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

2024 Balance Transfer Credit Card Report: Fees Continue Slow, Steady Rise

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Fees on zero-interest balance transfer credit cards rose for the second straight year, according to a new LendingTree report.

More than half of the balance transfer credit cards with 0% APRs we reviewed charge a balance transfer fee of 4% or 5%. That’s up from 47% a year ago and 43% in 2022.

There’s good news, however: The most common 0% offer is longer than it was a year ago. Fifteen-month offers are now more widely available than 12-month offers, and that’s significant for those struggling with card debt.

LendingTree reviewed more than 100 cards with 0% balance transfer offers to get the lay of the land. These cards are enormously popular with consumers because of how much can be saved by using them wisely. However, our 2024 Balance Transfer Credit Card Report makes it clear that not all are created equal. Significant differences exist among the cards offered, from fees to introductory periods to post-introductory rates, making shopping around a must.

Here’s what we found.

  • 0% balance transfer cards are still widely available, though numbers dipped in the past year. We reviewed 109 cards with 0% balance transfer offers, down from 119 at the start of 2023.
  • The most common 0% offer period is 15 months, up from 12 months a year ago. The longest available offer? 21 months, which is unchanged from 2023.
  • Balance transfer fees continue to rise. More than half (52%) of the 0% balance transfer offers we reviewed charged a balance transfer fee of 4% or 5%. That’s up from 47% in January 2023 and 43% in January 2022. However, 3% narrowly remains the most common fee, charged by 56% of cards — down from 59% a year ago. (Note: Some cards have multiple fee rates, such as introductory or post-introductory rates. We included both in our calculations.)
  • Want to avoid a balance transfer fee? Go to a credit union. We only found five cards that don’t charge a balance transfer fee, and all of them are offered by credit unions. In the previous two years, bank credit cards with 0% balance transfer fee offers were rare. (Only four were found in each of those years.) Today, they’re largely extinct.

If you’re struggling with credit card debt, we have good news: Despite the frequent interest rate increases over the past two years, lots and lots of zero-interest balance transfer offers remain. We reviewed 109 of them for our 2024 report. That’s down a bit from 119 in January 2023, but it’s still a sizable number.

These cards typically offer those with good credit the opportunity to avoid accruing interest on balances for an extended period, sometimes as long as 21 months. The most common duration is 15 months, up from 12 a year ago. That three-month difference is significant because every month counts when accruing interest. That’s especially true with interest rates at record levels.

It’s important to understand, however, that while these cards are available from most major card issuers, they probably aren’t available to everyone. Credit card issuers have generally gotten more reluctant to lend to those with less-than-perfect credit, and that includes 0% balance transfer credit cards. Today, you most likely need good credit — 670 or higher — to get one. If you don’t have that, you’ll likely need to consider other options, such as personal loans.

Unfortunately, the tighter lending standards aren’t likely to change anytime soon, leaving perhaps the best tool available for fighting card debt out of reach for millions of Americans.

What has changed, however, is that balance transfer fees — those one-time charges most card issuers require when you transfer a balance — are rising. For many years, the most common fee by far was 3%, meaning you pay $30 for every $1,000 you transfer. Today, that’s still the most typically found fee, but cards charging 4% or 5% are becoming more common.

  • 2024: 56% of 0% balance transfer cards have a 3% fee, while 52% have a 4% or 5% fee
  • 2023: 59% (3%) and 47% (4% or 5%)
  • 2022: 60% (3%) and 43% (4% or 5%)
Editor’s note: Each year’s numbers above total more than 100% because we included both introductory and post-introductory fee offers in our calculations. That means, for example, that if a card charged a 3% fee for transfers done within 60 days and a 5% fee for those made after that, it was counted as having both fees and included in both calculations.

Does a change of a percentage point or two matter? It certainly can, depending on how much you transfer.

  • $1,000 transfer: 3% fee equals $30, 5% equals $50
  • $5,000 transfer: 3% fee equals $150, 5% means $250
  • $10,000 transfer: 3% fee equals $300, 5% means $500

Those differences may not be earthshaking, but every $100 or $200 matters when trying to get rid of debt. If you can save that kind of money just by shopping around, you should.

Shopping around may help you avoid paying a balance transfer fee altogether. Just know that those offers are becoming increasingly rare — or even extinct when it comes to banks.

  • 2024: 5 cards have a 0% balance transfer offer and don’t charge a fee. All 5 are offered by credit unions.
  • 2023: 9 cards did so, including 4 that did so only for a limited time. Of the 9, 5 were offered by credit unions and 4 by banks.
  • 2022: 13 cards did so, including 4 that did so only for a limited time. Of the 13, 9 were offered by credit unions and 4 by banks.

That’s not a great trend for cardholders. However, it shouldn’t be surprising either. As the Federal Reserve raised interest rates, it became less profitable for banks to make these 0% offers. Rather than shortening the length of these cards’ introductory periods — and risking alienating potential customers — many banks instead opted for a less visible way to recoup the revenues lost in the rate hikes: slowly increasing balance transfer fees.

202420232022
Cards reviewed109119111
Most common 0% offer length (in months)151212
Percentage of 0% offers with a 3% fee56%59%60%
Percentage of 0% offers with a 4% or 5% fee52%47%43%
0% cards with no fee, either as standard or for a limited time5913
Credit-union-issued 0% cards with no fee, either as standard or for a limited time559
Bank-issued 0% cards with no fee, either as standard or for a limited time044

Source: LendingTree analysis of 109 balance transfer credit cards with 0% APRs in January 2024, 119 cards in January 2023 and 111 cards in January 2022. Note: The percentage of 0% offers with fees won’t add to 100%. Some cards had multiple balance transfer fees (such as a limited-time offer) and were counted twice.

Comparing balance transfer credit cards is kind of like comparing travel credit cards: It’s easy to be blinded by one aspect of the offer and not think as much about other details.

With travel rewards, the sign-up bonus is the thing. We see that 100,000-point offer and think, “Yep, that’s the one” without stopping to consider how valuable those points are, what we have to spend to get them, how easy it is to redeem them and whether we, you know, need them.

For balance transfer cards, we fixate on the length of the 0% introductory period. The longer, the better, all other details be damned — or so we might think.

The truth is that picking a 0% balance transfer credit card solely because it has the longest introductory period doesn’t always work. That was the key takeaway of a 2023 LendingTree report in which we looked at dozens of scenarios to quantify what people should prioritize when shopping for a credit card. While the length of the introductory period is important, many other factors need to be considered, such as balance transfer fees, credit limits, post-introductory APRs and more.

Sure, if you’re choosing between a card with a 21-month 0% introductory period and a 12-month intro, the longer-duration card is probably best. However, if you’re choosing between a 12-month and 15-month intro — the two most common durations found in 0% balance transfer cards — it’s wise for you to dig deep to make sure you’re getting a complete picture of the offer.

LendingTree reviewed offers for 109 credit cards with 0% introductory APR periods on balance transfers. Cards from 32 issuers — including banks and credit unions — were included.

We reviewed basic terms and conditions, including APRs and annual fees, and evaluated the cards’ balance transfer programs. All offers were reviewed online on financial institutions’ public websites. Credit card offer data is accurate as of Jan. 16, 2024.

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