Transferring a credit card balance from a high-APR card to a card with a zero-interest promotional rate is one of the best ways to pay down debt. But many people have questions about how to do it. Some folks wonder whether they can transfer a balance from one card to another within the same bank. For example, they may be carrying a balance on a Chase Slate card and wish to transfer that balance to a Chase Freedom card, or they may want to transfer a balance from one type of Citi Card to another.
Unfortunately, this isn’t possible: you cannot transfer a balance from one card to another within the same bank. That’s because both cards are under the umbrella of one credit issuer, meaning there is no advantage to the issuer to sign you up for their new card – you are already their customer. Banks offer balance transfers to customers in order to attract new business. Allowing cardholders to transfer a balance from an existing account to a new one at the same bank just doesn’t make good business sense.
However, you don’t need to worry about this. There are plenty of other options, so if this is something you wanted to do, don’t worry. So many card issuers have great balance transfer offers, there is one that will work well for you.
Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in Winter 2017-2018
It can be hard to choose the best balance transfer card offer. To help you narrow it down, here are the details of our favorites:
9-month 0% intro balance transfer periodThis credit card is good for those who do not have a lot of debt or those who can pay big sums of money monthly. Since the 0% intro APR period is relatively short – 9-months – you should be really careful with your calculations. Your ongoing interest rate will apply after the promo 0% APR is over, so you should be sure you can pay off the balance on time. Don’t forget to take into account a 3% fee that applies to each balance transferred. In addition to a balance transfer option, this card comes with a 0% intro APR on purchases, cash back rewards, and has no annual fee. When the transferred balance is paid off, you can keep this card to earn cash back on all your purchases.
18-month 0% intro balance transfer periodIf your credit is a little worse for wear due to carrying balances on high-interest-rate credit cards, you can still qualify for a great balance transfer card. This one only requires that you have average or better credit to be approved, and you’ll have a year and a half to pay off your balance without being charged any interest. The balance transfer fee is standard - 3% fee for each balance transfer. You’ll also get 5% cash back on purchases in rotating categories that change each quarter if you sign up (up to the quarterly maximum), and 1% back on every dollar you spend anywhere else. There is no annual fee for this card, and you’ll be able to track your FICO score each month for free using a Discover Credit Score card online service.
9-month 0% intro balance transfer period
This card does not have a long 0% intro APR on balance transfers, but comes with some other benefits you may like. The zero intro APR on balance transfers will be given for 9 months, which is enough to transfer and pay off a small amount of debt. If you are planning to make purchases while paying off the transferred balance, then this card will reward you with 3% cash back for dining, 2% cash back for groceries, and 1% for all other purchases. This card has no annual fee and has no foreign transaction fee, but there is a balance transfer fee of 3% on the amounts transferred within the first nine months.
12-month 0% intro balance transfer periodIf you want to go full on the rewards, pick the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. This is a serious card for travel hackers, as it offers 2X miles on all purchases – great if you don’t want to keep track of rotating categories or channel your spending towards a certain one. A sign-up bonus doesn’t disappoint – 40000 miles is equal to $400, which is on par with most premium travel cards. To qualify for the bonus offer, you will need to spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. As if it wasn’t enough, there are also 12 months of 0% APR on balance transfer. If you want it all, go for Arrival.
Why Balance Transfers are a Good Thing
The reason balance transfers are such a good thing is that they give you an opportunity to pay down your debt without accruing any interest on your balance for a set period of time; usually this is a minimum of six months and a maximum of 21 months. Most cards charge a minimal fee for this balance transfer equal to about three to five percent of the total amount you are transferring. But this fee is easily offset by the amount you’ll save on interest, and the chance to pay your debt down faster.
Luckily, there are many balance transfer offers out there so you can take your pick. If you have a balance on a Chase card, there is no reason you can’t transfer it to a Citi card, a Discover card, or a card from another issuer. Look for a card that gives you a long introductory 0% APR period, and offers a low balance transfer fee. The better your credit is, the better the cards that will be available to you, so order a copy of your credit report and score if you don’t know what your creditworthiness rating looks like.
One thing to be aware of when doing a balance transfer is that it may take a little while to go through; it could be anywhere from two days to a few weeks. So be sure to keep up payments on your original card until you are sure the transfer is complete. Another important thing to know is that your promotional rate is subject to termination in the event you miss a payment on your new card. Set up payment due alerts, or even better, automatic payments so that you won’t have a late payment and possibly miss out on the full amount of time your zero-percent offer is in effect.