How Much Money Can a Balance Transfer Actually Save Me?

Updated: March 21, 2024

Updated: March 21, 2024

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A balance transfer can save you money by shifting your high-interest debt to a credit card offering a low-to-0% introductory APR. Let's say you currently carry a $15,000 balance on a 29.99 APR credit card. If you move it to a credit card offering 0% 18-month introductory APR, you can save around $4,500 in interest charges (depending on the balance transfer fee).

When looking for a balance transfer card, check the length of the introductory period, the balance transfer fee and the interest rate that kicks in after the end of the promotional period.

  • A $1,000 debt with an 18.99 APR transferred to a 15-month 0% APR credit card with a 5% balance transfer fee can save you $95. This is a good benchmark when calculating potential savings with a balance transfer card.
  • How much you can save with a balance transfer depends on the balance transfer fee, your monthly payment, the length of the promotional period and the APR on your prior card. The best cards for balance transfer will give you a long 0% intro APR with low balance transfer fees.
  • Be sure to read the terms and conditions of your new credit card. Failing to comply with the terms may result in penalties, additional fees or cancellation of the balance transfer offer.

How to Calculate Savings of a Balance Transfer

To calculate how much you can save with a balance transfer, compare the interest you would pay if you keep using your existing card versus the cost of the balance transfer plus interest on the new card.

This balance transfer calculator tool calculates how much you can save if you pay your balance in full at the end of the intro period or if you pay a lower amount than our recommended monthly payment. It will also tell you how many months you’ll need to clear off your debt completely.

Here's how to use our calculator:

Know your current loans’ APR

You will need to know the APR of your current loan to compute how much your interest is. If you have multiple loans that you want to transfer and consolidate, be sure to get the APR for each one to calculate your actual interest.

Enter your new card’s introductory APR, standard APR and balance transfer fees

The introductory APR is the interest rate that will kick in during the introductory period. The best balance transfer cards in the market offer 0% intro APR. You will also need to enter the standard APR rate, which is the rate after the intro period, and the balance transfer fees, which hare usually a percentage of the balance you're transferring.

Determine how much you can pay monthly

The next step is for you to decide your monthly payments. Our calculator will tell you how much you need to pay to fully zero out your balance at the end of the intro period. However, if it's too high, you can input a monthly payment that aligns with your financial comfort level.

After entering these details, you’ll see how much interest you can save and how long you’ll need to pay off your balance completely.

Finding a Great Card for Balance Transfers

When choosing a balance transfer credit card, get a 0% APR with a long introductory period. A longer period means you have more time to lower your balance without interest, which helps make your monthly payments more manageable. Some cards also extend a 0% intro APR on new purchases, which helps if you have a big purchase coming up.

Look for cards with low balance transfer fees to minimize the cost of moving existing balances. Some cards have a lower balance transfer fee if you move your debt within a certain period after account opening.

Another factor to consider is your credit score. Credit cards with the best balance transfer offers are available to people with good to excellent credit scores.

Who Should Do a Balance Transfer

The goal of transferring credit card balances is to reduce the cost of borrowing, presumably so you can make progress on paying off your outstanding balances.

If you can pay off your balance within three months, a balance transfer is unlikely to be the best choice. The process can take anywhere from 2 days to 6 weeks. During this time, you're required to make minimum payments on your existing balances. Given the short payoff period, the fees and potential credit score impact, the math usually doesn’t add up for a balance transfer to be worthwhile.

On the other hand, if you need more time to pay off your debts than a 12- to 21-month introductory period, aren’t able to get approved for a card with a balance transfer offer or need a more manageable fixed monthly payment, a debt consolidation loan is likely a more suitable choice.

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Since most 0% APR promotions are derailed when a cardholder misses a payment, set up an automatic payment of the minimum payment due. This will prevent you from owing missed payment fees and losing out on the 0% APR offer. -- Lee Huffman, credit card expert at

How Many Times Can You Do a Balance Transfer?

Whenever possible, you should do one balance transfer to wipe out multiple balances, especially if your balance transfer card has a high credit limit.

You can also do multiple balance transfers, but each transfer must be approved first. If transferring your balance means you need to get a new credit card, applying for this card can temporarily lower your credit score — every time you apply for a credit card, the lender checks your credit, and this check can slightly reduce your score. If your score drops, you might not get good offers for future transfers, and the amount you can save will not be as significant as the first balance transfer.

The same financial rules apply after you receive approval for a balance transfer. These rules include the fees you'll pay to transfer the balance, the interest rate you'll be charged and the time you have to pay off the transferred amount.

Balance Transfer FAQ

Determine whether you might benefit from a balance transfer after going through answers to other commonly asked questions about balance transfers on credit cards.

What does 0 balance transfer mean?
Can you do two balance transfers?
Can I keep doing balance transfer?
Is a balance transfer fee a one-time fee?

About Doug Milnes, CFA

Doug Milnes, CFA headshot

Doug Milnes is a CFA charter holder with over 10 years of experience in corporate finance and the Head of Credit Cards at MoneyGeek. Formerly, he performed valuations for Duff and Phelps and financial planning and analysis for various companies. His analysis has been cited by U.S. News and World Report, The Hill, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and many other outlets.

Milnes holds a master’s degree in data science from Northwestern University. He geeks out on helping people feel on top of their credit card use, from managing debt to optimizing rewards.

*Rates, fees or bonuses may vary or include specific stipulations. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. We recommend visiting the card issuer’s website for the most up-to-date information available.
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