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By Jason Steele
June 1, 2021
Arrows pointing left and right over and behind a credit card
Money; Getty Images

When you have credit card debt, your first priority should be to pay off your balances in order to avoid expensive interest charges. But when you open a new credit card account with an interest-free balance-transfer offer, then you can avoid interest charges while you pay off your balance. There are several types of credit cards that feature interest-free balance-transfer offers, and here are the best cards in each category:

  • Best simple balance-transfer card: U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
  • Best balance-transfer card with cash back: Citi® Double Cash
  • Best balance-transfer card with travel rewards: Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®
  • Best balance-transfer card for students: Discover it® Student Chrome
  • Best balance-transfer card for small businesses: U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card
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Best Simple Balance Transfer Card: U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card doesn’t offer a new account bonus or any rewards. Instead, it features the longest 0% APR balance transfer offer currently available from a major card issuer.

Pros:

  • 20 billing cycles of 0% APR on balance transfers
  • 20 billing cycles of 0% APR on new purchases
  • No annual fee

Cons:

  • No welcome bonus or rewards
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

U.S. Bank is one of the largest retail banks in America, and this card noses out its competition when it comes to offering a simple credit card with a very long promotional financing period. New applicants receive 20 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers (with a 3% balance transfer fee) and new purchases (standard rate applies after).

Otherwise, there’s not much to see here. There’s no welcome bonus, and no rewards for spending. There’s no annual fee, but there is a 3% foreign transition fee (or 2% for foreign transactions made in U.S. dollars).

Best balance-transfer card with cash back: Citi® Double Cash

Not only is the Citi Double Cash one of the best cash back cards available, it also has one of the longest 0% intro APR on balance-transfers available in the market.

Pros:

  • Enjoy 18 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers.
  • Earn up to 2% cash back.
  • No limits on the amount of cash back you can earn.
  • No annual fee.

Cons:

  • You do not earn cash back on balance transfers.
  • Qualifying balance transfers must be completed within four months from account opening.

While the Citi Double Cash is known as one of the top cash back cards, many don’t realize that it’s an equally competitive balance-transfer card as well. It offers 18 months of interest-free financing on balance transfers, but you must complete the transfer within the first four months of account opening. You’ll also earn 1% cash back at the time of purchase and another 1% cash back when you pay for your purchases, for a total of up to 2% cash back with no limits. There’s no annual fee for this card.

Best balance-transfer card with travel rewards: Frontier Airlines World Mastercard®

Not only is the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard our pick for the best airline credit card, it also has the best balance transfer offer available on a travel rewards card.

Pros:

  • 15 billing cycles of 0% intro APR on balance transfers that post within 45 days of account opening.
  • Earn 5x miles on eligible purchases from flyfrontier.com and 3x on restaurant purchases.
  • Receive 50,000 bonus miles after spending just $500 on new purchases and when you pay the annual fee within 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn elite status through credit card spending.

Cons:

  • $79 annual fee (waived the first year).
  • 0% intro APR is only valid on balance transfers that post to the account within the first 45 days of account opening.

Frontier is one of the fastest growing airlines in the United States and its co-branded credit card is unique in that it allows you to earn credit towards elite status with every dollar you spend. This card offers new accounts 15 months of 0% intro APR financing on balance transfers that post to the account within 45 days of account opening (on-going APR applies after). You’ll also earn 5x miles on eligible purchases from flyfrontier.com and 3x on restaurant purchases. Other benefits include 50,000 bonus miles after spending $500 on purchases in first 90 days of account opening, and a $100 flight voucher each year that you spend $2,500 or more with your card. You also receive an award redemption fee waiver and Zone 2 priority boarding. There’s a $79 annual fee (waived the first year) for this card.

Best balance-transfer card for students: Discover it® Student Chrome

Not only is the Discover it Student Chrome Card a good card for young adults to have, it’s also one of the rare student cards that offers new applicants 0% intro APR on balance transfers.

Pros:

  • Receive six months of 10.99% intro APR financing on balance transfers.
  • Receive six months of 0% intro APR financing on new purchases.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants.
  • Get a $20 statement credit each year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next five years.

Cons:

  • The Discover it card no longer offers many cardholder benefits.
  • Bonus rewards limited to a combined total of $1,000 each quarter.

Students who have some existing debt will appreciate the Discover it Chrome for Students Card with six months of 0% intro APR on new purchases and a lowered balance transfer rate of 10.99% APR on balance transfers made within the first 6 months or card opening (after that the ongoing rate applies). A 3% balance transfer fee applies to balance transfers completed before August 10, 2021 (5% fee applies after). This card also offers you 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants, and 1% cash back elsewhere. Discover will even match the rewards you earn during your account’s first year, effectively doubling what you earn. There’s no annual fee for this card.

Best balance-transfer card for small businesses: U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card

Compared to consumer cards, there are far fewer interest-free balance transfer offers for small business credit cards. But the U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card leads the pack.

Pros:

  • 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on balance transfers
  • 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles on new purchases
  • Robust employee card controls
  • No annual fee

Cons:

  • Intro balance transfer rate only applies to transfers made within 30 days from account opening
  • 3% foreign transaction fee

As far as small business credit cards go, this is a pretty simple product. It offers no rewards, but also has no annual fee and comes with fantastic promotional financing. You’ll receive 15 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee (or $5, whichever is greater). All transfers must be made within 30 days of account opening to receive the introductory rate, after which the ongoing rate applies. You also get 15 months of interest-free financing on new purchases (ongoing rate applies after). This card also includes helpful tools to track spending and place limits on employee authorized cardholders.

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Frequent asked questions about balance transfer credit cards

Q. Will getting a balance-transfer credit card hurt my credit? Everyone’s credit situation is different, but when used responsibly, a new balance-transfer credit card will help your credit than hurt it. That’s because the goal of getting a balance-transfer credit card is to pay down your existing balances, which is an important factor in working towards raising your credit score.

Q. What’s the best way to use a balance-transfer credit card? Once you are approved for a balance-transfer credit card, you should immediately transfer as much of your existing balances as possible, starting with the ones with the highest interest rates. You should also set the goal of paying off as much of your balances as possible before the promotional financing period expires

Q. Can you transfer a balance from another credit card issued by the same card issuer? No. For example, if you have the Citi Double Cash, you can’t transfer a balance from your Costco Anywhere Card from Citi. It has to be a balance from another bank or credit union.

Q. How is the balance-transfer fee paid? Nearly all balance transfer credit cards have a 3% or 5% balance transfer fee, and this amount is added to your new balance.

Q. Can you avoid paying your debts by continuing to get new balance-transfer credit cards with 0% interest? Attempting to avoid paying your balances is an unwise strategy. Having unpaid balances will hurt your credit score and there’s no guarantee that you’ll continue to be approved for new balance-transfer credit cards over time.

How we chose the best balance transfer cards

To find the best balance-transfer cards, we first divided the market into the five most popular types of cards. Then we looked at the balance-transfer credit cards offered by all of the major card issuers. Each of their balance-transfer credit card offers were examined and compared to other balance-transfer cards. We looked at not just the length of the promotional financing offer, but other factors such as the balance-transfer fee, the promotional financing for new purchases (if any) and cardholder benefits provided.

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