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From the Experts at Credit.com

The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards of 2017

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The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in America

[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired. You can view the current offers from our partners once they become available here — Chase Slate]

Need to pay down some high-interest debt? Get a new credit card. Seriously. A good balance-transfer or 0% interest credit card can help you get out of the red. That’s because they buy you some time. Balance transfer credit cards let you — you guessed it — transfer a high-interest balance to a new piece of plastic offering 0% interest for a promotional period of time, typically for a 3% to 5% fee. The very best ones offer a nice long window (think 15 to 21 months) to pay that balance down sans interest and don’t charge an astronomical fee to make the move. Bonus: They don’t carry an annual fee either. What cards make the grade? We’ve got you covered.

Cut to the Cards:

Where we give it to you straight. (For the full print, see the card agreements.)

  • Discover it — 18-Month Balance Transfer: A solid card that offers a nice-long window to pay down your debts — and the opportunity to earn rewards after
  • Chase Slate: Because it’s one of the few cards that let you skip a balance transfer fee
  • Citi Simplicity: Because you’ll get a whopping 21 months of interest-free financing
  • Citi Double Cash: Because you’ll have 15 months to pay back your balances and earn 2% back on new purchases (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

Discover it — 18-month Balance Transfer Offer

Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 18 months; after that, variable 11.99% to 23.99%, depending on your credit
Balance Transfer Fee: 3% for each balance transfer
Purchase APR: 0% for 6 months; after that, variable 11.99% to 23.99%
Annual Fee: $0

Why We Picked it: Cardholders get 18-months 0% introductory financing on balance transfers for a 3% balance transfer fee. They also get a 6-month 0% introductory APR on purchases. After that, a variable interest rate between 11.99% and 23.99% will apply.

Benefits: The Discover it carries no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no penalty APR and no late payment fee for your first late payment. The Discover it also happens to be a rewards credit card. It offers 5% cashback on purchases in revolving quarterly categories up to $1,500 and 1% cashback on everything else. Plus, as a signup bonus, Discover is currently matching all the cash back you earn for your first year at the end of the year.

Drawbacks: That signup bonus and rewards program sound sweet, but they’ll only prove fruitful if they don’t deter you from paying down that balance you’re transferring. In fact, it can work against you if you rack up more debt trying to score rewards.

Chase Slate

Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 15 months; after that, variable 15.74% to 24.49%
Balance Transfer Fee: $0 introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening; after that $5 or 5% of balance transferred, whichever is greater
Purchase APR: 0% for 15 months; after that, variable 15.74% to 24.49%
Annual Fee: $0

Why We Picked it: New cardholders receive 15 months of interest-free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with no fees imposed on transfers completed within 60 days of account opening. After those first 60 days, a 5% balance transfer fee (with a minimum of $5) will apply. The go-to rate will be a variable 15.74% to 24.49%, depending on your credit.

Benefits: The big draw here is obviously the ability to skip that balance transfer fee. But, on top of that, there’s no annual fee or penalty APR for this credit card. Slate cardholders can also use Chase’s Blueprint program, which allows you to avoid interest charges by paying off some purchases in full while carrying a balance on others.

Drawbacks: Remember, if you don’t transfer a balance within 60 days of opening the account, you’ll pay a 5% fee of future balance transfers — which is higher than the standard 3% most balance transfer cards charge.

Citi Simplicity

Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 21 months; after that, variable 14.49% to 24.49%
Balance Transfer Fee: 3% or $5, whichever is greater
Purchase APR: 0% for 21 months; after that, variable 14.49% to 24.49%
Annual Fee: $0

Why We Picked It: The Citi Simplicity offers an industry-leading 21 months of interest-free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee (or $5, whichever is greater). When the promotional financing offer expires, the standard rate will be a variable 14.24% to 24.24%, based on your creditworthiness.

Benefits: In addition to that nice, long 21-month window to pay off your balance transfer, this card has no annual fee, late fee or penalty interest rate.

Drawbacks: The card’s pretty no-frills, so once you get your debts in a row, there’s no opportunity to earn any rewards — of course, for someone prone to overspending that can be a good thing.

Citi Double Cash Card

Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 18 months; after that, variable 14.49% to 24.49%
Balance Transfer Fee: 3% or $5, whichever is greater
Purchase APR: variable 14.49% to 24.49%
Annual Fee: $0

Why We Picked it: The card features a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers for 18 months for a 3% (or $5) balance transfer fee. After that, there’s a variable APR between 14.24% and 24.24%. Balance transfers must be completed within four months of opening an account.

Benefits: The Citi Double Cash Card is also a rewards card — you get 1% cashback on purchases and 1% cash back when you pay those purchases off, for a total of 2% cash back. You won’t earn cash back when paying down the balance that you transferred, but given the card is designed to reward you for paying down debt, it’s an alternative for someone who ultimately wants a card with rewards, but is wary they’ll overspend.

Rewards: There’s a variable penalty APR of up to 29.99%, so this is not the card to opt for if you think there’s an outside chance you’ll miss a payment.

How to Pick a Balance Transfer Credit Card

Remember, the two most important factors in a promotional balance transfer credit card offer are the length of the promotional financing, and any balance transfer fee. By law, these promotional financing offers must last at least six months, but the best offers currently last as long as 21 months. You can receive interest-free financing on your balance during this period, and the standard interest rate will only apply to the remaining balance after the promotional rate expires.

The next most important factor is the balance transfer fee. Nearly all credit cards with 0% APR promotional financing offers impose at least a 3% fee on the amount transferred, but there are currently a few exceptions, so it’s a good idea to read the fine print on any cards you’re considering.

Other factors to consider include the standard interest rate, which will ultimately apply to any remaining balance you haven’t paid during the promotional period, in addition to any new purchases. Many credit cards offer a range of standard interest rates, with the rate you receive being based on your creditworthiness at the time you applied. (You can check your credit scores for free on Credit.com to see where you stand.)

You can also consider any rewards that the credit card offers, but just keep in mind that rewards credit cards will invariably have higher standard interest rates than similar cards that don’t offer rewards. Plus, it’s best to avoid rewards credit cards with balance-transfer offers if you think the ability to earn points, miles or cash back will ultimately cause you to overspend.

Finally, it’s always worth considering the various fees that can be imposed. You should be aware of a card’s annual fee, any foreign transaction fees or cash-advance fees.

How to Use a Balance Transfer Credit Card

Just transferring your balance won’t automatically lead to your debt being paid off. What’s important about a balance transfer is what you do after the transfer is complete. Cardholders should create a plan to pay their debt off before their promotional financing offer expires and the standard interest rate begins to apply. And when 100% of your payments goes to the principal, with no interest charges, the balance will fall quickly with each payment. You can use this nifty credit card payoff calculator to help you create a debt payoff plan and to see how much you’ll save in interest charges.

Got a question about balance transfers? Go ahead and ask away in the comments section and one of our experts will try to help!

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Additional reporting was contributed by Jeanine Skowronski.

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