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Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards – 2017

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Editor's Best Card Picks

May 15, 2017 | Updated Sep 07, 2017

What Are Balance Transfer Credit Cards?

A “balance transfer” is a feature of a credit card that lets you transfer a balance (credit card debt) from one card to another.

A balance transfer can help you decrease the amount of interest you’re paying when you’re in credit card debt. Instead of paying the high interest rate you’ll find on most credit cards (for example, an APR in the range of 14% – 25%), you can transfer the balance to a credit card with a lower interest rate. Many cards designed for balance transfers will offer a 0% introductory APR, which can give you the opportunity to pay off your debt without paying any interest.

You can also often transfer other kinds of debts to a credit card that allows balance transfers, like personal loans, auto loans, student loans – pretty much any loan that requires a monthly payment. Just ask your card issuer if it’s possible.

Here’s an example: say you have a $5,000 balance on a credit card, and your interest rate is 17%. If you want to pay off that balance over 24 months, you’ll end up paying over $900 in interest by the time you’re done.

Instead you could transfer that balance to another card, preferably one with a 0% intro APR and no balance transfer fee. Then you can continue to pay off your debt, but you won’t be incurring all that interest while you do.

See our page about how balance transfers work for a more in-depth discussion.

The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

We’ve picked a top card with a balance transfer offer in four different categories.

Best for Card
No balance transfer fee Chase Slate®
Long 0% intro APR period Citi Simplicity® Card
Rewards Discover it®
Bad Credit UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card

Chase Slate®

This is one of the most popular balance transfer cards, if not the most popular, and it’s easy to see why:

  • No fee for balance transfers when made within the first 60 days (5% fee after that, $5 min)
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Free FICO® Score

You’ll get one of the best deals available with this card: a no-fee balance transfer, and a 15-month 0% intro period, and no annual fee. The amount of money you can transfer will depend on the credit limit you are issued, with a maximum of $15,000.

You’ll also be able to easily check one of your FICO Scores for free with this card. This is a nice benefit to have, especially if you have enough debt that you need to do a balance transfer. If that’s the case, this service lets you monitor your credit to see it improve as you pay off your debt.

Drawbacks of this card

If you have debt on a Chase credit card that you want to transfer, this card isn’t for you, since you can’t transfer balances from other Chase cards to this card. If you have more than 5 credit inquiries on your credit report you will likely be denied since Chase automatically denies applicants with 5 or more credit inquiries in the past 24 months. Also, if you want to use the card for purchases after you’re done paying off the balance transfer there are better options, since this card doesn’t earn any rewards. If you want the longest amount of time possible to pay off your debt without interest, there are other options with longer 0% APR periods.

Want to learn more about this card? Check out our Review of the Chase Slate Credit Card.
Chase Slate®
  • Editors’ Rating
Apply Now

Chase Slate®

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 15.74%, 21.49% or 24.49% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Chase Slate named "Best Credit Card for Balance Transfers" two years in a row by Money Magazine
  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • New Free Monthly FICO® Score and Credit Dashboard
  • No Penalty APR - Paying late won't raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply
  • $0 Annual Fee

The information for Chase Slate® has been collected independently by Smashed media. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Citi Simplicity® Card

We chose this card for people who want a long 0% intro APR period. It features:

  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 21 months (for balance transfers made within the first 4 months)
  • 3% fee for balance transfers ($5 minimum)
  • No annual fee
  • No late fees

You’ll pay a 3% fee for your balance transfer, but after that you’ll have an incredible 21 months to pay off that balance at zero interest. This is one of the longest 0% APR period you’ll be able to find.

Drawbacks of this card

If you’re looking to transfer a balance away from a Citi credit card, this card isn’t for you, since you can’t transfer balances from other Citi cards to this card. You won’t earn any rewards for spending on this card, so if you want to use the card and earn rewards once you’re done paying off your balance transfer there may be better options. You’ll also be charged 3% of the amount you transfer (or a $5 minimum fee), while there are other cards that don’t charge a fee to transfer a balance.

Want to learn more about what the Simplicity Card has to offer, including shopping and traveling perks? Check out our full review of the Citi Simplicity Card.
Citi Simplicity® Card
  • Editors’ Rating
Apply Now

Citi Simplicity® Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 14.24%–24.24% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.24% to 24.24% based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • No late fees - Ever
  • No penalty rate - Ever
  • No annual fee - Ever
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day.

Discover it®

We chose this card for people who to choose a card that will still be good for everyday purchases and earning rewards once the balance transfer is paid off. It features:

  • 1% cash back on all purchases, with a rotating 5% cash back category
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 14 months
  • 3% fee for balance transfers
  • No annual fee
  • Free FICO Score

The reason this card stands out is that it has a rewards program, unlike many other cards with such a long 0% intro APR. That makes this card a good choice when you want to open a new account to transfer a balance, but want to find a card you can still use strategically once you’ve paid off the balance you transferred. Remember, most credit cards, including this one, won’t give you any rewards on your balance transfer — you only earn rewards on purchases.

The free FICO Score can also be helpful to watch while you pay off your debt and improve your credit.

Drawbacks of this card

There’s a fee to transfer a balance to this card, and there are longer 0% intro APR periods on other cards. Like most balance transfer offers, you won’t be able to transfer a balance from an account with the same issuer.

Learn more about this card, and its rewards program, in our full review of the Discover it.
Discover it®
  • Editors’ Rating
Apply Now

Discover it®

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 11.74%–23.74% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year automatically - only for new cardmembers*
  • 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, Amazon.com and more - up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 12 months-then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 11.74%–23.74%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • New Freeze ItSM on/off switch lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online.*
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on statements, online & by mobile app.* And 100% U.S.-based service any time.
  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on first late payment & paying late won't raise your APR.*
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text and never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms & other info by clicking “Apply.”

UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card

If you have bad credit, you’ll likely have a hard time getting approved for any of the other cards we listed in this post.

We’ve only included this card to illustrate an example for people with bad credit.

It appears this card is designed to look like a good option for balance transfers, but it doesn’t make sense to transfer a balance to this card.

This is a secured card, so it requires a deposit equal to the amount of the credit limit you want on the card.

If you’re considering getting this option, you should probably pay just your debt with the money you would use for the deposit on this card and find a different way to build credit once your debt is paid off.

This card features:

  • 9.95% fixed APR for balance transfers for the first 6 months after account opening, and 17.99% after that
  • 3% fee for balance transfers with a $10 minimum
  • $39 annual fee

This card has no introductory 0% APR, but there is a fixed APR (so it won’t vary based on changes to the Prime Rate, like most credit card rates). This fixed rate is lower than the APR you’ll find on most credit cards. If you have the money available for the deposit, you’re better off just paying off your debt instead of making a deposit, transferring the balance, paying the transfer fee, paying the annual fee, and paying interest on it while you pay it off.

Drawbacks of this card

Like many cards designed for people with bad credit, the terms on this card are not very favorable. It’s a secured card, so you’ll have to put down a deposit to establish your credit limit. If your considering this card and have the money to put down the deposit, you likely be better off just paying off the debt instead of transferring it and paying extra fees.

Learn more about this card in our full review of this card.
UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card
  • Editors’ Rating
Apply Now

UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card

For People with
Bad Credit

  • Annual Fee: $39
  • Interest Rate: 17.99% (Fixed)
Quick Card Facts
  • Unlike your Prepaid Card, UNITY Visa secured card can help you build your credit. Apply online in less than 5 minutes, and you could be approved today!
  • No Minimum Credit Score required; low fixed interest rate of 17.99%; Fully refundable FDIC security deposit* required at time of application; if you have a min of $250 to deposit immediately, you can start now!
  • No application fee or penalty rate
  • Monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • 24/7 online access to your account
  • *See the Cardholder Agreement for more details.

Applying For A Balance Transfer Credit Card

Want to apply for these cards or learn more? Just click the name below.

Chase Slate®
  • Editors’ Rating
Apply Now

Chase Slate®

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 15.74%, 21.49% or 24.49% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Chase Slate named "Best Credit Card for Balance Transfers" two years in a row by Money Magazine
  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • New Free Monthly FICO® Score and Credit Dashboard
  • No Penalty APR - Paying late won't raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply
  • $0 Annual Fee

The information for Chase Slate® has been collected independently by Smashed media. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Citi Simplicity® Card
  • Editors’ Rating
Apply Now

Citi Simplicity® Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 14.24%–24.24% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.24% to 24.24% based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • No late fees - Ever
  • No penalty rate - Ever
  • No annual fee - Ever
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day.
Discover it®
  • Editors’ Rating
Apply Now

Discover it®

For People with
Good Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Interest Rate: 11.74%–23.74% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • Double all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year automatically - only for new cardmembers*
  • 5% cash back in categories that change each quarter like gas, restaurants, Amazon.com and more - up to the quarterly maximum when you sign up.* 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases & balance transfers for 12 months-then a variable purchase APR applies, currently 11.74%–23.74%. A 3% fee applies to each transferred balance.
  • New Freeze ItSM on/off switch lets you prevent new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers on misplaced cards in seconds by mobile app & online.*
  • Free FICO® Credit Score on statements, online & by mobile app.* And 100% U.S.-based service any time.
  • No annual fee. No overlimit fee. No foreign transaction fee. No late fee on first late payment & paying late won't raise your APR.*
  • Each Discover purchase is monitored. If it's unusual, you're alerted by e-mail, phone or text and never responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card.
  • *See rates, rewards, free FICO® Credit Score terms & other info by clicking “Apply.”
UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card
  • Editors’ Rating
Apply Now

UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card

For People with
Bad Credit

  • Annual Fee: $39
  • Interest Rate: 17.99% (Fixed)
Quick Card Facts
  • Unlike your Prepaid Card, UNITY Visa secured card can help you build your credit. Apply online in less than 5 minutes, and you could be approved today!
  • No Minimum Credit Score required; low fixed interest rate of 17.99%; Fully refundable FDIC security deposit* required at time of application; if you have a min of $250 to deposit immediately, you can start now!
  • No application fee or penalty rate
  • Monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • 24/7 online access to your account
  • *See the Cardholder Agreement for more details.

Have you used any of these cards for a balance transfer? How did it go for you? Let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!

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