Christie Matherne, Credit Card Writer
Focus on 3 things when you compare balance transfer credit cards: balance transfer fees, balance transfer intro APRs, and regular APRs. The best balance transfer credit cards have a low balance transfer fee (sometimes $0), a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for longer than a year, and a regular APR below 20%. Even the best balance transfer cards are known for having pretty high regular rates, which is why it’s best to pay off your transferred balance before they take effect. Plus, the regular APRs on credit cards are usually advertised as a range, so the rate you get depends on your overall creditworthiness, and you won’t know what it is until you’re approved for an account.
It is difficult to compare balance transfer cards based on how big of a balance you wish to transfer, unfortunately. You won’t know how big your credit limit will be on the new card until you’re approved for one. Some cards state a minimum credit limit in their terms. But not all do that, and none of them disclose a maximum credit limit. If you don’t get approved for a high enough limit to accommodate your requested balance transfer amount, you can do a partial balance transfer. This will still leave a portion of your balance un-transferred and accruing the old interest rate, but you’ll hopefully improve your situation overall.
With all of that in mind, the best way to go about comparing balance transfer credit card offers is online with the aid of a balance transfer calculator. This will make it easy to compare intro APRs, balance transfer fees, regular APR ranges, and the credit standing required for approval side by side. And WalletHub’s free balance transfer calculator will help you plan out your monthly payments and price out which card will save you the most money.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Comparing Balance Transfer Cards:
- What is the current regular APR on the debt? Knowing your current regular APR gives you a threshold for comparing the APRs on balance transfer cards. Whatever it is now, go lower—and find the lowest one you qualify for.
- How much will the balance transfer fee cost? A handful of cards don’t have balance transfer fees, but most do. The average balance transfer fee is about 3%, but some cards charge up to 5%. Taking this fee into account is essential to finding the best balance transfer card for you.
- How long will it take to pay off the transferred debt? Using a balance transfer calculator can help you figure out how long paying off your balance will take with different fees and intro APR periods. That will tell you how big of an impact a high regular APR is likely to have. And knowing exactly how much you’ll pay in interest makes comparing balance transfer cards way easier.
- Which cards are realistic options? The best balance transfer credit cards generally require good credit or better for approval. Checking your credit score for free on WalletHub allows you to screen credit cards based on your approval odds before you apply for them.
Comparing balance transfer cards can be a confusing process, but taking the time to crunch some numbers before you apply for a card will literally pay off in the end. Make every effort to pay off your transferred balance before any intro APR period expires, and don’t use the card for anything else until you do.
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