For some people, carrying a balance on one or more credit cards is an unfortunate thing that has happened to them. It may have not been something they planned on doing, but the good news is that one of the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada can quickly help them get their debt under control.

The concept is simple, balance transfer credit cards allow you to take your debt from an existing credit card and port it over your new card. By doing this, you can take advantage of credit card balance transfer promotions and the lower interest rate that comes with it. Since you’ll get a low promotional interest rate for 6-12 months and a low (compared to most credit cards) interest rate after, you can pay down your debt quicker.

Are you still not sure if a balance transfer is worth it? Let me be clear. If your goal is to reduce your debt or if you want to get a hold of your finances, choosing one of the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada will help you get there.

 Promotional rateRate after promotionAnnual fee
MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard0% for 6 months8.99%$39
MBNA True Line Mastercard0% for 10 months12.99%$0
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card1.95% for 6 months19.95%$0
Scotiabank Value Visa Card0.99% for 6 months12.99%$29

MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard

  • $39 annual fee
  • 0% balance transfer interest rate for the first 6 months
  • 8.99% interest rate after the promotional period ends
  • Purchase assurance
  • Extended warranty
  • Discounts at Avis and Budget Rent A Car

MBNA has two 0% balance transfer credit cards but the MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard is the higher tier version since you’ll just pay 8.99% interest after your promotional rate ends. Note that you’ll be charged a balance transfer fee of 3% with a minimum fee of $7.50. If you’re expecting to still have a balance after six months, then this card is what you want since it has one of the lowest interest rates out there. Keep in mind that there is an annual fee of $39, but that’s likely much lower than what you would pay on interest charges for your current card.

MBNA True Line Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • 0% balance transfer interest rate for the first 10 months
  • 12.99% interest rate after the promotional period ends
  • Purchase assurance
  • Extended warranty
  • Discounts at Avis and Budget Rent A Car

The MBNA True Line Mastercard has no annual fee but it still comes with a 0% balance transfer interest rate which will appeal to many people. What makes this card different from the Gold version (besides the annual fee) is that you’ll pay 12.99% interest on your balance after your promotional period ends. The balance transfer fee of 3% with a minimum fee of $7.50 also applies to the MBNA True Line Mastercard. Although the MBNA balance transfer promotion isn’t as good with card compared to the Gold version, it’s still one of the best balance transfer credit cards since it gives you an incredible rate.  With a great balance transfer option and a low interest rate, the MBNA True Line Mastercard is one of the best no fee credit cards in Canada.

Tangerine money-back credit card

  • No annual fee
  • 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months
  • 19.95% interest rate after the promotional period ends
  • 2% money-back on up to 3 categories
  • 0.5% cash-back on all other purchases
  • Purchase assurance
  • Extended warranty

If you know that you’ll pay off your balance within six months, then consider the Tangerine money-back credit card. The interest rate is 1.95% for six months and jumps up to 19.95% when the promotional period ends, but it’s one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada which makes it appealing. It’s worth mentioning that there’s a higher tier version of this card called the Tangerine World Mastercard that also gives you a credit card balance transfer promotion of Credit card balance transfer promotions. In addition, with the World version of the card, you get extra benefits such as rental car insurance and mobile device insurance.

BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard

  • $20 annual fee – first year free
  • 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee
  • 12.99% interest rate for purchases and cash advances
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty

The BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard is a great pick for one of the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada since the annual fee is waived for the first year. Your balance transfer promotional interest rate is 3.99% interest for 9 months, but there’s a 1% transfer fee. Some people won’t like the idea of paying a fee to do a balance transfer, but you’ll end up paying much less in interest so the fee should pay for itself.  Getting purchase protection and extended warranty is a nice bonus with this card. Purchase protection covers your purchases from theft, loss and damage for 90 days, while extended warranty doubles your manufacturer’s warranty by up to one additional year.

Scotiabank Value Visa Card

  • $29 annual fee
  • 0.99% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months
  • 12.99% interest rate after the promotional period ends

Rounding up my list of the best balance transfer credit cards is the Scotiabank Value Visa. It has a modest fee of $29 and gives you 0.99% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months. After your six months is up, you’ll pay 12.99% interest. To be honest, the MBNA True Line Mastercard gives you better rates, but this card is good for people who do all their banking with Scotiabank and prefer to stay with them. To learn more about the card, you can read my Scotiabank Value Visa review here.

Why choose one of the best balance transfer credit cards?

If it’s not obvious by now, getting one of the best balance transfer credit cards will benefit anyone who wants to reduce their debt or typically carries a balance on their credit card. For example, traditional credit cards typically have an interest rate around 19.99% whereas most balance transfer credit cards have an interest rate of 12.99%. That’s a savings of 7% annually which is a fair amount.

Don’t forget, there’s also credit card balance promotions where you’ll pay 0-3.99% interest for 6-12 months so you really tackle your debt. Keep in mind that with balance transfer credit cards, you need to pay your bills on time and at least make the minimum payment or you’ll lose your promotional rate.

How to choose a balance transfer credit card

When it comes to choosing the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada, there are few key things you need to look at before you apply.

  • Balance transfer promotions – This is usually the most important factor when choosing a balance transfer credit card since your goal is to reduce your debt. The balance transfer promotion has two parts, the interest rate and length. Generally speaking, the lower the interest rate, the shorter the term of the promotion. If you can pay your debt off in that period, great. If not, you may want to consider a promotion with a longer term even if the rate is higher.
  • Balance transfer fee – Some balance transfer credit cards charge a fee of 1-3% when you do a balance transfer. For example, let’s say you’re looking at the MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard that has a balance transfer of 3%. If you were to balance transfer $1,000, your fee would be $30.
  • Regular interest rate – Don’t forget to check the regular interest rate once your promotional period ends. Hopefully, you would have your debt before then, but that might not be possible. As long as you get an interest rate that’s lower than what you’re paying now, you’re coming out ahead.
  • Annual fee – Some of the best balance transfer credit cards charge an annual fee. Although this may annoy some people, if the fee you’ll pay is less than what you’ll save in interest, it’s worth it.

How to do a credit card balance transfer?

If you’re going to do a credit card balance transfer, make sure you read the terms and conditions before you apply. In most cases, you only do a credit card balance transfer during the following situations:

  • At the time of application
  • Within X days of being a cardholder

Since some credit cards only allow you to balance transfer at the time of application, you only get one shot at doing it. Make sure you have all the account details of your other credit cards ready before you apply. Other cards may give you a little bit more time as you might have 30 days from the time you become a cardholder to complete a balance transfer.

The actual balance transfer process is simple as in most cases, things are done online these days. All you do is provide your new credit card provider with the account number and balance from your previous credit card. The new credit card provider pays off the requested amount and then adds it to the balance of your new credit card. Although it’s called a balance transfer, your new credit card is paying off your other card.

Keep in mind that it’s possible that the credit limit on your new balance transfer credit card may be lower than the current balance on your other credit cards, so you may not be able to balance transfer the entire amount.

Final thoughts

Getting one of the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada makes perfect sense if you want to pay off your debt. However, since this is still a credit card, you could still end up carrying a balance on a regular basis. Make sure you come up with a debt repayment plan so you’re constantly working towards a zero balance.

The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in Canada

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