/The best balance transfer cards of May 2021

The best balance transfer cards of May 2021


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*1% when you buy, plus 1% as you pay

Chase, Capital One, and American Express credit cards currently do not offer 0% interest on balance transfers.

If you’ve gone over budget and find yourself carrying credit card debt, you don’t need to resign yourself to paying interest. In fact, you should avoid this if at all possible — the average credit card APR is 14.65%, and it could be even higher depending on your credit score and the card you’re using.

Fortunately, there’s one type of credit card that can help you avoid paying interest on your debt if you use it the right way: a balance transfer credit card.

Here are the best offers available today based on their introductory offers, fees, and perks.

Regular APR

14.74% – 24.74% (Variable)

Credit Score

Good to Excellent

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Offers the longest intro APR period for balance transfers (21 months)
    • No late fees or penalty APR for late payments
    Cons
    • Higher balance transfer fee than some other cards
    • Doesn’t offer rewards, so you may want to upgrade to another card once you’re done paying off your debt
    • The information related to the Citi Simplicity® Card has been collected by Business Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
    • One of the longest 0% APR periods on balance transfers (see terms for details)
    • No rewards program
    • Citi® Identity Theft Solutions
    • Purchase Protection
    • Automatic Account Alerts


    Read Our Review

    Read Our Review
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    Consumers with a lot of high-interest credit card debt could save more with a card that offers 0% for as long as possible. The Citi Simplicity® Card extends one of the best offers in this category.

    There’s no annual fee, yet you get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months (transfers must be completed in the first four months) and 0% intro APR on purchases for 18 months. After that, your rate goes up to a 14.74% – 24.74% Variable APR based on your creditworthiness. Having a full 18 months with a 0% intro APR could help you pay down a ton of debt, but keep in mind you’ll pay a 3% balance transfer fee (minimum of $5) for the privilege, and you need to make all transfers in the first four months.

    Other perks this card offers include automatic account alerts, 24/7 customer service, and the ability to choose your payment due date.

    Pros: No annual fee, score 0% intro APR on balance transfers for a full 18 months (then a 14.74% – 24.74% Variable APR applies), no late fees

    Cons: 3% balance transfer fee, few cardholder perks

    Regular APR

    14.74% – 24.74% Variable APR

    Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Very long intro APR period for balance transfers
    • No annual fee
    Cons
    • Charges a balance transfer fee
    • No rewards (but that’s not the point of this card)
    • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer. 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 3% 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 14.74% – 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

    The Citi Diamond Preferred card is similar to the Citi Simplicity® Card in that it also offers an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months (then a 14.74% – 24.74% (Variable) APR applies). It also offers a 0% intro APR on purchases for 18 months (then a 14.74% – 24.74% Variable APR applies).

    The biggest difference between these two cards is that the Citi Simplicity card doesn’t charge late fees, while a penalty APR of up to 29.99% applies if you pay late with the Citi Diamond Preferred.

    Pros: No annual fee, 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months (then 14.74% – 24.74% Variable APR applies)

    Cons: 3% balance transfer fee, doesn’t waive late fees

    Regular APR

    13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

    2% cash back on all purchases

    Intro APR

    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 Transfer Fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.


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  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • No annual fee
    • Simple earning structure without confusing bonus categories
    Cons
    • Some cards earn higher rates of cash back on rotating categories
    • No sign-up bonus
    • If you don’t have any account activity for 12 months, unredeemed rewards can expire
    • While it offers a 0% introductory APR for 18 months, that’s only on balance transfers, not purchases, so you can’t use it to fund a major expense without interest. After those 18 months, it’s a 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable) APR.
    • 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.


    Read Our Review

    Read Our Review
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    With the Citi® Double Cash Card, you get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months from your date of first transfer when transfers are completed within four months from date of account opening, then there’s a rate of 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable). That’s a solid amount of time to pay off your debt, even if it falls a few months short of the Citi Simplicity® Card’s intro period.

    But what makes the Citi Double Cash Card a great pick is that it’s one of the best cash-back credit cards in general, so it’s worth using even after you’ve paid off your balance. You’ll earn 2% cash back on everything — 1% back when you make a purchase, and 1% back when you pay it off. You won’t earn cash back on balance transfers, but it’s a great card for earning money back on your everyday expenses. 

    You do have to pay a fee for transferring a balance; it’s 3% of each balance transfer, with a minimum charge of $5.

    Pros: Strong cash-back rate, no annual fee, long intro APR period

    Cons: 3% balance transfer fee

    Regular APR

    13.99% – 23.99%


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  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Long intro APR period for balance transfers and purchases
    • Cell phone protection
    Cons
    • No rewards
    • Balance transfer fee
    • 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 20 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 13.99% – 23.99%.
    • 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.

    The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card is unique in the fact that it offers a 0% intro APR on more than just balance transfers. Once you sign up, you’ll get the introductory rate of 0% on balance transfers and purchases for 20 billing cycles (followed by a 13.99% – 23.99% variable APR).

    Getting a 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases makes this card a solid option for anyone who has debt to transfer or a big purchase to make. If you wanted to buy new appliances or use credit to cover a minor kitchen remodel, for example, you could do so and repay your balance at 0% APR for 20 billing cycles.

    Other benefits you’ll get with this card include cell phone protection, a free TransUnion credit score each month, and the ability to choose your payment due date. This card also comes with no annual fee, although there is a balance transfer fee of 3% or $5.

    Pros: 0% intro APR good for both balance transfers and purchases, no annual fee, cell phone protection

    Cons: 3% balance transfer fee

    Regular APR

    11.99% – 22.99% Variable

    Credit Score

    Good to Excellent

    Intro APR

    0% intro APR for 14 months


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  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Generous cash back for quarterly bonus categories
    • Discover will match your cash back at the end of your first account year
    • No annual fee
    Cons
    • Cap on how much bonus cash back you can earn each quarter
    • If the quarterly categories aren’t convenient for you, you can earn more cash back with a different card
    • The information related to the Discover it® Cash Back has been collected by Business Insider and has not been reviewed by the issuer.
    • Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
    • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations, select rideshares and online shopping, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. 1% back on all other purchases.
    • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
    • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
    • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.

    Consumers who want to make a big purchase and pay it off slowly over time should consider the Discover it® Cash Back. It offers 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 14 months (then a variable APR of 11.99% to 22.99%), with a balance transfer fee of 3% (increasing to 5% after July 10, 2021). See card terms for up-to-date fees and rates.

    Not only does the Discover it® Cash Back offer 5% cash back in categories that rotate each quarter up to the first $1,500 on purchases, then 1% (enrollment required), but Discover will also match all the rewards you earn after the first year. There’s no annual fee, and you qualify for free Social Security Number alerts, no foreign transaction fees, and no late fees on your first late payment (see terms for most up-to-date rates and fees).

    Pros: Earn cash back for your purchases

    Cons: Rewards can entice you to spend more

    Business Insider selected the best balance transfer cards by looking at all the credit cards with balance transfer offers that are currently available to new applicants. This is important to note, because one of the best balance transfer cards, the Chase Slate, is currently closed to new applicants.

    From there, we narrowed our list down to balance transfer credit cards offering 0% introductory offers. We arrived at our final picks by evaluating the terms of each introductory APR offer and other card benefits. We prioritized cards that don’t charge balance transfer fees as well as cards with the longest introductory 0% APR periods on balance transfers. We also factored in other card benefits, such as cash back or travel rewards, annual fee, and waived late fees.

    What is a balance transfer card?

    Balance transfer cards let consumers with existing credit card debt move their outstanding balance over from another card to avoid interest fees. You’re able to avoid interest on a balance transfer card thanks to an intro 0% APR offer, which lasts anywhere from nine to 21 months.

    After this introductory period is over, your APR will reset to the standard variable rate. So you need to pay off your credit card debt in full before the intro APR period ends in order to avoid interest charges.

    What’s the catch? Some balance transfer credit cards charge an upfront balance transfer fee of 3% or 5% of your balance — or $300 to $500 for every $10,000 in high-interest debt you transfer. If you don’t need to transfer a balance but you need to make a large purchase that you’ll need time to pay off, see our list of the best credit cards with intro APR offers.

    How do balance transfer cards work?

    Balance transfer cards can save you money by securing you a lower interest rate on your existing credit card debt. When you apply and are approved for a balance transfer credit card, you move over debt from another card, and you generally have an introductory 0% APR period before you have to start paying interest on that debt. Ideally, you’ll pay off your debt before the introductory period ends — otherwise, you’ll have to pay interest on your remaining balance.

    Is a balance transfer card right for me?

    A balance transfer could be right for you if you currently have credit card debt, and you have a plan to pay it off. By using a balance transfer credit card, you’ll get a bit of breathing room with the introductory 0% APR period. This allows you to pay off your debt without adding interest.

    If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off your debt in full by the time the introductory APR offer expires, a balance transfer credit card may not be worth it. You’ll end up having to pay interest on your remaining balance.

    How do I perform a balance transfer?

    The first step in completing a balance transfer is applying for — and getting approved for — a balance transfer credit card. Once you have a card with an introductory APR offer on balance transfers, to transfer your credit card balance, you’ll need to request the transfer with the bank that issues your new balance transfer credit card. You can generally initiate this process either online or by calling the number on the back of your card.

    How long does a balance transfer take?

    A balance transfer generally takes five to seven days, but the actual time can vary by issuer. Your bank may ask you to allow for up to 21 days for a balance transfer to go through, but usually, the transfer should be completed sooner. Experian has a handy chart listing the average balance transfer timeframes by bank.

    What credit score do I need for a balance transfer card?

    If you have bad credit — which is defined as a credit score below 669 — you probably won’t be approved for a balance transfer card. A bank may be less inclined to approve you for a balance transfer card if your credit score and credit report indicate that you haven’t been able to consistently pay off debts in the past. 

    Holly Johnson is a credit card expert, award-winning writer, and mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting, and travel.

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