How Does LendingTree Get Paid?
| Advertising Disclosure
| American Express Disclosure

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appears on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

Advertising Disclosure

LendingTree is an advertising-supported comparison service. The site features products from our partners as well as institutions which are not advertising partners. While we make an effort to include the best deals available to the general public, we make no warranty that such information represents all available products. We are compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order).

American Express Disclosure

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Is a Balance Transfer a Good Idea?

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated April 29, 2022 . Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

Citi is an advertising partner.

A balance transfer can be a good idea if you have a large amount of high-interest credit card debt that you’re struggling to pay off. That’s because balance transfer cards offer introductory interest-free periods, allowing your monthly payments to go directly toward the principal of your balance instead of interest charges.

Just know, however, that if you don’t pay your transferred balance in full before the promotional period ends, you’ll be subject to interest charges on any remaining balance. In addition, these cards often charge balance transfer fees.

We’ll explain what you need to know about completing a balance transfer to help you determine if it’s the right move for you.

What is a balance transfer?

A balance transfer is a transaction that involves moving debt from one or more credit cards to another credit card. Because balance transfer credit cards offer introductory APRs that are typically much lower than standard interest rates, they let more of your payments go directly toward the debt principal rather than the principal plus interest. This can help you to save on interest charges while paying down your credit card debt more quickly.

Balance transfer cards typically offer interest-free periods anywhere from six to 21 months. However, they often charge balance transfer fees, ranging from 3% to 5% of the amount of each transfer.

Balance transfer pros

Here are some of the benefits of balance transfer credit cards:

Opportunity to save on interest charges. With interest rates ranging anywhere from 16.11% to 23.25% for new cards as of March 2022, carrying a balance on your credit card month over month can add up quickly. Take, for example, a card with an APR of 19.62% (variable) — which was the average APR for new cards in March. If you carry a balance of $5,000 on that card, you will be subject to interest charges of $981 for one month alone ($5,000 x 19.62% = $981).

But if you transfer that existing debt to a card that offers an introductory interest-free period, you can avoid incurring interest charges during that time period.

Ability to pay down debt faster. When you transfer high-interest credit card debt to a card that offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for an extended period of time, your monthly payments will go directly to the principal of your balance, rather than toward the principal plus interest charges during the promotional period. This can help you pay off your debt more quickly.

Using the example from above, if you transfer a $5,000 balance to a card with a 0% intro APR for 15 months and no balance transfer fee, you can pay off your debt in full within that timeframe by making payments of $333 each month for 15 months ($5,000/15 = $333).

Simplify monthly bills. Balance transfers allow you to consolidate your credit card bills into one monthly payment, so you won’t have to keep track of multiple due dates each month.

Balance transfer cons

Balance transfer credit cards can also come with some drawbacks, including:

Balance transfer fee. The majority of balance transfer cards charge a fee of 3% to 5% of the amount of each transfer every time you move an existing balance to the card. For example, if you transfer $5,000 to a card that charges a 3% balance transfer fee, you’ll be charged $150 for doing so.

That said, there are cards available that don’t charge balance transfer fees. But those cards typically don’t offer interest-free periods of more than a year — meaning, you’ll have less time to pay off your balance before the card’s regular APR kicks in. In addition, these cards are usually issued by credit unions that require membership.

Limit on the amount you can transfer. The amount you’re allowed to transfer is usually limited to the amount of the balance transfer card’s credit limit. Plus, if the balance transfer card charges a balance transfer fee, it will reduce the amount you’re eligible to transfer.

For example, if you’re eligible to transfer a $5,000 balance to a card that charges a 3% balance transfer fee, you will actually only be able to transfer $4,850, once you factor in the balance transfer fee ($5,000 – $150 = $4,850).

Balance transfer window. Most balance transfer cards have a balance transfer window — which is the period of time you have to take advantage of a card’s intro APR on balance transfers and/or intro balance transfer fee. This is often 60 days from the date of opening your account.

Risk of more debt. If you don’t pay your transferred balance in full within the promotional interest-free period, you’ll be subject to interest charges on any remaining balance at the card’s ongoing APR.

To help ensure you eliminate your debt, rather than adding to it, we recommend calculating the amount you need to pay each month in order to pay your balance in full before the intro APR ends, then setting up automatic payments. You should also avoid using your balance transfer to make new purchases until after the transferred balance is paid off.

Best balance transfer cards

If you’re in the market for a balance transfer card, there are currently a number to choose from. Depending on your needs, you may want to consider one of the cards listed below — one of which offers the longest interest-free period available, one that offers an intro balance transfer fee, one that doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee and another that doesn’t have a balance transfer window.

Best For Longest intro APR on balance transfers

Citi<sup>®</sup> Diamond Preferred<sup>®</sup> Card

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Apply Now
on Citibank's secure site
Introductory APR 0% for 12 months on Purchases
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 16.74% - 27.49% (Variable)
Credit Score Needed
660 850
Excellent/Good

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card has one of the longest interest-free periods currently available for a balance transfer card. The card offers an intro APR of 0% for 21 months on balance transfers. After that, an ongoing APR of 16.74% - 27.49% (variable) applies.

A balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is ideal if you think you may need close to two years to pay off your transferred debt.

Along with a long intro APR on balance transfers, the card offers an intro APR of 0% for 12 months on purchases. After that, an APR of 16.74% - 27.49% (variable) applies.

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card doesn’t offer rewards for the purchases you make.

The $0 annual fee card is designed for those with excellent/good credit.

  • 24/7 customer service
  • Automatic account alerts
  • Ability to choose your payment due date

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card has one of the longest interest-free periods currently available for a balance transfer card. The card offers an intro APR of 0% for 21 months on balance transfers. After that, an ongoing APR of 16.74% - 27.49% (variable) applies.

A balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is ideal if you think you may need close to two years to pay off your transferred debt.

Along with a long intro APR on balance transfers, the card offers an intro APR of 0% for 12 months on purchases. After that, an APR of 16.74% - 27.49% (variable) applies.

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card doesn’t offer rewards for the purchases you make.

The $0 annual fee card is designed for those with excellent/good credit.

  • 24/7 customer service
  • Automatic account alerts
  • Ability to choose your payment due date

Best For Intro balance transfer fee

Wells Fargo Reflect<sup>®</sup> Card

Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

Apply Now
on Wells Fargo's secure site
Introductory APR 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 16.74% - 28.74% variable APR
Credit Score Needed
660 850
Excellent/Good

In addition to offering the potential for an interest-free period on balance transfers for nearly two years, the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card also offers an introductory balance transfer fee.

Cardholders receive a 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, then a 16.74% - 28.74% variable APR applies. The card also offers an intro balance transfer fee of 3% for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%; min: $5.   

 

The Wells Fargo Reflect® Card is designed for cardholders with excellent/good credit.

The card offers an intro APR on balance transfers for a year and half. Plus, cardholders can receive an intro APR extension of up to three months with on-time minimum payments during the introductory and extension periods.

The $0 annual fee card also comes with a 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on purchases — then a 16.74% - 28.74% variable APR applies.

Similar to the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card doesn’t offer a rewards program. But when transferring a balance, we recommend focusing on paying your balance in full within the promotional period rather than racking up rewards — which could unintentionally lead to acquiring even more debt.

  • Cellphone protection
  • My Wells Fargo Deals
  • Free FICO credit score access
  • Card account activity alerts

In addition to offering the potential for an interest-free period on balance transfers for nearly two years, the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card also offers an introductory balance transfer fee.

Cardholders receive a 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, then a 16.74% - 28.74% variable APR applies. The card also offers an intro balance transfer fee of 3% for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%; min: $5.   

 

The Wells Fargo Reflect® Card is designed for cardholders with excellent/good credit.

The card offers an intro APR on balance transfers for a year and half. Plus, cardholders can receive an intro APR extension of up to three months with on-time minimum payments during the introductory and extension periods.

The $0 annual fee card also comes with a 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on purchases — then a 16.74% - 28.74% variable APR applies.

Similar to the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card doesn’t offer a rewards program. But when transferring a balance, we recommend focusing on paying your balance in full within the promotional period rather than racking up rewards — which could unintentionally lead to acquiring even more debt.

  • Cellphone protection
  • My Wells Fargo Deals
  • Free FICO credit score access
  • Card account activity alerts

Best For No balance transfer fee

Choice Rewards World Mastercard®

Choice Rewards World Mastercard®

Review Coming Soon
Introductory APR N/A
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 11.25% to 18.00% (variable)
Credit Score Needed
620 659
Excellent/Good

The Choice Rewards World Mastercard® offers an introductory APR of 0.00% introductory APR for the first twelve billing cycles on balances transferred during the first 90 days after account opening.. Once the intro period ends, a reasonable the APR of 11.25% to 18.00% (variable) applies. The Choice Rewards World Mastercard® charges a $0 balance transfer fee.

If you’re looking for a card that doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee, you may want to consider the Choice Rewards World Mastercard®.

Along with offering an interest-free period on balance transfers for a year, the $0 annual fee card offers 2 points per $1 spent on groceries, gas, electronics, medical, household goods and telecommunications, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Plus, earn 20,000 bonus points for spending at least $3,000 in first 60 days. Just know that when it comes to balance transfer credit cards, we recommend focusing on paying off your transferred balance within the promotional period, rather than earning rewards.

You should also keep in mind that since First Tech FCU is a credit union, membership is required. If you don’t qualify for membership, you can become a member by either joining the Financial Fitness Association for $8 or the Computer History Museum for $15.

  • Worldwide acceptance
  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection™
  • Mastercard Global Service™
  • Ability to manage account via the free mobile app
  • Portland Trail Blazers card option

The Choice Rewards World Mastercard® offers an introductory APR of 0.00% introductory APR for the first twelve billing cycles on balances transferred during the first 90 days after account opening.. Once the intro period ends, a reasonable the APR of 11.25% to 18.00% (variable) applies. The Choice Rewards World Mastercard® charges a $0 balance transfer fee.

If you’re looking for a card that doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee, you may want to consider the Choice Rewards World Mastercard®.

Along with offering an interest-free period on balance transfers for a year, the $0 annual fee card offers 2 points per $1 spent on groceries, gas, electronics, medical, household goods and telecommunications, and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else. Plus, earn 20,000 bonus points for spending at least $3,000 in first 60 days. Just know that when it comes to balance transfer credit cards, we recommend focusing on paying off your transferred balance within the promotional period, rather than earning rewards.

You should also keep in mind that since First Tech FCU is a credit union, membership is required. If you don’t qualify for membership, you can become a member by either joining the Financial Fitness Association for $8 or the Computer History Museum for $15.

  • Worldwide acceptance
  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection™
  • Mastercard Global Service™
  • Ability to manage account via the free mobile app
  • Portland Trail Blazers card option
The information related to the Choice Rewards World Mastercard® has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

Best For Transferring a balance at anytime

Wings Visa Platinum Credit Card

Wings Visa Platinum Credit Card

Review Coming Soon
Introductory APR "0.00% Introductory rate is good for the first 12 months from the date that your new credit card account is opened"
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 11.15% to 18.00% (variable)
Credit Score Needed
670 850
Excellent/Good

The Wings Visa Platinum Credit Card doesn’t have a balance transfer window — meaning you can transfer a balance to the card at any time.

The card has an intro APR of " 0.00% Introductory rate is good for the first 12 months from the date that your new credit card account is opened"; after that, a regular APR of 11.15% to 18.00% (variable) applies. The card also comes with a $0 balance transfer fee.

While balance transfer credit cards typically require cardholders to transfer a balance within a given time frame — often 60 days from account opening — to take advantage of the promotional intro APR, the Wings Visa Platinum Credit Card doesn’t have a deadline. Because there’s no balance transfer window, cardholders can transfer a balance at anytime.

Keep in mind, though, that the intro APR period starts at account opening — so the later you transfer your balance, the less time you have to take advantage of the interest-free period. For example, if you transfer a balance three months after opening your account, you’ll only have nine months remaining of your interest-free period. If, however, you transfer your balance after seven months, you’ll have just five months remaining.

You’ll also need to become a member of Wings Financial Credit Union to apply for this card. To qualify, you or an immediate family member must work or live in the following areas: an eligible Minnesota or Wisconsin county, the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. metro area, the Detroit metro area, the Orlando, Fla. metro area or the Atlanta metro area. You’re also eligible if you or an immediate family member is an employee of an airline, a government agency working in the aviation industry or an airport, or if you or an immediate family member is a current Wings member or a member of the Wings Financial Foundation.

  • Contactless enabled cards
  • Ability to turn card on or off
  • Access to Visa benefits
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Visa checkout

The Wings Visa Platinum Credit Card doesn’t have a balance transfer window — meaning you can transfer a balance to the card at any time.

The card has an intro APR of " 0.00% Introductory rate is good for the first 12 months from the date that your new credit card account is opened"; after that, a regular APR of 11.15% to 18.00% (variable) applies. The card also comes with a $0 balance transfer fee.

While balance transfer credit cards typically require cardholders to transfer a balance within a given time frame — often 60 days from account opening — to take advantage of the promotional intro APR, the Wings Visa Platinum Credit Card doesn’t have a deadline. Because there’s no balance transfer window, cardholders can transfer a balance at anytime.

Keep in mind, though, that the intro APR period starts at account opening — so the later you transfer your balance, the less time you have to take advantage of the interest-free period. For example, if you transfer a balance three months after opening your account, you’ll only have nine months remaining of your interest-free period. If, however, you transfer your balance after seven months, you’ll have just five months remaining.

You’ll also need to become a member of Wings Financial Credit Union to apply for this card. To qualify, you or an immediate family member must work or live in the following areas: an eligible Minnesota or Wisconsin county, the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash. metro area, the Detroit metro area, the Orlando, Fla. metro area or the Atlanta metro area. You’re also eligible if you or an immediate family member is an employee of an airline, a government agency working in the aviation industry or an airport, or if you or an immediate family member is a current Wings member or a member of the Wings Financial Foundation.

  • Contactless enabled cards
  • Ability to turn card on or off
  • Access to Visa benefits
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Visa checkout
The information related to the Wings Visa Platinum Credit Card has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

Is a balance transfer right for you?

If you feel weighed down by high-interest credit card debt, a balance transfer card with a 0% intro APR can help bring you a reprieve from it. Along with simplifying your monthly bills, these cards allow you pay down your debt faster, while also helping you save on interest charges.

Just beware — depending on the balance transfer card — that you may be subject to balance transfer fees. In addition, know that you’ll need to complete the transfer within the balance transfer window in order to take advantage of the promotional interest-free period.

Tracy Brackman

  • Expertise: Credit cards, credit scoring, personal finance
  • Education: Ohio State University, Florida International University

 


Tracy Brackman is a senior editor and credit card expert at LendingTree, where she writes and edits educational pieces on credit card-related topics and personal finance using her 12+ years of experience in the field.

Before joining LendingTree in 2019, Tracy worked as a products editor for CreditCards.com, where she developed the credit card products section and created content focused on breaking credit card news.

Prior to that, she worked as a product information manager for Bankrate, where she managed the financial and credit card product details and maintained compliance for two affiliate networks, as well as Bankrate-owned and operated sites.

She began working in the credit card space in 2009 as the editorial department manager for FlexOffers, an affiliate marketing company.

Tracy studied marketing at the Ohio State University and Florida International University.

Read More

The above offers and/or promotions may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available. Check the Issuers’ website for more details.