NerdWallet's

Best Balance Transfer Cards of 2018

Sick of paying interest? Dump your debt onto one of these cards and get rid of it faster.

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Best for $0 intro transfer fee plus rewards

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

on American Express's secure website, or call (866) 512-6673

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

Best for long-term value

Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

on Discover's secure website, or call (800) 347-0264

Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

Best for long intro 0% APR period

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card– 21 Month Balance Transfer Offer

on Citibank's secure application

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card– 21 Month Balance Transfer Offer

  • 0% Intro Balance Transfer APR period: 21 Months
  • Ongoing APR: 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
  • What our experts like about it

Best for average credit

Chase Slate®

on Chase's secure website

Chase Slate®

  • 0% Intro Balance Transfer APR period: 15 Months
  • Ongoing APR: 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $0 Intro for the first 60 days, then $5 or 5%, whichever is greater
  • What our experts like about it

Best for purchases and transfers (excellent credit)

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

on US Bank's secure website

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Best for purchases and transfers (good credit)

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card

on Wells Fargo's secure website

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card

Best for repeated transfers over time

Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®

on Barclays's secure website

Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®

More on this card
Full NerdWallet review

Benefits

Who it's good for: Someone looking for a cost-effective balance transfer card that also earns rewards.

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express was a somewhat lackluster rewards card until February 2018, when it introduced features that made it a top balance transfer option. Most notably, the card now offers an introductory $0 balance transfer fee for transfers requested in the first 60 days from account opening. The annual fee is $0, and you get an introductory APR of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 25.49% Variable APR. Unlike with many balance-transfer cards, this card gives you an incentive to keep using it after your transferring days are over. It's American Express' only $0-annual-fee consumer card that earns Membership Rewards points.

Drawbacks

Rewards aren't great: 2 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in spending, and 1 point per dollar on other purchases. But keep in mind that cards with a $0 intro transfer fee usually don’t offer rewards at all.

Bottom line

With zeroes across the board for annual fee, intro transfer fee and intro APR period, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express jumps to the head of the pack.

More on this card
Full NerdWallet review
For a different 0% APR structure
Discover it® - Cashback Match™

Benefits

Who it's good for: Someone who prefers to use one card for everything.

Most balance-transfer cards don't give you much of a reason to keep using them after the 0% period expires. The Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer is different because of its rewards program. It pays 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, and 1% on everything else. In recent years, those categories have included such common merchants as gas stations, restaurants and Amazon.com. There's also a new-cardholder bonus that gets bigger the more you use the card.

Drawbacks

The 0% period on purchases is considerably shorter than that for balance transfers. That means that if you’re still carrying a balance when the 0% purchase APR runs out, you’ll have to pay interest on your purchases starting from the date of each transaction. That could add up quickly. (Learn more about how grace periods work.) The card also comes with a 3% balance transfer fee, and you can’t transfer balances from other Discover cards. Finally, having to activate the categories each quarter can be a hassle.

Bottom line

Get it for the long 0% APR period. Keep it for the rewards. However, if you plan to put a lot of purchases on the card while paying down your transferred balance, consider the alternative Discover card in the link at left; it has matching 0% APR periods for purchases and transfers.

Our pick for

Long intro 0% APR period

Intro APR

0% on Purchases for 12 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 21 months

Regular APR

14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR

Annual fee

$0

Recommended credit score

recommended credit score

More on this card
Full NerdWallet review
For a shorter 0% period for transfers but longer for purchases
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Benefits

Who it's good for: Someone who needs extra time to pay down debt interest-free.

This card gets the nod for its extra-long introductory 0% APR period for balance transfers, its $0 annual fee and free FICO score. 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.

Drawbacks

The card charges a balance transfer fee of 5% or $5, whichever is greater. You also can’t transfer balances from other Citi accounts, and you won't earn rewards. The 0% APR period for purchases is significantly shorter than that for transfers.

Bottom line

The long 0% intro APR period on the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card– 21 Month Balance Transfer Offer makes this a solid card if you need breathing room to pay off your debt.

Benefits

Who it's good for: Those with average credit who want a cost-effective just-for-debt card.

This card wins the balance-transfer triple crown. It offers a long 0% into APR period for balance transfers, it has a $0 introductory fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening, and it has an annual fee of $0. It comes with the Chase Slate Credit Dashboard, which lets you track your FICO score for free.

Drawbacks

You can’t earn rewards on this card, nor can you transfer balances from other Chase cards or non-credit-card debt. You can’t transfer more than $15,000 in total, regardless of your limit. Its APR period, while good, isn’t the longest available.

Bottom line

The Chase Slate® keeps balance transfer costs to a minimum, which is all that really matters when you’re trying to get out of credit card debt.

More on this card
Full NerdWallet review
For flat-rate rewards and 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers
Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Benefits

Who it’s good for: Someone with excellent credit looking for a long 0% APR period for both purchases and balance transfers.

This card's introductory 0% APR period for both purchases and balance transfers is the star of the show. It gives you plenty of time — 20 months! — to pay down these balances interest-free. The annual fee is $0*.

Drawbacks

There's a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount transferred or $5, whichever's greater. The card offers no rewards. Like most credit cards, it doesn't allow same-issuer transfers. It also requires excellent credit.

Bottom line

The is a strong option if you're planning to pay off debt and make new purchases on the same card.

More on this card
Full NerdWallet review
For no balance transfer fees and low ongoing APRs
Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard®

Benefits

Who it’s good for: Someone with good credit looking for a solid 0% APR period for both purchases and balance transfers.

This card comes with a cushy 18-month introductory 0% APR period for both purchases and balance transfers. With its $0 annual fee, it gives you ample breathing room when paying down balances. It also gives you access to a free FICO score.

Drawbacks

This card has a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount transferred or $5, whichever's greater, for the first 18 months. (After that, you'll pay 5% or $5, whichever's greater.) The card doesn't come with rewards and doesn't allow same-issuer transfers.

Bottom line

For those paying down debt or planning to make a major purchase, the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card and its generous introductory APR are worthy of attention.

More on this card
Full NerdWallet review

Benefits

Who it’s good for: Someone looking for a long-term option for transferring balances to a lower interest rate.

This card nixed its introductory 0% APR period in February 2018 after offering it for about a year. Its appeal as a balance transfer card stems from the fact that it never charges transfer fees and maintains a relatively low interest rate. The ongoing APR is 10.49% Variable APR. That's lower than the ongoing rate most 0% cards charge after the end of their introductory periods. With the Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® in your wallet, you can reduce your interest costs without having to apply for new cards to grab 0% offers. The annual fee is $0.

Drawbacks

As mentioned, there's no 0% period. If you expect to only ever need to make a single transfer, you may be better off with a different card. This card also requires excellent credit.

Bottom line

Having the Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® gives you the option to put major purchases on your rewards cards and then avoid paying the high APRs charged by such cards by shifting balances to a lower rate for no fee.

ADDITIONAL OPTIONS

Several other credit cards offer introductory 0% APR periods of at least 15 months for balance transfers. These include several rewards credit cards.

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

APR: 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR. Balance transfer fee: 3% (minimum $5). Annual fee: $0. Highlights: This card gives you 1% cash back on all purchases and another 1% back when you pay them off. Complete card details.  

Truly Simple® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank

APR: 0% introductory APR for your first 15 billing cycles after the account is opened on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR.  Balance transfer fee: 4% (minimum $5). Annual fee: $0. Highlights: Complete card details.  

BankAmericard® credit card

APR: 0% on Purchases for 15 billing cycles and 0% on Balance Transfers for 15 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days, and then the ongoing APR of 14.49% - 24.49% Variable APR Balance transfer fee: 3% (minimum $10). Annual fee: $0. Highlights: Complete card details.

Chase Freedom®

APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR. Balance transfer fee: 5% (minimum $5). Annual fee: $0. Highlights: This card gives you 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter. All other spending earns 1% cash back. Complete card details.  

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR. Balance transfer fee: 5% (minimum $5). Annual fee: $0. Highlights: This card gives you 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Complete card details.  

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

APR: 0% Intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers, then a 14.49%, 18.49% or 24.49% variable APR. Balance transfer fee: 4% (minimum $10). Annual fee: $0. Highlights: This card pays you 1.5% cash back on all purchases. You also get an annual anniversary bonus of 10% of all cash back earned in the past year. Complete card details.  


HOW THEIR 0% INTRO PERIODS COMPARE

Card 0% intro period for transfers
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card– 21 Month Balance Transfer Offer 21 months
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card 20 months
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card 18 months
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer 18 months
Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer 18 months
BankAmericard® credit card 15 billing cycles
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express 15 months
Chase Slate® 15 months
Chase Freedom® 15 months
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 15 months
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card 15 billing cycles
Truly Simple® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank 15 months
Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® No 0% period

OTHER RESOURCES

How to choose a balance transfer card

With a few exceptions, balance transfer credit cards require good or excellent credit. Generally, that means a credit score of about 690 or better.

If you can qualify, the first thing to look at when choosing a balance transfer card is the issuer. In most cases you can't transfer balances among cards from the same issuer — for example, from one Chase card to another. Double-check this information on your current account before applying to avoid getting a card you can’t use. This is especially important for store cards, which might not be clearly branded with the issuer’s name.

Next, look at the 0% APR period for balance transfers (the longer, the better) and the balance transfer fee (lower is better, and a handful of cards charge no fee or offer an introductory $0 fee). A good transfer card will also have no annual fee.

For more, see our guide to choosing a balance transfer card.

How to make the most of your balance transfer credit card

Paying off debt is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration — even with a balance transfer card. Make sure all your effort pays off by following this guidance.

Use your balance transfer credit card only for debt. The cards that save you the most while paying off debt generally don’t offer the best rewards. That's why it's usually best to use two cards: One for paying off debt, and one for making new purchases. If your card offers 0% APR only on balance transfers — not purchases — this practice could also help you stave off unexpected interest charges.

Know when the promos end. Your card’s introductory 0% APR and balance transfer fee promotions don’t last forever. Pay off your balances within the promotional period, if possible, to avoid interest and fees. To find out when these periods end, read your credit card statements. Or, call your issuer and ask.

Pay on time. If you’re late on a payment, poof! — your card’s 0% balance transfer APR will probably disappear. That’s because promotional terms often get voided if your account isn’t in good standing. Aside from losing the card’s most valuable feature, you might also have to pay a late fee (of up to $38, typically) and a penalty interest rate (often about 30%).

Avoid this basket of bad news by setting up auto-pay, if you’re confident you’ll have enough money in your account to cover at least the minimum. Make extra payments throughout the month, as your budget allows. 

Make a plan. To make the most of your card, take stock of your debt and figure out what you’ll have to do to become debt-free. Calculate how much extra money you can put toward your credit card payments each month, and track your progress as you chip away at those balances.

Methodology

NerdWallet’s credit cards team selects the best 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 be chosen in multiple categories.

Last updated May 17, 2018.

Claire is a personal finance writer at NerdWallet. Her work has been featured by Forbes, USA Today and The Associated Press. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Balance Transfer Cards of 2018

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