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What Is a Balance Transfer Fee and How Does It Work?

*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 March 28, 2022 . Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

The majority of balance transfer credit cards charge a fee for when you move existing, high-interest debt to a lower-interest balance transfer card. These fees typically range from 3% to 5% of the amount of each transfer; however, the amount you can save on interest charges by transferring your high-interest credit card debt to a card offering a low or 0% intro APR for an extended period of time can easily cancel that amount out.

We explain what you need to know about balance transfer fees, including how they work, the best balance transfer cards that charge fees and how you can avoid balance transfer fees altogether.

How do balance transfer fees work?

Depending on the balance transfer card, you may be charged a fee when you transfer an existing balance to the card. This is known as the balance transfer fee.

The balance transfer fee is added to the card balance at the time of your transfer, which allows you to pay the fee over time as you pay down your transferred balance. That said, know that the amount of the balance transfer fee will also reduce the amount you are eligible to transfer.

For example, let’s say you get approved to transfer $10,000 to a new balance transfer card that charges a 3% fee. That $300 balance transfer fee will reduce the amount you’re initially able to transfer to $7,700.

Also beware, if you decide to move debt from multiple credit cards, you will be charged a fee for each balance you transfer.

There are balance transfer cards available that don’t charge balance transfer fees; however, those cards often offer shorter intro APR periods on balance transfers. Meaning, you’ll have less time to pay off your balance without incurring interest charges.

Balance transfer cards with long intro APRs

Cards with balance transfer fees typically offer longer 0% intro APRs on balance transfers than those without the fees. But keep in mind, if you do not pay the balance in full within the promotional interest-free period, the remaining balance will be subject to the regular, ongoing APR of the balance transfer card.

If you’re looking for a balance transfer card with the longest interest-free period possible, you may want to consider the following cards that charge balance transfer fees and offer intro APRs on balance transfers for close to two years:

Best For Long 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% - 26.74% (Variable)
Credit Score Needed
660 850
Excellent/Good

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card comes with an intro APR of 0% for 21 months on balance transfers. After that, there’s an ongoing balance transfer APR of 16.74% - 26.74% (variable). A balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is ideal for cardholders who need close to two years to pay off their transferred debt.

The no-frills balance transfer credit card does not come with a rewards program; however, it does offers an intro APR of 0% for 12 months on purchases. After that, an APR of 16.74% - 26.74% (variable) applies.

The card $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 comes with an intro APR of 0% for 21 months on balance transfers. After that, there’s an ongoing balance transfer APR of 16.74% - 26.74% (variable). A balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is ideal for cardholders who need close to two years to pay off their transferred debt.

The no-frills balance transfer credit card does not come with a rewards program; however, it does offers an intro APR of 0% for 12 months on purchases. After that, an APR of 16.74% - 26.74% (variable) applies.

The card $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 Introductory 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 15.99% - 27.99% variable APR
Credit Score Needed
660 850
Excellent/Good

Along with an intro APR on balance transfers, the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card offers an intro balance transfer fee of 3% for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%; min: $5.   

Cardholders receive a 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, then a 15.99% - 27.99% variable APR applies.

The Wells Fargo Reflect® Card is intended for those with excellent/good credit.

With the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card, holders can receive an intro APR on balance transfers for a year and half. The card also offers an intro APR extension of up to three months with on-time minimum payments during the introductory and extension periods. Additionally, the $0 annual fee card comes with a 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on purchases, then a 15.99% - 27.99% variable APR.

Like the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card does not 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

Along with an intro APR on balance transfers, the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card offers an intro balance transfer fee of 3% for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%; min: $5.   

Cardholders receive a 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, then a 15.99% - 27.99% variable APR applies.

The Wells Fargo Reflect® Card is intended for those with excellent/good credit.

With the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card, holders can receive an intro APR on balance transfers for a year and half. The card also offers an intro APR extension of up to three months with on-time minimum payments during the introductory and extension periods. Additionally, the $0 annual fee card comes with a 0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on purchases, then a 15.99% - 27.99% variable APR.

Like the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card does not 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 late fees or penalty APRs

Citi Simplicity<sup>®</sup> Card

Citi Simplicity® Card

Apply Now
on Citibank's secure site
Introductory APR 0% for 12 months on Purchases
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)
Credit Score Needed
690 850
Excellent/Good

The Citi Simplicity® Card, from our partner Citi, also offers an intro APR of 0% for 21 months on balance transfers, then a 17.74% - 27.74% (variable) APR applies. A balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

If you have a history of paying your credit card bill late, you may want to consider the $0 annual fee Citi Simplicity® Card, since it does not assess late fees or a penalty APR. But keep in mind, paying your bill late will still negatively impact your credit score as they are reported to the credit bureaus.

The Citi Simplicity® Card also offers an intro APR of 0% for 12 months on purchases, then an APR of 17.74% - 27.74% (variable). Just know, the Citi Simplicity® Card also does not come with a rewards program.

  • Automatic account alerts
  • Choose your payment due date
  • Citi® Identity Theft Solutions
  • $0 fraud liability
  • 24/7 customer support

The Citi Simplicity® Card, from our partner Citi, also offers an intro APR of 0% for 21 months on balance transfers, then a 17.74% - 27.74% (variable) APR applies. A balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.

If you have a history of paying your credit card bill late, you may want to consider the $0 annual fee Citi Simplicity® Card, since it does not assess late fees or a penalty APR. But keep in mind, paying your bill late will still negatively impact your credit score as they are reported to the credit bureaus.

The Citi Simplicity® Card also offers an intro APR of 0% for 12 months on purchases, then an APR of 17.74% - 27.74% (variable). Just know, the Citi Simplicity® Card also does not come with a rewards program.

  • Automatic account alerts
  • Choose your payment due date
  • Citi® Identity Theft Solutions
  • $0 fraud liability
  • 24/7 customer support

No fee balance transfer cards

There are a handful of cards available that don’t charge balance transfer fees. But these cards are often issued by credit unions instead of major banks and tend to offer shorter introductory periods.

The following cards, which don’t charge balance transfer fees, offer intro APRs on balance transfers for a year, as well as very reasonable interest rates once the promotional periods end.

Best For Overall balance transfer credit card, no fee

Choice Rewards World Mastercard®

Choice Rewards World Mastercard®

Introductory APR N/A
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 10.50% - 18.00% (variable)
Credit Score Needed
620 659
Excellent/Good

The Choice Rewards World Mastercard®, for example, is issued by First Tech Federal Credit Union and charges a $0 balance transfer fee. The card offers an introductory APR of 0.00% APR for 12 billing cycles on balances transferred in the first 90 days after the card is opened. Once the intro period ends, a reasonable the APR of 10.50% - 18.00% (variable) applies.

If you don’t mind joining First Tech FCU, the Choice Rewards World Mastercard® provides a good opportunity to receive a promotional APR on balance transfers while not incurring a balance transfer fee.

Additionally, if you want to earn rewards on every purchase you make, 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..

To join First Tech FCU, you must have a family or household member who is already a member, or you or a family member must work for an eligible employer or work or live in Lane County, Oregon. You can also become eligible by joining the Computer History Museum or the Financial Fitness Association in person or online.

  • 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®, for example, is issued by First Tech Federal Credit Union and charges a $0 balance transfer fee. The card offers an introductory APR of 0.00% APR for 12 billing cycles on balances transferred in the first 90 days after the card is opened. Once the intro period ends, a reasonable the APR of 10.50% - 18.00% (variable) applies.

If you don’t mind joining First Tech FCU, the Choice Rewards World Mastercard® provides a good opportunity to receive a promotional APR on balance transfers while not incurring a balance transfer fee.

Additionally, if you want to earn rewards on every purchase you make, 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..

To join First Tech FCU, you must have a family or household member who is already a member, or you or a family member must work for an eligible employer or work or live in Lane County, Oregon. You can also become eligible by joining the Computer History Museum or the Financial Fitness Association in person or online.

  • 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 Low ongoing APR

Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card

Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card

Introductory APR N/A
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 8.24% to 18.00% (variable)
Credit Score Needed
670 850
Excellent/Good/Fair

The Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card charges $0 in balance transfer fees and offers a 0.99% introductory APR for 12 months on balance transfers.

After the intro period ends, the APR will be a very reasonable 8.24% to 18.00% (variable).

If there’s a chance you won’t be able to pay off the transferred balance in full before the introductory period ends, the Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card could be a good fit, since it offers a very low ongoing balance transfer APR 8.24% to 18.00% (variable).

Additionally, the Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card charges a $0 annual fee. As for foreign transaction fees, there are $0.

Note, to be eligible for this card, you must be a member of Navy Federal Credit Union. You may qualify if you or one of your family or household members has ties to the armed forces, Department of Defense or National Guard. Learn more about the qualification requirements here.

  • Collision damage waiver
  • Cellphone protection
  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • 24/7 access to stateside member reps
  • Ability freeze and unfreeze card
  • Access to your credit score
  • Fraud notifications

The Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card charges $0 in balance transfer fees and offers a 0.99% introductory APR for 12 months on balance transfers.

After the intro period ends, the APR will be a very reasonable 8.24% to 18.00% (variable).

If there’s a chance you won’t be able to pay off the transferred balance in full before the introductory period ends, the Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card could be a good fit, since it offers a very low ongoing balance transfer APR 8.24% to 18.00% (variable).

Additionally, the Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card charges a $0 annual fee. As for foreign transaction fees, there are $0.

Note, to be eligible for this card, you must be a member of Navy Federal Credit Union. You may qualify if you or one of your family or household members has ties to the armed forces, Department of Defense or National Guard. Learn more about the qualification requirements here.

  • Collision damage waiver
  • Cellphone protection
  • Travel and emergency assistance
  • 24/7 access to stateside member reps
  • Ability freeze and unfreeze card
  • Access to your credit score
  • Fraud notifications
The information related to the Navy Federal 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.

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 10.40% to 18.00% (variable)
Credit Score Needed
670 850
Excellent/Good

The Wings Visa Platinum Credit Card has a $0 balance transfer fee and 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 10.40% to 18.00% (variable) applies.

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 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 airlines, government agencies 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 has a $0 balance transfer fee and 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 10.40% to 18.00% (variable) applies.

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 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 airlines, government agencies 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 fee worth it?

The short answer is — yes. A card that offers an intro APR on balance transfers, but also charges a balance transfer fee, can definitely be worth your while, since it can help you save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on interest charges.

For example, let’s say you have an existing credit card with $10,000 worth of debt at an interest rate of 22%, and you transfer that amount to a credit card with a 0% intro APR for 18 months with a 3% balance transfer fee. You’ll pay a balance transfer fee of $300, but you could end up saving $1,792 in interest charges if you pay off the entire balance in 18 months (which would require monthly payments of approximately $670).

Balance transfer fee frequently asked questions

A balance transfer is a transaction that typically involves moving debt from one card to another — ideally to one with a significantly lower interest rate. Some card issuers allow you to also transfer other types of debts to a balance transfer card.

Note, you cannot transfer debt between two credit cards from the same issuer.

A balance transfer fee is the amount you are charged to transfer debt from an existing card to a balance transfer card. This fee usually ranges from 3% to 5% of the amount of each transfer.

A balance transfer window 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 account opening.

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.

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