CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective.
If you’re like other Americans, you may have racked up a sizable amount of debt during the pandemic and resulting economic downturn. Even now, with the economy coming back to life, you may be finding it hard to keep up with your monthly credit card payments. Rather than falling further behind, you should consider consolidating your debt with a balance transfer credit card.
Balance transfer credit cards offer an introductory 0% annual percentage rate (APR) on existing balances that you transfer over from other credit cards. This introductory rate applies to the transferred debt for anywhere from 15 to as many as 20 months from when you first open the card. That means if you transfer your balance now, you could pay no interest on your debt until 2023.
Some balance transfer credit cards also offer great rewards on your everyday purchases, and a few even have useful perks such as cell phone or travel insurance. So if you need to get your credit card debt under control, check out our list of the best balance transfer credit cards to decide which one best fits your needs.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card: Best overall for balance transfers
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card: Best for long balance transfers
Citi® Double Cash Card: Best for flat-rate cash back
Citi Rewards+® Card: Best for small purchases
Wells Fargo Platinum® Card: Best for travel protections
The information for the Wells Fargo Platinum card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Why did we select these cards as our best balance transfer credit cards for 2021? CNN Underscored’s comprehensive credit card methodology compares every aspect of each balance transfer credit card to our “benchmark credit card” to determine which cards can potentially bring you maximum value. So 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 lower your interest payments, the Citi Diamond Preferred offers a 0% APR for a full 18 months on both purchases and balance 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 want an extended time frame to consolidate their debt, with 18 months at the introductory rate as well as a lengthy period to complete any balance transfers and still get the introductory offer.
0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers made in the first four months after you open the card (14.74% to 24.74% variable afterward). 0% APR on all purchases for the first 18 months (14.74% to 24.74% variable afterward). No annual fee. Sign-up bonus: None.
What we like about the Citi Diamond Preferred: This is a great card if you need an extended amount of time to get your finances in order. It offers an introductory rate on both balance transfers and new purchases, which means you may be able to simplify your life by consolidating all your debt onto one credit card and then paying down what you owe through the rest of 2021 and all through 2022.
You have a four-month period after you first open the Citi Diamond Preferred to make any balance transfers and still have them qualify for the introductory APR offer. Just keep in mind that the 18-month clock starts from the date of your first transfer, so if you have more than one transfer, it’s best to get them all done at roughly the same time.
The Citi Diamond Preferred card also comes with a free FICO credit score online and 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.
Choose a payment date that fits your needs with the Citi Diamond Preferred card.
One thing that could be better: Unfortunately, the Citi Diamond Preferred 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 earn cash back on everything you spend, which you can then apply toward your credit card balance.
You’ll also pay a 3% fee (with a $5 minimum) on any balance transfers made to the Citi Diamond Preferred, which is roughly average for a balance transfer fee.
Where it beats our benchmark card: An introductory interest rate on purchases for 18 months.
Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash earns easy-to-redeem cash back on all purchases.
Read CNN Underscored’s complete review of the Citi Diamond Preferred.
Learn more and apply now for the Citi Diamond Preferred.
Why it’s great in one sentence: The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum has a long introductory balance transfer period of 20 billing cycles and is one of the few balance transfer cards that comes with cell phone insurance as one of its benefits.
This card is right for: People looking for cell phone protection along with extra time to pay off their balance transfers.
0% APR for 20 billing cycles on balance transfers made in the first 60 days after you open the card (14.49% to 24.49% variable afterward). 0% APR on all purchases for the first 20 billing cycles (14.49% to 24.49% variable afterward). Cell phone protection coverage. No annual fee. Sign-up 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 to or theft of your phone, up to $600 per claim with a $25 deductible, and up to two claims in a 12-month period.
Related: Protect your cell phone from theft or damage with these credit cards.
This card also offers a 0% APR for 20 billing cycles on balance transfers, which is one of the longest introductory offers currently available (though the rate jumps to a variable 14.49% to 24.49% when the introductory offer ends). 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.
If you need to finance a large purchase such as an engagement ring, you could take advantage of the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum’s introductory rate on purchases.
One thing that could be better: There’s no sign-up 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 purchase offers, and the cell phone protection.
Also, you only have 60 days from when you first open the account to transfer balances from other cards and receive the introductory interest rate. That’s shorter than some other cards on our list, though not ridiculously short. And you’ll pay a 3% fee (with a $5 minimum) on any balance transfers made to the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum, which is typical when it comes to balance transfer offers.
Where it beats our benchmark card: An introductory interest rate on purchases, a longer period of 20 billing cycles for introductory balance transfers and 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 four-month period to complete any introductory balance transfers.
Learn more and apply now for the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum card.
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 the ability to earn cash back without having to worry about bonus categories or travel rewards programs.
0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers made in the first four months after you open the card (13.99% to 23.99% variable afterward). Earn 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% when you buy, 1% when you pay it off — with no limit. 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. Sign-up 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 bonus categories 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 where you shop.
The Citi Double Cash also offers a relatively long 18-month introductory 0% APR for balance transfers (13.99% to 23.99% variable afterward) — a great way to pay off your debt. And you have up to four months after you open the account to make your first balance transfer and still have it qualify for the introductory offer.
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. That’s because if you also have a premium ThankYou card, you can actually convert your cash back from the Citi Double Cash to Citi ThankYou points, then transfer those points to one of Citi’s airline partners and potentially get even more value for them.
You’ll earn 2% cash back — 1% when you make a purchase, and 1% when you pay it off — on everything with the Citi Double Cash.
One thing that 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 this isn’t 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 any 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 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.
You can read more about our benchmark credit card concept in our credit card methodology guide, or dig into our complete review of the Citi Double Cash.
Learn more and apply now for the Citi Double Cash Card.
Why it’s great in one sentence: The “round-up” feature of the Citi Rewards+ earns extra rewards, which is ideal if you use your credit card for a lot of small purchases, 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.
0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers made in the first four months after you open the card (13.49% to 23.49% variable afterward). 0% APR on all purchases for the first 15 months (13.49% to 23.49% variable afterward). Earn 2 ThankYou points for every dollar you spend at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year (1x ThankYou point thereafter). Earn 1 ThankYou point for every dollar on all other purchases. 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. No annual fee. Sign-up 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 everything you buy with 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+ is also the only card on our list with a sign-up bonus, and the 15,000 bonus points you’ll earn upon meeting the minimum spending requirement can go toward gift cards that you can use at retailers, or even redeemed for straight cash back.
But even though 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 Citi Premier or Citi Prestige card, you can move your points to your other card and open u
Here’s how to pay no interest on your debt until 2023 with a balance transfer credit card
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