Do you have a high balance on your credit card?
For many of us, it can feel like we're spinning our wheels in the mud trying to make a dent in that looming balance. High-interest charges and fees can eat away at our attempts and make it feel like we're getting nowhere.
Fortunately, transferring that high balance to a low- or no-interest credit card can help make your payment efforts much more manageable.
By continuing to pay high-interest rates and fees, you're simply throwing money away!
The right balance transfer credit card can not only help lower your monthly credit card payment, but may even help improve your credit in the process as you continue to pay down the debt. But which credit cards give you the best deal?
We've reviewed the strongest contenders to help you make an informed decision.
Four Points to Keep in Mind
Be aware of transfer fees, interest rates, promotional periods and annual fees
Look for low or no balance transfer fees. Most credit cards will charge you a fee which is a percentage of whatever the balance is you want to transfer.
Ideally, you'll want to choose a card that has low or no balance transfer fees, but be sure you look at the other points below as well.
Check the introductory interest rate on transferred balances. The best balance transfer credit cards have a low introductory rate on your transferred balance.
It's common for cards to even offer low or no interest for a given period of time. You'll want to ask yourself, however, if you can realistically pay down your balance significantly during that time. If not, a balance transfer credit card may not be the best option for you.
Note how long the promotional period lasts. Think of this as breathing room to pay down your balance. The longer the period, the more time you have to pay at that low or no interest rate.
Keep in mind that when the promotional period ends, the interest goes up—sometimes by a lot—so make sure you have your balance paid down or off completely by then.
Don't forget to factor in the annual fee. Some balance transfer credit cards will charge you an annual fee for the privilege of using them. Others do not. Consider those that do not have annual fees when making a decision.
Here Are Our Favorite Credit Cards For Balance TransfersConsidering the four key points listed above, here are the best balance transfer credit cards, in our humble opinion:
Often, when you choose a balance transfer credit card, you sacrifice a rewards program in the process, since the lower interest rate and low-balance transfer rate is the reward. But the Discover it card allows consumers to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Decent interest rate on purchases after the introductory period.
That means the Discover it card is one of the few rare cards that isn't known to surge interest rates when the introductory interest period ends.
Consumers love the long balance transfer payment time and the fact that interest rates don't go through the roof after the intro period.
This means you get plenty of time to pay down higher balances, and even if you do choose to make purchases with this card, the purchase APR won't eat you alive with high-interest rates and fees. Many cardholders remark that being able to see a significant difference in paying down their debt further motivates them to keep this card even after the introductory period has expired.
See your free FICO credit score. Plus, the Discover it dashboard will show you how many inquiries were made on your credit. Watch your credit report progress as you pay down your high balances with your free FICO Credit Scorecard.
You can access your Scorecard from within the Discover website member's area as well as how many inquiries were made on your credit. When you sign up, Discover also monitors the use of your social security number on risky dark web sites where stolen personal information can proliferate.
Before you sign up, keep in mind that Discover isn't accepted everywhere—especially if you plan to travel outside the U.S.
If you're thinking about using the Discover it card as a travel credit card, you'd be better served by a credit card that specifically focuses on travel rewards, such as airline or hotel miles.
The Discover it card falls short as a travel credit card and is much better used to pay down high credit card balances instead.
May not be accepted everywhere. The reason why this card occupies the top spot in our list is because it offers so many benefits. The only real downside to using it for purchases is that Discover may not be accepted in as many places as the more commonplace Visa and Mastercard.
Helps you get out of debt—provided your debt doesn't exceed the card's limit.
The Chase Slate is one of our favorite cards and rightly occupies the number two spot on our list simply because it helps you pay down high balances. It does this, however, at the cost of having no signup bonus or rewards program.
If you can live with that and want to put your nose to the grindstone to pay down that debt, the Chase Slate is a balance transfer card that's in your corner.
No balance transfer fees and a long introductory APR period.
People with lower credit card debt love the simplicity and the savings they get with the Chase Slate.
With no balance transfer fees and a low introductory APR, transferring from a non-Chase credit card to the Chase Slate is a smart decision to help you pay down your debt quickly. Just remember to transfer your balance within the specified time period after opening your account to avoid balance transfer fees.
Get your FICO score for free.. Like the Discover it card, you can access your FICO score for free from your Chase account area after logging in. Being able to pay down your balance over time without high-interest charges is a sure-fire way to improve that score.
There are transfer limitations, though. If you're wanting to transfer a high balance from another Chase card, the Slate may not be right for you, as you cannot transfer balances to or from the same card issuer in this case. There are also limitations on the balance amounts you can transfer.
Before you sign up, keep in mind that there's no rewards or points program
If you're looking for a credit card that offers cash back, points, or has a robust rewards program but also doesn't charge for balance transfers, the Chase Slate may not be what you're looking for, as it has neither a points nor a rewards program.
This card lives up to its name—with no late fees ever
The Simplicity card reflects its name in every sense of the word—with no late fees, no penalty APR and no annual fee. It also offers additional perks but at a bit of a cost, which could trip you up if you aren't careful.
Offers one of the longest intro period of all balance transfer cards we reviewed. There is a balance transfer fee, but this is fairly typical even among balance transfer credit cards.
No penalty APR is forgiving if you're more forgetful. Although you should always pay your credit card on time, Citi won't stick you with a high penalty APR if you happen to miss a payment. If you're over 30 days late, however, it could ding your credit score, and you'll still pay interest on those late charges.
If your payment is returned, there's also a penalty fee, but again, these charges are still in line with similar cards.
Additional perks include an extended warranty and Price Rewind.. If you find a lower price on the same item elsewhere, Citi will refund you the difference through its Price Rewind program. You can also enroll in an extended warranty program as well as take advantage of some other perks as a cardholder.
No rewards program and a high variable APR could cost you. The variable APR of the Citi Simplicity is relatively high, which is a bit steep even for users with "Good" or "Excellent" credit. There's also no rewards program, which could be a deal-breaker if you're looking to snag some good deals.
Still, if you want to pay off high-interest credit cards with the longest possible intro APR, this card should definitely be on your shortlist.
Citi has a wide variety of balance transfer cards available, so it's important to evaluate closely, to see which one is right for you.
Citi Diamond Preferred
This card offers the same long intro APR as the Citi Simplicity, plus a rewards program
Love the idea of a long intro APR period to pay off high balances, but still want the perks of a rewards program? The Citi Diamond Preferred card may be right for you. If you have "Good" or "Excellent" credit, take a closer look at these benefits:
Long intro APR to help you pay down high balances.. You can't beat their extended intro APR on balance transfers and like the Citi Simplicity, the Citi Diamond Preferred offers this generously long period to help you pay down those high balances.
A rewards program available, albeit with limited offerings. If you absolutely must have a card with a rewards program, you'll be glad to know that the Diamond Preferred card offers one, though it's somewhat limited in what you can redeem your rewards for. Instead, your focus with this card should be paying down that high balance. Save the rewards perks for a card that specializes in them.
Additional identity theft solutions give you peace of mind.. At signup, you're also enrolled in Citi's free Identity Theft Solutions program, protecting against fraudulent transactions, with zero liability for unauthorized purchases.
The additional fees can eat away at the money you'd save doing the transfer.. You have to be aware of things like a high variable APR after the introductory period, and the foreign transaction fees. Our recommendation if you're leaning toward the Diamond Preferred card is to use it to pay down your balance, then look elsewhere.
Before you sign up for the Citi Diamond Preferred Card, you should think about what you really want beyond the balance transfer
Do you want a card with a robust rewards program?
A card for travel?
As one of the largest credit card issuers, Citi has cards to meet nearly every need.
HSBC Platinum Mastercard
This card is ideal for people who want to transfer their balances while enjoying cash back rewards.
In addition to being one of our front-runners for balance transfers, the HSBC Platinum Mastercard also stands out for its cash back program. There's usually a substantial signup bonus in effect as well which can earn you a significant cash back sum your first year.
If you have "Good" or "Excellent" credit, it's worth taking a closer look at this card for the sign-up bonuses alone.
Highly competitive signup bonus.
If you're planning to make a big purchase within the next six months, this may be the right card for you, since you'll enjoy cash back plus an anniversary bonus.
No balance transfer fees but variable APR could be better. There's an intro APR offer, but it is generally not quite as long as comparable cards.
If you want a card with a solid welcome bonus, cashback rewards and flexible spending for travel, the HSBC Platinum Mastercard is definitely worth considering.
Chase Ink Business Cash
A solid balance transfer card great for small business owners.
So far we've covered a handful of all-purpose credit cards that can help you pay down high balances. But are there any good balance transfer credit cards for businesses with "Good" or "Excellent" credit? There is—and it's the Chase Ink Business Cash card.
A must-have for office supplies. If you tend to spend a lot on office supplies or cable/telecom purchases, this card can give you plenty of cash back on those purchases. The high cashback rewards rate alone makes it a popular choice for small businesses.
Treat your clients or your office to a great meal and earn rewards. You can earn extra cashback rewards on gas and dining, so go ahead and treat the whole office (or that new client) to a great meal without feeling the pinch in your wallet. You'll earn the standard cashback rewards on all other purchases.
People love the savings they get on everyday office supply purchases with the Ink Business Cash card
Whether your office plows through pens or tears through toner, it's nice to know that there's a card that pays you back for spending on the office supplies you need to keep your business going.
Simple and straightforward cash back rewards. Since there are no rotating categories to worry about, businesses who want a simple and straightforward cash back rewards program will find the Chase Ink Business Cash a top choice.
Cashback signup bonus.
Use it to pay down business debts and keep your office running smoothly while you earn cash back.
Before you sign up for the Chase Ink Business Cash card, you should know that you can get employee cards at no extra cost
This can come in handy to help you not only manage spending for your business but also help you earn cash back rewards even faster.
Kiplinger's Personal Finance rated this card as "a great card for small business."
Not the best card for business travel. There are foreign transaction fees associaed with this card, so it may not be the best choice for business-related travel expenses.
Be sure to check out our reviews of business travel cards and hotel branded travel cards if you travel frequently in your line of work.
Barclaycard Ring Mastercard
No balance transfer fees and helps you pay down your debt
The Barclaycard Ring Mastercard is rather innovative in that it's the first "crowdsourced" credit card, meaning cardholders can vote on product features they'd like to see, plus earn rewards based on how well the card does financially.
No balance transfer fees Most credit cards, including those profiled here, will give you a period of time where you have to make your balance transfer in order to avoid the fees. The Barclaycard Ring simply doesn't charge them.
That alone makes this card a rock-solid contender in helping to pay down your debt.
A longer promotional APR period than most cards.
People love the motivation of having a tight-knit finance-focused community.
You wouldn't think of the words "tight-knit community" and "motivation" when it comes to credit cards, but the Barclaycard Ring will prove you wrong. The card comes with an incredible community of users who offer tips, advice, and motivation to their fellow cardholders to help you manage their debt more easily.
No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees. Go ahead and travel without feeling the pinch of foreign transaction fees or annual fees.
Rewards are based on how well the card performs. The Giveback Rewards program differs from most in that it's inextricably tied to the card's performance overall. Some months you might get some cash back, but other times you may not.
Before you sign up, you should know that you'll need excellent credit to apply
One major drawback of this card and what kept it from being at the top of our list is that you must have "Excellent" credit. Still, if you fall into that category and don't mind the hit-or-miss rewards program, the Barclaycard Ring should be worth your serious consideration.
This card is a reliable card with no balance transfer fees and a membership rewards program
The Amex EveryDay credit card tries to be something for everyone but falls short of hitting the bullseye in most categories.
Although it is intended to be for everyday use, you may be better served applying for credit cards that are slated specifically for travel or cashback rather than a card that tries to be all things to all people.
The membership points program is great for grocery shopping. You'll earn points for every dollar you spend at supermarkets in the U.S.
No annual fee and long introductory APR period. There's a decent introductory APR if you want to put a major purchase on the card. However, there are balance transfer fees which is why we pushed it further down on our list.
Earn points for travel purchases. You can earn points on travel purchases booked through amextravel.com. If you don't mind booking through Amex's website, you could earn more points, but even standalone travel credit cards do a better job here.
Not accepted as widely as Visa or Mastercard. Although more stores are accepting Amex cards than before, it's still not as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard.
You'll hit the grocery store points cap quickly.
Not as useful as a card specifically tailored to certain types of purchases. You'd be better served by having a credit card specifically devoted to travel, or cash back or rewards—not one that tries to do everything.
If you want a solid balance transfer credit card that also gives you points back for simply buying groceries, the Amex EveryDay could be worth a closer look—just be mindful of the points cap.
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa
Can help you save money on balance transfers and protect your cell phone
The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa isn't a bad card for balance transfers by any means, but there are other cards out there that do a better job with better rewards.
Longer than average Intro APR period.
Purchase APR is higher than comparable cards. After the introductory period, the variable APR changes to a higher APR than other cards we've reviewed here.
People love the built-in budgeting tools that come with Wells Fargo Online
From managing your spending to seeing your credit score, Wells Fargo provides cardholders with a wealth of helpful online tools to help them rein in debt and build good spending and saving habits.
Free access to your FICO score. You'll need to create an account with Wells Fargo Online, but in doing so, you'll get free access to your FICO credit score.
See your spending habits over time. Wells Fargo's My Money Map helps you create a budget and track your spending, helping you manage your debt and see where you need to improve.
Additional cell phone protection available. bYou'll need to pay your cell phone bill with this card in order to activate this protection.
Amex EveryDay Blue Cash
This credit card gives you cash back and no-fee balance transfers
Like its closely-related Everyday Credit Card, the Amex Blue Cash follows the same type of structure, but with cash back instead of Membership Points. Not the lowest APR of the bunch, but fairly standard as far as balance transfer credit cards go. There's also no annual fee.
Great for people who eat at home often. You can earn cash back at U.S. supermarkets cash back at gas stations. If you like cooking at home, this card can pay you back for it.
People love how quickly they can earn cash back from grocery shopping with this card
Keep that in mind if you're looking to get the most out of your points or your cash back as it won't take long to hit that cap.
Plagued by the same limitation as the Amex Everyday card. It's simply not accepted as frequently as Visa or Mastercard.
Before you sign up, you should check out the sign-up bonus
The best balance transfer credit card is the one that helps you get out of debt—and stay that way
Balance transfers are just one piece of the puzzle of debt management.
Being able to do things like check your credit score and get access to budgeting and savings tools are two major ways to not just get out of debt, but break the cycle and prevent future debt from eating up your finances.
That being said, the balance transfer credit cards we've profiled here will help you make a noticeable dent in paying down that debt—but it's up to you to continue practicing good budgeting and spending habits in the future!