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: BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students
- Best balance-transfer card for small businesses: U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card
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.
- 20 billing cycles of 0% APR on balance transfers
- 20 billing cycles of 0% APR on new purchases
- No annual fee
- 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 APR 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 Card
Not only is the Citi Double Cash℠ Card one of the best cash back cards available, it also offers 18 months of 0% intro APR on balance-transfers.
- Enjoy 18 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers and new purchases.
- Earn 1% cash back on all purchases, and another 1% when you pay for your purchases, for a total of up to 2% cash back with no limits.
- No annual fee
- No 0% APR offer on new purchases
- No new account bonus
The Citi Double Cash features a great balance transfer offer as well as extremely competitive rewards. You earn 1% cash back on all purchases, and another 1% when you pay for your purchases, for a total of up to 2% cash back with no limits. You also receive 18 months of 0% APR financing on balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee. 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.
- 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 miles 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 your credit card spending.
- $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: BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students
Not only is the BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students 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.
- 18 billing cycles of 0% intro APR on balance transfers
- 18 billing cycles of 0% intro APR on new purchases
- Receive a free monthly FICO credit score
- No annual fee
- No rewards offered
- Balance transfers must be completed within 60 days of account opening to receive the 0% intro APR
Students who have some existing debt will appreciate the BankAmericard® Credit Card for Students with 18 billing cycles of 0% intro APR on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee (minimum $10). This card doesn't offer any rewards, and it has no annual fee.
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.
- 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
- 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 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 billing cycles, 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.
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.