Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of November 2020

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The average American credit card holder has a balance of $5,700, and could save thousands of dollars in interest by using a balance transfer card, according to our analysis.

Balance transfer credit cards offer a method of debt payoff in which you move your debt from one or in some cases multiple sources to a credit card with an introductory 0% interest rate. This can help you save time and money, as your payments go directly toward your principal balance throughout the intro period without accruing interest.

You should do whatever you can to pay off your balance in full by the end of the introductory period to make use of these offers. If you don’t, you’ll accrue interest once again after the intro period ends—or possibly be charged retroactive interest, prolonging your payoff and continuing the debt cycle.

Our Picks for the Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
NextAdvisor’s Pick
Good for Overall Value
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
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Citi Simplicity® Card
Good for Avoiding Fees
Citi Simplicity® Card
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Wells Fargo Platinum card
Good for Keeping it Simple
Wells Fargo Platinum card
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HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card
Good for (Relatively) Lower Variable APR
HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card
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Citi® Double Cash Card
Good for Ongoing Rewards
Citi® Double Cash Card
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U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
NextAdvisor’s Pick
Good for Overall Value

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

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  • Introductory balance transfer rate: 0%* intro on BTs for 20 billing cycles
  • Annual fee: $0*
  • Regular APR: 13.99% – 23.99%* (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score: 670-850 (Good to Excellent)

Overview

The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card* offers the longest-standing 0% interest introductory period on the market at 20 billing cycles interest-free (then it’s 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR), the most flexibility you’ll find for your debt payoff timeline without sacrificing value.

While you may pay a fee for any late payments, you don’t have to worry about losing your intro APR in the case of a late or missed payment — the Visa Platinum charges no penalty APR. Based on your creditworthiness, you’ll take on a variable interest rate between 13.99 and 23.99% after the intro period ends.

You’ll also pay a 3% ($5 minimum) balance transfer fee, and have just 60 days to complete the balance transfer after account opening. But these are small prices to pay for the value you can get with this card.

There are no ongoing rewards beyond the introductory offer. However, U.S. Bank does offer cellphone protection and the freedom to choose your own payment due date.

Read our full review of the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

Why we chose this card

Without an ongoing rewards structure, this card’s primary benefit is its unbeatable 0% interest introductory period. But for anyone looking to eliminate a longstanding debt balance, that’s enough — especially when these offers are already limited. If you qualify, you’ll have nearly two years to pay down your debt, which means more flexibility in your monthly payments and plenty of time to eliminate your balances for good.

Savings with this balance transfer

Current Card Payoff (with Minimum Monthly Payment)
U.S. Bank Platinum (Paid in Full Within Intro Period)
Starting balance
$5,700
$5,700
Monthly payment
$171 (adjusted as principal decreases)
$293.55
Time to pay off
189 months
20 months
Interest + fees
$4,325.56
$171
Amount paid in full
$10,025.56
$5,871

Money saved: $4,154

Time saved: 169 months

Balance transfer savings are calculated by the NextAdvisor team. Updated October 2020.

Citi Simplicity® Card
Good for Avoiding Fees

Citi Simplicity® Card

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  • Introductory balance transfer rate: 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 14.74% – 24.74% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score: 740-850 (Excellent)

Overview

Citi Simplicity Card* offers an 18-month 0% interest introductory period for balance transfers, making it one of the longest offers on the market today. After the intro period, your variable APR will jump to 14.74% to 24.74%, based on creditworthiness. There is a 3% ($5 minimum) balance transfer fee and you have up to 4 months after account opening to complete any transfers. 

Citi Simplicity also promises no penalty rate and no late fees.

Read our full review of the Citi Simplicity card

Why we chose this card

Citi Simplicity primarily earns its spot on our list for it’s long intro offer on balance transfer. But this card extra benefits are where it really shines, specifically for those working to pay off debt.

No late fees and no penalty APR are both valuable benefits for anyone working toward debt payoff. A penalty APR — often higher than your regular interest rate — applied to your balance after a missed or late payment by more than 60 days can completely derail your payoff journey. This extra layer of protection from Citi can help you stay on track in case you slip up or experience a period of financial hardship.

Savings with this balance transfer

Current Card Payoff (with Minimum Monthly Payment)
Citi Simplicity Card (Paid in Full Within Intro Period)
Starting balance
$5,700
$5,700
Monthly payment
$171 (adjusted as principal decreases)
$326.17
Time to pay off
189 months
18 months
Interest + fees
$4,325.56
$171
Amount paid in full
$10,025.56
$5,871

Money saved: $4,154

Time saved: 171 months

Balance transfer savings are calculated by the NextAdvisor team. Updated October 2020.

Wells Fargo Platinum card
Good for Keeping it Simple

Wells Fargo Platinum card

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  • Introductory balance transfer rate: 0% for 18 months on qualifying balance transfers
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 16.49%-24.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score: 670-850 (Good to Excellent)

Overview

With the Wells Fargo Platinum card*, you’ll score an 18-month intro period on qualifying balance transfers (then it’s 16.49% to 24.49% variable APR) for a 3% fee ($5 minimum) and have a full 120 days to make your balance transfer request after account opening. After 120 days, the balance transfer fee is up to 5%, with a $5 minimum.

Wells Fargo also offers a few additional benefits with the Platinum card, including cell phone protection, roadside and emergency assistance, travel accident insurance, and an auto rental collision damage waiver.

Before applying for this card, take extra caution to ensure you’ll be able to pay your balance in full by the end of the intro period, or at least make a significant difference in your total. Out of all the cards on our list, the Wells Fargo Platinum can potentially charge the highest ongoing variable APR after the intro period ends, depending on your creditworthiness, at 16.49 to 24.49%.

Why we chose this card

If you’re committed to debt payoff, the Wells Fargo Platinum card is a solid balance transfer choice. Its terms are comparable with other picks on our list, given the intro period, balance transfer fee and transfer window, and lack of ongoing rewards. Ultimately, this card’s value is in its service as a tool for debt consolidation and payoff, and can help you save thousands while eliminating debt balances.

Savings with this balance transfer

Current Card Payoff (with Minimum Monthly Payment)
Wells Fargo Platinum (Paid In Full Within Intro Period)
Starting balance
$5,700
$5,700
Monthly payment
$171 (adjusted as principal decreases)
$326.17
Time to pay off
189 months
18 months
Interest + fees
$4,325.56
$171
Amount paid in full
$10,025.56
$5,871

Money saved: $4,154

Time saved: 171 months

Balance transfer savings are calculated by the NextAdvisor team. Updated October 2020.

HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card
Good for (Relatively) Lower Variable APR

HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card

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  • Introductory balance transfer rate: 0% Introductory APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months from account opening
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score: 670-850 (Good to Excellent)

Overview

The HSBC Gold Mastercard credit card* is another solid balance transfer option with an 18-month introductory period (13.99% to 23.99% variable APR after that). However, this card will cost you a bit more: the balance transfer fee is 4% (minimum $10).

There are benefits that can help offset the additional cost, though. To give you some wiggle room throughout the intro period, HSBC offers one late fee waiver once each calendar year and no penalty APR if you pay late. When you travel, you can also take advantage of travel accident insurance and rental car coverage.

You’ll need to complete any balance transfers within 60 days of account opening. After the intro period, the HSBC Gold charges an ongoing variable APR between 13.99 and 23.99%, depending on creditworthiness.

Why we chose this card

Like the Citi Simplicity Card and Wells Fargo Platinum, this card is simply a solid choice for completing debt payoff through a balance transfer. Its long introductory period makes it a competitive choice despite its higher balance transfer fee and shorter period within which to complete the transfer, especially compared to many other offers on the market.

Among the similar cards on our list, the HSBC Gold also offers the lowest ongoing APR range — though, like any credit card, the interest rate is still sky high. But if there’s a chance you may need to revolve a balance once your introductory period expires, that could give this card an edge in your decision.

Savings with this balance transfer

Current Card Payoff (with Minimum Monthly Payment)
HSBC Gold (Paid In Full Within Intro Period)
Starting balance
$5,700
$5,700
Monthly payment
$171 (adjusted as principal decreases)
$329.33
Time to pay off
189 months
18 months
Interest + fees
$4,325.56
$228
Amount paid in full
$10,025.56
$5,928

Money saved: $4,097

Time saved: 171 months

Balance transfer savings are calculated by the NextAdvisor team. Updated October 2020.

Citi® Double Cash Card
Good for Ongoing Rewards

Citi® Double Cash Card

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Rewards rate:

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

  • Introductory balance transfer rate: 0% intro for 18 months on Balance Transfers
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score: 740-850 (Excellent)

Overview

Not only does the Citi Double Cash Card* excel as a flat cash back rewards card, but it makes for an excellent balance transfer card, too. Like several of our top picks, you’ll have a full 18 months during which to pay down debt, after paying a balance transfer fee of 3% ($5 minimum). After the intro period, Citi charges a variable APR between 13.99% and 23.99%, based on creditworthiness.

Balance transfers should be completed within 4 months of account opening, and while this is the only card on our list that doubles as a cash back card, you won’t earn cash back rewards on your balance transfers.

Why we chose this card

Citi Double Cash does offer among the most lengthy introductory offers on balance transfers, but unlike our other picks, its benefits don’t end once your debts are paid. In fact, this card is best known for its everyday rewards.

With a 2% flat cash back rewards structure (earn 1% as you buy and 1% as you pay off purchases), Citi Double Cash can make a great addition to your wallet long after its intro period ends. Using consumer spending totals for the average American, we calculated the rewards value for this card at $265 each year, which also puts it among our top cash back credit card picks.

Savings with this balance transfer

Current Card Payoff (with Minimum Monthly Payment)
Citi Double Cash Card (Paid In Full Within Intro Period)
Starting balance
$5,700
$5,700
Monthly payment
$171 (adjusted as principal decreases)
$326.17
Time to pay off
189 months
18 months
Interest + fees
$4,325.56
$171
Amount paid in full
$10,025.56
$5,871

Money saved: $4,154

Time saved: 171 months

Balance transfer savings are calculated by the NextAdvisor team. Updated October 2020.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards Summary

CardWhat It’s Good ForBalance Transfer Period
U.S. Bank Visa Platinum CardGood for Overall Value20 Billing Cycles
Citi Simplicity CardGood for Avoiding Fees18 Months
Wells Fargo Platinum cardGood for Keeping it Simple18 Months
HSBC Gold Mastercard credit cardGood for (Relatively) Lower Variable APR18 Months
Citi Double Cash CardGood for Ongoing Rewards18 Months

What Is a Balance Transfer Credit Card?

A balance transfer is, essentially, a form of debt consolidation. Whether you accrued debt through long-term overspending, a period of temporary financial hardship, or from a loan with less-favorable terms, transferring the balance to a credit card with an introductory 0% interest rate can help you pay down your debt faster.

This strategy is beneficial because it applies payments you make throughout the introductory period directly to your principal balance, rather than having a significant portion of each payment go toward interest that’s accrued since your last payment. This is especially useful for credit card debt balances, given their substantial interest rates and daily interest accrual.

How Much Can I Save With a Balance Transfer?

A balance transfer can potentially save you thousands of dollars, depending on your particular debt. Consider this example between two different balance transfer scenarios to making minimum monthly payments on a regular card. These numbers assume a balance of $5,700 and an ongoing interest rate of 16% outside of the intro period. 

Even if you’re unable to make the required monthly payments to pay off your balance in full, you will take on interest after the intro period ends. It may take more time to eliminate the debt altogether, but you can still save money with a balance transfer by prioritizing paying down as much of your principal balance as possible during this time.

Current Card Paying Minimum Monthly PaymentBalance Transfer Paid Within Intro PeriodBalance Transfer Paying Same Minimum Monthly Payment
Monthly payment$171 (will adjust as balance decreases)$391.40$171
Time to pay off189 months15 months37 months
Interest+Fees Paid$4,325.56$171$654.92
Amount paid in full$10,025.56$5,871$6,354.92

Pros and Cons of a Balance Transfer

Pros

  • Monthly payments go directly to principal balance during intro period

  • Many balance transfer cards carry no annual fee

  • Consolidate multiple types of debt to one card (not just credit card debt)

  • Some cards offer rewards and benefits that can be valuable after your balance is paid

Cons

  • Some cards offer rewards and benefits that can be valuable after your balance is paid

  • Requires discipline to pay off balance in full by the end of intro period

  • Risk taking on high interest rate on remaining balance after intro period

  • Depending on your credit limit, you may not be able to transfer your full debt balance

How To Do a Balance Transfer

  1. Review your financial situation: Check your current debt balance and determine how much you can dedicate to monthly payments.
  2. Find a balance transfer card with an introductory period that aligns with your payment ability and debt. Don’t forget to account for any fees that may apply.
  3. Make sure you have a good chance of approval before applying for the card. Read the fine print of the card’s terms for details on penalties or balance transfer restrictions.
  4. After approval, request your balance transfer. The clock starts on your intro period after approval, so act quickly to maximize the period in full.

How To Compare Balance Transfer Cards

Your main consideration when choosing a balance transfer card should be finding an offer that allows you to reduce as much of your balance as possible over the intro period. The details of your financial picture — your total transferred debt, amount you’re able to pay monthly, other financial obligations, etc. — will inform which card allows you to reach this goal.

These are a few helpful questions to ask when evaluating any balance transfer card:

  • How long is the introductory period?
  • How much is the balance transfer fee and/or annual fee?
  • What monthly payment is required to pay off your balance in full within the intro period?
  • What are the penalties for late or missed payments? Can the intro offer be revoked?
  • What is the ongoing variable APR after the intro period ends?
  • What other rewards does the card offer which might benefit you long-term?

How To Maximize Your Balance Transfer Credit Card

After committing to paying down debt, make sure you take full advantage of your intro period. If your issuer allows, apply for the balance transfer along with your card application. The clock starts on your intro period after account opening, so the sooner you can transfer your balance and begin paying down that principal, the better.

Do the math to determine how much you actually need to pay each month to pay your balance in full by the end of the introductory period. This is why it’s important to make sure it’s the right time for your debt payoff before you apply; the best way to maximize a balance transfer is by paying your debt in full before interest starts to accrue.

Dedicate the card solely to your debt payoff. Unless an emergency arises, don’t make any purchases with your new card over the course of the intro period. You also don’t want to risk coming too close to your credit limit and taking a hit to your credit score with a higher utitlization ratio.

Alternatives To a Balance Transfer

Given today’s economic and interest rate environment, balance transfer offers are relatively scarce. Not only have many issuers pulled back their balance transfer terms, but some, including American Express, Capital One, and Chase, have temporarily eliminated introductory balance transfer offers altogether. 

If you have bad credit or a limited credit history, it will be difficult to qualify for a balance transfer card in 2020. That doesn’t mean you don’t have options, though. 

You may have a better chance of qualifying for a balance transfer with a local credit union or regional bank. But if your credit isn’t great right now, continuing to slowly chip away at your balances can help improve your credit and put you in a better position to apply for a balance transfer card further into your debt payoff journey. Consider different methods of debt consolidation, such as debt management plans or personal loan consolidation

Methodology

To determine the best balance transfer credit cards, NextAdvisor’s editorial team evaluated  balance transfer offers on cards currently accepting applications from major card issuers and networks based on national average consumer debt and interest rate data. 

We calculated overall savings, monthly payment, fees, and payoff period compared to paying off the same balance on an average credit card. You’ll see a breakdown of how these factors compare under each of our picks. We also considered intro APR, intro period length, time limit to request the balance transfer, fees, and ongoing APR. For cards with ongoing rewards, we accounted for rewards value over time.

*All information about the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card, Citi Simplicity® Card, Wells Fargo Platinum card, HSBC Gold Mastercard credit card, Citi® Double Cash Card, U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card, Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card, and SunTrust Bank Prime Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.