BEST OF

Best Balance Transfer and 0% APR Credit Cards of October 2021

NerdWalletOct 19, 2021

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Transferring a high-interest balance to a credit card with a 0% introductory rate can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest, money you can apply toward getting out of debt sooner. With balance transfer cards, the more zeroes the better: Look for a $0 annual fee and a 0% period of 15 months or more. Some cards even charge a $0 balance transfer fee (though such offers are harder to find nowadays).

Some of our selections for the best 0% balance transfer credit cards can be applied for through NerdWallet, and some cannot. Below, you'll find application links for the credit cards from our partners that are available through NerdWallet, followed by the full list of our picks.

NerdWallet's Best Balance Transfer and 0% APR Credit Cards of October 2021

Best Balance Transfer and 0% APR Credit Cards From Our Partners

Our pick for

Long-term value: 0% period for transfers + rewards

Citi® Double Cash Card
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Regular APR

13.99%-23.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer gets 5 stars for its best-in-class cash-back rewards, but it comes with a great balance-transfer offer, too.

Pros

  • As a balance-transfer card, there's a lot to like: a lengthy introductory interest-free period for transfers, plus a transfer fee of 3% — lower than the 5% charged by many cards specifically designed for balance transfers. And the card has tremendous ongoing value: 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% when you buy something and 1% when you pay it off.

Cons

  • There's no 0% period for purchases. That means if you transfer a balance onto this card, you'll get no grace period, and you'll be paying interest on purchases right away. Your best move is to pay off the transferred debt first, then start using this card for the rewards.

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

  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.

  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.

  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.

  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.

  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

Our pick for

Long 0% period for transfers and purchases

BankAmericard® Credit Card
Apply now

on Bank of America's website, or call 800-322-7707

BankAmericard® credit card

4.9

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Bank of America's website, or call 800-322-7707

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on purchases and on any balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening

Regular APR

12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

The BankAmericard® credit card is a decent option for people looking for a little breathing room to whittle down high-interest credit card debt. And unlike a lot of other cards in its class, there's even a sign-up bonus.

Pros

  • The card offers 0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on purchases and on any balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR. New cardholders may also qualify for a sign-up bonus: $100 statement credit online bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. And unlike many other balance-transfer cards that are available only to those with excellent credit, some applicants may be able to qualify for this card with good credit.

Cons

  • The card doesn't earn ongoing rewards.

Read full review
  • New Offer! $100 statement credit online bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

  • 0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers.

  • No annual fee

  • No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply.

  • Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app

  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap

  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Our pick for

Long 0% period for transfers

Citibank Diamond Preferred Credit Card
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

4.8

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

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

Regular APR

13.74%-23.74% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is all about the long 0% intro APR period. It's about as much breathing room as you'll find anywhere for transferring debt.

Pros

  • The long 0% period for transfers is this card's defining feature, giving you more than a year to whittle down debt.

Cons

  • 5% is high for a balance transfer fee. And because it doesn't earn rewards, there's not a lot of ongoing value to the card once that 0% period runs out.

Read full review
  • 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.

  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Get free access to your FICO® Score online.

  • With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.

  • Shop with confidence knowing that you have dependable protection benefits, including $0 Liability on Unauthorized Purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.

  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

Our pick for

Long-term value: 0% periods for transfers and purchases + bonus cash back

Discover it® Balance Transfer
Apply now

on Discover's website

Discover it® Balance Transfer

4.7

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Discover's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months

Regular APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

Most balance-transfer cards don't give you much of a reason to hold onto them after the 0% period ends. The Discover it® Balance Transfer is a noteworthy exception. Get it for the balance-transfer benefits, keep it for the cash-back rewards.

Pros

  • You get a 0% intro APR on Purchases for 6 months and 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.99% - 22.99% Variable APR. In addition to the introductory 0% period, this card pays 5% cash back in rotating categories that you activate, on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter, and 1% on everything else. Discover matches the cash back you earn in your first year — although ideally in that first year you'll be focused more on paying down balances than adding to them.

Cons

  • The 0% period on purchases is considerably shorter than that for balance transfers, so it's best to avoid putting purchases on the card until you've paid off transferred debt. When it comes to rewards, the activation requirement for bonus categories can be a hassle.

Read full review
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.

  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.

  • #1 Most Trusted Credit Card according to Investor’s Business Daily.

  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.

  • No annual fee.

  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.

  • View Rates & Fees

Our pick for

Longest 0% period for transfers and purchases

Wells Fargo Reflect Card
Apply now

on Wells Fargo's website

Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Wells Fargo's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR for up to 21 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers

Regular APR

12.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

The Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card boasts an offer that few other cards can match: a 0% intro APR period potentially approaching two years.

Pros

  • The highlight of this $0-annual-fee card: It offers a 0% intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, and then an ongoing APR of 12.99% - 24.99% Variable APR. Intro APR extension of up to 3 months with on-time minimum payments during the intro and extension periods. It also offers cell phone insurance.

Cons

  • The card doesn't earn ongoing rewards on everyday spending. (It's possible to earn rewards through the issuer's "My Wells Fargo Deals" feature, but those are one-off deals that require activation.) There's also a balance transfer fee.

Read full review
  • 0% intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers. Intro APR extension of up to 3 months with on-time minimum payments during the intro and extension periods. 12.99% to 24.99% variable APR thereafter; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a BT fee of up to 5%, min $5

  • $0 Annual Fee

  • Get up to $600 of cell phone protection when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your eligible Wells Fargo card (subject to a $25 deductible).

  • Through My Wells Fargo Deals, you can earn cash back in the form of a statement credit while you shop, dine, or enjoy an experience simply by using your eligible Wells Fargo Credit Card

  • Select “Apply Now” to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions

  • View Rates & Fees

Our pick for

Long 0% period on transfers, no late fees

Citibank Simplicity Credit Card
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Citi Simplicity® Card

4.9

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

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

Regular APR

14.74%-24.74% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

The 0% intro APR period this card offers on balance transfers is lengthy. And you'll never pay late fees or a penalty APR on the Citi Simplicity® Card.

Pros

  • The long 0% period on balance transfers is this card's primary selling point. The absence of late fees is a benefit for the absent-minded, although you don't want to get in the habit of paying bills late. Other lenders aren't as forgiving, and chronic lateness can kill your credit score.

Cons

  • The balance transfer fee is more expensive than some other cards on the market. And because it doesn't earn rewards, there's not a lot of ongoing value to the card once that 0% period runs out.

Read full review
  • No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever

  • 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.

  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

  • Stay protected with Citi® Quick Lock and $0 liability on unauthorized charges.

Our pick for

Long 0% period for transfers and purchases

US Bank Visa Platinum Credit Card
Apply now

on US Bank's website

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on US Bank's website

Annual fee

$0*

Intro APR

0%* intro APR for 20 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers*

Regular APR

14.49% - 24.49%* Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

The lengthy introductory 0% APR periods for both purchases and balance transfers on the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card give you plenty of time to pay down new and old debts interest-free.

Pros

  • The card comes with generous introductory 0% APR periods. You can choose your own due date with this card, which allows you to schedule debt payment for when its easiest on your wallet. It also offers cell phone protection if you use it to pay your cell phone bill.

Cons

  • Once the 0% period ends, so does the chief benefit of this card. Still, the cell phone coverage is a good reason to hold onto it. There's a balance transfer fee, but it's only 3%.

Read full review
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 20 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 14.49% - 24.49%.

  • Great offer from U.S. Bank, a 2021 World's Most Ethical Company® - Ethisphere Institute, February 2021.

  • No Annual Fee*

  • Flexibility to choose a payment due date that fits your schedule.

  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your U.S.Bank Visa® Platinum Credit Card. Certain terms, conditions, and exclusions apply.

  • View Rates & Fees

Our pick for

Long-term value: 0% periods for transfers and purchases + high ongoing rewards

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card
Apply now

on Wells Fargo's website

Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Wells Fargo's website

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers

Regular APR

14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

The Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card is worth keeping in your wallet even after its intro APR period on balance transfers is over because it earns a high flat rate on everything you buy.

Pros

  • The card offers a 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR. In addition, you'll earn an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases, and there's a juicy sign-up bonus, too — all for an annual fee of $0.

Cons

  • There's a foreign transaction fee, and while that's fairly common among cash-back credit cards, it means it's not an ideal companion for traveling abroad.

Read full review
  • New! Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months

  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

  • 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, then a 14.99% to 24.99% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a BT fee of up to 5%, min: $5

  • $0 annual fee

  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open

  • Enjoy a premium collection of benefits at a selection of the world's most intriguing and prestigious hotel properties with Visa Signature Concierge

  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card

  • Select “Apply Now” to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions

  • View Rates & Fees

Our pick for

Long-term value: 0% periods for transfers and purchases + flat-rate rewards

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Credit Card
Apply now

on Bank of America's website, or call 800-343-3246

Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card

4.9

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Bank of America's website, or call 800-343-3246

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and on any balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening

Regular APR

13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

The $0-annual-fee Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card has a great intro APR on balance transfers. Beyond that, it also earns ongoing rewards.

Pros

  • The card offers a 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR. It also earns 1.5% back on all purchases.

Cons

  • There's a balance transfer fee, and you can find plenty of rewards cards that will out-earn it.

Read full review
  • New Offer! With the new Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card, you can earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every time.

  • No annual fee

  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening

  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you earn 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase. That means you could earn up to 2.62% cash back on every purchase.

  • No limit to the amount of cash back you can earn and cash rewards don't expire

  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers.

  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap

  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

Our pick for

Long-term value: 0% periods for transfers and purchases + bonus cash back

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

4.7

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

Regular APR

13.99%-23.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offers long-term value beyond its intro APR period on balance transfers: the chance to earn 5% cash back in a popular spending category each month. Terms apply.

Pros

  • With this card, you'll get 0% intro APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.99%-23.99% Variable APR. In addition, you'll earn 5% back automatically in your eligible top spending category per billing cycle, on up to $500 spent. (1% back on other purchases.)

Cons

  • You can find longer balance-transfer terms elsewhere. Plus, in terms of rewards, the $500 monthly spending cap will limit your earnings, as will the card's ongoing rate of 1% back on "everything else."

Read full review
  • Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $750 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.99% - 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness.

  • Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • No rotating bonus categories to sign up for – as your spending changes each billing cycle, your earn adjusts automatically when you spend in any of the eligible categories.

  • No Annual Fee

  • Citi will only issue one Citi Custom Cash℠ Card account per person.

Our pick for

0% period + 'rounded-up' rewards

Citi Rewards+® Card
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Citi Rewards+® Card

3.1

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Citibank's application

Annual fee

$0

Intro APR

0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer and on purchases from date of account opening

Regular APR

13.49%-23.49% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

Although the rewards that give this card its name won't exactly set the world on fire, the Citi Rewards+® Card also comes with a solid balance-transfer offer for new cardholders.

Pros

  • You get an introductory 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer and on purchases from date of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 13.49%-23.49% Variable APR. This card earns 2 points per dollar on the first $6,000 spent per year at supermarkets and gas stations, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Further, rewards on all purchases are rounded up to the nearest 10 points, which amplifies the value for smaller spenders.

Cons

  • If long-term value is a paramount concern, bigger spenders might want to go elsewhere. This card is of greatest benefit to people who make a lot of smaller purchases. If that's you, though, definitely give it a look.

Read full review
  • FOR A LIMITED TIME, earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $200 in gift cards at thankyou.com

  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer and on purchases from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfer fee — either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • The Citi Rewards+® Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap.

  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.

  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

FULL LIST OF EDITORIAL PICKS: BEST BALANCE TRANSFER CREDIT CARDS

Click the card name to read our review. Before applying, confirm details on the issuer’s website.

Our pick for: Longest 0% period for transfers and purchases

The Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card has one of the longest 0% intro APR periods on the market — potentially approaching almost two years, if you meet on-time minimum payment requirements. You'll be hard-pressed to find a longer interest-free promotion, and it applies to both purchases and balance transfers. Read our review.

Our pick for: Long 0% period on transfers + no late fees

The Citi Simplicity® Card has an excellent 0% intro APR period on balance transfers, and an OK one on purchases. It doesn't charge an annual fee, late fees or penalty APRs either. Its balance transfer fee is on the high side, though. Read our review.

Our pick for: Long 0% period for transfers and purchases

A lengthy 0% introductory APR period for both purchases and balance transfers has made the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card a NerdWallet favorite. Read our review.

Our pick for: Long-term value: 0% periods for transfers and purchases + flat-rate rewards

The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card is one of many 1.5% flat-rate cash-back cards on the market. It comes with a decent sign-up bonus, a generous intro APR period, and the potential to supercharge your earnings through Bank of America®'s Preferred Rewards program. Read our review.

Our pick for: Long 0% period for transfers

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card offers a super-lengthy 0% intro APR period on balance transfers, and there's also a decent offer on purchases. But the balance transfer fee is pricey. It doesn't have the late-fee forgiveness of Citi's other balance-transfer card, but it's still a great option. Read our review.

Our pick for: Long-term value: 0% periods for transfers and purchases + bonus cash back

The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offers a lot of value for a $0 annual fee: 5% back automatically in your eligible top spending category on up to $500 spent per billing cycle (1% back elsewhere). The list of eligible 5% categories is varied and includes biggies like restaurants, grocery stores and more. And unlike competitors, there's no activation schedule or bonus calendar to keep track of. Read our review.

Our pick for: Long-term value: 0% periods for transfers and purchases + high ongoing rewards

Among flat-rate cash-back cards, you'll be hard-pressed to beat the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card. It earns an unlimited 2% back on all purchases, which is excellent. But in addition, the card offers a rich sign-up bonus and a generous 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers. That's an impressive, hard-to-find combination of features on a card with a $0 annual fee. Read our review.

Our pick for: Long 0% period for transfers and purchases

The BankAmericard® credit card isn't flashy, nor does it aim to be. You get a decent 0% introductory APR period to whittle down debt or finance a large purchase. And that's about it. Read our review.

Our pick for: Long-term value: 0% periods for transfers and purchases + bonus cash back

What makes the Discover it® Balance Transfer stand out from other balance-transfer cards is its ongoing cash-back rewards, which give you a great reason to keep using the card regularly even after its introductory 0% APR period ends. Read our review.

Our pick for: Long-term value: 0% period for transfers + rewards

Year after year, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has been our choice for the best flat-rate cash-back card. You earn 2% cash back on every purchase — 1% when you buy something and 1% when you pay it off. There's no 0% intro period for purchases and no sign-up bonus, but the high rewards rate more than makes up for the lack of bells and whistles. Read our review.

Our pick for: 0% period + 'rounded-up' rewards

The Citi Rewards+® Card might not be right for everyone, but its unique rounding-up feature means that every purchase will earn at least 10 points. The card offers bonus rewards at gas stations and supermarkets and has no annual fee. And the 0% intro APR period shouldn't be overlooked. Read our review.

Our pick for: Low rate for an extended period

You won't get a 0% period with the SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card, but you'll get an astonishing three years at a super-low rate, and you can avoid paying a transfer fee. The big catch? Not everyone can apply. It also offers modest rewards, so it has some value after the promo interest period runs out. Read our review.

What is a 0% balance transfer?

A balance transfer involves moving debt from a high-interest credit card to a new card with a lower interest rate, ideally one with an introductory 0% period. Essentially, you're using one card to pay off another, but because you aren't paying as much in interest, you have more money available to pay down your debt more quickly.

How much can I save with a 0% balance transfer?

A balance transfer makes financial sense only if the money you save on interest is more than any fee you'll pay to carry out the transfer.

Interest savings

Moving debt to a card with an introductory 0% APR period for balance transfers will obviously save you money in interest. Those savings can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on how much you owe.

According to NerdWallet's American Household Credit Card Debt Study, the average household with revolving credit card debt — that is, debt that was carried from one month to the next — had a total of $6,741 in such debt in March 2019. Let's say you had that much debt on a card with an APR of 17%, and you wanted to pay off the debt in equal amounts over 18 months:

  • If you left the debt on the 17% card, you'd pay more than $900 in interest over the course of those 18 months.

  • If you transferred the debt to a card with a 0% intro APR for 18 months, you'd pay no interest at all. Further, if you used the money you would have paid in interest and applied it to paying down the balance, you'd be out of debt a couple of months earlier.

Mind the balance transfer fee

A balance transfer isn't always a slam-dunk solution to high-interest debt. Most cards with promotional 0% APR periods charge balance transfer fees, which typically range from 3% to 5% of the amount being transferred. Some cards don't charge these fees, or waive them for a period of time when you first open your account.

Before pulling the trigger on a transfer, consider whether the amount you’ll save on interest will be enough to make up for any transfer fee. In the above example, a 3% fee on a $6,741 transfer comes out to a little over $200, while a 5% fee would be about $340. If you're saving $900 in interest, then the fee is worth paying.

However, if you'd been planning to pay off the debt in six months rather than 18, then the transfer would have saved you only about $330 in interest — so a 3% fee would have eaten up most of your savings while a 5% fee would have ended up costing you money.

Estimate your savings with our calculator

Whether a balance transfer will save you money depends mostly on four factors:

  • How much you owe.

  • The current interest rate on that debt.

  • The balance transfer fee.

  • How long the 0% period on the new card lasts.

Enter this information into NerdWallet's balance transfer calculator to get a sense of how much you could save by doing a balance transfer.

How to do a 0% balance transfer

If the math on a balance transfer works in your favor, here’s what to do next.

1. Apply for a 0% balance transfer card

In many cases, cards with an introductory 0% APR offer for transfers give you only a short period of time after opening your account to take advantage of the offer — say, 60 days. So even if you already have a card with a 0% period in effect, it might be too late to use it for a transfer.

In general, you'll need good credit to qualify for a balance transfer card.

Most issuers won’t let you transfer debt from one of their cards to another. For example, you can’t transfer a balance from one Chase card to another. So make sure you aren’t applying for a card from the same bank that holds the debt you need to transfer.

2. Tell the new card’s issuer you want to do a transfer

With some cards, you can do this from your online account dashboard or even the issuer’s mobile app. With others, you’ll need to call the customer service number on the back of the card.

3. Provide information requested by your issuer

You’ll need to know the account number of the debt you want to transfer and how much you want to move. Depending on the credit limit on your new card and the card issuer’s policies (which may limit the amount of a transfer), you may get approved to transfer the entire amount or just a part of it.

4. Continue making payments on the old card

This is critical. The transfer doesn't happen as soon as you ask for it. It can take days or even a couple of weeks. Pay at least the minimum until your old card account shows that the debt has been moved. The last thing you want is to incur an expensive late fee (and possibly damage your credit scores).

5. Watch your accounts

You’ll see the debt paid off on the old card and show up on the new one. Now it’s time to pay it down.

6. Stash the old card, but keep it open

It may be tempting to cut up the old card and cancel the account for the sake of catharsis, but closing a paid-off credit card account can damage your credit scores. If the card doesn't charge an annual fee, keep it open.

Should you get a 0% balance transfer card? Pros and cons

Pros: Why it’s worth getting a balance transfer card

  • You can pay off your debt faster. This should be the point of the balance transfer. Apply the money you save in interest to your balance to get you out of debt faster. Don’t just move debt from one card to another to avoid paying it off.

  • It simplifies your finances. If you’re juggling multiple payments and due dates, you may find it easier to consolidate into one monthly lower-interest payment.

Cons: Why a balance transfer card might not be for you

  • If you don’t pay off your debt within the 0% period, you could be worse off. Without a solid plan in place to pay off the balance you’ve transferred, you could end up paying interest at even higher rate than on your previous card when the 0% period expires.

  • There’s typically a fee involved. Most cards have a balance transfer fee, and depending on how much you owe and the terms you’re looking for, it may not be worth it to shift your debt.

  • You need good to excellent credit to qualify. If your credit standing is just OK, you may not get approved for another card. And every time you apply for a new card, your score takes a hit, so it’s best not to apply if you think approval is a long shot.

  • You may get approved for an amount less than you want to transfer. The new card's issuer might let you transfer only a portion of what you owe. For example, it might set a limit of $5,000 on balance transfers. You can try asking for a higher amount. If that fails, consider other steps to pay down your debt.

How to compare 0% balance transfer cards

1. Determine whether you qualify

In most cases, 0% balance transfer credit cards require good or excellent credit. Generally, that means a credit score of about 690 or better. (You can get your credit score for free on NerdWallet.)

2. Look at the issuer that holds your current debt

In most cases, you can't transfer balances among cards from the same bank — from one Chase card to another Chase card, for example. This is important to know because it will save you from getting a card you can’t use. Be especially careful with store-branded credit cards, which often do not clearly identify the issuing bank. (Stores don't typically issue and manage their own credit cards; they partner with a bank to do it.)

3. Compare 0% APR periods for balance transfers

The longer the 0% period, the better, since you’ll have more time to pay down your debt without interest. But know that longer periods might mean higher transfer fees

4. Compare balance transfer fees

Transfer fees on most credit cards range from 3% to 5%. That’s equivalent to $30 to $50 for each $1,000 you transfer. A handful of cards do not charge transfer fees or waive them for an introductory period. But those cards are few and far between, and most of them require excellent credit. Also, cards that don’t charge a transfer fee generally have shorter 0% APR periods than balance transfer cards that do.

5. Say no to annual fees

A good balance transfer card will not charge an annual fee. Some rewards cards with annual fees do offer 0% introductory periods, but they're a bad choice for getting out of debt. (The rewards and sign-up bonuses on such cards encourage spending, and the annual fee eats up money that could be going to pay down debt.)

Making the most of your 0% balance transfer credit card

  • 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 better to use two cards: One for paying off debt over time, and one for making (and immediately paying off) new purchases.

  • Know when promotional periods end. Your card’s introductory 0% APR period doesn't last forever, and in most cases a $0 transfer fee is available only for a limited time. Transfer debt and pay it off within those time periods to avoid interest and fees. Read your credit card statements carefully — or just call your issuer and ask if you're not sure when the clock will run out.

  • Pay on time. If you’re late with a payment, 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 (close to $40, typically) and a penalty interest rate (often about 30%). Avoid this basket of bad news by setting up automatic payments, 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. 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 debt each month, and track your progress as you chip away at the balance .

Alternatives to a 0% balance transfer

Maybe a balance transfer card isn’t right for you. There are other ways to get a handle on your debt.

1. Pay more than the minimum due

Your minimum monthly payment due is the absolute least you can pay without incurring a penalty. It won't get you very far toward paying off your debt. To see real interest savings, you need to pay interest on less money, and that means reducing the principal by paying more than the minimum.

2. Use a debt payment calculator

Debt payment calculators show you how much you could save in interest by paying down your credit card balance without a transfer. Enter your balance and choose an interest rate, then see your savings if you reduced the balance by 5% to 50%. See the calculator here.

3. Ask if you qualify for a lower rate

If your credit score has improved since you opened the account, it could pay off to ask your issuer to lower your interest rate. You might get some points knocked off your rate, or possibly get your account moved to a card with a lower rate. You may also be told it’s not possible, but it’s worth a phone call to ask.

5. Consider a personal loan

A personal loan can be a solid option to get a handle on your high-interest debt. Personal loans can be issued by banks, credit unions and online lenders. Some loans designed for debt consolidation can even be paid directly to your creditors, streamlining the process.

Keep in mind that a personal loan makes sense only if the interest rate on the loan is the less than the interest rate you were paying on your credit card debt. Shop around to find the most favorable terms and know that credit unions typically offer some of the best rates but you typically have to become a member to apply. Some online lenders charge origination fees, similar to when a balance transfer card charges a balance transfer fee. Be sure to do the math before committing to a card's terms.

The information related to the Wells Fargo Platinum card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.

Last updated on October 19, 2021

Methodology

NerdWallet's Credit Cards team selects the best balance transfer credit cards based on overall consumer value, as evidenced by star ratings, as well as their suitability for specific kinds of consumers. Factors in our evaluation include annual fees, balance transfer fees, the length of each card's 0% introductory APR period, ongoing APRs, credit-profile requirements, cardholders' access to credit scores, and other noteworthy features such as rewards or perks that give the card ongoing value beyond the promotional APR period.

Frequently asked questions