CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through The Points Guy affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective.
If you find yourself in credit card debt and paying a lot of interest, you might want to consider a balance transfer credit card. These cards help you move debt from an existing credit card with the aim of lowering your interest rate. With lower rates, more of your payment goes to your debt instead of interest, which helps you pay off your credit card balance faster.
Ideally, the best way to do this is to find a new credit card that offers a 0% APR for balance transfers for an extended amount of time when you first open the card. While there’s no card with an indefinite 0% time period, there are many that will help you out for between 15 and 21 months. Some also offer great rewards on your everyday purchases as an added bonus.
CNN Underscored’s comprehensive credit card methodology compares every aspect of each balance transfer credit card to our “benchmark credit card” — the Citi® Double Cash Card — to determine which cards can potentially bring you maximum value in addition to lowering your balances. So check out our list of the best balance transfer credit cards to decide which one will best fit your needs.
Citi Simplicity® Card: Best overall card for balance transfers
Citi Double Cash Card: Best for flat-rate cash back
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express: Best for low-cost balance transfers
Citi Rewards+℠ Card: Best for small purchases
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card: Best for cell phone protection
Discover it® Cash Back: Best for rotating categories
The information for the Amex Everyday, U.S. Bank Visa Platinum and Discover it Balance Transfer cards has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuers.
Why did we select these cards as our best balance transfer credit cards for 2020? Dive into the details of each card with us, and see how they stack up.
Why it’s great in one sentence: If your main focus is to get rid of your debt, the Citi Simplicity Card offers a 0% interest rate on balance transfers for a whopping 21 months for transfers completed in the first four months after you open the card (the interest rate rises to a variable 14.74% to 24.74% after the introductory period ends).
This card is right for: People who need to maximize the amount of time they’ll pay no interest on balance transfers.
- 0% interest for 21 months on balance transfers made in the first four months after you open the card (14.74% to 24.74% variable afterward).
- No late fees and no penalty interest rates for late payments.
- No annual fee.
Welcome bonus: None
What we like about the Citi Simplicity Card: This is by far one of the best cards available if you need an extended amount of time to pay off a balance transfer. This card also doesn’t charge late fees or penalty interest rates, which is perfect for those who are forgetful or at times find themselves in a position where they can’t quite pay their minimum balance. Just know that if you miss a payment, you’ll lose your introductory interest rate, and since that should be your main goals of getting this card, you’ll want to make sure not to be late.
The Citi Simplicity card also allows you to choose your payment due date, which is extremely helpful for those who pay their credit card bills around their paycheck schedule and need maximum flexibility.
What could be better: Unfortunately, the Citi Simplicity doesn’t offer any rewards. This means you won’t earn any points and miles for travel, or cash back on purchases. This is a missed opportunity, as there are many credit cards that will earn you cash back on the money you spend, which you can then easily apply toward your credit card balance.
Also, despite offering 21 months at the introductory interest rate, this card does come with one of the higher fees for balance transfers. You’ll pay a balance transfer fee of 5% with a minimum of $10, which is significantly higher than the 3% fee many other cards charge. If you are in quite a bit of debt, that 2% difference can add up to a significant amount of money.
Where it beats our benchmark card: More months at the introductory rate for balance transfers, no late fees and no penalty rates.
Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash earns easy-to-redeem cash back on all purchases and has a lower balance transfer fee.
Read our complete Citi Simplicity credit card review.
Why it’s great in one sentence: The Citi Double Cash card is extremely simple, since you earn 2% cash back on every purchase — 1% when you buy, 1% when you pay your statement — all for no annual fee.
This card is right for: People who want a balance transfer option along with earning easy-to-use cash back, without having to worry about category bonuses or travel rewards programs.
- Earn 2% cash back on all purchases with no limit.
- 0% interest for 18 months on balance transfers made in the first four months after you open the card (13.99%-23.99% variable afterward).
- Cash back can be converted to Citi ThankYou travel points at a ratio of 1 cent per point when combined with the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier℠ Card.
- No annual fee.
Welcome bonus: None
What we like about the Citi Double Cash Card: The Citi Double Cash is easy. You don’t need to keep track of category bonuses and determine which credit card to use at which merchant. Instead, you get the same 2% cash back — 1% when you buy, 1% when you pay it off — on all purchases, regardless of the type of purchase. It also offers a relatively long 18-month introductory 0% interest rate period for balance transfers (13.99%-23.99% variable afterward) — a great way to pay off your debt.
What could be better: The Citi Double Cash doesn’t come with too many perks, such as travel or purchase protections. You’re also charged a 3% fee for balance transfers with a $5 minimum — although that’s similar to many other cards — and you only have four months after opening the account to complete the transfer. This is also not the card to use for international purchases, as you’ll be charged a 3% foreign transaction fee when you’re overseas, which more than offsets the rewards you’d earn.
Why it’s our “benchmark” credit card: The ease of use and straightforward top-of-market cash-back earning rate of the Citi Double Cash are why CNN Underscored currently considers the Double Cash as our “benchmark” credit card. We use it as our benchmark card to compare the features of other credit cards and determine if they’re better or worse overall.
Learn more about the Citi Double Cash Card.
Why it’s great in one sentence: There’s no fee for balance transfers made on the Amex EveryDay Credit Card within the first 60 days of account opening, and it’s one of the few American Express cards with no annual fee that also earns full Membership Rewards points, which you can transfer to Amex’s airline and hotel partners.
This card is right for: People who want to combine earning travel rewards with a no-fee balance transfer option to consolidate their credit card debt.
- No fee on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening.
- 0% interest for 15 months on balance transfers made within the first 60 days after you open the card (12.99% to 23.99% variable afterward).
- Earn 2 points for every dollar you spend at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (1x thereafter).
- Earn 20% more points after you use your card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period.
- Membership Rewards points can be transferred to 21 airline and hotel partners.
- No annual fee.
- Terms apply.
Welcome bonus: Earn 10,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in qualifying purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership.
What we like about the Amex EveryDay: While most other credit cards charge you at least a 3% fee for balance transfers, the Amex EveryDay actually allows you to transfer your balance from another card for no fee within the first 60 days of opening your account. Depending on your balance, this could be a decent savings and your first big step to paying off your debt.
This card also offers travel rewards and benefits that you don’t see on many of the other balance transfer cards on our list. With the Amex EveryDay, you’ll earn Membership Rewards points, which can be transferred to Amex’s airline and hotel partners — such as Delta, JetBlue and Marriott. Most other balance transfer cards don’t offer that flexibility unless you pair them with a more expensive card.
When you make 20 purchases in a billing period, you get a 20% bonus on all your points that month, meaning everyday purchases effectively earn 1.2 points per dollar. Also, the 10,000 bonus points you’ll get after spending $1,000 in the first three months after opening this card are worth as much as $200 toward travel based on the point valuations from CNN Underscored’s partner The Points Guy.
What could be better: Although the Amex EveryDay doesn’t charge a fee on balance transfers made within the first 60 days of account opening, the introductory interest rate is only extended for the first 15 months. You’ll see many other cards on our list offering a longer time period, up to as much as 21 months. If you need more time to pay off your debt, this might not be the best card for your situation.
Also, given the current state of the world, travel isn’t at the top of most people’s minds, and earning points toward travel might not be a priority for you. If that’s the case, you’d be better off with a cash back card like our benchmark Citi Double Cash or one of the other options on our list.
Where it beats our benchmark card: No fee on balance transfers within the first 60 days, Amex points can be more valuable than cash back if travel is a future priority for you.
Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash earns easy-to-redeem cash back and has a longer introductory interest rate period of 18 months.
Why it’s great in one sentence: If you use your credit card for a lot of small purchases — meaning under $10 — then the “round-up” feature of the Citi Rewards+ will earn you extra rewards, and its introductory balance transfer offer can lower the interest on your existing debt at the same time.
This card is right for: People looking to earn more points for small purchases, while also needing to consolidate credit card debt.
- Earn 2 points for every dollar you spend at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year (1x thereafter).
- All purchases automatically round up to the nearest 10 points.
- 10% points back for the first 100,000 points you redeem per year.
- Points can be transferred to airline and hotel partners when combined with the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier card.
- 0% interest for 15 months on balance transfers (13.49% to 23.49% variable afterward).
- No annual fee.
Welcome bonus: Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in your first three months.
What we like about the Citi Rewards+: There are three features of the Citi Rewards+ that make it worthy of consideration. First, the rewards you earn for every purchase made on the card round up to the nearest 10 points. That won’t make a huge difference on expensive items, but a $2 pack of gum earns 10 points instead of 2 points, a 400% improvement. Lots of these little transactions can add up quickly.
Second, when you redeem points, you’ll get 10% of your points back on up to 100,000 points every year. That means if you use 2,500 points to redeem for a $25 gift card, you’ll soon see 250 points back in your account to redeem again down the line. Since you can get up to 10,000 points back each year, that’s effectively up to an extra $100 in points to spend on gift cards.
The Citi Rewards+ also offers one of the best sign-up offers of any card on our list, and the 15,000 bonus points you’ll earn upon meeting the minimum spend requirement can go toward gift cards that you can use at retailers, or even redeemed for straight cash back.
But this is also a great card to pair with one of the premium Citi ThankYou credit cards, such as the Citi Premier or Citi Prestige Card. Although the Citi Rewards+ earns points that can be redeemed for gift cards, cash back or through Citi’s Shop with Points program, if you also have a premium ThankYou card, you can actually move your points to your other card and open up a whole new world of options.
For instance, with the Citi Rewards+ and a premium ThankYou card, you can transfer those points to a hotel or airline partner program, or redeem them for airfare at 1.25 cents per point when going through the Citi travel portal with the Citi Premier (though this rate will drop to 1 cent per point after April 21, 2021). With these methods, you could potentially get more value than just gift cards or cash back.
What could be better: The Citi Rewards+ only has a 15-month introductory interest rate on balance transfers, which is on the lower end of cards on our list. But the tradeoff is that you’re earning rewards on your purchases with this card, which isn’t necessarily the case with many balance transfer cards.
You’ll also want to keep in mind that the balance transfer offer comes with a fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. That’s pretty standard when it comes to balance transfers, though there are other options on our list that don’t have this fee.
Also, if you’re not pairing the card with one of the premium Citi ThankYou cards, the most value you can get for your points is 1 cent apiece when redeeming for gift cards. If you redeem points for cash back, the value is only 0.5 cents per point, in which case you’d be better off with the flat-rate cash back of our benchmark Citi Double Cash card.
Where it beats our benchmark card: Valuable sign-up bonus, 10% points back on redemptions up to 100,000 points per year, 15-month introductory offer on purchases.
Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has a longer introductory interest rate period of 18 months on balance transfers.
Learn more about the Citi Rewards+ Card.
Why it’s great in one sentence: The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum has a long introductory balance transfer period of 20 months and is one of the few balance transfer cards that comes with cell phone insurance as one of its benefits, making it a great choice for that perk alone.
This card is right for: People looking for cell phone protection along with extra time to pay off their balance transfers.
- Cell phone protection coverage.
- 0% interest for 20 billing cycles on balance transfers made in the first 60 days after you open the card (13.99% to 23.99% variable afterwards).
- No annual fee.
Welcome bonus: None
What we like about the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum: One of the best benefits of this card is that it comes with cell phone protection. This means if you use your card to pay your cell phone bill, you’ll be protected against damage or theft to your phone. With this protection, you’ll be covered up to $600 per claim with a $25 deductible, up to two claims per 12 month period.
This card also offers a 0% interest rate for 20 billing cycles on balance transfers, which is on the longer side for introductory offers. That’ll give you extra time to pay down your debt without incurring interest, saving you money, especially since the card also has no annual fee.
Even better, the introductory interest rate also extends to purchases made on the card in the first 20 billing cycles, which could be useful if you’re planning a large purchase that you’d like to finance.
What could be better: There’s no welcome offer or rewards program attached to the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum, which means you won’t earn anything by using it as a regular credit card. As a result, your primary uses for this card should be the introductory balance transfer and purchases offer, and the cell phone protection.
Also, you only have 60 days from account opening to transfer balances from other cards to receive the introductory interest rate. This is shorter than many other cards, at least the ones that charge a fee for balance transfers.
Speaking of fees, you’ll pay a 3% fee (with a $5 minimum) on any balance transfers made to the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum. That’s fairly standard, though you can find other cards on our list with no balance transfer fees, so you may want to do the math and figure out what option works best for you.
Where it beats our benchmark card: An introductory interest rate on purchases, a longer period of 20 billing cycles for no interest on introductory balance transfers, cell phone protection.
Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash earns easy-to-redeem cash back on all purchases and has a longer 4-month period to complete any introductory balance transfers.
Why it’s great in one sentence: Along with having access to a decent balance transfer offer, the rotating categories and cash back match sign-up bonus on the Discover it Cash Back card mean you can earn as much as 10% cash back on some purchases in the first year you have the card.
This card is right for: People who don’t mind tracking the rotating bonus categories and spend enough on their credit card to make the cash back match in the first year worth it.
- 5% cash back in rotating quarterly bonus categories up to $1,500 each quarter (must enroll each quarter to earn 5% cash back).
- 0% interest on balance transfers for 14 months from date of first transfer posted to your account by Sept. 10, 2020 (11.99% to 22.99% variable afterward).
- No foreign transaction fees.
- No annual fee.
Welcome bonus: Receive a match of all cash back earned at the end of your first year.
What we like about the Discover it Cash Back: Earning 5% cash back on a quarterly basis, up to $1,500 per quarter (you must enroll each quarter to earn 5% cash back), is an anomaly in the cash back world, making the Discover it Cash Back a great card to use at particular merchants throughout the year. The 2020 schedule includes these categories:
January through March 2020: Grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS
April through June 2020: Gas stations, Uber, Lyft, Home Depot and Wholesale Clubs
July through September 2020: Restaurants and PayPal
October through December 2020: Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com
On top of that, all the cash back you earn will be matched at the end of the first year for new cardholders, making this an ideal card to have if you know you’ll be spending a lot on your credit card over the next year. This means those rotating bonus categories are worth 10% in the first year, and all your purchases outside of the bonus categories earn a solid 2% return the first year.
In addition to a great rewards cash back rewards program, new cardholders also have a 14-month introductory balance transfer period. This gives you flexibility and time to pay off your debt while still earning significant cash back on your purchases.
What could be better: The rotating cash back categories on the Discover it Cash Back are lucrative, but you’ll need to pay attention to when they change each quarter to maximize them. Also, you need to manually activate the categories each quarter online or by phone before you make purchases in order to earn the bonus cash back.
The cash back match bonus doesn’t get paid out until you’ve had the card for over a year, whereas many other credit card bonus offers are paid out within a few months of meeting the minimum spend requirement. With that said, there’s no minimum spend to receive the bonus, and there’s also no annual fee to pay, meaning you’ll get the cash back match just by keeping the card open for at least a year.
Where it beats our benchmark card: No foreign transaction fees, the cash back match in the first year equals the earning rate of the Citi Double Cash for everyday purchases and beats it in the bonus categories.
Where our benchmark card is better: After the first year when the cash back match bonus ends, the Citi Double Cash earns a higher return on everyday purchases.
Looking for a new credit card but don’t need a balance transfer? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards of 2020.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.