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Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of October 2021

*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 October 7, 2021 . Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

BankAmericard® credit card details updated Sept. 9, 2021


Our top pick for best balance transfer card is the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card. It offers one of the longest intro APR periods for both purchases and balance transfers, giving you plenty of breathing room to pay down debt interest-free. It also charges a reasonable balance transfer fee.

If you’re carrying a balance on a credit card with a high APR, you’re likely to end up paying a lot of money in interest charges.

A balance transfer card can help you get out of debt faster with an intro 0% APR period. With no interest accruing during the interest-free period, your payments will be 100% allocated to the principal balance instead of the balance plus interest charges.

While many cards charge a fee of 3% to 5% of the amount transferred, a balance transfer might still be worth it based on what you could save on interest charges.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of October 2021
Best overall balance transfer credit card U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
Best for long intro 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card
Best for rewards after your balance transfer period Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Best card with no balance transfer fee Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card
Best for a low APR after your intro 0% APR ends BankAmericard® credit card
Best for no late fees and no penalty APR Citi Simplicity® Card
Best no-frills balance transfer card Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
Best card for ongoing value Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card
Best business balance transfer card U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card

Best For Overall balance transfer card

U.S. Bank Visa<sup>®</sup> Platinum Card

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Apply Now
on U.S. Bank's secure site
Introductory APR 0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on Purchases*
Annual Fee $0*
Regular Purchase APR 14.49% - 24.49%* (Variable)

The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card is our top overall choice for the best balance transfer card. It offers a lengthy intro 0% APR period on balance transfers and a reasonable balance transfer fee. It doesn’t offer rewards or a sign-up bonus, but if your goal is to get a long 0% APR period to help you pay down existing debt, this card is an excellent choice. Here are the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on Balance Transfers*, then a 14.49% - 24.49%* (variable) APR applies.Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater.0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on Purchases*, then a 14.49% - 24.49%* (variable) APR applies.

If you need a long time to pay off credit card debt, you’ll want to consider the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card. You’d be hard-pressed to find a balance transfer card with a longer intro APR period.

  • Cellphone protection of up to $600 (with a $25 deductible)
  • Free access to your VantageScore

The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card is our top overall choice for the best balance transfer card. It offers a lengthy intro 0% APR period on balance transfers and a reasonable balance transfer fee. It doesn’t offer rewards or a sign-up bonus, but if your goal is to get a long 0% APR period to help you pay down existing debt, this card is an excellent choice. Here are the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on Balance Transfers*, then a 14.49% - 24.49%* (variable) APR applies.Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater.0% intro APR for 20 billing cycles on Purchases*, then a 14.49% - 24.49%* (variable) APR applies.

If you need a long time to pay off credit card debt, you’ll want to consider the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card. You’d be hard-pressed to find a balance transfer card with a longer intro APR period.

  • Cellphone protection of up to $600 (with a $25 deductible)
  • Free access to your VantageScore

Best For Long 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases

Wells Fargo Reflect℠ 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 12.99%-24.99% Variable APR

When you need a long period of intro APR to pay off debt transferred from another card or pay down a big purchase, the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card is a great option. It comes with a unique offer where cardholders first get 18 months of intro APR, then after making on-time minimum payments, can get an intro APR extension of up to three months.

Just be aware that you might not qualify for the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card‘s intro APR if you opened any other Wells Fargo credit card in the past 15 months. And if you opened a Wells Fargo credit card in the past six months, you might be declined for the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card entirely. Here are the card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, then a 12.99%-24.99% Variable APR applies.3% for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%; min: $5.0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening , then a 12.99%-24.99% Variable APR applies.

The Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card is a fine choice for anyone who needs well over a year to pay off transferred debt or a new purchase. Just make sure at the time of application you haven’t opened any other Wells Fargo credit card recently, or it could cause you to be denied for this card (or to be not eligible for the intro APR offers even if you’re approved for the card itself).

  • Cellphone protection of up to $600 (with a $25 deductible)
  • Roadside dispatch

When you need a long period of intro APR to pay off debt transferred from another card or pay down a big purchase, the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card is a great option. It comes with a unique offer where cardholders first get 18 months of intro APR, then after making on-time minimum payments, can get an intro APR extension of up to three months.

Just be aware that you might not qualify for the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card‘s intro APR if you opened any other Wells Fargo credit card in the past 15 months. And if you opened a Wells Fargo credit card in the past six months, you might be declined for the Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card entirely. Here are the card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, then a 12.99%-24.99% Variable APR applies.3% for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%; min: $5.0% intro APR up to 21 months from account opening , then a 12.99%-24.99% Variable APR applies.

The Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card is a fine choice for anyone who needs well over a year to pay off transferred debt or a new purchase. Just make sure at the time of application you haven’t opened any other Wells Fargo credit card recently, or it could cause you to be denied for this card (or to be not eligible for the intro APR offers even if you’re approved for the card itself).

  • Cellphone protection of up to $600 (with a $25 deductible)
  • Roadside dispatch

Best For Rewards after your balance transfer period

Citi<sup>®</sup> Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Citi® Double Cash Card

Apply Now
on Citibank's secure site
Introductory APR N/A
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)

The Citi® Double Cash Card comes with a lengthy intro APR period on balance transfers and a great flat-rate cashback program as well. Just don’t let the prospect of cash back lead you to overspending — remember that your goal is to pay off debt, not get into more. So focus your efforts on knocking off that transferred balance before using the card for its rewards program. Here are the card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% for 18 months on balance transfers, then a 13.99% – 23.99% (variable) APR applies.3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.No intro purchase APR. A regular purchase APR of 13.99% – 23.99% (variable) applies.

If you want a card you can keep around after paying off your transferred balance, the Citi® Double Cash Card is an excellent choice. Cardholders earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. Just be aware you have to make at least the minimum payment on time to receive the second half of your cash back. If you miss a payment, you’ll miss out on the cash back too.

The card’s annual fee is $0.

  • Free access to your FICO® Score
  • Special access to ticket presales and exclusive events with Citi Entertainment®

The Citi® Double Cash Card comes with a lengthy intro APR period on balance transfers and a great flat-rate cashback program as well. Just don’t let the prospect of cash back lead you to overspending — remember that your goal is to pay off debt, not get into more. So focus your efforts on knocking off that transferred balance before using the card for its rewards program. Here are the card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% for 18 months on balance transfers, then a 13.99% – 23.99% (variable) APR applies.3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.No intro purchase APR. A regular purchase APR of 13.99% – 23.99% (variable) applies.

If you want a card you can keep around after paying off your transferred balance, the Citi® Double Cash Card is an excellent choice. Cardholders earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. Just be aware you have to make at least the minimum payment on time to receive the second half of your cash back. If you miss a payment, you’ll miss out on the cash back too.

The card’s annual fee is $0.

  • Free access to your FICO® Score
  • Special access to ticket presales and exclusive events with Citi Entertainment®

Best For No balance transfer fee

Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card

Highlights
  • Intro 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months
  • After the intro period, a 5.99% - 18.00% variable APR applies
  • No balance transfer fee
  • No annual fee

To apply for this no-balance-transfer-fee credit card, you must be a Navy Federal Credit Union member. Membership is open to active duty and retired U.S. military service members, veterans, family members and U.S. Department of Defense civilians. Here are the Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers made within 30 days of account opening. Then, a 5.99% to 18.00% variable applies.$0No intro purchase APR. A regular purchase APR of 5.99% to 18.00% variable applies.

If you meet Navy Federal Credit Union’s membership requirements and you’re looking for a credit card with no balance transfer fee, it’s hard to beat the Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card. However, note that the intro APR period is shorter than the other cards on this list, so do the math and make sure it offers you enough time to pay off your debt.

  • Collision damage waiver
  • Cellphone protection

To apply for this no-balance-transfer-fee credit card, you must be a Navy Federal Credit Union member. Membership is open to active duty and retired U.S. military service members, veterans, family members and U.S. Department of Defense civilians. Here are the Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% intro APR for 12 months on balance transfers made within 30 days of account opening. Then, a 5.99% to 18.00% variable applies.$0No intro purchase APR. A regular purchase APR of 5.99% to 18.00% variable applies.

If you meet Navy Federal Credit Union’s membership requirements and you’re looking for a credit card with no balance transfer fee, it’s hard to beat the Navy Federal Platinum Credit Card. However, note that the intro APR period is shorter than the other cards on this list, so do the math and make sure it offers you enough time to pay off your debt.

  • Collision damage waiver
  • Cellphone protection
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 Low APR after your intro 0% APR ends

BankAmericard<sup><sup>®</sup></sup> credit card

BankAmericard® credit card

Apply Now
on Bank of America's secure site
Introductory APR 0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

BankAmericard® credit card details updated Sept. 9, 2021.

It’s typically best to put together a budget that will allow you to pay off your transferred debt before the intro APR period ends. However, that may not always be possible. If you think you’ll still have a balance past the intro APR period, doing so on a card with a low APR can help keep those interest charges down. The BankAmericard® credit card has a 12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR, so if your APR is set at the lower end of that range, this card is a solid choice when you can’t avoid carrying a balance. Here are the card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then a 12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR applies.Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, then a 12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR applies.

Consider the BankAmericard® credit card if you think you’ll need some extra time to pay off your balance. We always recommend paying off your balance before the intro APR ends and interest charges start accruing. But if that isn’t possible in your situation, the BankAmericard® credit card has a reasonable ongoing 12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR.

This is also a solid card if you need to make a big purchase, since it offers an intro APR on purchases and a decent sign-up bonus — earn a $100 statement credit online bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening..

  • Free access to your FICO® Score
  • No penalty APR

BankAmericard® credit card details updated Sept. 9, 2021.

It’s typically best to put together a budget that will allow you to pay off your transferred debt before the intro APR period ends. However, that may not always be possible. If you think you’ll still have a balance past the intro APR period, doing so on a card with a low APR can help keep those interest charges down. The BankAmericard® credit card has a 12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR, so if your APR is set at the lower end of that range, this card is a solid choice when you can’t avoid carrying a balance. Here are the card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then a 12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR applies.Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, then a 12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR applies.

Consider the BankAmericard® credit card if you think you’ll need some extra time to pay off your balance. We always recommend paying off your balance before the intro APR ends and interest charges start accruing. But if that isn’t possible in your situation, the BankAmericard® credit card has a reasonable ongoing 12.99% - 22.99% Variable APR.

This is also a solid card if you need to make a big purchase, since it offers an intro APR on purchases and a decent sign-up bonus — earn a $100 statement credit online bonus after making at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening..

  • Free access to your FICO® Score
  • No penalty APR

Best For No late fees and no penalty APR

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 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)

With most credit cards, if you miss a payment, you could be subject to late fees and a higher APR (a penalty rate). The Citi Simplicity® Card has no late fee and no penalty APR, providing cardholders a little extra peace of mind. You should always make an effort to pay on time, however, because late payments will damage your credit score. Here are the Citi Simplicity® Card‘s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro Purchase APR
0% for 21 months on balance transfers, then a 14.74% - 24.74% (variable) APR applies.Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.0% for 12 months on purchases, then a 14.74% - 24.74% (variable) APR applies.

You always want to pay your credit card on time. Doing so will help you build good credit and make life easier if you need to apply for other credit cards down the road or financial products such as car loans and mortgages. However, if you want peace of mind that your card won’t charge you a late fee or increase your APR in the event you do miss a payment, you’ll appreciate the Citi Simplicity® Card. Plus, its intro APR offers on both balance transfers and purchases are lengthy.

  • Free access to your FICO® Score
  • Special access to ticket presales and exclusive events with Citi Entertainment®

With most credit cards, if you miss a payment, you could be subject to late fees and a higher APR (a penalty rate). The Citi Simplicity® Card has no late fee and no penalty APR, providing cardholders a little extra peace of mind. You should always make an effort to pay on time, however, because late payments will damage your credit score. Here are the Citi Simplicity® Card‘s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro Purchase APR
0% for 21 months on balance transfers, then a 14.74% - 24.74% (variable) APR applies.Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.0% for 12 months on purchases, then a 14.74% - 24.74% (variable) APR applies.

You always want to pay your credit card on time. Doing so will help you build good credit and make life easier if you need to apply for other credit cards down the road or financial products such as car loans and mortgages. However, if you want peace of mind that your card won’t charge you a late fee or increase your APR in the event you do miss a payment, you’ll appreciate the Citi Simplicity® Card. Plus, its intro APR offers on both balance transfers and purchases are lengthy.

  • Free access to your FICO® Score
  • Special access to ticket presales and exclusive events with Citi Entertainment®

Best For No-frills balance transfer card

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 13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)

It doesn’t offer rewards or much in the way of benefits, but the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is a solid no-frills balance transfer card for consumers working to get out of debt. Here are the card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% for 21 months on balance transfers, then a 13.74% - 23.74% (variable) APR applies.Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.0% for 12 months on purchases, then a 13.74% - 23.74% (variable) APR applies.

Sometimes all you need is a length of time to pay down debt without accruing interest charges, and you aren’t looking for anything else from your card. In that case, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is a fine no-frills choice for a balance transfer card. It offers lengthy intro APR periods and is a solid tool for getting out of debt.

  • Free access to your FICO® Score
  • Special access to ticket presales and exclusive events with Citi Entertainment®

It doesn’t offer rewards or much in the way of benefits, but the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is a solid no-frills balance transfer card for consumers working to get out of debt. Here are the card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% for 21 months on balance transfers, then a 13.74% - 23.74% (variable) APR applies.Balance transfer fee applies with this offer 5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.0% for 12 months on purchases, then a 13.74% - 23.74% (variable) APR applies.

Sometimes all you need is a length of time to pay down debt without accruing interest charges, and you aren’t looking for anything else from your card. In that case, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is a fine no-frills choice for a balance transfer card. It offers lengthy intro APR periods and is a solid tool for getting out of debt.

  • Free access to your FICO® Score
  • Special access to ticket presales and exclusive events with Citi Entertainment®

Best For Ongoing value

Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card

Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card

Apply Now
on Wells Fargo's secure site
Introductory APR 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 14.99%-24.99% (Variable)

While the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card might not have an intro APR quite as long as many of the cards on this list, it provides solid intro APR offers and a stellar ongoing value. Cardholders earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases for a $0 annual fee. Cash back can be redeemed to cover recent purchases, as a credit to a qualified Wells Fargo mortgage, loan or credit product, for cash at an ATM (requires a Wells Fargo debit or ATM card) or for gift cards from various retailers. Here are the card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, then a 14.99%-24.99% (variable) APR applies.3% intro for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%; min: $5.0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening, then a 14.99%-24.99% (variable) APR applies.

If you don’t need quite as much time to pay off debt, and you want excellent ongoing value in the form of flat-rate rewards, consider the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card. Do be aware that if you’ve opened up any other Wells Fargo credit card recently, Wells Fargo might deny your application for this card (or approve you but decide you’re not eligible for the intro APR and sign-up bonus).

This card is also an excellent choice for consumers planning a big purchase, since it comes with an intro APR on purchases and a generous sign-up bonus — earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

  • Cellphone protection of up to $600 (with a $25 deductible)
  • Free access to your FICO® Score
  • Benefits when you stay at a property in the Visa Signature Hotel Collection
  • 24/7 access to the Visa Signature Concierge

While the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card might not have an intro APR quite as long as many of the cards on this list, it provides solid intro APR offers and a stellar ongoing value. Cardholders earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases for a $0 annual fee. Cash back can be redeemed to cover recent purchases, as a credit to a qualified Wells Fargo mortgage, loan or credit product, for cash at an ATM (requires a Wells Fargo debit or ATM card) or for gift cards from various retailers. Here are the card’s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers, then a 14.99%-24.99% (variable) APR applies.3% intro for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%; min: $5.0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening, then a 14.99%-24.99% (variable) APR applies.

If you don’t need quite as much time to pay off debt, and you want excellent ongoing value in the form of flat-rate rewards, consider the Wells Fargo Active Cash℠ Card. Do be aware that if you’ve opened up any other Wells Fargo credit card recently, Wells Fargo might deny your application for this card (or approve you but decide you’re not eligible for the intro APR and sign-up bonus).

This card is also an excellent choice for consumers planning a big purchase, since it comes with an intro APR on purchases and a generous sign-up bonus — earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.

  • Cellphone protection of up to $600 (with a $25 deductible)
  • Free access to your FICO® Score
  • Benefits when you stay at a property in the Visa Signature Hotel Collection
  • 24/7 access to the Visa Signature Concierge

Best For Business balance transfer card

U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card

Highlights
  • 0% Intro APR* on purchases and balance transfers for the first 18 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR of 11.99% - 20.99%*
  • No annual fee*
  • Free employee cards
  • Zero fraud liability* protects you against unauthorized transactions

Balance transfer business credit cards aren’t quite as common as balance transfer cards for consumers, but the U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card is a good one. It offers a lengthy intro APR and charges a very reasonable balance transfer fee. Here are the U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card‘s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 billing cycles, then a 11.99%-20.99%* (variable) APR applies.3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater.0% intro APR on purchases for 18 billing cycles, then a 11.99%-20.99% Variable APR applies.

If you operate a small business, the U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card is a great choice for a business credit card with intro APR offers. Whether you need to make a big purchase for your business and want to pay it off over time without paying interest or you’re trying to pay down debt from another business card, the U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card can help you get your business to where it needs to be.

  • Free employee cards
  • Set controls on employee cards by time, place and dollar amount
  • Visa Business Reporting to track and manage your spending

Balance transfer business credit cards aren’t quite as common as balance transfer cards for consumers, but the U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card is a good one. It offers a lengthy intro APR and charges a very reasonable balance transfer fee. Here are the U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card‘s details:

Intro balance transfer APRBalance transfer feeIntro purchase APR
0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 billing cycles, then a 11.99%-20.99%* (variable) APR applies.3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater.0% intro APR on purchases for 18 billing cycles, then a 11.99%-20.99% Variable APR applies.

If you operate a small business, the U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card is a great choice for a business credit card with intro APR offers. Whether you need to make a big purchase for your business and want to pay it off over time without paying interest or you’re trying to pay down debt from another business card, the U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card can help you get your business to where it needs to be.

  • Free employee cards
  • Set controls on employee cards by time, place and dollar amount
  • Visa Business Reporting to track and manage your spending
The information related to the U.S. Bank Business Platinum Card has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

How to make the most of a balance transfer

A balance transfer credit card can be a powerful tool for getting out of debt, but only if you use it correctly. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your balance transfer:

  • Don’t put new charges on a balance transfer card. Especially if your balance transfer card offers rewards, it can be tempting to swipe it for new purchases. Resist the urge and pay down your transferred balance before using the card for anything else. Once you’ve paid the card off in full, then it can be beneficial to use the card for its rewards (as long as you can pay it off every month). Also, don’t fall into the trap of letting a balance build up on your old card after the balance transfer goes through.
  • Plan out your budget ahead of time. You should know exactly when your intro APR period ends and how much you need to pay every month to pay off the card in full before that happens.
  • Always make on-time payments on the card. If you pay late, not only will your credit score suffer, but you’ll likely lose your intro APR as well. Paying on time is one of the most important things you can do to keep a good credit score and keep your finances in order. If for some reason you can’t pay as much as you’d like on the card one month, make at least the minimum payment before the due date.

Alternative to a balance transfer

If you worry that you won’t be approved for a balance transfer card, or if you don’t want to open a new credit card, applying for a debt consolidation loan might be a better option than a balance transfer. Such loans are offered by banks, credit unions and online lenders. Simply put, when you’re approved for a debt consolidation loan, you use that loan to pay off your credit card debt (whether on one card or multiple). The lender might disburse funds to you to pay off your card debt or might pay your credit card issuer directly.

A benefit of a debt consolidation loan is that if you’re juggling multiple credit card payments, consolidating everything into one loan payment can simplify your finances. Plus, a debt consolidation loan has a set monthly payment and a set date by which you’ll have paid the total amount in full, which can be helpful if you need a more structured payment schedule than a credit card offers.

One downside to a debt consolidation loan is that you’ll still have to pay interest, whereas with a balance transfer card, you get a period where no interest accrues. However, depending on the APR of your loan, you might still end up saving money compared with carrying a balance on a high-APR credit card.

The average APR for debt consolidation loans is approximately 10.73% for those with credit scores above 720 and as high as 24.74% for those with credit scores in the 660-679 range, according to 2021 LendingTree data.

Last but not least, if you’re carrying a balance on a card that’s maxed out or close to it, a debt consolidation loan might help improve your credit score. That’s because when your card is maxed out you have something called high utilization — a term referring to how much debt you’re carrying on a card vs. what your credit limit is. But utilization only considers revolving credit accounts such as credit cards, not installment credit such as a debt consolidation loan. So, by paying off your card with a loan, you’re effectively reducing your utilization ratio.

Balance transfer credit card FAQs

If you have high-interest credit card debt that you’re struggling to pay off, a balance transfer credit card could help you. However, you need a good credit score to qualify for most balance transfer cards. If you have bad credit, you may have more success being approved for a personal loan to consolidate your debt (which will give you a fixed period of time with fixed payment amounts to pay off your debt).

Some of the most important factors to consider before applying for a balance transfer card include the length of the intro APR period, the regular APR after the intro period ends, and the balance transfer fee. While it’s possible to find a card without a balance transfer fee, the intro period for those cards tend to be shorter. Otherwise, a fee of 3% to 5% of the amount transferred will be added to your balance. Finally, while this shouldn’t be your primary concern when looking for a balance transfer card, a balance transfer card that also earns rewards might be a good choice if you want to keep using it once the transferred balance is paid off.

Probably not. Balance transfer cards typically require a good to exceptional credit score (ranging from 670 to 850). If your credit is poor or fair (ranging from 300 to 669) you will likely be denied if you try to apply for a balance transfer card.

Many cards offer periods of intro 0% APR before the regular APR kicks in. A card might have an intro APR period on balance transfers, purchases or both. A balance transfer card is simply a credit card that offers an intro APR on balance transfers. It’s also possible to find cards that charge no balance transfer fee, though they’re relatively rare.

 

When considering cards with interest-free periods on purchases, note that a credit card with an intro APR offer is different from one offering deferred interest — in the former case, you’ll start to accrue interest on any balance you’re carrying after the intro period ends, but in the latter, you’ll owe interest on the entire amount from the date of purchase if you don’t meet your card’s deadline to pay off the debt.

Some issuers will allow you to check to see if you prequalify for a credit card. This is done with a soft inquiry, which doesn’t ding your credit score. Note that prequalification isn’t a guarantee you’ll be approved for the card. Also, be aware that a hard inquiry will be generated once you actually apply.

When you get a balance transfer card, you can expect to see your score dip at first because applying for a new card generates a hard inquiry on your credit score. However, with good behavior over time, you can expect to see your score increase thanks to more available credit and a decreasing balance (just don’t increase your spending).

The primary advantage of a balance transfer is that it gives you a period of 0% intro APR where you can pay down debt without accruing interest charges. A balance transfer can also help you improve your credit score if you pay off your debt in a timely fashion and don’t increase your spending. There aren’t many cons to doing a balance transfer, but one issue you may encounter is qualifying for a balance transfer card — they tend to require good credit.

No, you cannot. This is important to consider when choosing which balance transfer card to apply for. For example, if your existing credit card debt is on a Citi card, you won’t be able to transfer it to another Citi card.

Once you apply for a card and get approved, you’ll need to follow the issuer’s instructions on how to complete the balance transfer. Note that issuers may set limits on how much you can transfer — so even if you are approved for a credit limit that’s high enough to accommodate the amount you want to transfer, you might find that you hit a cap.

 

If you can’t transfer the full amount, you have options. One solution is to transfer as much as you can to the new card and leave the remainder on the original card and focus on paying the old card balance down as quickly as possible. Another option is to apply for a second balance transfer card to absorb any remaining balance on the original card.

 

Also note that once you’re approved for a balance transfer card, you may have a limited window of time in which to complete your transfer. For example, your card terms may allow the intro APR to apply only to funds transferred within 30 to 90 days.

Methodology

We selected the best balance transfer cards through a review of cards available on LendingTree and from top issuers. One of the primary considerations was the length of intro 0% APR each card offers on balance transfers — the longer the intro APR period, the more likely it would be included on this list.

Another consideration was balance transfer fees. Most of the cards on this list charge a reasonable balance transfer fee, while one charges no balance transfer fee at all.

Finally, rewards and benefits were also taken into consideration. If a card offers ongoing value after the balance transfer period, that weighed in its favor of being included.

 

Glen Luke Flanagan

Overview

Glen Luke Flanagan covers credit card news for LendingTree.com. He joined the team in June 2019. His work ranges from reviews of new cards to in-depth pieces on protecting your financial information, and his background is in journalism and government communications. 

Experience

As a journalist in North Carolina and South Carolina, Glen covered topics including city government, state government, local businesses, public safety and more. During his time at The State newspaper, Glen’s work appeared on the websites of newspapers across the United States owned by The McClatchy Company. His reporting at The News Herald and The State newspaper won awards from the North Carolina Press Association and the South Carolina Press Association, respectively.

Education

Glen earned his B.A. in media studies with a concentration in journalism from Radford University, graduating summa cum laude in May 2014. After graduation, he participated in a Dow Jones News Fund training and internship. Out of more than 600 applicants, only 86 were accepted into the DJNF program that summer. He was later one of approximately two dozen fellows selected from journalists across the country to participate in the University of South Carolina’s 2016 Media Law School, which was sponsored by the American Board of Trial Advocates. This program gave fellows an intensive crash course in public records, bankruptcy law, podcasts and more.

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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.