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  • Things to Know About Balance Transfer Credit Cards

  • U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

  • Other Balance Transfer Credit Cards We Tested

  • What to Do Before You Transfer a Balance

  • What Is a Good APR for a Credit Card?

  • How Does Credit Card Interest Work?

  • How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?

  • How to Cancel a Credit Card

Things to Know About Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Before we start, here are some things you should know about balance transfer cards:

  • Good credit or better is usually necessary to qualify. A credit check is typically required at application, and the hard inquiry could temporarily impact your credit score.

  • Credit card issuers often charge a fee for transferring your balance. This fee is generally 3% of the balance you transfer. So, if you transfer $3,000 to a balance transfer card, you could expect to pay around $90 for the fee. While the fee does eat into your potential savings, it could majorly outweigh the interest you’d pay with your current card.

  • Credit limits vary. Your credit limit is usually determined after you apply, so there’s a possibility that you might get approved for a credit limit that’s lower than the balance you want to transfer. Also, credit card issuers may set limits for how much money you can move. Chase, for example, lets you transfer up to $15,000 within a 30-day period.

  • Transfers need to be made within a certain amount of time. Usually, only balances transferred within the first one to four months of signing up qualify for the low-interest deal. As always, read a card’s terms and conditions before you sign on the dotted line.

  • Perhaps the most important thing to note: Interest increases after the introductory period. After the low-interest deal ends, interest jumps up to the standard interest rate that’s based on your creditworthiness. To get the most out of a balance transfer offer, get a game plan in place. You’ll want to know what monthly payments to make to pay off the transfer within the interest-free period. Otherwise, the interest you end up paying will cut into your savings.

How We Evaluated

My name is Taylor, and I’m a personal finance writer who’s been reviewing credit cards and rewards programs since 2015. For this roundup, I took a look at 17 balance transfer cards to review what they had to offer. Then I compared balance transfer fees, the length of the low-interest period, and other card costs and features to come up with this “best of” list.


a US Bank Platinum Visa credit card with a turquoise illustration
Credit: Reviewed / Tara Jacoby
Best Overall
U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

The no-annual-fee U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card offers the longest 0% APR balance transfer period around. If you have a high balance that you want to pay off over an extended period of time, this card gives you an interest-free vacation that lasts for almost two years before a variable rate kicks in.

Balance transfer offer: 0% APR for 20 billing cycles on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening. The card has a 3% balance transfer fee.

Other important features: U.S. Bank lets you choose your payment due date. The card comes with TransUnion VantageScore® updates and provides cell phone protection coverage.

Learn more about the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

Other Balance Transfer Credit Cards We Tested

Citi Double Cash credit card
Credit: Reviewed / Tara Jacoby
Citi Double Cash

The Citi Double Cash gets a lot of attention for its rewards program that gives a total of 2% cash back on all purchases—1% when you make a purchase and 1% when you pay it off.

In addition, the Citi Double Cash offers 0% introductory APR for more than a year on balance transfers. After 18 months from account opening, the interest rate increases between 13.99% and 23.99% based on your creditworthiness. This is an especially appealing option if you’re looking for a card that’ll be useful after you get rid of your balance, as you can rack up unlimited cash back on future purchases.

Balance transfer offer: 0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on balance transfers made within four months of account opening. The balance transfer fee is 3%.

Other important features: There are no restrictions or spending caps on the cash-back rewards. You can redeem cash back earned for statement credits, direct deposits, checks, or convert to points. Cardholders can take advantage of contactless payments, identity theft solutions, and more.

Learn more about the Citi Double Cash Card

Related content

Navy Federal Platinum credit card
Credit: Reviewed / Tara Jacoby

Bank of America Bankamericard credit card
Credit: Reviewed / Tara Jacoby
BankAmericard Credit Card

The BankAmericard has no annual fee and offers a balance transfer special that gives you a year and a half to pay off your balance before the interest rate hikes up. The card doesn’t charge penalty APR if you pay late, but there is a late fee to watch out for. If you're a Bank of America customer, you have the option to connect this credit card to your bank account for overdraft protection.

Balance transfer offer: 0% APR for 18 billing cycles on balance transfers made within 60 days of opening your account. The balance transfer fee is 3%.

Other important features: Bank of America offers FICO credit score updates each month through online and mobile banking. With this free feature, you can see what factors are impacting your credit score.

Learn more about Bank of America credit cards

Citi Simplicity credit card with a teal arrow illustration
Credit: Reviewed / Tara Jacoby
Citi Simplicity

With the no-annual-fee Citi Simplicity, you can make interest-free payments on balance transfers for a year and a half, after which a variable APR will apply. Plus, the card touts no late fees and does not charge a penalty APR if you miss a payment. While the 0% intro APR also applies to purchases for 18 months, we recommend tackling the payment plan you've come up with.

Balance transfer offer: 0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on balances transferred within four months of opening the account. The balance transfer fee is 3%.

Other important features: You can choose your payment due date. The card also comes with identity theft solutions, 24/7 customer service, and contactless payment capabilities.

Learn more about the Citi Simplicity

Wells Fargo Platinum credit card
Credit: Reviewed / Tara Jacoby
Wells Fargo Platinum Card

The Wells Fargo Platinum Card has no annual fee and comes with several cardholder benefits, including a rental collision damage waiver and roadside assistance. That’s on top of the 0% APR offer on balance transfers that lasts for a year and a half before a variable interest rate kicks in.

Balance transfer offer: 0% APR for 18 billing cycles on balance transfers made within four months of account opening. The balance transfer fee is 3%.

Other important features: The card comes with travel accident insurance, cell phone protection, and more. Wells Fargo Online® also offers free FICO credit scores and My Money Map, a tool that can help you budget and track spending.

Learn more about this Wells Fargo card

Suntrust Prime Rewards credit card
Credit: Reviewed / Tara Jacoby
SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card

While the no-annual-fee SunTrust Prime Rewards card doesn’t offer 0% intro APR on balance transfers, it does offer a very low rate on balance transfers for three years with no balance transfer fee (as long as you make the transfer within 60 days). If while evaluating other cards you suspect you’ll still have debt to pay off after a 0% APR deal ends, a low rate for a longer-term might offer more savings.

Here’s an example: Let’s say you transfer $15,000 to a card offering 0% intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers with a 3% fee. The balance to pay off would be $15,450 including the fee.

If you make payments of $500 per month, you would have a $6,450 balance remaining at the end of 18 months. If the APR jumps to 19% after the 0% intro period, the balance would take an additional 15 months to pay off, and you’d pay $823 in interest.

On the other hand, if you transfer $15,000 to a credit card with no balance transfer fee and a much lower APR—say 3.25%—you would pay $665.86 in total interest over 32 months with payments of $500.

Depending on how much you have to pay off and the monthly payment you can make, taking a longer low-interest period could be cost effective.

Balance transfer offer: The interest rate for this card is the Prime Rate (currently 3.25%) for three years. Typically, credit card interest rates are the Prime Rate plus an additional percentage. For comparison, the current national average credit card APR is around 16%.

Keep in mind that this card’s interest rate is variable and can fluctuate as the Prime Rate fluctuates. While in May 2021, the Prime Rate is at 3.25%, in May 2019 it was 5.5%. However, the Fed plans to keep rates low, so you may not have to worry about a rate increase for the time being.

To get the most out of this card, transfer your balance in a timely manner: It has no fee for balances transferred within 60 days; after that, the fee increases to 3%.

Other important features: SunTrust provides FICO credit score updates and has no foreign transaction fee if you find yourself abroad, though watch out for the higher APR on cash advances.

Also, try to avoid new purchases. If you shop with the card, interest on new purchases will be charged to your account unless you pay off the whole balance (including the balance you transferred) by the end of the month.

Learn more about the SunTrust Prime Rewards

Additional Credit Cards That Didn't Make Our Cut

For this list, we focused on the balance transfer offer and related fees. Many cards that didn’t make the cut have shorter 0% APR periods but still come with plenty of valuable benefits and rewards opportunities. (That’s why you’ll find picks from our best grocery credit cards and best no-annual-fee credit cards below.)

Depending on your situation, these may still be a viable option if you can work with a tighter 0% APR timeline and want to take advantage of perks after paying off the balance.

Product image of U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Signature Card
U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Visa Signature® Card

While there’s no annual fee, the introductory APR is on the shorter side at 12 billing cycles. For those who can swing a tighter timeline, the rewards program offers 4X points on takeout, food delivery, and dining; 2X points at grocery stores, grocery delivery, streaming services, and gas; and 1X point on everything else. Learn more

Product image of Citi Diamond Preferred
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

This no-annual-fee card offers 0% intro APR for 18 months, though it charges a balance transfer fee: $5 or 3% of the amount transferred, whichever is greater. While it has a long no-interest period, this card had stiff competition from other sister Citi cards. The Citi Simplicity card has no late fees or penalty APR, and the Citi Double Cash has a high-value rewards offer. Learn more

Product image of Citi Rewards+ Card
Citi Rewards+® Card

You won’t pay an annual fee and can take advantage of 0% intro APR on qualifying balance transfers for 15 months. A balance transfer fee applies—$5 or 3% of the amount transferred, whichever is greater. Beyond that, this card offers 2X ThankYou® Points on gas and groceries (up to $6,000 per year) and 1X points on everything else. Learn more

Product image of Discover it
Discover it® Cash Back Credit Card

No annual fee here, but there’s 0% APR for 14 months on balance transfers, which is several months shorter than other cards on the list above. Also, the intro balance transfer fee is 3% only for a limited time. Afterward, the fee may be up to 5% for future balance transfers. For rewards, this card has a lot to offer: 5% cash back in revolving categories, such as groceries, drugstores, gas stations, restaurants, wholesale clubs, and more. Learn more

Product image of Discover it Chrome
Discover it® Chrome

No annual fee and 0% APR for 14 months on balance transfers. The intro balance transfer fee is 3% for a limited time. Afterward, the fee may be up to 5%. For rewards, you can earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on the first $1,000 you spend per quarter. Learn more

Product image of Bank of America Cash Rewards
Bank of America® Cash Back Rewards Credit Card

This no-annual-fee card does have a nice rewards offer. You can earn up to 3% cash back in a shopping category of your choice (everything from online shopping to home improvement stores), 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on everything else. The balance transfer offer is 0% APR for 15 months, and the balance transfer fee is 3%. Learn more

Product image of Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card

No annual fee and 0% APR for 15 months with a balance transfer fee of 3%. The rewards offer is an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases—a fair rewards rate, to be sure, though the Citi Double Cash currently offers a longer introductory period and beats it at 2% if you regularly pay your bill. Learn more

Product image of PNC Core Visa Credit Card
PNC Core® Visa® Credit Card

No annual fee and 0% APR for 15 billing cycles with a 3% balance transfer fee. Learn more

Product image of PNC Points Visa Credit Card
PNC points® Visa® Credit Card

No annual fee and 0% APR for 12 billing cycles with a 3% balance transfer fee. Learn more

Product image of PenFed Gold Visa Card
PenFed Gold Visa® Card

No annual fee and 0% APR for 12 months on balance transfers with a 3% fee for each transfer. Learn more

Please note: The offers mentioned above are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.

Reviewed has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Reviewed and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.


What to Do Before You Transfer a Balance

  • Break out a calculator. You’ll want to make sure that opening a new card will save you money in the long run. To start, figure out what you’d pay in interest with your current credit card debt if you were to pay it off in 18 or so billing cycles.

  • With an introductory APR period, you’ll save on interest—but don’t forget about those fees. They typically range anywhere from 3% to 5%, though we’ve found a couple that forgo balance transfer fees. (And remember, it’s likely transfers must be completed within a set time frame, usually around 30 or 60 days.)

  • Look at the timeline. You may not know the credit limit on a card you haven’t opened, but take the amount you’re hoping to transfer. Divide it by the interest-free period to come up with a monthly payment plan. Is it reasonable with your budget? Don’t forget: Once the introductory period ends, a variable APR based on your creditworthiness will kick in, and you’ll pay interest on anything outstanding.

  • Consider your credit score. Opening a new card affects your credit health a few ways. For one, the application typically requires a hard inquiry that will temporarily knock your score. A new account will also lower the average age of your credit history, another factor that’s used to determine credit health. Your credit utilization will change, too. A new card with the transferred balance may nearly max out your credit limit, though it’ll increase your overall credit limit.

What Is a Good APR for a Credit Card?

  • Credit card annual percentage rates range from 13% to 25%, with the national average in January 2021 around 16%. Credit cards marketed for applicants with bad credit tend to be on the higher side, as do credit cards with rewards programs.

  • Before you apply for a credit card, you can see this range in the cardmember agreement. You won’t know the rate until you’re approved, as it’s determined by the issuer based on your creditworthiness. The higher your credit score, the lower the rate you can expect. Remember that with a variable rate, an issuer can change the interest it charges at any time—and, per your cardmember agreement, it may not have to notify you.

  • An issuer may charge a different APR for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances. It may even offer an introductory rate that includes zero interest for a period of 12 to 18 (or 21) months. Lastly, a penalty APR may kick in if you’re late for a payment, exceed your credit limit, or break other terms and conditions laid out by the issuer.

  • We’ll say it till we’re blue in the face: Pay off your balance each month, and you won’t have to think about interest.

How Does Credit Card Interest Work?

  • Despite the term “annual percentage rate,” credit card issuers calculate interest daily. The daily periodic rate is determined by dividing your APR by 365 days, which is then applied to your average daily balance. Crunch this number by adding up the total you carry each and every day of the billing cycle, and then dividing that by the number of days in the billing cycle.

  • Let’s say your card’s APR is 16%, and this month you carried an average daily balance of $2,000. The issuer first calculates the daily periodic rate (0.16 divided by 365). That rate (0.00043) is applied to your average balance (0.00043 x $2,000), which brings us to 0.87. Over the course of the 30-day billing cycle (0.87 x 30), you’ll pay $26.30 in interest.

  • If crunching numbers isn’t really your thing, some issuers include tools that calculate how much interest you’ll owe based on your monthly payment. Petal, for example, shares this information in a mobile app for its two credit cards.

  • Remember: You won’t be charged interest if you pay off your balance in full and on time each billing cycle. We get that life happens. So if on occasion that’s not possible, consider paying more than the minimum amount to lessen the interest you’ll pay over time, or make more than one payment during the billing cycle to lower your average balance.

How Many Credit Cards Should You Have?

  • We hate to break it to you, but there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. The right number for you depends on what you can responsibly manage.

  • Does having a piece of shiny plastic an arm’s length away often encourage you to spend money you don’t have? You may want to think twice before applying for more credit. Carrying a balance you can’t afford contributes to interest charges, and in the long run costs you more money.

  • If you’re financially responsible and stick to making purchases that you can pay off, there may be some upsides to adding another card to your arsenal. For instance, if you’re a jet-setter without a card that rewards you for hitting the road, a travel card may make sense for you.

  • There are a few other things to consider before opening a new account, like adding a different payment processing network, or taking note of any annual fees.

How to Cancel a Credit Card

  • Pay your outstanding balance and redeem any rewards. Then, call the issuer to confirm you have no balance, and ask to close your account. But before you pick up the phone, there are a few things to consider.

  • First, your score is based partly on the length of your credit history. Closing an older account will temporarily knock your score. If you’re applying for a mortgage in the near future—or anything else that may require a credit check—think twice about the timing.

  • Saying goodbye to a card also means you’ll have less credit available. And that means your utilization ratio will likely go up. (If you need a refresher: That’s the balance you carry divided by your credit line—and finance experts recommend keeping this at 30% or less.) Your utilization ratio is another major factor in calculating your score. In addition to being mindful of your balance, you can ask another issuer to increase your limit to help out a little.

  • Keep in mind, if you’re a responsible credit user, your score will eventually rebound. But there are a few other factors to consider when deciding to close an account, such as whether you’re close to hitting a rewards milestone.

  • Closing the account could still be the right move for you, especially if you’re tempted to spend money you don’t have, or you feel you already have too much credit at your disposal. In that case, call the issuer and then destroy your physical card.

  • In a month or two, check your credit report to confirm that the account has been closed at your request. Contact the issuer if it states otherwise.

Meet the tester

Taylor Medine

Taylor Medine

Contributor

@TayTalksMoney

Taylor Medine is a personal finance writer with over five years of experience writing about credit, credit cards, personal loans, and money management. She's written for Credit Karma, CompareCards, LendingTree, MagnifyMoney, Student Loan Hero, and more.

See all of Taylor Medine's reviews

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