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Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards for December 2022

Get more time to pay off debt while avoiding interest charges.

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When you transfer a balance, you consolidate your debt from high-interest credit cards or loans onto a credit card with a special introductory APR period. 

An APR, or annual percentage rate, is the annual interest rate your revolving credit card balance is subject to. An introductory APR offers a set timeframe -- usually between six and 21 months -- in which you can take advantage of 0% interest on your balance as long as you make all of your minimum payments on time. Balance transfer cards usually require a balance transfer fee, which can be 3% or 5% of the balance transferred. 

The best strategy is to pay off your entire balance before the end of the promotional introductory APR period on balance transfers, so that you can avoid interest entirely and become debt free.

In this article

Best overall balance transfer offer

8.75/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR for 21 billing cycles for purchases
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR for 21 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee (min. $10) applies.
Balance Transfer APR15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Late Payment Fee See Terms
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR none

Our Take

This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now. 

The BankAmericard® credit card offers one of the longest introductory APRs on balance transfers and purchases alike. To take advantage of the balance transfer offer, you'll have to transfer your balance within 60 days of account opening, and you'll be subject to a 3% balance transfer fee ($10 minimum).

For more details, see our full review of the BankAmericard credit card.

Balance transfer with a cash rewards program

9.5/10 CNET Rating
See Rates and Fees
Card Highlights
Intro OfferEarn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
APR18.74%, 23.74%, or 28.74% Variable APR
Intro Purchase APR0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers
Balance Transfer APR18.74%, 23.74%, or 28.74% Variable APR
Balance Transfer Fee up to 5%; min: $5
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases

Our Take

While the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card doesn't offer the longest balance transfer promotion on this list, its usefulness will extend beyond the introductory APR offer. Most credit cards dedicated solely to balance transfers don't include a welcome bonus or rewards program.

Note that any balances you transfer won't help you qualify for the welcome bonus, and you won't earn rewards on them. But if some of your credit limit is leftover for purchases, you might be able to unlock the welcome bonus.

Find all the details in our Wells Fargo Active Cash Card review.

Read our Wells Fargo Active Cash Card review.

 

Another good option

8.75/10 CNET Rating
See Rates and Fees
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR18.24% - 28.24% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on purchases
Recommended Credit Good/Excellent
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on balance transfers
Balance Transfer APR18.24% - 28.24% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater
Foreign Transaction Fees 2% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in U.S. Dollars. 3% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in a Foreign Currency

Our Take

The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card offers one of the longest introductory APR periods on the market. Though a handful of cards may have slightly longer introductory APR periods, they also often require higher balance transfer fees or otherwise complicate the process. This is the best option when it comes to making both an inexpensive and convenient balance transfer.

See our full review of the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card for more details.

Long intro APR with extension opportunity

8.75/10 CNET Rating
See Rates and Fees
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR16.74% - 28.74% Variable APR
Intro Purchase APR0% intro APR for up to 21 months from account opening
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% intro APR for up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers
Balance Transfer APR16.74% - 28.74% Variable APR
Balance Transfer Fee up to 5%; min: $5
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR None

Our Take

The Wells Fargo Reflect® Card offers up to 21 months from account opening of 0% introductory APR -- but you'll have to earn it. The base offer lasts for 18 months from the account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers alike. You can qualify for an extension of three months if you make on-time minimum payments on your account during the introductory period (16.74% to 28.74% variable APR thereafter). Note that you must transfer your balances to this card within 120 days of the account opening to take advantage of this offer.

Check out our full review of the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card for more details.

Good for balance transfers and lowering your regular APR

8/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR18.74% - 27.49% Variable
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR on Purchases for 18 months
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good Credit
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months
Balance Transfer APR18.74% - 27.49% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Foreign Transaction Fees 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Penalty APR Up to 29.99%

Our Take

The introductory APR for the Chase Slate Edge℠ applies to balance transfers, and you'll get a unique opportunity to reduce your regular APR over time. Each anniversary year that you spend at least $1,000 on your card and make all your payments on time, you will automatically be considered for an APR reduction by 2% each year. This can continue until your APR reaches the Prime Rate plus 9.74% (currently 16.74% variable based on a prime rate of 7.00%).

So if you think you may need to keep your balance running for longer than the introductory APR period, the Chase Slate Edge will be a good bet. See more details in our full review of the Chase Slate Edge.

Flexible rewards with a longer balance transfer period

7.5/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro Offer$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
APR17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
  • Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
  • Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee (min. $10) applies.
Balance Transfer APR17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Late Payment Fee See Terms
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% APR
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
  • Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases).
  • Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

Our Take

This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card likely isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of balance transfers, but it actually offers a longer promotional period than some of the other rewards cards with balance transfer offers on this list.

You'll need to make any transfers within 60 days of account opening to qualify -- as well as pay a 3% ($10 minimum) fee. But If you're looking for a flexible rewards card that gives more time to pay off a transferred balance, you could do worse.

See if it's the card for you with our Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards review.

Cash back with a long balance transfer offer

7.25/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% intro for 18 months on Balance Transfers
Balance Transfer APR17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. A balance transfer fee of 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies if completed after 4 months of account opening.
Late Payment Fee Up to $41
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% (Variable)
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

Our Take

The Citi Double Cash offers one of the longest balance transfer periods on a rewards card. It also is one of the most rewarding cash-back credit cards without an annual fee. It offers 18 months to pay down a transferred balance at 0% introductory interest (then 17.74% to 27.74% variable). Balance transfers must be completed within four months of account opening.

Eighteen months is just three months shy of the longest promotional period offered by other balance transfer cards, many of which feature no rewards and have limited value once you pay off a balance.

You can find all the details in our full Citi Double Cash Card review.

Longest intro APR with no late fee

7.25/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferN/A
APR17.74% - 28.49% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR0% for 12 months on Purchases
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers
Balance Transfer APR17.74% - 28.49% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. A balance transfer fee of 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies if completed after 4 months of account opening.
Late Payment Fee No Late Fees
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%

Our Take

The Citi Simplicity card has one of the longest available balance transfer periods. There is an introductory balance transfer fee of 3% ($5 minimum) for the first four months -- then it spikes up to 5% ($5 minimum). This balance transfer card has no late fee or penalty APR. If there's any chance that you could miss a payment at some point, the Simplicity could save you up to $41 and won't forfeit the introductory APR. 

You also have a long time to make a credit card balance transfer with the introductory APR -- at four months from when you open the account.

For more details, see our full review of the Citi Simplicity card.

A long intro balance transfer with a high fee

7/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro OfferFor a limited time earn a $150 Statement Credit after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
APR16.74% - 27.49% (Variable)
Intro Purchase APR0% for 12 months on Purchases
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers
Balance Transfer APR16.74% - 27.49% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Late Payment Fee Up to $41
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR Up to 29.99% (Variable)

Our Take

The Citi Diamond Preferred provides one of the longest balance transfer promotional periods on the market, but it requires a higher-than-average balance transfer fee as well.

The standard balance transfer fee is 3%, but the Diamond Preferred asks for 5% ($5 minimum). Most of the other cards on this list only require a 3% fee. Unless you need extra time to pay off a balance, consider one of those first. It is, however, worth noting that paying even a 5% fee will typically be less expensive than paying regular interest charges on a credit card with a high APR.

You can learn more about the card in our Citi Diamond Preferred review.

A traveling balance transfer card

6.5/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro Offer25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
APR17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee (min. $10) applies.
Balance Transfer APR17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Late Payment Fee See terms
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR up to 29.99% APR
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.

Our Take

This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

If you're looking for a travel credit card but also need to knock out some credit card debt, consider the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. It has no annual fee and provides a good amount of time to pay down a transferred balance compared to some of the other reward-centric credit cards here.

While it might be better used for its intro APR on purchases to finance a planned trip, you could use it instead for a balance transfer. You'll need to make any transfers within 60 days of account opening to qualify, however. And once you pay down the balance, you'll have a solid travel credit card to take with you on the road.

You can read more about it in our Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card review.

Simple and rewarding

6/10 CNET Rating
Card Highlights
Intro Offer$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
APR17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee (min. $10) applies.
Balance Transfer APR17.74% - 27.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Late Payment Fee See Terms
Foreign Transaction Fees 3%
Penalty APR up to 29.99% APR
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Our Take

This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.

The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card is one of the few rewards cards with a competitive balance transfer offer that also offers a welcome bonus -- though any transferred balances won't help you unlock it.

The Unlimited Cash Rewards card has the standard 3% ($10 minimum) balance transfer fee and offers new cardholders a solid 18 billing cycles of 0% introductory APR to pay off a transferred debt before the standard APR of 17.74% to 27.74% (variable) applies. While it might not have the most lucrative rewards program, it provides a good amount of time to pay down a balance, has no spending limits on the rewards rate and the welcome bonus is relatively accessible.

Another balance transfer opportunity

Discover it® Balance Transfer

  • Intro offer: All cash back earned at the end of your first 12 months will be matched
  • APR: 15.74 percent to 26.74 percent variable
  • Intro purchase APR: 0% for the first six months
  • Balance transfer intro APR: 0% for the first 18 months
  • Recommended credit: Good to excellent
  • Rewards rates: 5% cash back after activation on rotating categories each quarter (up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases, then 1%), 1% for all other purchases
  • Annual fee: $0

The Discover it® Balance Transfer* card offers a competitive balance transfer, though the introductory APR on purchases is shorter than most. Note that you'll have to pay a 3% intro balance transfer fee, which may be as high as 5% on future balance transfers (see terms).

How to choose a balance transfer credit card

Choosing the best balance transfer credit card depends on how much money you owe and how quickly you can pay it off. The best balance transfer cards should help you pay off the credit card balance by the end of the introductory APR period. That, in turn, can have a big impact on raising or maintaining a good credit score.

You'll need to do some math to use a balance transfer credit card effectively. Paying close attention to the transfer fee, balance requirements, annual fee, intro APR period and the variable APR will make a difference in how much you save.

Some banks have recently shortened or eliminated their introductory low-APR periods for balance transfers, but there are still plenty of good options. Each balance transfer offer is different -- be sure to examine the terms carefully before applying for a new credit card.

When choosing the best balance transfer credit card, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • Welcome bonuses or cash rewards are mostly a distraction from the cards' primary purpose, which is to give you a low intro APR period to pay down your balance.
  • Some balance transfer cards may charge an annual fee, although none of our current best picks do.
  • You can't transfer balances between different cards from the same credit card issuer (for example, you can't transfer a Citi balance to another Citi card).
  • The maximum credit card balance you can transfer to a new card will depend on several factors, including your credit utilization ratio, the qualifying balance transfer, your minimum payment and your credit rating. Each credit card and credit card issuer is different, and each factor will be determined by the card issuer after assessing your creditworthiness.

How do balance transfer credit cards work?

A balance transfer is when you take the debt, or balance, that you owe on one card account and transfer it to another credit card account with a lower interest rate. While many credit cards allow balance transfers, those primarily designed for the purpose offer an introductory 0% APR period on balances transferred to that account, typically applicable to transfers made within the first 60 to 120 days of card ownership. 

The introductory APR period generally lasts between 12 months and 21 months, giving you a significant period of time to pay off your balance interest-free. You typically have to make all of your minimum payments on time to maintain the promotional interest rate, and there is usually a 3% to 5% balance transfer fee. If you don't pay off your full balance by the end of the introductory period, you will start accruing interest charges at the regular APR.

What are the pros and cons of balance transfer credit cards?

Pros

  • Save money by temporarily reducing or eliminating credit card interest
  • Reduce your credit utilization ratio and the amount of money you owe
  • Consolidate debts from multiple credit cards into one account
  • Potential for lower monthly payments due to temporary break on interest

Cons

  • Good or excellent credit score needed to qualify
  • Potentially higher interest rates after the intro APR period expires
  • Limits on how much credit card debt you can transfer
  • Less attractive rewards and bonuses than other credit cards

Will using a balance transfer credit card affect my credit rating?

Applying for any new credit card will usually affect your credit rating a little. Each credit card application requires a hard inquiry (also called a "hard pull") of your credit rating, which could lower your credit score a few points, though the damage usually disappears before the inquiry is removed from your credit report in two years.

You'll want to avoid several hard inquiries within a short period, which could indicate to lenders that you are low on cash or a high-risk customer. Your best bet is to find the one credit card you want and determine if your credit rating is good enough for it. A soft inquiry (or "soft pull") of your credit rating will not impact your score and will keep you informed of your rating and credit options. You can check your approval odds via a soft pull with the best preapproval credit cards.

A new credit card will also shorten the average age of your accounts, which can negatively affect your credit score. Credit reporting company Experian recommends keeping older credit card accounts open to cushion the impact of a new card.

On the other hand, consolidating debt with a balance transfer credit card can reduce your credit utilization ratio -- your debt divided by your credit limit -- which will improve your credit score. Experts suggest keeping your ratio below 30%.

Finally, using a balance transfer card to pay off credit card debt within the introductory APR period should have a significant positive impact on your credit score. Along with improving your credit utilization, you'll also simply owe less money overall. The amount of money you owe accounts for 30% of your FICO score.

Overall, how a balance transfer credit card affects your credit rating will depend on what you do with it. If you're shifting money from card to card repeatedly, your score will be hurt. If you're paying off significant debt, that should improve your score much more than the small negative impacts of the hard pull and reduced average age of your accounts.

What are alternatives to balance transfer credit cards?

While balance transfer credit cards are a quick and easy way to consolidate debt, they're not your only option. Personal loans or debt consolidation loans can combine debt from multiple sources and provide you with a single lender and one monthly payment.

Your choice will depend on how much you owe, how soon you can pay it back and what sort of payment plan you prefer. If you have reasonably low credit card debt and expect to pay off your balance easily in the intro APR period, a balance transfer card with low or no balance transfer fees could be a good idea.

If you have larger credit card debt or are less sure about your ability to repay it during the low intro APR period, a debt consolidation loan may make more sense. While such loans can include fees, they'll generally let you transfer more debt, while providing a fixed rate that's lower than credit card variable rates. You can also include other debt such as medical bills within the same loan. 

Debt consolidation loans can make it easier to budget by giving you a consistent monthly payment for the length of the loan, usually two to five years. Be sure that you can afford the monthly payment, however, as late fees will accrue and negatively affect your credit score.

The approval process for loans will be longer than credit cards, although they offer more options for borrowers with poor credit. All of the best balance transfer credit cards listed above require good or excellent credit. While not easy, it's possible for borrowers with low credit scores to qualify for debt consolidation loans, though they'll likely have to pay higher interest rates. 

Glossary of terms

Introductory APR: The interest rate that's applied toward your balance transfer amount and any purchases during an initial period of card ownership (usually 12 to 21 months).

Standard APR: The interest rate applied toward balances and purchases after the introductory period ends.

Introductory balance transfer fee: The fee charged on balance transfers during the initial period of card ownership.

Standard balance transfer fee: The fee charged on balance transfers after the introductory period ends.

Credit utilization ratio: The amount of your aggregate credit card balances divided by your credit limit across all cards.

Qualifying balance transfer: The amount of credit card debt that an issuer will allow you to transfer to a new card.

FAQs

If I still have a balance after the introductory APR period is over, can I just keep transferring my debt to a new balance transfer card?

Technically, yes. In some cases, transferring your balance two or three times might even be what's necessary to finally pay off your debt. But unless you have a firm understanding of how you got into debt in the first place and a plan for getting out of debt, you won't be working toward a solution. 

While transferring your remaining debt to a second balance transfer card may allow you to pay off your balance without monthly interest or a fee, it's important to note that there are too many variables for multiple balance transfers to be a failure-proof debt strategy. For example, your card application could be denied, your credit limit could be much lower than you anticipated or your transfer request could be denied. Credit card offers could also change, making it difficult to plan ahead. That's why it's recommended to select a card that allows you to pay off the full balance after one cycle if possible.

What's the maximum balance I can transfer to a new credit card?

The balance transfer limit is determined by the card issuer on an individual basis. Some cards may take into account your creditworthiness and account history (if applicable) when determining this amount. 

The same goes for determining your credit limit. The card issuer will take into account factors like your credit score, credit utilization, income and housing payments when establishing your credit limit. Remember that the credit limit may be less than you expected and therefore less than your current outstanding balance. To successfully raise your limit, you usually need an adjustment in your financial situation, like increased income or lower housing payment, or an extended period of paying your bills on time, which obviously isn't a great option if you're qualifying for a balance transfer to take advantage of an introductory 0% APR period.

What is an introductory APR?

The introductory APR is the APR applied toward your balance (including balance transfers and purchases in most cases) for the first six to 21 months of card ownership, depending on the card. The standard APR is the APR applied toward your balance after the introductory period ends. The penalty APR is applied toward your balance if you miss more than one payment in six months, usually, but depends on the individual card and your card issuer.

What is an introductory balance transfer fee?

An introductory balance transfer fee is a reduced or $0 fee charged for transfers made during an initial promotional period when you open the account, usually for the first 30 to 120 days of card ownership. Not all balance transfer cards offer an introductory balance transfer fee, but the ones that do can save you an average of 3% of your balance. However, many of these cards do not offer an introductory APR. See our list of the best credit cards with no balance transfer fees for more information.

How long will it take to complete a balance transfer?

It may take anywhere between 10 days and six weeks to complete a balance transfer, after receiving your new card and cardholder agreement. It's also important to note that some card issuers, such as Citi, make balance transfers available at their discretion, and could therefore decline a transfer request. And you should probably still pay the minimum on the old card's balance until you've confirmed that the transfer was completed, so you don't run the risk of fees or penalties.

Who can qualify for a balance transfer credit card?

In order to qualify for a top-rated balance transfer credit card, you'll need good credit. All of the cards recommended above require good to excellent credit scores, meaning FICO scores of 670 to 850.

If your credit score is lower than 670, you might be able to qualify for another balance transfer credit card, but you'll likely have to pay for it with higher balance transfer fees, lower transfer limits and/or a shorter intro APR period.

What do I do if I have subpar credit?

If your credit score is lower than 670 and you've been unsuccessful securing one of the cards above, consider alternative methods for refinancing your debt. You can call your current card issuer and try to negotiate a lower APR. You could also explore a debt consolidation loan, which would allow you to gather all of your debt under a new, lower APR.

Can I use a balance transfer credit card to buy things?

While a balance transfer credit card certainly works like a normal credit card, it's generally not a good idea to use it to make new purchases. If you currently have credit card debt, your primary goal should be to get out of debt and avoid paying interest. When you purchase something and add new charges to your balance transfer account, you're moving in the wrong direction, especially if you're only able to make the minimum payment.

A debit card or cash is better for any new purchases while you pay off your debt, thus leaving your balance transfer account only for debt repayment. This will also help you track your progress more clearly. And keep in mind that some balance transfer credit cards still charge interest on new purchases until you pay off the entire balance (the new purchases plus whatever balance you transferred), which will only compound your debt problem.

Our approach to credit card evaluation

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category of cards, including cash-back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We consider the typical spending behaviors of a range of consumer profiles with the understanding that everyone's financial situation is different -- as are the designated functions of different credit cards. 

For balance transfer credit cards, we analyze specs such as the duration of the introductory 0% APR period and the balance transfer fee, while also considering factors such as the standard APR and the length of time you have to make a balance transfer after you open the account. The length of the intro APR period and the balance transfer fee are the two primary factors that have the biggest impact on the overall cost of paying off debt with a balance transfer credit card.

*All information about the Discover it Balance Transfer has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.