How to Transfer a Credit Card Balance + 10 Best 0% Offers

How to Transfer a Credit Card Balance

credit card advice

Linsey Knerl
By: Linsey Knerl
Posted: July 7, 2017
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

If you’ve used credit cards for a significant amount of time, you’ve likely been presented with bigger and better card offers than what your current card gives you. One of these perks may be a credit card balance transfer offer. If used wisely, a transfer offer can lower your overall payment amount and improve your credit score.

So, how does someone transfer a credit card balance? It’s not as difficult as you think. In fact, I’ve used them successfully over the years to lower my debt and monthly payment amounts. In addition, it’s been a terrific method for working my way into more exclusive cards with better protections and perks!  Here’s what you need to know before agreeing to one.

Apply for a Balance Transfer Card — Good Credit Required

Balance transfer cards might seem complicated, but many consumers have used them successfully to simplify their finances. If you’ve received an offer in the mail or online for a card balance transfer, it’s likely because you have done an excellent job with your existing card. Card companies won’t take on additional risk unless they have confidence that you’ll make good on your new card’s payment terms.

A transfer requires you to open up a new card account (which means a new line of credit), usually with a completely different card company. You cannot, for example, usually transfer the balance of a Discover card to a new Discover card, Chase to Chase, etc. Once approved, you can transfer up to the limit of the new card from the old one. So, a new card with a limit of $5,000 can legally accommodate a balance transfer of that amount, but it is wise to transfer a little less than the total available credit limit for a few reasons.

How does a balance transfer work?

You will want to closely check the terms of your balance transfer offer for any transfer fees that apply. Most every card will impose a one-time fee paid as a percentage of the total you are transferring. Today’s cards usually charge between 3% and 5%. There are a few very special offers out there, however, that will charge fees as low as 1-2%. These are usually for very good credit. This fee is applied immediately upon transferring the balance and is added to the balance, a very good reason to not borrow the full amount of the new card. (You don’t want to go over the limit.)

Good credit is required to get balance transfer offers, and even better credit will get you the best offers. Some of our favorites are listed here:

Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.99% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
Discover it® - Cashback Match™ Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards instantly at Amazon.com checkout.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.7/5.0
  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Monthly FICO® Score and Credit Dashboard for free
  • No Penalty APR – Paying late won't raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.99%-24.74% Variable
$0
Excellent Credit

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.99% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.6/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 16.15%-25.99% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
  • Free access to your FICO® Credit Score with Wells Fargo Online®
  • Zero Liability protection for promptly reported unauthorized transactions
  • Convenient tools to help create a budget and manage your spending with My Money Map
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 18 months
0% for 18 months
16.15%-25.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn 3X points at U.S. gas stations, 2X points at U.S. restaurants, 1X point on other purchases
  • Redeem points for travel, gift cards, cash redemption options or merchandise through Go Far® Rewards
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
  • Earn an annual relationship bonus of 10% on non-bonus rewards points if you maintain a qualifying Wells Fargo account
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 13.99%-25.99% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
13.99%-25.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Android Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 13.99%-25.99% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
13.99%-25.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
Discover it® chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter - no sign-ups needed. Plus, 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases made within 6 months of account opening, then 1.5% thereafter.
  • Earn a $150 cash rewards intro bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
  • 10% Anniversary Bonus on all Cash Rewards earned once a year.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers, then a 13.99%, 17.99% or 23.99% variable APR.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% Intro APR for 15 months
Variable APR of 13.99% - 23.99%
$0
Good/Excellent

+ Compare More Balance Transfer Offers

Dr. Penny Pincher recommends consumers “avoid being dazzled by a great interest rate that distracts you from noticing a higher fee compared with other balance transfer offers.” Zero-percent transfer fees are available to select cardholders, but are usually very limited and don’t offer as good of interest rates.

In addition to the transfer fee, you’ll have a balance transfer interest rate (or APR.) This is usually lower than the rate your card will charge for purchases. It is also usually a special offer for new cardholders and may also be lower than future balance transfer rates. For this reason, it’s very important to know how long that special balance transfer rate is good for. You’ll need all of your transfers to start and end by that date to get the special rate. Most transfers take place within 7-14 business days, but your specific card can give you details on what to plan for.

Call Customer Service on Your Existing Card

When you initiate the balance transfer, whether online, over the phone, or by mail, your new credit card will need the information from your existing card.

Image of credit card customer service number

The customer service phone number can easily be found on the back of your card.

The new card will then handle dispersing the funds to your existing balance. It is sometimes necessary to contact your old card, however. This may be required when you need additional information on the exact payoff balance, or you wish to put your old card on hold for future charges. You should have access to contact info for your existing credit card either on the back of your card or on your statement.

If you can’t find this information or need the most up-to-date info, you can see credit card company contact info here. You will be asked to verify your identity before being allowed to discuss your account with the customer service rep.

Don’t Make Balance Transfers a Habit

Using balance transfers wisely can help reduce interest rates and expand your credit card options. Remember, the more credit you have available to you, the higher your credit score can go over time! The important thing to remember is not to charge up your old card once the balance has been transferred — you want to be making payments toward reducing your overall debt while keeping the lines of credit from both cards open.

According to Joshua Caucutt at MoneyCrashers.com, you’ll also want to keep those old lines open. “An unused line of credit helps keep your credit usage percentage low. If you have $10,000 worth of unused credit on one card and then open a 0% balance transfer of $10,000 on another card, your credit usage will show up as only 50%, even though you may never plan to use the existing card ever again. It’s a simplistic example, but the principle remains the same.”

Balance transfer offers are usually for a limited time, so that great rate you got when you first transferred is only temporary. Whether you have 12, 18, or even 24 months to take advantage of that low rate, you’ll want to pay it off by then. Not paying it off may tempt you to open another card to transfer the balance yet again; this is a trap that many credit users fall into, and it can be dangerous! Too many cards with balances can cause your credit score to drop sharply.

As long as you are making payment to reduce your total debt, balance transfers are a wonderful tool for those with good credit.

“Credit cards with 0% introductory rates can be taken advantage of to save money, provide flexibility with your monthly budget, or both. But, it’s important to read the terms of the offer and do the math to ensure it’s really going to be the right choice.” —CleverDude.com.

Make sure you know all of the details of your current offer and don’t forget to shop around! One of your existing cards may also have an offer available to you that you don’t want to overlook.

To see these offers, log into your credit card account online and check for any incoming messages or special offers. New cards usually offer the best terms, but it is important to know all your options before making a decision.