Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in Canada

If you have been dealing with debt on a high-interest credit card, one way to tackle this problem is to do a balance transfer – wherein you move debt from one high-interest credit card to another new one with a much lower (or no) interest rate. This results in saving you hundreds of dollars in interest and finally getting the money to pay back your debt. Here are some of the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada:

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in Canada

What is a balance transfer credit card?

If you’ve got any sum of debt on your credit card that you can’t seem to pay off because of the monthly interest charges, you should consider using a balance transfer credit card to help you destroy your debt once and for all.

Balance transfer credit cards are cards with really low or no monthly interest on balance transfers. In essence, you’re using one card to pay off another, or move the balance from your current cards over to a brand new one. You’ll also be taking advantage of a rock bottom interest rate ( some as low as 0%) that’ll make your payments more manageable. Did you know that the regular rates on some of these cards are still significantly lower than the standard 19.99%?. 

It’s important to note that with this card, you get an ultra-low introductory interest rate (e.g. 1 %) for a set promotional period (e.g. six months or a year). When you transfer a balance onto this credit card, you’ll pay only this low interest rate for the introductory or promotional period only. What this means is that you need to keep in mind that these great balance transfer offers are time-limited and when that period ends—often after only six months—your card’s interest rate will rise back to its standard levels, so it’s important that you pay off all or most of your debt before that happens.

Using these promotions responsibly can stop your accumulating 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.

Why should I get a balance transfer credit card?

  • Are you working on a plan to become debt-free, but paying a lot of interest on purchases made on your existing high interest card? 
  • Balance transfer credit cards come with extremely low interest rate offers (sometimes as low as 0%)
  • They can be a great tool to entice people with credit card debt to transfer their balances from one card to another with a lower interest rate. 
  • Such offers are usually only available for a limited period of time (e.g. 180 days, 10 months, 1 year, etc.) and are created to bring in new customers who will hopefully retain the card even after the promotional period expires.
  • If you plan on aggressively paying off your credit card debt during the low interest promotional period, a balance transfer credit card could potentially save you hundreds of dollars in interest, help you reduce your debt and boost your financial life.

What are some key points to look at before getting balance transfer credit cards?

When used responsibly, balance transfer credit cards can save you money and help get you out of debt really really fast. But there are some things to consider before you transfer debt from one card to another, though. 

Consider the applicable balance transfer fees for these cards, interest rates for new purchases on the card and the standard interest rate when the promotional period ends. 

Interest rates can also end up costing you more long term if you’re not careful. Especially if you haven’t got rid of your debt by the end of the promotional period, or if you’ve missed any payments when the promotional period ends and the standard interest rate applies. 

Credit card issuers usually charge a balance transfer fee, which can start from 1.00 to 5.00% of the amount you transfer over (e.g. if you are transferring a balance of $10,000 and the transfer fee is 2%, you’ll be charged $200 for the switch). Depending on the interest rate being offered on new cards, the balance transfer fee may not be worth the move.

Lastly keep in mind that when you use your balance transfer credit cards in Canada for new purchases before you pay off the original amount you transferred over, you’ll be charged the usual interest rate (which is often 19.99% or more) and any payments you make will be applied to the balance transfer amount first. This is because you’ll continue to accrue interest on any purchases you make on the card, after doing the balance transfer, until the amount you originally transferred is 100% paid off.

How do I choose a balance transfer credit card?

Look at the following to pick the best balance transfer credit card: 

  • Length of promotional grace period: The amount of time the promo rate is applied varies from card to card. The longer, the better – especially if it’s a lengthy 0% timeline.
  • Initial interest rate on transferred balances: The lower the interest rate, the better. Paying 0% is the best-case when it comes to these cards. 
  • Annual fee: the balance transfer credit cards in Canada have an annual fee, so work that into your plans. A card with no aka zero annual fee is best for transfers.
  • Balance transfer fee: Usually expressed as a percentage of the balance you’re moving, this fee is tacked onto your total.
  • Regular rate: What is the interest rate AFTER the grace period? Although your plan should be to pay down your debt before the low-interest promotion expires, you don’t want to be caught out paying a higher-than-average rate should you need to take more time.
  • Perks: Certain balance transfer cards also allow you to collect rewards. For eg, users of the Best Western Mastercard® credit card will receive 20,000 points—enough for a free night’s stay—on their first purchase plus additional points thereafter.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in Canada:

The following is the list of the most advantageous balance transfer deals in Canada, and all the details you need to know in order to make a proper choice for your debt repayment goals.

MBNA True Line Mastercard

This no-annual-fee card is perfectly suited to helping you save money on interest on your credit card debt.It’s one of the best no fee credit cards in Canada too. 

Upon signing up, you’ll enjoy 10 months interest-free on your transferred balances. It’s hard to beat 0%, though there is a flat 3% balance transfer fee you’ll have to cover (meaning, you’ll have to pay $30 if you transfer $1,000 from another card). Another perk is that it’s free to add up to 9 additional cardholders. 

After the 10-month balance transfer promo ends, you’ll be charged 12.99% on any leftover balance from your transfer. You’ll also pay 12.99% for any new purchases you make on the card, which is modest compared to the 19.99% you were probably paying on your old card. Be careful that a steep 24.99% interest is applicable to cash advances.

  • Annual fee: None
  • Balance transfer offer: No annual interest on balance transfers for the first 10 months (3% flat fee also applies on a minimum fee of $7.50 CAD)); after 12 months, the rate increases to 12.99%
  • Interest rate on balance transfers and access cheques: 12.99% on purchases; 24.99% on cash advances
  • Additional benefits: Around-the-clock fraud protection and access to 24/7 customer service; add up to 9 additional authorized users at no additional charge, low annual interest rate
  • Credit Score Required: Fair to Good
  • Welcome Offer: 0% for 10 months on balance transfers* completed within 90 days of account opening, with a 3% transfer fee (minimum fee of $7.50).
  • Balance transfer fee: 3%
  • APR and balance transfer offer is different for residents of Quebec

Scotiabank Value Visa

Upon signing up for Scotiabank’s Value Visa, you get a super-low interest rate at 0.99% for the first six months, which could save you a lot of money if you’re transferring from a high-interest card. After the introductory period is over, your interest rate will increase to 12.99%, which is still lower than most cards, plus, you can use your card to get discounts at Avis Rent a Car. While the card does have an annual fee, it’s a modest $29. Plus, there’s no balance transfer fee to pay.

  • Annual fee: $29
  • Balance transfer offer: 0.99% interest on balance transfers for the first 6 months; 12.99% after 6 months
  • Interest rate: 12.99% on purchases and cash advances
  • Additional benefits: Get a 25% discount on rental cars from Avis Rent A Car locations both in Canada or the USA
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: $12,000
  • Credit Score Required: Fair to Good
  • Balance Transfer Fee: $3.50

MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard

If your debt-reduction plan needs more time than the best welcome period allows, you’ll want a card that has a low regular interest rate along with a great balance transfer offer. With the MBNA True Line Gold, you’ll get an introductory 0% interest rate for the first 6 months, followed by just 8.99% after that; new purchases are charged the same 8.99% rate. With a modest fee of $39 per year, this card may be an essential part of your strategy as you pay off that balance and work towards becoming debt-free. 

  • Annual fee: $39
  • Welcome balance transfer offer: No annual interest  or zero promo interest rate on balance transfer fees for the first 6 months (3% fee applies); rate increases to only 8.99% after that
  • Interest rate: 8.99% interest rate on purchases; 24.99% on cash advances
  • Additional benefits: Around-the-clock protection against fraudulent charges
  • Credit Score Required: Fair to Good

BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard

This Mastercard comes with a low annual fee (which is refunded in the first year), and an appealing balance transfer welcome offer. The interest rate on your balance transfers is 3.9% for a total of nine months. Note that you’ll be charged a 1% fee on the amount you transfer over (for a balance transfer of $1,000 that works out to $10.) After the nine months are up, you’ll be charged 12.99% on any left over balance amounts. Upon making any additional purchases during that nine-month time slot, you will be charged 12.99% on new balances if you don’t pay in full by the end of the grace period noted on each statement. Perks include extended warranty and purchase protection, plus a 15% discount on Cirque du Soleil shows in Canada and 20% off on shows in Los Vegas.

  • Annual fee: $20, refunded in the first year
  • Balance transfer offer: 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers in the first 9 months; 1% transfer fee
  • Interest rate: 12.99% for purchases and cash advances
  • Additional benefits: Extended warranty and purchase protection; discounts on Cirque du Soleil admission

American Express Essential

With no annual fee, this transfer credit card in Canada is simple to understand and easy to use. Once you sign up, you’ll have six months at a 1.99% interest rate, where you can transfer over 50% of your assigned credit limit, up to a maximum of $7,500. The best part is that there’s zero balance transfer fee, and after the promotional period, the interest rate shoots to a relatively modest 12.99% (the same as the charge on new purchases and cash advances). This card also comes with a few perks, such as American Express Invites including Front Of The Line, which gets you access to certain live events first, purchase protection and assurance, plus $100,000 in travel accident coverage. 

  • Annual fee: None
  • Balance transfer rate offer: 1.99% interest for the first 6 months
  • Interest rate: 12.99% on purchases and cash advances
  • Additional benefits: American Express Invites, including Front Of The Line; buyer’s assurance protection plan; purchase protection plan; travel accident insurance 

PC Financial Mastercard World Elite

This card from PC Financial is best known for its PC Points-earning potential at stores owned by Loblaws. You get 45 Points per dollar at Shoppers Drug Mart; 30 points per dollar at PC Stores including Loblaws, No Frills, Real Canadian Superstore and PC Travel; and 10 Points everywhere else. However, this card can be helpful if you’d like to transfer your balance from another card. The PC Financial World Elite has a promotional offer of 0.97% interest during the initial 6 months. After the promotion ends, however, it will climb up to 22.97%, so be sure you can pay off your transferred balance within that time frame before you sign up. This balance transfer offer is available on all three PC Financial Mastercards.

  • Annual fee: None
  • Balance transfer rate offer: 0.97% for the first 6 months; after that, the balance transfer rate increases to 22.97%
  • Interest rate: 20.97% on purchases, and 22.97% on cash advances
  • Additional benefits: Travel insurance that covers you if you are under the age of 65 and travelling for 10 days or less; Earn 45 PC Points per dollar at Shoppers Drug Mart, 30 Points per dollar at PC-affiliated stores and PC Travel and 10 points everywhere else

Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

This is one of the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada which offers a sweet balance transfer deal to new customers: make a transfer within 30 days of opening your account and pay only 1.95% for 6 months, after which time you will pay the standard interest rate of 19.95%. This is a fantastic offer, especially combined with no annual fee and Tangerine’s cash-back benefits of 2% on eligible money-back categories. 

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: $12,000
  • Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: 1.95% introductory interest rate for 6 months when you transfer a balance within 30 days of opening your account.
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of a minimum of $5.00
  • Additional benefits: Automatic, monthly reimbursement to your credit card balance or savings account
  • Fixed interest rate of 19.95% on both purchases and balance transfers
  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases in up to three categories of your choice, and 0.5% cash back on all other purchases

Keep in mind that the balance transfer credit cards in Canada have different interest rates in the province of Quebec. 

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