Best Credit Cards for Balance Transfers
If you're looking for the best balance transfer credit cards, you've come to the right place. MoneyRates.com has assembled some of the top credit card balance transfer offers available.
If you have high-interest credit card debt, your balance is climbing every month -- and you need a break in those interest payments so you can get back on top of your debt. Balance transfer credit cards give you a period of time with low or 0% interest to let you have some breathing room. Choose the best balance transfer credit card offer for your repayment plans from the selection here.
These quotes are from credit card issuers which have paid for a link to their website. Offers are subject to change without notice and may not be the same for all consumers.
Balance transfer credit cards
If your credit card balance is skyrocketing, your interest rate is high and you can't seem to make a dent in the debt, a balance transfer credit card could be the answer. It would give you a period of relief from paying large amounts of interest, allowing you to more effectively reduce what you owe.
How it works
Along with the annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases, credit cards also have an APR on balance transfers. The balance transfer APR is frequently higher than the purchase APR, but credit card companies offer many cards with low or 0% APRs on balance transfers for a designated introductory period to entice new borrowers. When you take advantage of one of these offers, you can transfer the debt you owe on a high-interest credit card to one with low or no interest for the duration of that period, which is commonly six, 12, 18 or 21 months.
Once the offer expires, however, the higher standard APR kicks in and applies to any amount of the initial balance transfer that remains on your bill. That new APR is often between 10 and 22 percent, based on your creditworthiness. The credit card companies determine that APR from your credit score, debt, income and other factors such as your credit card payment history. The lower, or worse, your credit score, the higher your APR likely will be.
You also can move other high-interest debt, like auto and appliance loans, to 0% balance transfer credit cards. This is usually done via credit card convenience checks the issuing bank provides. You may have to pay a fee to obtain these checks if the company didn't include them with your card.
Why transfer a balance
Taking advantage of a 0% balance transfer card can allow you to save considerably in interest charges. For example, if you move $15,000 from a card with a 15 percent APR to a card with a 0% balance transfer APR for 12 months, and pay off the balance within that time, you could save $2,250 in interest.
To succeed with this strategy, you should apply to the principal all the money you would've paid on interest. Ideally, you want to pay off the entire amount transferred before the 0% window closes.
If you're serious about eliminating your debt and are disciplined enough to do so, you're an ideal candidate for a 0% balance transfer credit card.
Terms you should know
It's important to note that you'll likely be charged a balance transfer fee to move your debt to the new card. It may be a flat fee or a percentage, such as 3 percent, of the amount transferred. For example, if you want to transfer $15,000 of debt to a 0% card, and the transfer fee is 3 percent, you'd pay a balance transfer fee of $450.
Your credit card company may or may not impose a minimum (often $5 or $10) and a maximum dollar amount on transferred balances.
It is key to factor in the cost of balance transfer fees before you apply for a new card, as they can significantly affect the amount of money you save on the deal.