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, in some cases. That could save you hundreds of dollars, depending on the length of the 0% balance transfer APR period, the balance transfer fee, the ongoing APR and other factors. NerdWallet ranked balance transfer credit cards according to those criteria to find the best offers.

Nerdwallet’s best balance transfer cards of 2016

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

You could turn $200 into $400 with Cashback Match™. We’ll automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. New cardmembers only.

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 APR
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • You could turn $200 into $400 with Cashback Match™. We’ll automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. New cardmembers only.
  • Earn 5% cash back in new bonus categories each quarter like gas, restaurants, Amazon.com and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements and online.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & 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 else. 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 APR.

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.
  • The card has 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.

Best for $0 intro transfer fee

Chase Slate®

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • $0 Intro on balance transfer fees made within 60 days of Account Opening
  • Long 0% Intro APR Period

Cons

  • No Rewards
  • Can't transfer debt from another Chase account

Bonus Offer

Save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee, 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free.

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months

APR

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

Card Details

  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Monthly FICO® Score and Credit Dashboard for free
  • No Penalty APR - Paying late won't raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply
  • $0 Annual Fee

$0 fee for transfers made within the first 60 days. $0 annual fee. 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR.

Benefits of the Chase Slate®

  • An introductory 0% balance transfer APR offer, a $0 annual fee and a $0 balance transfer fee on transfers made within the first 60 days of account opening. (After that, it’s $5 or 5% of the amount transferred, whichever’s greater.)
  • Requires only average credit.
  • No penalty APR.
  • Access to Chase’s Blueprint program, which lets you customize your own debt payoff plan and view your FICO credit score.

Drawbacks of the  Chase Slate®

  • No rewards.
  • Doesn’t allow transfers totaling more than $15,000, regardless of your credit limit.
  • Doesn’t allow you to transfer balances from Chase.

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. It should be a first stop for those looking to move a balance.

Longest 0% APR period

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

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

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

  • The ONLY card with No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee… EVER.
  • 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.
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period.
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day – just say “representative”
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month.

$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 - No Late Fees Ever

  • One of the longest 0% balance transfer APR periods on NerdWallet.
  • No late fees or penalty APR.
  • Annual fee of $0*.
  • Free FICO score.

Drawbacks of the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

  • Balance transfer fee of 3% or $5, whichever is greater.
  • No rewards.
  • Requires good credit (generally defined as a score of 690 or higher).
  • Doesn’t allow you to transfer balances from other Citi accounts.

Bottom line

The lengthy 0% APR period on the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever makes this forgiving card a top pick in our book. It’s a go-to if you need extra time to pay off your debt. Also, if you tend to be forgetful about bills, this card could save you a small fortune in late fees. (Even so, make it a priority to pay on time, as late payments can hurt your credit score.)

Best for rewards

Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Apply Now on Citibank's secure website

Pros

  • High rewards rate
  • No annual fee
  • 0% if you qualify for 18 mos on transfers

Bonus Offer

Earn cash back twice on every purchase

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% balance transfers for 18 months*

APR

  • Min APR: 13.24%, Variable
  • Max APR: 23.24%, Variable
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.49%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.24% - 23.24% based on your creditworthiness
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*

Introductory APR of 0% for 18 months on balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable. Earn 1% cash back on purchases, then an additional 1% back when you pay them off. $0 annual fee.

Benefits of the Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer:

  • The introductory 0% APR period for balance transfers is among the longest available for rewards cards of any kind.
  • The cash-back rate — 1% on purchases plus another 1% when you pay them off, with no limit — easily trumps the flat 1% offered by many other cards.

Drawbacks of the Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer:

  • The card charges a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount transferred or $5, whichever is higher.
  • You need good credit to qualify for this card.
  • There’s a $25 minimum redemption for cash back. Some cards have no such minimum.

Bottom line:

Though it’s not often thought of as a balance-transfer card, the Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer gives you a long 0% APR period to pay down your debt. And unlike some transfer cards, it gives you a great reason to keep using it even after the 0% period ends: a fantastic cash-back structure in which you get 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off. (You don’t earn these rewards on balance transfers, though.) What’s more, many of the best rewards cards require excellent credit to qualify; the Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer requires good credit.

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.

Best balance transfer cardAPRBalance transfer fee**Annual fee
**Minimum fee is typically $5
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR3%$0
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®0% on Balance Transfers for 12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening), and then the ongoing APR of 16.24%, 20.24% or 23.24% Variable APR3%$0 for the first year, then $89
BankAmericard® Credit Card0% on Balance Transfers 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
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 9 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APR3%$0
Chase Slate®0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable APRNone for 60 days, then 5%$0
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever0% for 21 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable3%$0*
Discover 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% Variable APR3%$0
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 10.24% - 21.24% Variable3%$0*
Wells Fargo Propel 365 American Express® Card0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.24% - 22.24% Variable APR3%$0 for the first year, then $45

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 October 6, 2016.

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