If you want to pay down your debt and save money, a balance-transfer card might be the way to go. But with so many balance-transfer cards on the market today, there’s no way you can evaluate them all. From introductory rates and bonus offers to rewards and fees, there’s a lot you need to analyze before choosing a card.
To make your job easier, GOBankingRates compared hundreds of credit cards and thousands of data points — annual fees, balance-transfer fees, APRs and more — for its first annual Best Credit Cards ranking. Here are the five Best Balance-Transfer Credit Cards of 2019.
- Best Balance-Transfer Credit Cards
- Learn More About Balance-Transfer Cards
If you typically carry a balance on your card, you’ll want a low interest rate, and Navy Federal’s Platinum Credit Card has a starting APR of just 8.24%. But for balance transfers, you’ll pay 0% for 12 months. This card is best for those who are looking for a low interest rate to pay off large purchases over time.
Highlights: You’ll pay no annual fee, no balance transfer fees, no foreign transaction fees and no cash advance fees. You’ll also possibly get a very low interest rate.
Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 12 months, 8.24%-18.00% afterwards
Balance Transfer Fees: $0
Annual Fee: $0
APR for Purchases: 8.24%-18.00%
The Fine Print: To qualify for Navy Federal’s financial products, you (or a family member) must have ties to the armed forces, Department of Defense or National Guard.
The PenFed Gold Visa Card is PenFed Credit Union’s lowest-rate card, and the low APR applies to all purchases — including cash advances. The card is great for everyday use, and the fees are easy to understand.
Highlights: You can earn a $100 statement credit if you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days, you’ll pay no annual or foreign transaction fees, you’ll get one year of balance transfers at 0% APR and your card will be EMV chip-enabled for enhanced security.
Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 12 months, 9.24%-17.99% afterwards
Balance Transfer Fees: 3% per transaction
APR for Purchases: 9.24%-17.99%
Annual Fee: $0
The Fine Print: If your minimum payment is not received within 60 days, your entire account is subject to change to the non-variable penalty APR. The penalty APR will remain in place until you make three monthly payments in a row on or before the due date.
With the SunTrust Cash Rewards Credit Card, you’ll be able to consolidate your debt and get 5% cash back on up to $6,000 you spend on qualifying gas and grocery purchases in the first 12 months, 2% unlimited cash back after that and 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.
Highlights: You’ll also get a 10%, 25% or 50% Loyalty Cash Bonus — based on your deposit relationship with SunTrust — when you redeem your rewards directly into a SunTrust checking, savings or money market account. There are no annual or foreign transaction fees, and you’ll get free access to your FICO score. You’ll also get 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases.
Balance Transfer APR: 0% intro APR for 15 months, 13.49%-23.49% after that
Balance Transfer Fees: $10 or 3% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater
APR for Purchases: 0% intro APR for 15 months, 13.49%-23.49% after that
Annual Fee: $0
The Fine Print: Late and returned payments could cost you up to $39. Cash advances will cost you $10 or 4% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater.
The Amex EveryDay Credit Card is great for shopping, particularly at U.S. supermarkets, where you’ll earn two times the points on up to $6,000 per year. And you’ll get 1 times the points on all other purchases. In addition, there are plenty of opportunities to earn extra points with this card.
Highlights: Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $1,000 in qualifying purchases within your first three months of membership. If you make 20 or more separate purchases in a billing period, you’ll earn 20% extra points on those purchases.
Balance Transfer APR: 0% for the first 15 months on transfers requested within 60 days of account opening, 15-24%-26.24% after that
Balance Transfer Fees: $0
APR for Purchases: 0% for the first 15 months, 15.24%-26.24% after that
Annual Fee: $0
The Fine Print: If you travel out of the country, be careful — you’ll pay a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%. Cash advance fees are $5 or 3% of the amount for each transaction, whichever is greater. And late and returned payments could cost you up to $38.
Compared to the other best balance-transfer cards on this list, the HSBC Gold Mastercard Credit Card offers the longest 0% APR introductory period for balance transfers. It also offers a few benefits that will appeal to travelers, including physical damage and theft protection for most rental vehicles and a 15% savings on airport meet-and-greet services.
Highlights: You’ll get plenty of extras with this card, and it offers the longest period for 0% APR balance transfers in the group at 18 months. It also comes with no annual or foreign transaction fees, a late payment fee waiver and no penalty APR.
Balance Transfer APR: 0% for the first 18 months; 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% after that
Balance Transfer Fees: Either $10 or 4% — whichever is greater — per each balance transfer and credit card check
APR for Purchases: 0% for the first 18 months; 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% after that
Annual Fee: $0
The Fine Print: The late payment fee waiver only applies the first time you don’t make the minimum payment on time or the first time you don’t make the minimum payment on time after 12 consecutive billing periods from the last late fee assessment.
Best Balance-Transfer Credit Cards of 2019
|Credit Card||Intro APR for Balance Transfers||Length of 0% Intro APR for Balance Transfers||Balance-Transfer Fees||Annual Fees|
|Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card||0%||12 months||$0||$0|
|PenFed Gold Visa Card||0%||12 months||3% per transaction||$0|
|SunTrust Cash Rewards Credit Card||0%||15 months||$10 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater||$0|
|Amex EveryDay Credit Card||0%||15 months||$0||$0|
|HSBC Gold Mastercard Credit Card||0%||18 months||Either $10 or 4%, whichever is greater, will apply on each balance transfer and credit card check||$0|
Balance transfers can save you money and consolidate your payments. When you make a balance transfer on a credit card, you are transferring debt — or a balance — from another loan or credit card. This allows you to pay off your balance without incurring interest.
However, you must be careful when choosing a balance-transfer credit card because it might come with fees and a high interest rate.
Click here for more details on how credit card balance transfers work.
It’s easy to do a balance transfer online. Once you decide what the best balance-transfer card for your situation is, apply for it.
Once you’re approved and you have your card, you can make a balance transfer online by providing the new credit card company with your old account numbers and designating how much of your balance you want to transfer onto the new card. It’s that simple.
The length of time it takes to transfer a balance to another card varies with each credit card company, but you can typically expect a time frame of several days to a few weeks. It will usually take less time if you apply for a balance transfer online, and you’ll have the added benefit of being able to monitor your application’s progress.
Balance-transfer cards can help you consolidate debt, simplify your payments and save money in the long run. That said, balance-transfer cards do not come without risks, some of which include hidden fees, losing your promotional interest rate if you miss a payment and not qualifying for the promotional 0% interest rate.
When you’re shopping for a balance-transfer credit card, look for a 0% introductory APR for regular purchases and balance transfers. “Make sure the 0% financing does apply to balance transfers,” said Jason Steele, a credit card and travel expert.
In addition, pay attention to how long that 0% intro APR period lasts — the longer the intro period, the better. “The other thing you’re looking for is the longest duration possible, so 15 or 18 months, although they make cards that are 21 months,” said Steele. “But anything over 15 months is pretty strong right now.”
Also, consider the regular APR after the intro period ends, annual fees and additional perks, such as rewards, points and cash back.
Last, but not least, read up on the balance-transfer fees. Many cards charge either a dollar amount or a percentage amount of the transfer, whichever is greater. “Generally, this fee is 3%, although a few cards are now at 5%, and some cards just do 0%,” said Steele. “So if you get one of those 0% cards, that’s ideal.”
Before you choose a card, read the fine print so you know what you’re getting into. And whatever you do, don’t immediately add expensive purchases to your balance-transfer card — you’ll just be getting yourself into more debt. In fact, consider setting up automatic payments for the card so you won’t be penalized for missing a payment.
It’s pretty simple to figure out if a balance-transfer card is right for you. If you’re struggling to make your current credit card payments on time and you’re falling into debt, it might be time to get a balance-transfer credit card. Take a look at your current card’s interest rate. If you think it’s too high, see if your card issuer offers balance-transfer cards with lower rates and fees.
It’s also important that you find a card with a high enough credit limit to cover your previous balance(s) — and one with an introductory period that’s long enough for you to pay off the balance before the interest rate increases. If you find a card that offers all of that, then a balance-transfer credit card is likely a good idea.
Keep reading to find out how to make your balance-transfer credit cards pay off.
Learn More About the Best Credit Cards of 2019
Methodology: GOBankingRates identified the best balance transfer credit cards by analyzing the following factors among dozens of cards with a 0% intro APR for balance transfers: (1) length of 0% intro APR for balance transfers; (2) length of 0% intro APR for purchases; (3) balance transfer rate; (4) balance transfer fees; (5) annual fees; (6) regular APR for purchases; and (7) any perks associated with opening a card that might extend its value past the promotional APR period. All fees and rates are subject to change at the credit card issuers’ discretion. Some offers might no longer be available on the credit card issuers’ websites, depending on how you access the web page. All data was sourced from each financial institution’s website or promotional material and is accurate as of June 12, 2019. Please verify terms and conditions — especially sign-up bonuses and other bonus offers — before opening an account.
Editorial Disclosure: GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest rate website owned by ConsumerTrack, Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions, and other financial services organizations. Some companies mentioned in this article might be clients of ConsumerTrack, Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings and roundups are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of GOBankingRates alone and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the companies included in the article. All fees and rates are subject to change at the issuers’ discretion. Some interest rates might be short-term or promotional offers only, and it is possible additional terms and conditions must be met in order to obtain the interest rates listed. Rates and availability might vary by region. Verify terms and conditions before opening an account.
GOBankingRates bases its assessment of “best” and “top” products on the above-stated parameters to create a baseline for comparison. This assessment is an approximation of “best” and “top” designed to help consumers find products that might be appropriate for them. There could be other options available as well. Consumers should consider various options appropriate for their personal circumstances.
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