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Best balance transfer credit cards in Canada

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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware that some (or all) products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors.

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware this post may contain links to products from our partners. We may receive a commission for products or services you sign up for through partner links.

The best balance transfer credit cards allow you to transfer and consolidate high-interest debts onto a new, low-interest credit card. Using these credit card balance transfer offers responsibly can stop your compounding debt in its tracks, providing you with a low-interest or interest-free opportunity to pay off your debt and start your financial life anew.

Below is a curated list of the best balance transfer deals in Canada, and all the details you need to know in order to start lowering your monthly payments today.

Best balance transfer credit cards in Canada

Credit card
Balance transfer intro tate
Post-promotional balance transfer annual interest rate
Annual fee
0% interest for up to 10 months with a 1% transfer fee
13.99%(13.99% purchase annual interest rate and 13.99% cash advance annual interest rate)
$29 (first year rebate)
0% introductory interest rate on cash advances, including balance transfers, for the first six months (12.99% after that; annual fee $29).¹ Plus no annual fee in the first year.¹ Offer ends Oct. 31, 2023.
0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for nine months, 2% fee applies*
0% for 12 months
1.95% for six months (1% transfer fee applies)*

Conditions apply

Expert tip: The right way to use a balance transfer credit card offer

Balance transfer credit cards have a lot of potential, but should be avoided if you struggle with responsible spending. If you are struggling with debt then a balance transfer credit card can be a handy tool to help you better navigate your financial situation and get back on your feet. When used correctly, a balance transfer credit card can relieve pressure by letting you catch up on late payments without having to struggle with the typical high credit card interest rates for a period of several months. However, you do need to be disciplined as a low or no-interest rate credit card can also make it tempting to spend more which may land you in a situation worse than what you started with.

Hannah Logan, credit card, saving and travel expert

CIBC Select Visa* Card

Quick Facts

Who's eligible?

Minimum credit score: Good

Minimum income: $15,000 annual household†

Age: Age of majority in your province or territory

Residency: Resident of Canada

Other: No bankruptcy for the past seven years

The CIBC Select Visa* Card offers 0% interest on balance transfers for the first 10 months (1% transfer fee)† and after that, you can count on its consistent 13.99% Balance Transfer Annual Interest Rate, as well as 13.99% Cash Advance Annual Interest Rate and 13.99% Purchase Annual Interest Rate. Currently the only card on the market to offer such a balance transfer promotional rate, this card is perfect to help close the gaps created by your holiday spending, for instance. The card comes with a $29 annual fee, which is rebated your first year.

Aside from offering the best balance transfer promotional rate on the market, the card also provides cardholders with common carrier insurance and the option to pay for other insurances.

Key features:

  • Welcome bonus: First year annual fee rebate†
  • Balance transfer promotion: 0% interest for up to 10 months with a 1% transfer fee
  • Regular interest rate: 13.99% purchase annual interest rate, 13.99%† cash advance annual interest rate, and 13.99% balance transfer annual interest rate.
  • Additional perks: Common carrier insurance
  • Annual fee: $29 (first year rebated)

Apply here or learn more by reading our complete CIBC Select Visa* Card review.

 Conditions apply

Quebec Residents: Learn More about this CIBC product here

Scotiabank Value® Visa* Card

Quick Facts

Who’s eligible?

Recommended credit score: Good

Age: You must be the age of majority in your home province or territory

Residency: Canadian citizen or permanent resident

Other: No bankruptcies in the past seven years

Scotiabank Value® Visa* Card

The Scotiabank Value® Visa* Card offers a balance transfer promotion of 0% interest for 6 months. A 1% balance transfer fee applies, and its interest rate after the balance transfer promo ends is still comparatively quite low, at only 12.99%.¹ Plus, no annual fee in the first year.¹ Offer ends October 31, 2023. Most cards’ balance transfer interest rates jump up to 20%+ after the promo ends. So this might be a good card for you even if you’re not 100% confident that you can pay off your transferred balance within the six months allotted.

Note that the introductory interest rate on balance transfers applies to new credit card accounts only.

Key features of this Scotiabank credit card balance transfer offer:

  • Promotional cash advance rate (including balance transfer): 0%
  • Promotion length: 6 months
  • Post-promotional balance transfer rate: 12.99%
  • Balance transfer fee during promotional period: 1%
  • Purchase interest rate: 12.99%
  • Annual fee: $29

Apply here or learn more by reading our complete Scotiabank Value® Visa* Card review.

¹ Conditions Apply. Visit here for the Scotiabank Value® Visa* Card to learn more.

BMO CashBack® Mastercard®

Quick Facts

Who’s eligible?

Minimum credit score: Good

Minimum income: $15,000

Age: Age of majority in your province or territory

Residency: Resident of Canada

New cardholders of the BMO CashBack® Mastercard® pay an introductory 0.99% on transferred balances for up to 9 months, with a 2% fee*. You can transfer at any time in the first nine months.

You also get 3% cash back on grocery purchases*, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments* and 0.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases*.

This is the perfect card for families with young kids who want to take their time to pay off debt because their cash flow is so tight; families will also appreciate the 3% cash back on groceries*.

Key features of this BMO credit card balance transfer offer:

  • Welcome bonus: Get up to 5% cash back in your first three months, plus a $50 cash back bonus (when you spend $6,000) in your first year – that’s up to $175 cash back in your first year!*
  • Promotional balance transfer rate: 0.99% introductory interest rate on Balance Transfers for 9 months, 2% fee applies to balance amounts transferred*.
  • Regular interest rate: 22.99%
  • Additional perks: Car rental discount*; free additional cards; extended warranty*; purchase protection*.
  • Annual fee: $0

Apply here or learn more by reading our complete BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* review.

*Terms and conditions apply

MBNA True Line® Mastercard®

Quick Facts

Who’s eligible?

Recommended credit score: Fair-good

Minimum income: N/A

Age: You must be the age of majority in your home province.

Residency: Available to all Canadian residents except for residents of Quebec.

The MBNA True Line® Mastercard® offers the most sought-after combination of features in a balance transfer promo: 0% interest for a full 12 months. To take advantage of this promo, new cardholders can make balance transfers up to their available credit limit within 90 days of opening their account. After the 12-month promotional period expires, the interest rate only increases to 12.99%. This is far more manageable than the 20+% post-promotional rate typical of other balance transfer cards, and it’s a softer landing for those that are unable to pay off all their debt during the promo period. 12.99% is also the card’s purchase interest rate, so it qualifies as a strong low-interest card as well, particularly given the fact that it has no annual fee.

The card’s only weakness is its relatively high balance transfer fee, a one-time charge of 3% of the amount transferred (minimum fee of $7.50). This is higher than the fees charged by most of the competing cards featured on this page, and it can amount to a significant upfront cost depending on the size of the balance you’d like to transfer. 

Key features of this MBNA credit card balance transfer promotion:

  • Promotional balance transfer rate: 0%
  • Promotion length: 12 months
  • Post-promotional balance transfer rate: 12.99%
  • Balance transfer fee: 3% (minimum $7.50)
  • Purchase interest rate: 12.99%
  • Cash advance rate: 24.99%
  • Annual fee: $0

Apply here or learn more by reading our complete MBNA True Line® Mastercard® review.

  Terms and conditions apply.

This offer is not available for residents of Quebec. 

Sponsored advertising. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) and TD is not responsible for the contents of this site including any editorials or reviews that may appear on this site. For complete information on this MBNA credit card, please click on the “Apply Now” button.

The Toronto-Dominion Bank is the issuer of this credit card. MBNA is a division of The Toronto-Dominion Bank. ®MBNA and other-trademarks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

Quick Facts

Who's eligible?

Minimum credit score: Fair-good

Minimum income: $12,000

Age: 18+/age of majority

Residency: Canadian citizen/permanent resident

Other: No bankruptcy for the past seven years

The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card offers an advantageous balance transfer option to new cardholders, who pay just 1.95% interest on the balance for 6 months There’s a 1% transfer fee* and no “apply by” date. This perk complements the card’s flexible savings power, with the ability to choose any two of 10 purchase categories to earn 2% cash back in.

People with large families who spend a bundle on groceries can pick the grocery category and start earning cash back, with other categories including common buys like restaurants, gas, home improvement, drug store purchases and recurring bills. Categories can be swapped at any time you like.

It’s also possible to get a third cash back category by signing up for a Tangerine Savings Account and having your cash back deposited there. When you consider that you’ll also earn 0.5% cash back on everything else, the savings will quickly add up. Peripheral perks on the card are the absence of an annual fee, as well as standard 90-day purchase insurance and extended warranties by up to an additional year.

Apply here or learn more by reading our complete Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card review.

Note that if you have an annual personal income of at least $60K, or household income of at least $100K, you should check out the Tangerine World Mastercard® instead. It has no annual fee and offers the same balance transfer deal and flexible rewards as the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, but provides extra features including mobile device insurance, airport lounge access, and car rental insurance.

*Terms and conditions apply

How much can you save with a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer credit card is an easy way to save hundreds of dollars in interest charges as you pay off a debt.

Let’s say, for example, you owe $3,000 on a department store credit card at 19.99% interest. You decide to finally get serious about paying it off by transferring the debt to the CIBC Select Visa* Card and allocating $505 each month to repaying it. In that scenario you would manage to get rid of the debt within a 6-month period, paying nothing in interest charges and only $30 for the balance transfer fee. But if you had stuck with the department store credit card it would have taken you seven months to pay off with a $505 monthly payment, and you’d have paid about $186 in interest over the course of the repayment period. Doing the balance transfer would have saved you $156.

Department store card
CIBC Select
Starting balance
Interest rate
0% (for 10 months)
Balance transfer fee
$30 (1%)
Monthly payment
Months to pay off your balance
Total fees and interest

By doing nothing more than applying for a different credit card and taking advantage of their promotional rate you’ve saved yourself $156 — and of course, the bigger the balance the bigger the savings.

While a balance transfer promotion is typically used for the transfer and consolidation of credit card debt, your card issuer might also allow you to transfer balances from loans or lines of credit, giving you more savings options. Be sure to check with your issuer if that’s something you’re seeking.

It’s also worth noting that card issuers typically do not allow balance transfers to earn rewards points or cash back, so don’t calculate that into your anticipated savings. There are, however, some cards that offer both a low-interest balance transfer promotion and the chance to earn cash back or rewards points on regular purchases.

How to choose the best balance transfer card

Before choosing a balance transfer credit card take your time to shop around and make sure you pick the right one for your financial situation. Read reviews, check rates and promotions, and calculate exactly how much you can save in interest and fees while responsibly repaying your debt. And don’t forget to read the fine print — not all balances can be transferred from one institution to the next.

Consider the promotional balance transfer rate

The whole point of getting a balance transfer credit card is to minimize the carrying cost of your debt, so the lower the interest rate the better.

Balance transfer promotion length

The ultimate goal is to pay off all your transferred debt at your new balance transfer card’s low promotional interest rate. The special rate usually lasts between six and nine months, but occasionally a card will offer a deal for 10 months or longer.

Among all the balance transfer-related questions we get at GreedyRates, about 40% of them are cardholders asking how they should go about either extending the promotional period on their card or re-transferring their balance to another card with another promotion. Six months might sound like plenty of time to pay off a balance, but it can fly by faster than you expect, so opt for the longest promotional period available. The longer the promotion length, the more time you have to pay off your debt once and for all.

If your balance transfer promotion is ending before you’ve paid off all your transferred debt, you can try to ‘surf’ your balance to another balance transfer card. But remember, there are a limited number of balance transfer deals in Canada, and it’s never guaranteed that another card issuer will accept your application. It’s best to maximize the first balance transfer promotion you get and pay off as much of your debt as you can during that period.

Post-promotional balance transfer interest rate

Some cards, like the Scotiabank Value® Visa* Card, still have relatively low rates even after their balance transfer promotional period ends. Other cards immediately bump the interest rate up to 19.99% or higher, which can be financially detrimental if you haven’t yet paid off the balance.

Check and check again if the interest rate after the promotional term ends will be applied to only the remaining balance after the promotional period, or if it will be retroactively calculated on the amount owing for the entire time you’ve had the card.

Balance transfer fee

Most balance transfer cards charge a one-time balance transfer fee, typically between 1% to 3% per transferred balance. In most cases, the cost of the transfer fee will be added to your balance. For example, if you transfer $4,000 of credit card debt and are charged a 1% balance transfer fee you will be charged $40 and your new transferred balance will appear as $4,040 on your card.

Eligibility criteria and card issuer

The balance transfer card you have your eye on might require a minimum annual income, decent credit score, and a credit standing free of current bankruptcies or consumer proposals. Furthermore, the card issuer likely will not allow you to transfer a balance from one of its own credit cards, or the credit cards of its subsidiaries.

Related: The ultimate guide to credit scores

For instance, Tangerine is owned by Scotiabank and may therefore not allow the transfer of a debt owed to its parent company. Check with the bank before applying if you’re concerned that you might not qualify for a card or that the debt may be ineligible for transfer.

Impartial reviews

Before making a final decision about a balance transfer card take the time to read an in-depth review of the card to make sure there are no potential snags or fine print details that might surprise you later on.

How to complete a balance transfer with a credit card

The process of executing a balance transfer will generally be similar from one card issuer to the next and should more or less follow the sequence below:

  1. 1.

    Apply for a balance transfer credit card using one of the links listed earlier in this article.

  2. 2.

    When filling out your card application you will indicate which creditors you want to pay, how much you want to pay to them, and the account numbers for the debts you'd like transferred

  3. 3.

    Once you've approved for the balance transfer credit card, the credit card company will contact your creditors on your behalf and pay them the amount you indicated. It can take from two to four weeks for this process to be completed.

  4. 4.

    Continue to make any required minimum payments on your debts during the transition process to avoid late fees.

  5. 5.

    Make all balance transfers within the card's allotted window for the promotion. This window varies from one card to the next, but it's typically within three months of opening the account. The amount eligible for transfer also varies from one card to the next. For some cards the maximum transfer amount will match the card's credit limit; for other cards the maximum transfer amount might be 50% of the card's credit limit. If you have multiple sources of debt and their combined total exceeds the amount you're allowed to transfer onto the new card then prioritize transferring the debts that have the highest interest rate.

  6. 6.

    Be meticulous about making at least the minimum payment each month for the new card well in advance of its due date. Missing a payment during the promotional period can result in the bank increasing your promotional interest rate dramatically — potentially to 20% or more. Consider automating your minimum payments, so you'll never, ever be late.

  7. 7.

    Create a personal budget that will allow you to not only make the minimum payment on your new credit card but to also capitalize on the low interest balance transfer period and pay as much of your transferred balance off as possible before the interest rates go back up.

Beware new purchases. Balance transfer credit cards only give you a low interest rate on your transferred balances, whereas new purchases made with the card will likely be subject to a much higher rate. If you intend to make new purchases with your credit card in addition to carrying a balance then either make sure the card you select also has a relatively low purchase interest rate or close the card once the balance is paid off and open a different low interest rate credit card. See our list of the best low interest credit cards for some options.

Will a balance transfer hurt my credit score?

Yes and no. Most credit card applications, including applications for balance transfer cards, will result in a hard credit check. Hard credit checks can bump your credit score down a bit, so it’s not recommended to apply for a lot of different credit cards in a short period of time.

That said, getting a balance transfer card can also boost your credit score, because it increases your available credit and improves your credit utilization ratio. And steady repayment of a transferred balance will reflect well on your credit report over time.

Related: Does checking your credit score hurt your credit?

Balance transfer vs. personal loans

Not everyone is eligible for a balance transfer credit card. Banks and other financial institutions offer personal loans to those looking to consolidate and pay down their debt from almost any source. They front you the money so you can pay off your creditors. You can then focus on paying down the personal loan over several years at a stable fixed or variable rate. Other lenders offer extremely high, predatory rates to those who have a hard time accessing credit, so read the fine print.

Related: Best personal loans in Canada

The decision to take out a balance transfer versus a personal loan depends mostly on what you qualify for, what interest rate you can get, and how much debt you need to consolidate. Read our full article on balance transfers vs. personal loans to determine which is right for you.

Balance transfer credit card
Debt Consolidation Loan
Balance transfer fee of 0%–3%
Origination fee of 0%–5%
Credit limit or loan amount
Interest rate
As low as 0% for 6–10 months; then a post-promotional interest rate of 12–22%
5.9%–16%+ for up to five years

Watch your debt dwindle with a balance transfer credit card

Opening a new credit card to pay off existing credit card debt may feel counterintuitive, but a promotional balance transfer rate can really help you pay down debt faster. Traditional credit cards charge such a high rate of interest that it can feel impossible to move forward in your debt repayment journey. A low interest rate, even for a few months, allows you to direct all or most of your payments toward the principal, allowing you to quickly chop down your debt instead of slowly whittling it away.

How not to do a balance transfer with a credit card

Proportional payment allocation

When you make a credit card payment, your credit card issuer has a choice of how it can allocate your payment among the various balances on your card. For example, on one card you may have a balance of 0% from a balance transfer, 19.9% from a purchase and 24% from a cash advance.

Your credit card issuer can then choose to allocate your payment to your highest interest rate balance (the 24% cash advance), to your lowest interest rate balance (0%), or proportionately based on the size of each rate’s balance. Each methodology has different cost implications for you, the cardholder.

If it pays off the 0% interest balance, you'll owe less on principle, but still accrue a lot of interest on your 24% cash advance.

In general, in Canada, if your credit card account consists of balances with different interest rates, such as purchases at the standard interest rate and cash advances at an introductory or promotional interest rate (e.g., a special lower rate balance transfer or a temporary lower rate on all cash advances), any payment that exceeds the minimum payment due will be allocated to those balances in a proportionate manner.

Your payment will not be applied to the balance of your choice, such as the balance with the highest interest rate. For example, if your balance from purchases at the standard rate is $700 and you have a balance from a cash advance of $300 at a 0% promotional interest rate, proportionate allocation means that 70% of your payment will be allocated to your purchase balance and 30% will be allocated to your cash advance balance.

Of course, you would rather 100% of your payment be applied against the balance with the higher interest rate, so that the balance declines faster, paying less interest, costing you less.

With proportional allocation, the only way for you to get rid of your high interest balance is to pay down your low interest balance completely. However, if your low interest balance is high, which most promotional rate balance transfers typically are, your high interest balance will be “conserved” as the banks call it, until your low interest balance is paid off.

The more low interest balance you put on the card, the longer the high interest balance lasts. It’s counter intuitive, but that’s how it works. The good news is, it’s really easy to avoid.

How do you pay down your highest-interest balance first with a credit card?

The answer is actually pretty simple: Use one card for balance transfers only, and another low interest credit card for purchases only. (See our list of the best low interest credit cards for some card options.) You then determine how much of one balance you want to pay down versus the other, allocating the payments to each card yourself.

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About our authors: faces of finance

Bridget Casey
Bridget Casey, Author
Danielle Kubes
Danielle Kubes, Author

Bridget Casey is the award-winning entrepreneur behind Money After Graduation, a Canadian financial literacy website aimed at 20 and 30-somethings. She holds a BSc. from the University of Alberta, and an MBA in Finance from the University of Calgary. She has been featured as a millennial financial expert by Yahoo! Finance, TIME Magazine, Business Insider, CBC and BNN. Bridget was recognized as one of Alberta's Top Young Innovators in 2016.

Danielle Kubes is a Millennial personal finance expert and freelance finance writer from Toronto, Canada. Her reporting has been published in The Globe and Mail, Financial Post, MoneySense, Vice and many more. You can read more of her work on Danielle consults and writes for on topics including investing and freelancing.


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