You may have heard of a balance transfer, but what exactly is it? A balance transfer is when you move an unpaid balance from one open credit account to another. Typically, this is done to save on interest for that balance by transferring it to a credit account with a lower interest rate.

A 0% intro APR balance transfer is when you move that unpaid balance to a credit account that features a 0% intro APR for a finite period of time. This introductory rate will typically only last for a few months, and then the balance will accrue interest at the higher standard rate. Many credit cards that promote other rewards also offer 0% intro APR balance transfers.

Before you take action, consider these guidelines to help inform your usage of a 0% intro APR balance transfer:

    1. Why Apply for a Balance Transfer Credit Card with a 0% Intro APR Offer? 
    2. Remember a 0% Intro APR Offer on a Balance Transfer Credit Card is Temporary
    3. Three Ways to Use a Balance Transfer
    4. Before Applying for a Balance Transfer Credit Card, Remember Smart Budgeting Pays Off
    5. Discover Balance Transfer Offers

1. Why Apply for a Balance Transfer Credit Card with a 0% Intro APR Offer?

A 0% intro APR balance transfer can be an effective way of consolidating or reducing debt. These 0% intro APR balance transfers can help you to save on interest payments you are making on your existing credit card or other high interest loans.

For example, consider you owe $3,000 on a card with an APR of 15%. If you pay $235 each month, you will still have accrued $247 of interest over the 14 months it took you to pay off the balance, assuming you make no additional purchases.

But, let’s say that you accepted a 0% intro APR balance transfer offer of 14 months with a 3% balance transfer fee. You would pay off your old balance of $3,000 and would incur a new balance of $3,000 plus $90 in balance transfer fees on your new 0% intro APR balance transfer credit card. Because of the 0% intro APR balance transfer offer, you could pay off your new balance in 14 months and save over $150 in interest assuming that you make no additional purchases and make monthly payments of $221.

2. Remember a 0% Intro APR Offer on a Balance Transfer Credit Card is Temporary

The introductory 0% intro APR balance transfer rate is temporary. The duration of the introductory 0% APR balance transfer offer varies based on individual offers. After this introductory period, the remaining transferred balance is subject to the standard balance transfer rate for the card. You should pay attention to the duration of the introductory offer because, once it is over, there will be an increase in your interest rate.

It is always important to familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions for any credit card. For example, in some cases, new purchases on cards with an active 0% intro APR balance transfer offer will incur interest at the standard purchase APR, unless the 0% intro APR offer applies to new purchases as well. The amount transferred through such 0% intro APR balance transfer offers is often subject to a one-time balance transfer fee. This fee is added to the new balance.

3. Three Ways to Use a Balance Transfer

Consider these three ways you can use a balance transfer.

  • Consolidate Multiple Credit Card Debts. It can be difficult to manage debt across several credit card accounts. With each account, you’ll have a separate monthly statement, and a separate due date. You may also have multiple online accounts or mobile apps to track. When you have multiple payments to make each month, it’s simply more to keep track of, which can mean an increased likelihood of accidentally missing a payment. By transferring your balances to a single new account, you can save time and energy by making just one monthly payment.
  • Reduce Your Monthly Payments. Another great way to use a balance transfer is when you’re looking to save money. When you transfer your credit card balances to a new account with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers, you will not have to pay interest on the transferred balance during that promotional financing period. Keep in mind that many balance transfers include a fee equal to a certain percentage of the balance transferred, like 3%, but you may still save money on interest under the offer. It can be helpful to determine your potential savings by using an online balance transfer calculator.
  • Set a Goal for Paying off Your Credit Card Balances. One of the most effective ways to utilize a credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers is to use its limited timeframe as a deadline for paying off your balances. During the promotional financing period there will be no interest charges on the balance transfer, so all of your monthly payments will go toward paying down your principal as long as you don’t make new purchases on the account.

One strategy is to divide your entire balance by the number of months of promotional financing that your card offers. You can then pay off a set amount each month so that you have no remaining balance by the end of the introductory financing period. If the 0% intro APR balance transfer lasts for 12 months, then divide the transfer amount by 12.

4. Before Applying for a Balance Transfer Credit Card, Remember Smart Budgeting Pays Off

If you are struggling with debt, it is important to remember that you should try to continue making all of your payments on time to maintain your credit score as a higher credit score may increase your chances of qualifying for introductory credit card offers like a 0% intro APR balance transfer.

For those looking into taking advantage of a 0% intro APR balance transfer, consider making a comprehensive plan for eliminating credit card debt that focuses on maximizing income, minimizing expenses, and paying off the entire balance before the introductory rate expires.

5. Discover Balance Transfer Offers

Discover has various balance transfers offers depending on the credit card you apply for. You can review some options here to see if any are right for you, all with No Annual Fee.

Published February 17, 2015.

Updated June 9, 2021.

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.

Applies to all categories:  Certain digital wallet transactions qualify for 5%, for more information see Discover.com/digitalwallets. Purchases made through third-party payment accounts, mobile or wireless card readers, virtual wallets or similar technology will not be eligible if the technology does not provide sufficient transaction details for rewards qualification. 5% Cashback Categories: In accordance with standard industry practices, merchants are assigned a merchant category code (MCC) typically based on their line of business, or the type of products and/or services they primarily sell or provide. Discover Card does not assign MCCs to merchants. Even if you make purchases at a merchant of items that appear to fit in a rewards category, the merchant m ay not have an assigned MCC in that rewards category. Only purchases made from merchants located in the United States are eligible for 5% Cashback Bonus. Rewards are added to your Cashback Bonus account within two billing periods. See Cashback Bonus Program Terms and Conditions for more information about your rewards.