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How to Choose the Best Balance Transfer Card for You

Last Updated: December 11, 2023
3 min read

Key points about: balance transfer credit cards

  1. A balance transfer credit card lets you consolidate your high interest debt under one account, often with a low introductory interest rate.

  2. A standard interest rate applies to any balance remaining once the promotional rate of your card expires.

  3. The best balance transfer card for you may offer a low balance transfer fee, no annual fee, and rewards.

If you're looking for methods of reducing credit card debt, a balance transfer credit card could help you consolidate multiple payments and pay your debt off sooner. But with numerous credit card issuers and cards available, how do you pick the right one for you? We outline important factors to consider when selecting a credit card for balance transfers, from interest rates and fees to rewards.

Why get a balance transfer credit card?

When choosing the best balance transfer card for you, it may help to consider the benefits of a balance transfer first. Borrowers often transfer high interest credit card balances to a different card to save on interest charges. However, there are other reasons why balance transfers may make good sense.

One benefit of balance transfer cards is that they can help simplify debt management. For instance, instead of having multiple credit card and personal loan payments (yes, you can sometimes transfer personal loan balances), you’ll only have one monthly bill to pay, making managing your finances easier.

Consider credit card interest rates

When shopping for the best credit card for your transfer balance, you may want to choose a card with a promotional or introductory interest rate or APR (annual percentage rate). You’ll also want to consider the standard interest rate that applies once intro rates expire.

Promotional APR

A credit card with a promotional or intro APR on balance transfers and purchases offers a low interest rate for a specified period, sometimes even 0% interest. And if you pay off the balance transfer and any purchases by the end of the promotion, you can save on interest.

Standard APR

After promotional offers expire, a standard APR applies to any unpaid transfer and regular purchase amounts. And your standard interest rate applies to any new transfers or purchases moving forward. If you want to pay down your credit card debt, a good goal is to pay it off within the introductory period before the standard rate applies. 

Consider rewards programs

Some credit cards offer rewards programs that can help you save money, depending on how often you use your card and what kind of rewards your credit card issuer offers.  

For example, you can earn cash back rewards on every eligible purchase with a cash back credit card. Consider how you spend to compare rewards programs—from cards with a lower percentage of rewards on all purchases and no earning limits to rewards credit cards with a higher rate of rewards on purchases in rotating categories but a limit to what you can earn. 

Consider credit card fees

  • Balance transfer fees

Even if you get 0% interest on your balance transfer during a promotional period, transferring debt to another card can still cost you—you’ll typically pay a balance transfer fee, often 3 to 5% of the amount transferred. That means a card with a smaller fee can offer more significant savings.

  • Annual fee

An annual fee is what some credit card issuers charge borrowers yearly to use their cards. You might want to look for a balance transfer card without an annual fee to save on costs you’ll continue to incur long after you pay your balance transfer off.

Did you know?

Annual fees vary by card and the rewards they offer—premium rewards cards often have higher fees. Not only can yearly fees add up, but depending on how you use your card, they may cancel out any savings you get from promotional interest rates and rewards. There’s no annual fee for any Discover® Card.

Balance transfers can be an excellent tool for helping you pay your debt off quicker while saving on interest. It may help to compare the interest rates, rewards, and fees associated with balance transfer cards to find the best one for you.

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  • Legal Disclaimer: This site is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for professional advice. The material on this site is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and does not indicate the availability of any Discover product or service. It does not guarantee that Discover offers or endorses a product or service. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, you may wish to consult a qualified professional.