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The Most Rewarding Balance Transfers for Travelers

Updated: May 14, 2014
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Balance Transfer with Maximum Rewards

Cash value calculations of miles and points were based on face value of Economy Class Ticket for a Domestic Flight between West and East Coast. All values were not seasonally adjusted.

The Most Rewarding Balance Transfers for Travelers

Do you have a balance you’d like to transfer, but you’d like to get rewarded for doing it? After all, transferring balances is a hassle. You’ve got to fill out forms, whether online or on paper, or make a long boring phone call, reciting all your personal information from your social security number to the address of your credit card issuer. Who even knows the address of their credit card issuer? (Hint: it’s often written in tiny print on the back of your card.) Then you have to wait for the transfer to go through, and keep making payment on your card until it does. Even when you know you’re going to save money on interest, it can feel not worth the bother. Not to mention the balance transfer fees! wants you to get something back for all that time spent on the phone or online – a reward that will make it worthwhile to transfer your balances, and that might even be worth more than any balance transfer fee you pay. The cards we outline here all give you travel rewards in addition to offering a zero-APR introductory period on balance transfers. Read on to find out how rewarding it can be to transfer a balance.

TOP Travel Credit Cards for Balance Transfer Rewards

Virgin America Visa® Signature Card

Virgin America Visa® Signature Card

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Making a balance transfer to the Virgin America Visa card within the first 30 days can give you a rewards balance of up to 15,000 points. For making the transfer, you’ll get 10,000 points, and on top of that, you’ll get one point per dollar transferred, up to $5,000. So if you transfer $5,000, you’ll get the maximum – 15,000 points just for opening the account and transferring the balance.
Redeeming reward points on Virgin America starts at 2,500 points each way, so that initial balance transfer rewards bonus will be enough for two round-trip domestic tickets on Virgin America.

APR for balance transfers: Zero percent for the first 15 billing cycles, and then 15.99% or 24.99% (Variable) depending on credit history.
Balance transfer fee: 4% of each transfer, or $10 each, whichever is greater, when you transfer a balance during the first 15 billing cycles of account ownership.
Annual fee: $49

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®

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This card from US Airways gives frequent flyers 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase and payment of the annual fee. What can you do with 40,000 bonus miles from US Airways? For Premier World card holders, reward travel starts at just 20,000 miles, so you’ll have enough to redeem an award ticket.
Getting more: You’ll get two miles for every dollar spent on US Airways purchases. When you fly US Airways you’ll enjoy VIP treatment like priority boarding Zone 2, companion certificate, and a US Airways Club Pass.

APR for balance transfers: Zero percent for the first 15 months, and then 15.99%, 19.99% or 24.99%* (Variable) depending on credit history.
Balance transfer fee: When you transfer a balance during the first 15 months of account ownership, the fee will be 3% of each transfer, or $10 each, whichever is greater.
Annual fee: $89

Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®

Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard®

Expert Rating:

Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® gives you the opportunity to get free flights at any airline and any time. Opening an account and spending $1,000 on purchases during first three months will bring you 20,000 bonus miles. These 20,000 bonus miles equal to $200. Plus you will get 10% miles back when you redeem them for travel.

When you buy tickets directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners you’ll get two award miles for every dollar spent. For any other purchases you'll get one award mile per dollar spent.

APR for balance transfers: Zero percent for the first 12 billing cycles, and then 14.99% or 18.99%* (Variable) depending on credit history.
Balance transfer fee: When you transfer a balance during the first 12 billing cycles of account ownership, the fee will be 3% of each transfer, or $10 each, whichever is greater.
Annual fee: $0

Important Points to Remember

Balance transfers can take up to four weeks to post to your account, so it’s important to always continue making on-time payments to the card you’re transferring a balance from until the transfer is processed.

If you are transferring multiple balances to a new card, you’ll pay a separate balance transfer fee for each one, but you’ll only be rewarded once. Depending on your creditworthiness and ability to open multiple new accounts, you’ll reap the most rewards when you transfer each balance to its own new card. Just be careful that you don’t end up with too many hard inquiries on your credit report and no new cards to show for them – only do this if you’re pretty sure you will be approved.

Be aware of annual fees, especially if you open more than one new card so that you can get more rewards. Many cards waive their annual fee the first year, but once that first anniversary is past, you don’t want to get stuck with multiple fees. Make a note of the annual fee for each card you apply for.

Some of these credit cards come in another version, with a lower annual fee, or no annual fee. These offer lesser rewards than the ones that carry an annual fee, so for the person looking for maximum rewards, the annual fee card is the one that gives the biggest return. If you’d rather not pay an annual fee, you can apply for the other version and get a smaller reward bonus.

Raking In the Rewards

Remember to think big when you’re looking at these rewards cards. Many of them allow you to redeem points for more things than airline miles or hotel stays – though for the traveler, these will be the best values. In most cases, the sky’s the limit, because point accumulation is unlimited and points never expire. Use the card more, and you’ll earn more points, but just by transferring a balance, you’ll already be ahead of the game with a ready-to-redeem rewards balance.

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Related Research: Reviews It: The Virgin America Visa Signature Card

By Elizabeth Nelson, Posted: November 14, 2012

The Virgin America Visa Signature Card advertises a sign-on bonus of up to 25,000 points and no blackout dates on reward flight redemption, but how much are those bonus points really worth, and how easy is it to book reward travel? Read ... Continue reading
Miles by Discover: Flexible Rewards and Six Months Interest-Free

By Elizabeth Nelson, Posted: December 26, 2012

The Miles by Discover card is a travel rewards credit card that offers the flexibility of a regular cash back rewards card and six months of zero interest, all for no annual fee. Continue reading
Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express 25,000 Starpoints Bonus with No Blackout Dates

By Elizabeth Nelson, Posted: January 18, 2013

This American Express Business card partners with a popular hotel rewards program, the Starwood Preferred Guest Program. This rewards program is even better when you use the card to earn points with every purchase. The low annual fee is ... Continue reading
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