Advertiser Disclosure

Move your high-interest debt to a balance transfer credit card, and you’ll have ample time to pay it off interest-free — as long as 21 months, depending on the card. That could save you hundreds of dollars, depending on the length of the 0% balance transfer APR period, the balance transfer fees, the ongoing APRs and other factors.

NerdWallet ranked balance transfer credit cards according to those criteria to find the best offers. These cards got top marks:

Best for $0 intro transfer fee

Chase Slate®

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No balance transfer fee
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Qualify with Good credit

Cons

  • No rewards

Bonus Offer

$0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

APR

  • APR: 13.24%-23.24% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Chase Slate named "Best Credit Card for Balance Transfers" three years in a row by Money Magazine
  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Free Monthly FICO® Score and Credit Dashboard
  • No Penalty APR - Paying late won't raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply
  • $0 Annual Fee

$0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening. $0 annual fee. 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24%-23.24% Variable.

Benefits of the Chase Slate®

  • Among all the cards on NerdWallet, the  Chase Slate® is the only one with both an introductory 0% balance transfer APR and a $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening.
  • It has one of the longer 0% APR periods among balance transfer cards.
  • You can apply for this card with average credit.
  • The card doesn’t charge a penalty APR.
  • You have access to Chase’s Blueprint program, which lets you customize your own debt payoff plan and view one of your FICO credit scores.

Drawbacks of the  Chase Slate®

  • This card offers no rewards.
  • You can’t transfer non-credit-card debt or balances from other Chase cards.
  • You can’t transfer more than $15,000 in total, regardless of your limit.

Bottom line

The  Chase Slate® boasts both a 0% balance transfer APR and $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening. Usually, these high-value offers are available only to people with excellent credit, but you can qualify for this card with just average credit. This card isn’t the best pick if you have a lot of credit card debt because it only lets you transfer a maximum of $15,000. But if you’re trying to pay off a smaller card balance, it could be the most cost-effective solution.

Longest 0% APR period

Citi Simplicity® Card

Apply Now on Citibank's secure website

Pros

  • No late fee
  • No annual fee
  • 0% if you qualify for 21 mos on transfers

Cons

  • No rewards
  • Needs excellent credit

Bonus Offer

0% on purchases and balance transfers for 21 months

Annual Fee

$0*

Intro APR Promotions

0% on purchases and balance transfers for 21 months

APR

  • Min APR: 13.24%, Variable
  • Max APR: 23.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.24% - 23.24% based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • No late fees - EVER
  • No penalty rate - EVER
  • No annual fee - EVER
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day.

$0* annual fee. Intro APR of 0% for 21 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable .

Benefits of the Citi Simplicity® Card

  • The Citi Simplicity® Card comes with one of the longest 0% balance transfer APR periods on NerdWallet.
  • This card doesn’t charge late fees or penalty APR.
  • The card’s annual fee is $0*.
  • Citi allows you to transfer any kind of debt to your card, including student loans and auto loans, as long as the account number is at least five digits long and doesn’t include any letters.
  • You’ll get access to free FICO credit scores.

Drawbacks of the Citi Simplicity® Card

  • The card charges a balance transfer fee of 3%.
  • The card doesn’t earn rewards.
  • You need excellent credit to qualify for this card.
  • You can’t transfer balances from other Citi accounts.

Bottom line

Aside from having one of the longest 0% balance transfer APR periods on NerdWallet, the Citi Simplicity® Card also offers the most forgiving terms. It doesn’t charge late fees or a penalty APR if you fall behind on payments, and you have the option of transferring any type of debt, not just credit card debt. Late fees are generally around $35 a pop, so if you tend to be forgetful about paying bills on time, this card could save you a small fortune. (Even so, make it a priority to pay on time, as late payments hurt your credit score.)

This card might be your best bet if you need two years or longer to pay off your balance. But if you can pay it off more quickly, consider applying for a card with a shorter 0% balance transfer APR period and more benefits or ongoing rewards instead.

Best sign-up bonus

Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

Apply Now on Discover's secure website

Pros

  • Bonus cash back categories
  • No annual fee
  • 0% on purchases for 6 months and 0% on balance transfers for 18 months
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Slightly less merchant acceptance for Discover in US - acceptance outside of US can be an issue
  • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better

Bonus Offer

We'll DOUBLE all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. So if you earned $101 cash back, we'll double it to $202—Automatically. Only for new cardmembers.*

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% on purchases for 6 months and 0% on balance transfers for 18 months

APR

  • APR: 11.24% – 23.24% Variable*
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • We'll DOUBLE all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. So if you earned $101 cash back, we'll double it to $202—Automatically. Only for new cardmembers.*
  • 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, home improvement stores and more -up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR* on balance transfers for 18 months—then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 11.24% – 23.24%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • Freeze It℠ on/off switch lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online.* Plus get 100% U.S.-based service.
  • Track your recent FICO® Credit Scores for free in one easy-to-read chart on monthly statements & online.*
  • No annual fee.* No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on first late payment & paying late won't raise your APR.*
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text and you're never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card.
  • Click "Apply Now". *See rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms & other information.

Double your cash back in the first year. Earn 5% back on rotating categories for up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, and 1% back on everything lse. The annual fee is $0. Introductory APR of 0% on purchases for 6 months and 0% on balance transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.24% – 23.24% Variable.

Benefits of the Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

  • The Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer offers a generous sign-up bonus: Double cash-back rewards in your first year of holding the card.
  • An especially long 0% APR period for transfers.
  • You’ll earn 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories for up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, and 1% cash back on other purchases. In the past, bonus categories have included gas, restaurants and Amazon.com.
  • The annual fee is $0.
  • Unlike the cards above, this card comes with no foreign transaction fees. If you’re traveling to a country where Discover is widely accepted, this card could be a good pick.
  • You can transfer most non-credit-card debts onto this card, including various loans.
  • You can track your recent FICO scores online for free.

Drawbacks of the Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

  • The card charges a balance transfer fee of 3%.
  • You need to opt in for new bonus categories online every three months.
  • You need good credit (credit scores of 690-719 or higher) to qualify for this card.

Bottom line

The Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer is one of the rare cards that offer a lengthy 0% balance transfer APR period, competitive rewards and a large sign-up bonus. If you max out your quarterly spending caps, you could earn upward of $600 in rewards your first year, while paying off your debt interest-free.

Top balance transfer cards from each major issuer

NerdWallet identified the best balance transfer credit card offered by each of these 10 issuers. The cards were ranked according to the length of 0% balance transfer APR, the balance transfer fee cost, the interest and fees someone would pay after holding the card for two years, and other factors.

IssuerBest balance transfer cardAPRBalance transfer fee**Annual feeRewards?
**Minimum fee is typically $5
American ExpressThe Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express0% on Purchases for 15 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24%-22.24% Variable3%$0Yes
BarclaycardBarclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®0% on balance transfers for 12 months (must be completed within first forty-five days of account opening), and then the ongoing APR of 16.24% or 20.24% Variable3%$89 - Waived first yearYes
Bank of America®BankAmericard® Credit Card0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 11.24% - 21.24% Variable APR3%$0.00No
Capital OneCapital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card0% intro on purchases until November 2016 and 0% intro on balance transfers until November 2016, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% (Variable)3%$0Yes
Chase Chase Slate®0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24%-23.24% VariableNone for 60 days, then 3%$0No
CitiCiti Simplicity® Card0% for 21 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable 3%$0*No
DiscoverDiscover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer0% on purchases for 6 months and 0% on balance transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.24% – 23.24% Variable3%$0Yes
U.S. BankU.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 10.24% - 21.24% Variable 3%$0*No
Wells FargoWells Fargo Propel 365 American Express0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 21.99% Variable 3%annual fee is waived the first year and $45 every year thereafterYes

Methodology

NerdWallet’s credit cards team selects cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to win in multiple categories.  

Last updated January 31, 2016.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7.