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If you’re making credit card payments but not seeing a dent in your balance, this revelation may come as a relief: You’re not just imagining things. Part of your monthly payment goes to interest before it even touches the principal. Using a balance transfer card could help you pay off that credit card debt faster.
Balance transfer cards offer a low-interest or zero-interest introductory special for balances you move from an old card to a new card. Typically, the special lasts for 12 to 18 months. During this time, you can attack the principal balance without worrying about interest getting in the way.
We dug through dozens of offers to bring the best balance transfer credit cards to consider.
- Best overall: U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
- Citi® Double Cash
- Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card
- BankAmericard® Credit Card
- Citi Simplicity® Card
- Wells Fargo Platinum Card
- SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card
Things to know about balance transfer credit cards
Before we start, here are some things you should know about balance transfer cards:
- Good credit or better is usually necessary to qualify. A credit check is typically required at application, and the hard inquiry could temporarily impact your credit score.
- Credit card issuers often charge a fee for transferring your balance. This fee is generally 3% of the balance you transfer. So, if you transfer $3,000 to a balance transfer card, you could expect to pay around $90 for the fee. While the fee does eat into your potential savings, it could majorly outweigh the interest you’d pay with your current card.
- Credit limits vary. Your credit limit is usually determined after you apply, so there’s a possibility that you might get approved for a credit limit that’s lower than the balance you want to transfer. Also, credit card issuers may set limits for how much money you can move. Chase, for example, lets you transfer up to $15,000 within a 30-day period.
- Transfers need to be made within a certain amount of time. Usually, only balances transferred within the first one to four months of signing up qualify for the low-interest deal. As always, read a card’s terms and conditions before you sign on the dotted line.
- Perhaps the most important thing to note: Interest increases after the introductory period. After the low-interest deal ends, interest jumps up to the standard interest rate that’s based on your creditworthiness. To get the most out of a balance transfer offer, get a game plan in place. You’ll want to know what monthly payments to make to pay off the transfer within the interest-free period. Otherwise, the interest you end up paying will cut into your savings.
How we evaluated
My name is Taylor, and I’m a personal finance writer who’s been reviewing credit cards and rewards programs since 2015. For this roundup, I took a look at 17 balance transfer cards to review what they had to offer. Then I compared balance transfer fees, the length of the low-interest period, and other card costs and features to come up with this “best of” list.
- The no-annual-fee U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card offers the longest 0% APR balance transfer period around. If you have a high balance that you want to pay off over an extended period of time, this card gives you an interest-free vacation that lasts for almost two years before a variable rate kicks in.
Balance transfer offer: 0% APR for 20 billing cycles on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening. The card has a 3% balance transfer fee.
Other important features: U.S. Bank lets you choose your payment due date. The card comes with TransUnion VantageScore® updates and provides cell phone protection coverage.