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When you have outstanding credit card debt, you’re essentially making two monthly payments. You must first pay the interest charges that have incurred on your average daily balance, and only then will the remainder of your payment apply toward your purchases.
But if you transfer your credit card balances to a new card with an interest-free balance transfer offer, all of your payments apply toward reducing your balance while the promotional financing offer applies. This allows you to eliminate the interest charges while speeding up the repayment of your debt—plus, it can save you some money in the process.
Here are the best balance transfer credit cards we evaluated, ranked in order:
Best overall: Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
Best value: Chase Slate
BankAmericard® from Bank of America
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
Citi Simplicity® Card
Things to know about balance transfer credit cards
Credit cards with 0% APR introductory periods typically require applicants to have good or excellent credit. Even then, you might not receive a sufficient credit line to transfer all of your outstanding balances.
You can’t transfer balances between two cards issued by the same bank or credit union. That’s because these offers are designed to attract new customers, and banks don’t want to lose out on interest payments owed by existing account holders.
To get the most out of an intro APR on balance transfers, you should always try to pay off your entire balance before the promotional financing expires.
You should never rely on an interest-free balance transfer offer to postpone repayment of your balances. You also shouldn’t count on perpetually avoiding paying interest by receiving additional 0% APR balance transfer offers in the future.
How we evaluated
I’ve been writing about credit cards, travel rewards, and consumer credit since 2008. As the market for balance transfer cards is constantly changing, I looked at the latest offers from all of the major credit card issuers.
When selecting a balance transfer credit card, key factors include the duration of 0% APR financing and the balance transfer fee. You might also want to consider the standard APR, which will apply after the promotional rate ends. While less important in this instance, we also looked at rewards earned from spending and any bonuses offered to new applicants.
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Best overall: Amex EveryDay Credit Card
Among the best balance transfer credit cards, this one earns the top position on our list as it offers 15 months of interest-free financing and no balance transfer fees. While two other cards currently match this offer, the Amex EveryDay excels because it’s also one of the top travel rewards cards without an annual fee.
The balance transfer offer: New applicants receive 15 months of interest-free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers completed within 60 days of account opening. But what makes this card special is that there are no balance transfer fees. In contrast, most 0% interest balance transfer offers have a fee of either 3% or 5% of the amount transferred.
Other important features: New applicants earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 within three months of account opening. The card also offers double points on up to $6,000 spent each year at U.S. supermarkets and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. And when you make 20 or more transactions in a billing period, you’ll earn 20% more points. These points can be redeemed for rewards such as travel reservations, gift cards, and merchandise, or you can transfer your points to airline and hotel partners. While there’s no annual fee, there is a 2.7% foreign transaction fee.
Best value: Chase Slate
The Chase Slate has a balance transfer offer that’s very similar to the Amex EveryDay, but it narrowly finishes behind because it lacks rewards. In short, it’s a very simple card that’s designed to help customers pay down their balances as quickly as possible.
The balance transfer offer: This card features 15 months of interest-free financing on both balance transfers and purchases. And when you complete a balance transfer within 60 days from the date of account opening, there’s no balance transfer fee. After 60 days, the balance transfer fee is either $5 or 5% of the amount transferred, whichever is greater.
Other important features: While this card doesn’t offer rewards, it has no annual fee and a penalty APR does not apply if you make a late payment. You also receive a complimentary three-month subscription to DashPass, which provides unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee on DoorDash orders over $12 (other fees may apply). Keep in mind: This card has a 3% foreign transaction fee.
BankAmericard from Bank of America
This card’s balance transfer offer is similar to the Amex EveryDay and the Chase Slate, but it doesn’t offer rewards. Even so, the BankAmericard is a great choice to avoid interest and fees while you pay off your debt.
The balance transfer offer: New applicants receive 15 months of 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening. There’s also no fee for balance transfers completed within 60 days of account opening. A 3% balance transfer fee applies after the initial 60-day period ends.
Other important features: Beyond the introductory financing offer, there's no annual fee and no penalty APR that applies to late payments. Otherwise, this card has few benefits beyond those offered on most other options.
Wells Fargo Platinum
This card strikes a balance between those with longer balance transfer offers and higher fees, and those with shorter offers and no initial fees. The Wells Fargo Platinum card also includes a strong set of benefits at a time when many credit card issuers are curtailing cardholder perks.
The balance transfer offer: This card offers new applicants 18 months of 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a fee of $5 or 3% of the amount transferred, whichever is greater. A balance transfer request must be made within 120 days from account opening to qualify for the introductory APR.
Other important features: The Wells Fargo Platinum card also provides many valuable benefits to cardholders. These include auto rental collision damage waiver, roadside dispatch assistance, travel accident insurance, travel and emergency assistance services, and a cell phone protection policy. There’s no annual fee for this card, but there is a 3% foreign transaction fee.
U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card
Like the Wells Fargo Platinum, the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum is a good compromise between cards that have a very long promotional financing period with a high balance transfer fee, and those with a shorter financing period and no fee. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have quite as many cardholder benefits as the Wells Fargo Platinum.
The balance transfer offer: This card features 20 months of 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a fee of $5 or 3% of the amount transferred, whichever is greater. A balance transfer request must be made within 60 days of account opening to qualify for the introductory APR.
Other important features: This card has no annual fee and a 3% foreign transaction fee (2% for foreign transactions in U.S. dollars). Benefits include cell phone protection—if you pay for those purchases with the card—and a free monthly credit score.
If you’re looking for a few more months of interest-free financing than typically offered, the Citi Simplicity card is a worthwhile option. Though there is a balance transfer fee, do the math; it could be less than the interest you’d be paying on your other account.
The balance transfer offers: The Citi Simplicity offers 21 months of interest-free financing, including balance transfers made within four months of account opening. You’ll pay a fee of $5 or 5% of the amount transferred, whichever is greater. The card also offers 12 months of 0% APR financing on new purchases.
Other important features: In addition to no annual fee, the Simplicity also lacks late fees and a penalty interest rate. Other benefits include monthly FICO score updates as well as digital wallet and contactless payment compatibility.
Please note: The offers mentioned above are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.
Reviewed has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Reviewed and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
Other top credit card options
How many credit cards should you have in your wallet?
We hate to break it to you, but there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. The right number of credit cards for you depends on what you can responsibly manage.
Does having a piece of shiny plastic an arm’s length away often encourage you to spend money you don’t have? Be honest. Credit cards offer great benefits, but they also present an opportunity for overspending. You may want to think twice before applying for more credit. Carrying a balance you can’t afford contributes to interest charges, and in the long run costs you more money—money that you could’ve used for that air fryer you've been eyeing.
If you’re financially responsible and stick to making purchases that you can pay off, there may be some upsides to adding another card to your arsenal. If you’re a jet-setter without a card that rewards you for hitting the road, or one that skips foreign transaction fees, a travel credit card may make sense for you.
There are a few other things to consider before opening a new account, like adding a different payment processing network, or taking note of any annual fees.
Should you consider closing a credit card account?
We’re not big fans of clutter sitting around and taking up space, either, but there’s a few things to know before you pick up the phone to call your bank and chop up that credit card into bits and pieces. First, your credit score is based partly on the length of your credit history. Closing an older account will knock your score.
Saying goodbye to a card also means you’ll have less credit available. And that means your credit utilization ratio will likely go up. (If you need a refresher: That’s the balance you carry divided by your credit line—and finance pros recommend keeping this at 30% or less.) Your utilization ratio is also a major factor in calculating your score. You can, however, ask another issuer to increase your credit limit to help out a little.
Keep in mind, if you’re a responsible credit user, your scores will eventually rebound. But there are a few other factors to consider when deciding to close an account, such as whether you’re close to hitting a rewards milestone.
What else should you know about credit cards?
Long introductory period APR rates are only a short-term incentive. Potentially high APR rates snap into effect after the card’s intro period ends, which could cost you a lot in interest if you’ve left your balance unpaid. It’s really important—especially when getting a card for a big purchase—to keep an eye on your finances, and keep an eye on the calendar.
APR rates and credit limits vary based on your individual credit. Credit limits and interest rates for each card are determined based on each cardholder's personal situation, so we did not take that information into account when evaluating this card. Remember to pay your card off in full every month, so you will not be charged interest.
Banks have final say on who they accept for a credit card. These recommendations were put together with the assumption that applicants would have average credit or above. That being said, banks decide who they will issue credit cards to using criteria including, but not always limited to, an individual's credit score when evaluating each applicant.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed.com: The best balance transfer credit cards of 2020: Reviewed