Best balance transfer cards of 2017

Best balance transfer cards of 2017 Best balance transfer cards of 2017 Image:

In a Nutshell

If your credit card balances aren’t budging, you may be considering a balance transfer card. Read on to find our best picks for 2017.

Louis DeNicola is a personal finance writer and has written for American Express and Discover. We generally make money when you get a product (like a credit card or loan) through our platform, but we don’t let that cloud our editorial opinions. Learn more about how we keep this compensation from affecting our editorial views.
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At a glance: The best balance transfer cards for September 2017

Best rewards + balance transfer The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Best for fair credit Chase Slate®
Best 0% intro APR period Citi Simplicity® Card
Best for travel Discover it®

Before we dive into our top picks, let’s recap what balance transfer cards are.

Do you carry a balance on your credit cards? If you do, how much interest are you paying?

Rather than pay interest on your credit card debt or juggle multiple payments each month, you may be able to transfer high-interest debt to a single credit card by balance transfer.

Because a balance transfer allows you to pay 0 percent interest on your balance for a set amount of time, you can pay more money towards your principal, which can reduce how long it will take to repay your debt.

Learn how to do a balance transfer in 6 steps.

What else do I need to know?

  • Some cards also give you a promotional 0 percent interest rate on purchases, but this may not be the same length as the balance transfer promotional period. Some cards may even offer a promotional balance transfer period but no matching promotional interest rate for purchases.
  • You usually have to pay a fee to transfer your balance to your new card — typically 3 percent of your balance.
  • Balance transfer cards may provide temporary relief from high interest rates but they don’t make your debt disappear. If you’re approved for a transfer, you should make a plan for paying your debt down in the limited promotion period.
  • In order to qualify for a balance transfer card, you typically need to have good to excellent credit.
  • Depending on how much debt you’re carrying, you may not be able to transfer all of your debt, even if you’re approved.

Here’s our take on the best balance transfer cards on the market to help you find the right one for your situation.


Best rewards + balance transfer: The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

From our partner
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Who’s it for?

When it comes to balance transfer cards, it’s often all about the one-and-done — shifting a balance from Card A with interest to Card B with a zero-interest introductory period.

But if you’re looking for a card that can do double duty — both balance transfer and rewards for everyday purchases — the Amex EveryDay® is a great option.

You can earn two points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then one point per dollar after that) and it also comes with 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 12 months. (After the 12 months, the APR for both purchases and balance transfers jumps to a variable rate of 13.99 to 23.99 percent.)

It’s not the very best balance transfer offer on its own, but could earn top billing as your all-around utility pick.

Why we like it  

With the Amex EveryDay®, you can earn decent rewards. If you use your card at least 20 times on separate purchases in a billing period, you’ll even earn 20 percent more points on those purchases (less credits and returns).

On top of the two points earned on every dollar spent on purchases from U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then one point per dollar), you’ll earn one point per dollar spent on other purchases too.

The Amex EveryDay® also offers an attainable welcome offer — make $1,000 in purchases in the first three months after account opening and you’ll earn a one-time 10,000 Membership Rewards® point welcome offer.

The best part? You get all these benefits without paying an annual fee.

Watch out for

This card has the shortest introductory period out of our favorite cards. If you think your debt will take longer than a year to pay off, you may be better off considering alternatives with a longer 0 percent APR promo period so you don’t end up racking up interest on your balance.

Any balance transfers you make after account opening will incur a 3 percent (minimum $5) fee per transfer.

You’ll also have to pay a 2.7 percent foreign transaction fee, so this may not be the best card to use during overseas travel.

One big drawback of this card’s rewards for purchases from U.S. supermarkets is that not every grocery store is considered a supermarket. So, for example, if you shop at Target, Costco or your corner store, you’ll only earn one point per dollar.

How to use it

To take advantage of the balance transfer offer, move fast after you get your card: You have 60 days to request a balance transfer that will have the 0 percent introductory APR. After that, the APR jumps to 13.99 to 23.99 percent.

This card is your best friend if you’re a supermarket regular. Also, spending $1,000 in the first three months from account opening to get the 10,000 point welcome offer is more attainable than some other welcome offers out there.

Once you accumulate points, you have many options for redeeming them, but keep in mind some options offer much better value than others.

For example, according to The Points Guy, transferring your points to certain eligible airlines is generally much more valuable than shopping in the Amex Membership Rewards® online shopping mall.

Best for fair credit: Chase Slate®

From our partner

Chase Slate®

From cardholders in the last year

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Who’s it for?

While many balance transfer offers require you to have good or excellent credit, according to our data from February 2015 from more than 6,400 Credit Karma members, you still might get approved if you have fair credit. 

Just be aware that even if you get approved, Chase determines what your credit limit is (at least $500) and it may not be high enough for you to transfer all your debt.

Why we like it

Chase Slate® stands out with a $0 annual fee and 0 percent intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months (then it jumps to 15.99 to 24.74 percent).

The card doesn’t have a penalty APR, which is an increased interest rate that’s applied after you’ve made late payments. However, if you make a late payment, you’ll still be assessed a late payment fee of up to $37.

Another major bonus of this card is that you don’t have to pay a transfer fee on transfers made within 60 days of opening your account. Most cards charge a 3 percent transfer fee, which, as an example, is $150 on a $5,000 transfer.

Learn more about penalty APRs (and how to avoid them).

Watch out for

There’s a late payment fee, depending on your balance and the number of times you’re late.  

Chase Slate® isn’t part of a rewards program, which may make it less appealing if you’re used to earning cash back on your purchases.

After the 60 days is up, Chase charges a 5 percent ($5 minimum) fee for future balance transfers.

Also, Chase doesn’t allow you to transfer balances from other Chase accounts.

How to use it 

Move quickly to transfer your balance: If you complete it within the first 60 days after opening your account, you won’t have to pay a fee to transfer. This is the only card in our list of favorites which offers this perk.

Just make sure you can pay off your balance within the intro APR period.

Like the Citi Simplicity® Card, Chase Slate® doesn’t offer much in the way of rewards so this is a great card to use to pay down debt interest-free and not use it for spending. 

Best 0% intro APR period: Citi Simplicity® Card

From our partner

Citi Simplicity® Card

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

Who’s it for? 

If you’re interested in having a long time to pay down your debt interest free, the Citi Simplicity® Card offers 0 percent intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for the first 21 months (after that, the variable APR will be 14.99 to 24.99 percent). This is one of the longest promotional periods of the cards we’re comparing.

Why we like it

The intro APR on purchases and balance transfers is one of the best deals in this category. Efficient use of this card could lead to significant savings if you want to pay down your credit card debt without paying interest.

The Citi Simplicity® Card has other money-saving perks. There’s no annual fee, no penalty APR and no late fees.

Watch out for 

The Citi Simplicity® Card isn’t part of a rewards program, and there’s a balance transfer fee of 3 percent (minimum $5). It also carries a 3 percent foreign transaction fee so it’s not an ideal travel companion.

But considering the long promotional period, it may be worth paying the balance transfer fee to have the extra time to pay down your debt.

How to use it

The Citi Simplicity® Card has a generous 21-month 0 percent intro APR offer for balance transfers (qualifying transfers must be completed within the first 4 months of getting the card) which can give you a great opportunity to pay down your debt interest-free. But note that after the intro APR period, the variable APR will be 14.99 to 24.99 percent.

As this card doesn’t offer any rewards, you may feel less tempted to use it for spending, and reserve its use for balance transfer pay down only.

Best for travel: Discover it®

Who’s it for?

If you travel overseas regularly, Discover it® has you covered for international spending as there’s no foreign transaction fee. It also offers a generous cash back match on all cash back you earn in your first year as a new card member.

Why we like it

The Discover it® doesn’t have an annual fee, penalty APR or foreign transaction fee. Also, the late payment fee (up to $37) is waived the first time (but only the first time — and one late payment can still hurt your credit).

You’ll earn 5 percent cash back on select purchases within rotating categories, and 1 percent on all other purchases. You can also redeem your rewards while making purchases on Amazon.com. If you’re a new cardmember, Discover will double the cash back you earned throughout the year at the end of your first year.

Check out our guide to the best travel rewards cards.

Watch out for

The Discover it® has a 0 percent intro APR for the first 14 months on balance transfers and purchases. For length of promotional period of our top cards, it’s in the middle of the pack.

You also only have a limited period to make a balance transfer that qualifies for the introductory APR offer and for any transfer you make, you’ll be on the hook for a 3 percent fee.

You need to sign up for the rotating rewards categories so if you forget, you may not be able to take advantage of the 5 percent cash back deals.

How to use it

Discover it® is definitely worth considering if you’re looking to transfer high-interest debt that you can reasonably pay off within 14 months, while making rewards-earning purchases.

Out of the top cards, it’s also the one you’ll want to have on hand when you travel overseas (although be aware that Discover isn’t as widely accepted abroad as Visa and Mastercard).

Maximizing the 5 percent cash back categories can require some planning on your part — the categories don’t remain the same year over year and make sure you sign up for the categories in advance.


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