The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, November 14, 2019

13 Best Credit Cards to Transfer High Balances

13 Best Credit Cards to Transfer High Balances

credit card advice

Aaron Crowe
By: Aaron Crowe
Updated: June 28, 2019

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American households carry an average credit card debt of $9,333, according to a recent analysis.

About 41% of households carry some sort of credit card debt, and paying off $9,333 can take years. It would take someone 50 months, or about four years, to pay off the debt, assuming a 14% interest rate — which is an average rate for existing credit card accounts — a payment of $250 per month, and avoiding ringing up any new charges.

If you’re not paying off your credit card in full each month, it can be worthwhile to look into transferring high balances to a credit card with a lower interest rate — especially if it has a 0% APR for an extended period and you pay it off before the rate goes up. Here are 13 of the best balance transfer credit cards available today.

Overall | Longest 0% Period | No Transfer Fee | Rewards | Low Ongoing APR | FAQs

Best Overall Cards for Transferring High Balances

If you have a high credit balance, these cards with 0% financing for up to 21 months can be a great incentive to pay it off. Just be sure to pay the entire balance off before the introductory rate expires, and when the variable APR can go as high as 27%, or about double what the average interest rate is for existing accounts. Most cards offer 18 months with no interest.

Discover it® Balance Transfer 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 you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. 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.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

With no annual fee, this card offers one of the longest 0% introductory APR terms on balance transfers. The standard APR changes to 13.49% - 24.49% Variable, based on your creditworthiness. A fee applies for each balance transfer.

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • No late fees, No penalty rate, and No annual fee... EVER.
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for the first 21 months (transfers must be made in the first 4 months)
  • 0% Intro APR on new purchases for the first 12 months
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day - just say "representative"
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 21 months
16.99% - 26.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

This card has the longest introductory APR terms — 0% for 21 months on balance transfers. Purchases get 12 months with no interest after opening a card. After the introductory period, the variable APR is 16.24% to 26.24%.

3. Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card

The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card is a solid options for saving on interest thanks to its 18-month 0% APR introductory offer good on both new purchases and balance transfers (balance transfers must be made within 120 days of account opening; transfer fee applies).

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card

  • Receive 0% APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 18 months
  • Receive up to $600 in cellphone protection
  • Pay $0 annual fee

In addition to a competitive introductory offer, this card comes with a number of Wells Fargo and Visa benefits, including up to $600 in cellphone protection when you pay your bill with your card, as well as free FICO credit scores and $0 liability protection.

(The information related to Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card has been collected by CardRates.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.)

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.8

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!
  • 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 16.74 - 25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

This card’s 0% intro APR for the first 15 months is a little shorter than the periods offered by other cards. After that, the APR is 16.74% - 25.49% Variable. The card also offers cash back on purchases and has a few protections such as coverage if a new purchase is damaged or stolen, extended warranties, and a free credit score.

BankAmericard® Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then 15.24% to 25.24% Variable APR
  • $0 Intro Balance transfer fee during first 60 days of account opening. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% (min. $10).
  • No annual fee
  • No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply.
  • Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
15.24% to 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

Balance transfers have a 0% introductory APR for 15 months and no transfer fee for transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, your APR will be 15.24% to 25.24% (Variable), based on your creditworthiness upon approval. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate.

Longest 0% Intro APR Cards for Transferring High Balances

We found two cards that extend the 0% offer to 20 months and 21 months, respectively, so you have more time to pay off a balance. Paying off the average credit card balance of $9,333 over 21 months puts the monthly payment at about $445, versus almost $519 per month over 18 months. That gives you $74 more per month to spend elsewhere or to use to pay off the balance faster.

6. U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

This card offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 20 billing cycles. After that, it charges a variable APR of 14.74% to 25.74%.

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

  • 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for 20 billing cycles
  • 3% transfer fee applies to each transfer, or a $5 minimum
  • No annual fee
  • Variable APR based on creditworthiness after 0% period ends

Cardholders will also receive cellphone protection, fraud protection, a free TransUnion credit score, and the nifty benefit of choosing your own payment due date, among other features.

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • No late fees, No penalty rate, and No annual fee... EVER.
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for the first 21 months (transfers must be made in the first 4 months)
  • 0% Intro APR on new purchases for the first 12 months
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day - just say "representative"
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 21 months
16.99% - 26.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

As the name implies, this card is simple to understand. It has no late fees, no penalty rate, and no annual fee. It offers a 0% APR for 21 months on balance transfers. After the introductory period, the variable APR on any transfer or purchase amounts is 16.24% to 26.24%. The balance transfer fee is $5 or 5% of the transfer, whichever is greater.

Cards with No Transfer Fee for Transferring High Balances

In the fine print of credit card contracts, you’ll notice the companies often say the balance transfer fee is a low dollar amount, such as $5, or a percentage of the transfer, such as 5% — whichever is higher. For the average credit card balance of $9,333, a 5% transfer fee is $466. To overcome that hefty charge, here are two cards that don’t charge transfer fees.

BankAmericard® Credit Card Review

at Bank Of America'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then 15.24% to 25.24% Variable APR
  • $0 Intro Balance transfer fee during first 60 days of account opening. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% (min. $10).
  • No annual fee
  • No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply.
  • Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles
0% Intro APR for 15 Billing Cycles (for balance transfers made in the first 60 days)
15.24% to 25.24% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

An introductory $0 balance transfer fee is in effect for the first 60 days the account is open. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3%, with a minimum fee of $10. The card has a 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within two months of opening an account. It ranges from 15.24% to 25.24% once the 0% intro period ends.

9. Chase Slate® Credit Card

This card doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee on transfers made during the first 60 days of the account being opened. After that, the fee for transfers is 5% of the amount transferred, with a minimum fee of $5.

Chase Slate® credit card

  • 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 billing cycles
  • Credit Journey℠ gives you access to your credit score and more
  • No annual fee
  • Variable APR based on creditworthiness after the 0% period ends

The downside of not paying a balance transfer fee with such a card is that the 0% interest rate is only offered for 15 months instead of the 18 that many other cards offer. That will increase the monthly payment if you want to pay off the balance entirely during the introductory period.

Rewards Cards for Transferring High Balances

Transferring a high balance to a 0% interest credit card doesn’t mean you have to go without credit card rewards. Some balance transfer credit cards also pay cash back for new purchases, along with other benefits that can make having a credit card a little easier. Note that rewards aren’t applied to transferred balances, only new purchases.

Discover it® Balance Transfer 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 you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. 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.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

This card offers a 0% intro APR for 18 months, the average amount of payoff time that many cards offer. Some of its other great benefits come from the rewards it offers, though balance transfers aren’t eligible for rewards. The card offers 5% cash back up to the quarterly maximum at different places, such as gas stations, grocery stores, Amazon.com, and rideshare services, you opt into each quarter. All other purchases earn 1% cash back, and Discover matches all of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.8

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 unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.74% - 25.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

This card also has a 0% APR, but only for 15 months. It pays 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year, up to $20,000 spent. After that, the cash back on all purchases is 1.5%. Cash back rewards don’t expire.

Low Ongoing APR Cards for Transferring High Balances

Before applying for a balance transfer credit card, you should calculate what your monthly payment will be during the no-interest period to ensure you can afford it if your goal is to pay off the balance entirely. Just divide the amount transferred by the number of months in the introductory offer, for example, $9,333 divided by 18 months equals $518.50 per month.

If you can’t afford that but can afford something close to it, you’ll still have paid off a good chunk of debt, but will have to pay interest when the introductory period ends. These two cards can make that a little less painful with low ongoing interest rates.

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

This card offers a 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases then charges a 15.74% - 25.74% (Variable) thereafter. The card charges no annual fee, but there is a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount transferred if the balance is transferred at the promotional APR. If the transfer is made at the regular APR after the 15 month promotional period, no transfer fee is charged.

Discover it® Balance Transfer 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 you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. 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.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

This card allows 18 months without paying interest on balance transfers. After that, the standard rate will be 13.49% - 24.49% Variable, based on your creditworthiness. If you have good credit, that rate is about 1% less than what most other cards offer. But be aware that the card has a balance transfer fee, so some of that savings could be taken away.

How Do I Transfer a High-Interest Credit Card Balance?

The first things to know before transferring a high-interest credit card balance are what your current balance and interest rate are. Is your current APR lower than what the rate could be after the 0% introductory period ends on the new card?

If not, then make sure you can afford the monthly payment to pay off the balance during the 0% period. If you don’t pay off the balance, and the new rate is higher than what you’re already paying, you could face a bigger debt by taking longer to pay off the original debt.

Sometimes, even with a higher interest rate, paying off a large chunk of the balance during the 0% intro period can still make transferring a high balance worthwhile, as displayed in the chart below.

Also, be sure to know how much of a balance you can transfer and what your new credit limit is. The application process includes a credit check, so you may not be approved for a limit that meets your balance transfer needs. You can check your credit score for free from numerous sources to better understand the types of card offers you’ll qualify for.

Once you find a card that fits your needs, you can apply for the card online. If your application is approved, you’ll have to contact the new credit card company with a request to make the balance transfer. These are usually done over the phone or online, sometimes within the card application process itself.

You’ll need to give your new credit card company the account numbers of your old cards and tell them how much you want to transfer. It can take from a few days to a few weeks to process a balance transfer. Continue making payments on your old card until you get a confirmation that the transfer has gone through. Otherwise, you could face late fees.

Do Balance Transfers Affect Your Credit Score?

Applying for any type of credit usually results in an inquiry on your credit reports, which could stay on your reports for about two years and temporarily cause your credit scores to drop.

Hard inquiries are when a potential lender reviews your credit because you’ve applied for credit with them. If you’re “rate shopping” for a car or home loan, for example, all inquiries made within 45 days count as a single credit inquiry, according to FICO, one of the major credit scoring services.

One additional credit inquiry could take less than five points off a FICO score, though for many people, it may not affect their score at all. If you have few accounts or a short credit history, inquiries can have a larger impact. The more credit inquiries you have, the greater the risk you may appear to lenders.

Opening a new credit card will cause the average age of your credit accounts to drop — which isn’t a good thing for a credit score — but you’ll have more available credit and your credit utilization rate will drop, which is a good thing for a credit score.

Credit utilization is the ratio of your outstanding credit card balances to your credit card limits. It measures how much of your credit limit you’re using. Adding another credit card will increase your credit limit, and if you aren’t using the extra credit available to you, your utilization ratio will drop, which will improve a credit score.

If you have $10,000 in available credit and a balance of $5,000, your credit utilization rate is 50%, or half of the total credit available to you. Ideally, you should use about 30% or less of your credit limit. Credit utilization — or the amounts you owe — account for as much as 30% of a credit score.

Is Transferring Credit Card Balances a Good Idea?

If your goal is to get out of credit card debt within 18 months, then transferring a high credit card balance to one with 0% interest is a good idea — if you can afford the monthly payments to get the balance to zero before interest rates averaging 19% begin.

The transfer will allow you to avoid interest charges, which can seem like they’re taking most of your money without paying much of the balance down.

Chart of Balance Transfer Fees

But if you can’t pay off the balance, or the majority of it, a transfer may not be a good idea. Balance transfer fees, which usually range from 3% to 5%, can eat up some of the savings of an intro 0% APR.

Add that to whatever the new APR rate is when the 0% introductory period ends, and you could be paying a higher rate than you were on your old card.

Don’t be late with any payment due on the new credit card. Even just one late payment could trigger an end to the low introductory rate.

You should use the 0% introductory time to get a handle on your spending if that’s what got you into this situation in the first place. If you’re increasing or even just maintaining your old spending habits and adding debt to a credit card, then you’re not going to get out of debt.

Paying off a balance transfer without interest is a good start, but adding more debt will only leave you in another hole to dig out of.

What if My Balance Exceeds the New Credit Limit?

There’s a chance that if you’re approved for a balance transfer credit card, it won’t be for the credit limit you wanted. The average credit limit is $8,071, according to Experian data, which you’ll notice is less than the average American household credit card debt.

It may also be lower than you need because it was set based on the credit issuer’s assessment of your credit.

Don’t despair. Whatever the new limit is, you can transfer up to that limit and start paying it down at 0% interest during the introductory period. This will at least move part of your credit card debt from a high-interest card and help you pay down some of your debt.

Chart showing impacts of credit limits & fees on balance transfer amounts

You can then work on a plan to pay off the remaining debt on the old card. If you make regular, on-time payments on the new card, your new credit card may automatically increase the credit limit.

Or, you can call and ask for a higher limit from the start and explain that you’ll be performing a balance transfer. This may help sway the credit card company’s decision to extend you a higher limit.

If your limit increases later and you want to move more money from an old card, be sure to check if a balance transfer has a higher fee than it typically does during the first few months of opening an account. If it’s outside that timeline, the transfer could be subject to the variable APR that the 0% intro period moves to when the overall timeline, such as 18 months, ends.

Chase Slate, for example, has no balance transfer fee if the transfer is made within 60 days of opening an account, but the fee for balance transfers after 60 days is 5% of the amount transferred, with a minimum fee of $5.

Aim to Pay Your Balance Off Before the Intro Period Ends

Transferring debt from an old credit card to a new one with a 0% introductory rate is a smart way to pay off a credit card balance. The key is to pay it off before the introductory period ends. If you don’t, the interest rate could be higher than what you had before, and you’re still stuck paying back credit card debt.

However, you may go into a balance transfer knowing you’re unlikely to pay off the entire balance before the zero-interest deal ends. That’s OK as long as you expect to pay interest when the deal expires. Some credit cards have low ongoing APRs after the intro period ends, as we’ve highlighted above, which could still make a balance transfer worthwhile if it’s lower than the interest rate on your old card.

Whatever card you choose, be sure to do your homework and compare transfer fees and 0% intro periods, and find one that allows you to make the most affordable monthly payment to pay off the debt before the 0% intro period ends. It will be a tough goal to accomplish every month, but when those 18 or so months are over, you can breathe a little easier with all of that debt off your chest.