  • The card doesn’t have an annual fee.

Bottom Line

If you want a longer introductory APR period—18-months—that applies to both purchases and balance transfers, the Citi Diamond Preferred Card is a good option. It’s also a good way to gain access to Citi Private Pass and Citi Concierge without paying an annual fee. Just keep in mind the balance transfer fee when making your decision.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards Comparison

CardIntro APR OfferRegular APR
Discover it Card- 14 Month Balance Transfer OfferPay 0% APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 14 months14.24% – 25.24% Variable APR
HSBC Gold MasterCardPay 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 18 months13.24%, 17.24%, or 21.24% Variable APR
Chase Slate Credit CardPay 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for the first 15 months17.24% – 25.99% Variable APR
PNC Core Visa Credit CardPay 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months12.24% – 22.24% Variable APR
Navy Federal Platinum Credit CardPay 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 12 months8.24% – 18% Variable APR
BankAmericard Credit CardPay 0% APR on purchase balances and balance transfers for 15 billing cycles15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
Wells Fargo Platinum CardPay 0% APR on purchases and transferred balances for the first 18 months13.74 – 27.24 Variable APR
Citi Simplicity CardPay 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months from the date of the first transfer, plus pay 0% APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening.16.24% – 26.24% Variable APR
Citizens Bank Clear Value MasterCardPay 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 billing cycles14.99%, 18.99%, or 22.99% Variable APR
Citi Diamond Preferred CardPay 0% APR for 18 billing cycles15.24% – 25.24 Variable APR

How We Chose the Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

To find the best balance transfer credit cards, our Editorial Team analyzed each card by regular APR, purchase APR, balance transfer APR, annual fee, late fees, foreign transaction fee, cash advance fee, and rewards.

Learn more about our ratings and methodology here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Balance Transfer Credit Cards

How Do Credit Card Balance Transfers Work?

When someone transfers a balance, they’re moving their debt from one card to another. The primary reason someone might do a balance transfer is to get a better interest rate so they can pay their balance off faster.

This can also lead to lower payments. Many times with a balance transfer credit card, there might be a period where the interest rate is 0% on those transfers.

That can save the cardholder quite a bit of money. A balance transfer can also make it easier to make payments if multiple card debts are consolidated into one. Sometimes consumers can transfer other debts along with credit card debt. For example, they might be able to transfer car loans or other installment payments onto a card with a lower balance transfer interest rate.

Select an option below to learn more about initiating a balance transfer with a specific credit card company:

Can Balance Transfers Help You Save Money?

The main way balance transfers can help you save money is by reducing interest. If someone has a lot of debt at a high interest rate, they will be paying a significant amount just in interest each year. Borrowers can save hundreds or thousands of dollars through a balance transfer that lowers the interest rate.

If someone has multiple cards or debts, a balance transfer can also help them avoid the costs of late payments and penalties by making it easier to keep track of payments. The consequence of a late or missed payment can get expensive quickly.

Of course, to save money with balance transfers, it’s essential to compare the interest rates on the balance transfer credit cards so you pay with the card that has the lowest APR. It’s also important to look for any potential hidden fees and to look beyond the initial introductory APR for balance transfers to determine the long-term APR.

Can Balance Transfers Help to Improve Your Credit Score?

For the most part, a balance transfer will not have a significant impact on your credit score.

First, a balance transfer does not reduce the amount of money owed. The money is moved to another account, but the debt isn’t reduced. Also, your previous account history remains the same as before the transfer. For example, if someone had late or missed payments before doing a balance transfer, that will reflect on their credit history.

However, in the long-term, a balance transfer may help your credit score by making it easier for them to pay off debts and keep their payments organized, so no payments are missed. Also, with a lower interest rate, a cardholder can pay off the total debt more quickly, which will improve their credit by lowering their credit utilization rate. The faster you can lower the amount of debt you owe, the better for your credit. You should try to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30 percent for the sake of their credit score.

Can You Combine Multiple Balances Into One Transfer?

Many borrowers do combine multiple balances into one transfer. It streamlines their payments and simplifies repayment when several balances are merged into one low-interest credit card.

In some cases, you may add other sources of debt into the balance transfer. Consumers should check the fine print and ensure that the transfers make the most financial sense. Research how much is the balance transfer fee will be and consider if that makes the transfer worthwhile.

What Sort of Fees Are Charged When You Do a Balance Transfer?

Most balance transfer fees range from 3% to 5% percent of the balance being transferred. So, if someone wanted to transfer a balance of $3,000, their balance transfer fee may range from $90 to $150. Some companies assign either a flat rate or percentage, for example either $5 or 5%, whichever is greater. Of course, balance transfer fees can be higher or lower, which is why reading the fine print is so important.

Many credit card issuers that focus on balance transfers will offer a $0 introductory fee if the balance transfers are made within a certain time after opening a new account. For example, new cardholders might have no balance transfer fees if they make all the transfers within the first 30 days of opening a new account.

Can You Do a Balance Transfer When You Have Authorized Users On Your Account?

Whether or not you can do a balance transfer when you have authorized users on your account depends on the card company. You can typically do this kind of transfer. An authorized user is someone who can make purchases on the card, but they’re not the primary owner.

The primary owner of the card is the one who is responsible for paying the debt. If you are the primary owner of a card and you have authorized users, you may transfer even the authorized user’s debt to a new balance transfer credit card. Legally, an authorized user isn’t responsible for charges or balances, so doing a balance transfer with their accounts is typically permissible.

How Long Does It Take for a Balance Transfer to Complete?

Most balance transfers are completed within seven to 10 days. However, there’s no guarantee of how long it will take for a transfer to be completed. It can take several weeks for a balance transfer to be completed in some cases. One reason it could longer for transfer to process is if a creditor needs to be paid by check, as opposed to receiving an electronic payment.

On the other hand, if you already have an account with the financial company and you request a balance transfer to that card, it may go through more quickly than if you’re applying for a new card and a balance transfer with a different bank.

When you are waiting for a balance transfer, keep paying your cards as usual. If they accumulate late fees or additional interest, you will be held responsible.

Should You Cancel Your Old Credit Card After a Balance Transfer?

Many cardholders consider canceling their old card after they complete a balance transfer. Whether or not this is a good financial move depends on several factors.

Try to avoid using your old credit card for new purchases as much as possible, but you shouldn’t necessarily close the account. There’s a reason you wanted to transfer the balance of the old card, and that’s likely because it has a high interest rate. If you do a balance transfer and then keep using the high rate card, you’re not doing yourself any financial favors.

However, if you close the old card, then you’re potentially hurting your credit score. This is because the length of your credit history factors into your score, so the longer you’re using a card, the better.

Also, if you close the old card you’re going to reduce your available credit which will cause a problem regarding your credit utilization rate. Credit utilization is one of the most important factors in how a credit score is calculated. If you have a card with a limit of $8,000 in the form of the card you’re transferring the balance from, that gives you more available credit. The more credit you have, and the less of it you’re using, the better your credit score will be. So it’s best to just hold the credit.

What Are the Risks of Doing a Balance Transfer?

A balance transfer can seem like a great idea, but there are some risks. First, it can be expensive to use balance transfer cards for additional purchases. The purchase APR for most balance transfer cards is different from the balance transfer interest rate. In most instances, using a balance transfer card should only be used to pay off existing debts more quickly.

Also, while introductory balance transfer APRs may be 0% on many cards, the APR can be higher than it would be with other cards when the introductory rate expires.

Transferring a balance to a new card may also tempt some cardholders to overspend. Some may revert to old spending habits on the old card and rack up new debt as they’re paying off the old debt on a new card.

Finally consider all the fees associated with these cards, not just the low balance transfer fee. For example, many cards have annual fees. Do the math and ensure that the balance transfer will pay off.

What Should You Expect After the Promotional Period is Over?

Consumers can be lured by the appeal of 0% introductory APRs on balance transfer credit cards, but keep in mind their perks are limited. First, these offers usually only apply the 0% interest rates to the actual balance transfers. Even during an introductory period, for new purchases, most of these cards will charge regular interest rates.

Also, once the introductory period ends, interest rates on a balance transfer credit card can be higher than average. They can be even higher than the rates on the original card.

Here are three examples of post-introductory APRs on popular balance transfer cards:

  • Discover it Balance Transfer: The introductory period is 18 months, and after that, the ongoing variable APR is 13.49% to 24.49%
  • Amex EveryDay Credit Card: The introductory APR period is 15 months, and the ongoing APR is 14.74% to 25.74%
  • Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card: The introductory APR period for balance transfers is 18 months. After that, the ongoing APR is 16.90% to 26.74%

Can You Do Back-to-Back Balance Transfers With Different Cards?

A lot of consumers wonder if they can conduct multiple balance transfer offers at the same time. While you may be able to take advantage of multiple offers, you also have to consider the effect these hard credit pulls will have on your score.

Also, applying for several credit cards at once can make you look as if you’re scrambling for access to credit. A better option is to find one good balance transfer offer and transfer multiple balances to that card, rather than using different new cards.

Can You Earn Rewards On a Balance Transfer Credit Card?

There are plenty of cards that allow for earning rewards and are geared toward offering balance transfer options. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to earn rewards on the balance transfer itself. Instead, the terms of the card may only allow for reward earnings on new purchases. In fact, this is the case with every credit card company offering balance transfers right now.

Essentially, you can choose a card with an appealing introductory balance transfer offer, such as 0% APR for 18 months on transfers. So, you can pay off that debt with the benefit of no accumulating interest. Then, if you make new purchases on the card, those will be applied toward earning rewards.

Can You Get Approved for a Balance Transfer Credit Card With Fair or Bad Credit?

As with other credit cards, some cards are for good, fair or even bad credit. For good credit, the best card options include the American Express EveryDay Credit Card and the BankAmericard Credit Card. Both tend to require high credit scores for approval. For fair credit, there are other options such as the Discover it Balance Transfer Card. It can be difficult to get one of the best balance transfer credit cards with fair or bad credit, but not necessarily impossible.

Are There Alternatives to a Balance Transfer?

Yes, there are alternatives to a balance transfer that you may need to consider if you don’t qualify for a balance transfer. One alternative is an unsecured personal loan. Although, make sure the interest rates offered are lower than the rate you’re paying on your current credit card debt. Finally, a secured consolidated loan may be an option. Then you can try to improve your credit score and reapply for one of the best balance transfer credit cards later on.