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Considering doing a balance transfer to a 0% or low-interest rate credit card to save hundreds of dollars in interest? Here are our top picks for the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada.

Carrying debt on a high-interest credit card? One way to tackle this problem is to do a balance transfer – whereby you move debt from one high-interest credit card to a new one with a much lower (or no) interest rate.

This smooth move could save you hundreds of dollars in interest, allowing you to pay down your debt faster. A balance transfer credit card is a card with very low or no monthly interest on balance transfers.

Basically, you’re using one card to pay off another, while also taking advantage of a rock bottom interest rate that’ll make your payments more manageable.

Here are our top picks for the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada:

Best Canadian Balance Transfer Credit Cards in Canada 2021

Credit Card Annual feeBalance Transfer Intro RateRead More
CIBC Select Visa* Card$29 (first-year annual fee rebate)†0% interest on balance transfers for up to 10 months with a 1% transfer fee† + a first-year annual fee rebate†Read More
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card$01.95% for 6 monthsRead More
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard®*$20 (Waived for the first year)*3.99% interest on balance transfers for the first 9 months (1% transfer fee applies)Read More
BMO AIR MILES®† Mastercard®*$01.99% for 9 months Read more
BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*$01.99% for 9 months Read more
*Conditions apply

CIBC Select Visa* Card

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The best option is to pay off your credit card in full every month, but when you know you’ll have to carry a balance month to month it’s worth picking up a credit card that minimizes those ongoing interest payments. The CIBC Select Visa* Card has an interest rate of only 13.99% and a low annual fee of $29, which is rebated for your first year as a cardholder. Even better, this card comes with an outstanding welcome offer: on balance transfers, you’ll get 0% interest for up to 10 months with a 1% transfer fee† plus a first-year annual fee rebate† This card also comes with $100,000 in common carrier accident insurance coverage and it’s free to add up to three additional cardholders. 

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $29 (first-year annual fee rebate)
  • Income Eligibility: $15,000 household
  • Credit Score Required: Good
  • Welcome Offer: Transfer your credit card balance and get 0% interest for up to 10 months with a 1% transfer fee† + a first-year annual fee rebate†
  • Additional Benefits: Low-interest rate on purchases and cash advances; common carrier accident insurance coverage; three free additional cardholders
  • Interest on Purchases: 13.99%| Annual Interest on Cash Advances: 13.99%

Learn more about the CIBC Select Visa* Card.


Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card

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The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card is offering 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 balance transfer interest rate of 19.95%. This is an attractive offer, especially combined with no annual fee and Tangerine’s cash-back benefits of 2% on eligible money-back categories. 

As a limited time offer, if you apply before August 16, 2021, you’ll earn an extra 10% back (up to $100) when you spend up to $1,000 in everyday purchases within your first 2 months.*

The Details:

  • 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
  • Other Perks: Automatic, monthly reimbursement to your credit card balance or savings account
  • Other Card Info: Purchase APR: 19.95% | Cash Advance APR: 19.95%
  • Welcome offer: Apply for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card by August 16, 2021 and earn an extra 10% back (up to $100) when you spend up to $1,000 in everyday purchases within your first 2 months.*

Learn more about the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card


BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard®*

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The BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard®* offers a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months (with a 1% transfer fee). But this card also gets our vote because of its everyday low interest rate of 12.99% on purchases and cash advances. So after the promo period ends, any remaining balance transfer amount would be charged at this rate, which is one of the most competitive on the market.

For perks, this card includes extended warranty coverage (which extends the manufacturer’s warranty period for up to one year) and purchase protection (which insures your card purchases against theft or damage for 90 days). Another bonus: the $20 annual fee is waived for the first year for new cardholders who take advantage of the balance transfer introductory offer.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $20 (Waived for first year)*
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: $15,000 per year
  • Credit Score Required: Fair to Good
  • Welcome Offer: 3.99% interest on balance transfers for the first 9 months (1% transfer fee applies)
  • Additional Perks: Extended warranty and purchase protection
  • Other Card Details: Purchase APR: 12.99% | Cash Advance APR: 12.99%

Learn more about the BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard®*


BMO AIR MILES®† Mastercard®*

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The BMO AIR MILES®† Mastercard®* comes with a very attractive welcome offer that lets you both rack up the Air Miles and take advantage of a low balance transfer offer. New cardholders are awarded 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles, which works out to about $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash. For the first nine months, enjoy a 1.99% interest rate on all balance transfers (1% fee applies). Plus, there’s no annual fee and you’ll earn 3X the Miles for every $25 spent at AIR MILES Cash Reward Partners and 1 Mile for every $25 spent everywhere else. Shop at AIR MILES sponsored locations to earn double the AIR MILES. 

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Income Eligibility: $15,000
  • Credit Score Required: Fair to Good
  • Welcome Offer: 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months (1% fee applies to balance amounts transferred) plus 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles
  • Additional Benefits: Free additional cardholder; extended warranty and purchase protection; up to 25% off rentals at National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car; discount on admission to Cirque du Soleil shows
  • Interest on Purchases: 19.99% | Interest on Cash Advances: 22.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents)

Learn more about the BMO® AIR MILES®† Mastercard®*


BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*

The BMO CashBack® Mastercard®* may just be the card you’re looking for if you want to pair a low balance transfer rate with cash back rewards. This no-fee card comes with an introductory interest rate of 1.99% on all balance transfers for the first nine months (plus a 1% transfer fee) The cash back reward aspect of the welcome offer is especially generous for a no-fee card, with 5% cash back for the first three months on all purchases

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Income Eligibility: $15,000
  • Credit Score Required: Good to Excellent
  • Welcome Offer: 5% cash back bonus for first 3 months on all purchases and 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months (with a 1% transfer fee)
  • Additional Benefits: Up to 25% off rentals at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations, purchase protection and extended warranty
  • Interest on Purchases: 19.99% | Interest on Cash Advances: 22.99% (21.99% for Quebec residents)

Learn more about the BMO® CashBack® Mastercard®*.

Why Get a Balance Transfer Credit Card? 

Transferring a balance can be an excellent strategy for consolidating debt and getting you back in the black.

When moving outstanding debt from a high-interest credit card onto a balance transfer credit card, you can either stop or greatly reduce the accumulation of interest while buying time to pay down your principal.

For example, imagine you have $2,500 in debt sitting on a credit card with the typical interest rate of 19.99%.

The interest on that debt totals around $500 over a year—that’s no small change! Instead of chipping away at the debt while interest accumulates, you could send that debt over to a balance transfer credit card at a lower interest rate and pay down the principal with little or no interest accumulating. In the long-run, this savvy strategy could save you some serious coin.

In general, balance transfer cards are a very good idea for small or medium amounts of debt. Since you can transfer debt from multiple cards, they work like a charm if you’re trying to consolidate what you owe.

Just make sure to read the fine print, as interest rates and grace periods vary for each credit card.

How to Choose a Balance Transfer Credit Card

When choosing a balance transfer credit card, here are five things to be on the lookout for:

  • The introductory interest rate on transferred balances: The lower the interest rate, the better. Paying 0% is the best-case scenario!
  • Length of promotional grace period: The amount of time the promotional rate is in effect varies card to card. The longer, the better – especially if it’s a lengthy 0% timeline.
  • Balance transfer fee: Typically expressed as a percentage of the balance you’re moving, this fee is tacked onto your total.
  • Annual fee: Some balance transfer cards have an annual fee, so work that into your calculations. A card with no annual fee is best for transfers.
  • 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.
  • Rewards: Sweetening the pot, some balance transfer cards also allow you to collect rewards.

One thing to note: the low-interest rate for balance transfers is typically offered on an introductory basis for a finite period.

After the promo expires, the balance is charged at a much higher rate. So your goal should be to pay down your balance before the promotion period ends.

Balance Transfer Card Best Practices

Get the most from your balance transfer credit card by following these savvy strategies:

  • Don’t make new purchases on your balance transfer card: Your balance transfer is charged at a low or 0% rate of interest, but there is a different interest rate for new purchases. If you make purchases on the same card, your payments will be equally split between your balance transfer and the purchase amount. The idea of using a balance transfer card is to pay down debt fast, and this simple mistake will stretch out your repayment time—and trigger interest on the purchase amount. It’s a good idea to have a separate card for new purchases, so consider leaving one of your existing accounts open—or look into getting a low-interest credit card.
  • Don’t exceed your credit limit: Some companies allow overspending – and if that happens, there’s a chance of losing your introductory low-interest rate.
  • Pay your minimum monthly payments: If you miss a payment deadline, you could lose your low introductory interest rate.
  • Keep track of the time: Like all good things, the promotional period must come to an end. When it does, you’ll be charged at a much higher interest rate. Aim to pay off your debt in full, but failing that, give yourself time to transfer your remaining debt to another balance transfer card.

Still got questions? Read more about how to transfer a credit card balance like a boss.

The Final Word

If you’re one of the many Canadians holding a modest amount of debt, you should definitely consider getting a balance transfer credit card to lighten the load.

With typical credit card interest rates running at around 20%, a small money misstep can turn into an onerous obligation—and fast. Luckily, the smart and strategic use of balance transfer credit cards can help minimize the financial blow.

Just remember to shop around for the right one: look carefully at the introductory interest rate, regular interest rate, annual fee, and balance transfer fee to see which credit card best matches your needs.

With a little strategy and determination, you can eliminate your debt in no time at all.

The Best Credit Cards by Category:

This post was not sponsored. The views and opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

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