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Credit Cards

The best balance transfer credit cards of October 2021

We analyzed 101 popular balance transfer cards using an average American's annual spending budget and credit card debt and digging into each card's perks and drawbacks to find the best of the best based on your consumer habits.

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Credit card interest rates are typically in the double digits, so carrying a balance on your credit card is likely costing you a lot. But one way to get that debt under control is to choose the right card.

Considering Americans carry an average balance of $5,313, there's a lot of room to save money with a balance transfer credit card. These cards offer no interest on balance transfers for a set period of time — at least six months and up to 20 months. During the introductory 0% APR period, you can pay off debt without paying costly interest charges.

We analyzed 101 popular balance transfer cards using an average American's annual spending budget and credit card debt and digging into each card's perks and drawbacks to find the best of the best based on your consumer habits. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best cards.)

Before signing up for a balance transfer card, consider how you plan on tackling your debt repayment plan. When we crunched the numbers to see which cards could help you pay down debt at the lowest cost, we assumed you'd transfer an average debt of $5,313 and pay $200 per month, which means you could pay off the debt in roughly 27 months with a card offering no interest for 20 months.

We factored in each card's transfer fee, the length of the 0% interest period and any interest you'd pay once the intro period ends. But the more you pay each month, the faster you'll pay off the balance you've transferred, and ideally, you could pay off the debt in full before the higher interest rates kick in.

Below, Select rounds up some of the best credit cards that offer no interest on balance transfers for up to 20 months. Credit card recommendations are broken up by length of intro 0% APR period.

Best balance transfer credit cards

Intro 0% APR for 21 months

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

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

  • Regular APR

    13.74% to 23.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Balances can be transferred within 4 months from account opening
  • One of the longest intro periods for balance transfers

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No rewards program

Citi Simplicity® Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

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

  • Regular APR

    14.74% to 24.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Balances can be transferred within 4 months from account opening
  • One of the longest intro periods for balance transfers

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No rewards program

Intro 0% APR for 20 months

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

On U.S. Bank's secure site
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0*

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 20 billing cycles on balance transfers and purchases*

  • Regular APR

    14.49% - 24.49% (variable)*

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2% to 3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

*See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 20 billing cycles of no interest on balance transfers and purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Cell phone protection plan

Cons

  • No rewards program
  • 2% to 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Balances must be transferred within 60 days from account opening

Intro 0% APR for 18 months

Citi® Double Cash Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    2% cash back: 1% on all eligible purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

    13.99% - 23.99% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 2% cash back on all purchases
  • Simple cash-back program that doesn't require activation or spending caps
  • One of the longest intro periods for balance transfers at 18 months

Cons

  • No welcome bonus, so you can’t maximize rewards during the first few months of card opening
  • Minimum cash-back redemption of $25
  • 3% fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $443
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,213

How to use a balance transfer card

Before you take advantage of a balance transfer offer, there are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Transfers can't be made between cards from the same bank. For example, if you have a Chase card, you can't transfer debt to another Chase card.
  • You may incur a fee. Most of these cards charge a balance transfer fee. It's usually 3% to 5% of the amount you transfer. For example, transferring $5,000 to a card with a 3% fee will costs you $150.
  • Most transfers need to be completed within 60 days from account opening. If you wait too long to make a transfer, you may miss out on the 0% APR period.
  • There are limits on how much debt you can transfer. Card issuers typically limit the amount you can transfer to a percentage of your total credit limit or a specific dollar amount. And issuers also factor in the total cost of the balance transfer, which includes any balance transfer fees.
  • Many balance transfer cards require good or excellent credit. If you have less than stellar credit, it can be difficult to qualify for a balance transfer card — though we found one card that may accept fair credit.

Learn more:

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best balance transfer deals, Select analyzed 101 of the most popular credit cards that offer no interest on balance transfers issued by the biggest banks, financial companies and credit unions that allow anyone to join.

We compared each card on a range of features, including: annual fee, balance transfer fee, rewards program, introductory and standard APR, welcome bonuses and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available.

For balance transfer cards, we used a Bankrate calculator to tally the interest rates and fees you could incur if you transferred $5,313, the average balance Americans carry on their credit cards in 2020, according to Experian.

If the average consumer with a $5,313 balance on their credit card pays $200 each month, they will spend roughly $1,320 in additional interest, assuming the average 16.28% APR, according to the Fed. And it will take them 34 months — nearly three years — to pay off that debt.

With many cards featured on this list, if you take full advantage of the intro APR period and pay $200 per month, you'll pay less than $400 in interest and fees. That's a significant savings.

For the cards that offered a rewards program, we also estimated how much cash back you might earn over a five year period. Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

It's important to note the value of a point or mile varies from card to card and based on how you redeem them. When we calculated the estimated returns, we assumed that cardholders are redeeming points/miles for a typical maximum value of 1 cent per point or mile. (Extreme optimizers might be able to achieve more value.)

When choosing the best balance transfer card, we focused on the card that provides consumers with the cheapest way to pay off their debt rather than the number of rewards they could potentially earn. When you're in credit card debt, your primary focus should be repayment. Earning rewards should be seen as a bonus, and you don't want to spend beyond your means in order to earn points.

The five-year rewards total and the interest rate and fees estimates are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending and debt. You may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.