The Best Balance-Transfer Credit Cards

Balance-transfer cards have the power to drastically cut your payments. But there’s a cost, and rules to follow.

A zero percent sign.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have high-rate credit card debt, consider refinancing it with a balance-transfer credit card. Especially as interest rates tick up, carrying a balance on a credit card becomes more burdensome. Average annual percentage rates on credit cards run from about 15% to 20%, and some cards have rates of nearly 30%. 

With a balance-transfer card, you may be able to take advantage of a 0% interest rate for as long as the first 21 months. That could shave hundreds or even thousands of dollars from your interest payments, enough to offset the balance-transfer fee of 3% to 5% of the amount transferred and still save you money.

But to make the most of a balance transfer – and to make the investment you made in that transfer fee pay off – you need to pay off the debt before the 0% window expires. After the 0% period ends, the APR on the remaining balance typically jumps into the double digits.

We’ve rounded up the best credit cards for balance transfers. All of them feature extended 0% introductory windows, and they charge reasonable balance-transfer fees of 3%. (With some cards, you must promptly make the balance transfer after opening the card to capture the 0% rate or the 3% fee–otherwise, you pay a higher APR or fee.) If you’re looking for a great rewards credit card instead, see The Best Cash-Back Credit Cards and The Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards, along with The Best Reward Cards for Students

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BankAmericard Credit Card 

Bank of America’s BankAmericard Mastercard offers a 0% annual percentage rate on balance transfers for a lengthy 21 months, as long as you make the transfer within the first 60 days of opening your account. After 21 months, you pay the standard variable rate—recently, it was 14.99% to 24.99%. The balance-transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred ($10 minimum). 

Wells Fargo Reflect Visa

With Wells Fargo Reflect Visa, you can get a 0% APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers, plus up to three additional months interest-free if you pay at least the minimum due on time during the introductory and extension periods, for a total 21 months of 0% interest (request the transfer within 120 days of opening the card to get the introductory rate). Then you pay a variable 15.99% to 27.99%. The balance-transfer fee is 3% ($5 minimum) of the amount transferred within 120 days of opening the account; after that, it’s 5% with a $5 minimum.

An extra perk: You get up to $600 per claim of protection for your cell phone against damage or theft if you pay your monthly wireless bill with the card. You pay a $25 deductible, and you get up to two paid claims per 12 months.

Citi Double Cash Mastercard

The Citi Double Cash Mastercard offers a 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers. After that, the rate is a variable 16.99% to 26.99%. The balance-transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred ($5 minimum) within four months of opening the account. After that, the fee rises to 5% ($5 minimum). 

Citi Double Cash is an outstanding rewards card, too, offering a total 2% cash back on every purchase. For more, see The Best Cash Back Credit Cards.

U.S. Bank Visa Platinum  

Get a 0% rate on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months from U.S. Bank Visa Platinum, followed by a variable rate that was recently 17.49% to 27.49%. The balance-transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred ($5 minimum).

This card comes with cell-phone insurance, too. You can get reimbursement of up to $600 per claim if your phone is stolen or damaged if you use the card to pay your monthly wireless bill. The deductible is $25, and you get up to two claims paid per 12 months.

Lisa Gerstner
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

Lisa has spent more than15 years with Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and heads up the magazine’s annual rankings of the best banks, best rewards credit cards, and financial-services firms with the best customer service. She reports on a variety of other topics, too, from retirement to health care to money concerns for millennials. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.