Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in Canada for 2018

by Barry Choi September 21, 2018 / 4 Comments

If you’re constantly carrying a balance on your credit card and find it hard to keep up with payments, you should turn your attention to a balance transfer credit card.

If you’re not familiar with balance transfer credit cards, here’s how they work: it’s when you take your existing credit card debt and then transfer it to a new card that offers a lower interest rate. These low rates usually last only six to 12 months, but that’s an opportunity for you to pay off your balance quicker.

After the timing of the promotional rate is up, your interest rate will shoot back up — that’s why you want to fully pay off your debt while the interest rate is much lower. Some cards charge a balance transfer fee on the amount transferred (between 1-5%), but that’s still way cheaper compared to what you’re currently paying in interest charges.

There are multiple balance transfer credit cards with different features, so we’re highlighting the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada for 2018.

Ratehub.ca’s best balance transfer credit cards in Canada

Credit Card Balance Transfer Offer Rate Annual Fee
MBNA True Line Mastercard – VIEW DETAILS Card holders could get 0% promotional annual rate $0
MBNA True Line Gold Mastercard – VIEW DETAILS Card holders could get 0% promotional annual rate $39
PC Financial Mastercard – VIEW DETAILS 0.97% for the first six months $0
Scotiabank Value Visa – VIEW DETAILS 0.99% for the first six months $29
American Express Essential Credit Card – VIEW DETAILS 1.99% for the first six months $0


True Line® Mastercard®


  • No annual fee
  • Card holders could get a 0% promotional annual rate on balance transfers (plus a 1% fee or a minimum of $7.50) for the first six months. 12.99% rate applies thereafter
  • 12.99% purchase interest rate
  • Around the clock protection against fraudulent charges

The MBNA True Line Mastercard ticks off all the boxes of a great balance transfer credit card. First and foremost, this card features an enticing limited-time offer of 0% on balance transfers (with a fee of 1% of the advanced amount or a minimum of $7.50) in the first six months for eligible new accountholders who sign up by December 31, 2018.

Plus, the card has no annual fee, a below average purchase interest rate of 12.99% (comes into effect after a 21-day grace period) as well as around-the-clock fraud protection services – which means you can enjoy peace of mind as you consolidate your debt while simultaneously minimizing how much you spend on fees and interest.

Not to mention, even after the promotional period ends, the balance transfer rate for the True Line Mastercard increases to just 12.99%. That comes in at almost 10 percentage points less than what most rewards credit cards charge for balance transfers and means that even if you don’t pay off the transferred amount during the promotional period, you’ll still spend close to half what other cards typically charge.


True Line® Mastercard® Gold


  • $39 annual fee
  • Card holders could get a 0% promotional annual rate on balance transfers (plus a 1% fee or a minimum of $7.50) for the first six months. 8.99% rate applies thereafter
  • 8.99% purchase interest rate
  • Around the clock protection against fraudulent charges

Similar to its sister card, listed above, the MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard offers the same six-month introductory rate of 0% on balance transfers (plus a fee of 1% of the advanced amount or a minimum of $7.50, whichever is higher) to eligible new credit card holders. Additionally, this card also features the same fraud protection services.

Where the differences emerge is around the fees and interest charges. Firstly, unlike the True Line Mastercard, this card does have an annual fee of $39. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, this card features a considerably lower rate of 8.99% on both purchases and balance transfers (after the six-month introductory rate ends). That’s four whole percentage points less than its no fee alternative and the lowest fixed rate on balance transfers in the country.


PC Financial Mastercard World Elite


  • No annual fee
  • Interest rate of 0.97% for the first six months
  • No fee to make a balance transfer
  • Earn 45 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent at Shoppers Drug Mart / Pharmaprix
  • Earn 30 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent where President’s Choice products are sold
  • Earn 10 PC Optimum Points per $1 spent on all other purchases

The PC Financial World Elite Mastercard is usually viewed as an entry level rewards card for those who shop at Loblaw-owned stores, but it’s also one of the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada. New account holders get an interest rate of just 0.97% for the first six months.  There’s no fee to make a balance transfer which is also very appealing.

As for rewards, you’ll earn PC Optimum points on everyday purchases. Earn 10 PC Optimum points at Loblaw-owned grocery stores and Shoppers Drug Mart. If you get gas at Esso, you’ll earn a bonus of 2 cents per litre in PC Optimum points when charging your purchases to the card.

If you don’t meet the $80,000 income requirement for the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard, rest assured, the easier-to-qualify-for PC Financial World Mastercard and PC Financial Mastercard both offer the same promotional rate on balance transfers for new accountholders who sign up by December 31, 2018.


Scotiabank Value Visa

  • Annual fee: $29
  • Low 12.99% interest rate on purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers
  • Special introductory 0.99% interest rate on balance transfers within the first six months

Although the Scotiabank Value Visa has an annual fee, there’s a lot to like about the card. The 0.99% promotional interest rate is comparable to the other cards, but what makes this card interesting is the fact that the you pay a flat interest rate of 12.99% on purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers. Since the rates are straightforward, there’s no confusion about how much interest you’ll pay. The additional benefits are limited, but you can save up to 20% on car rentals through participating AVIS car rental locations worldwide.


American Express Essential Credit Card

  • No annual fee
  • Low interest rate of 8.99% on purchases and cash advances
  • For new cardholders: special 1.99% introductory rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (available only at time of online application)
  • Access to American Express Invites

When it comes to the best balance transfer credit cards, you could argue that the American Express Essential Credit Card offers the most benefits. Cardholders get access to American Express Invites which includes advanced movie screenings, ticket pre-sales to concerts, and special culinary events. You also get purchase assurance and protection, and $100,00 in travel accident insurance. The 1.99% promotional rate for the first six months is higher the rest of the cards, but it’s still incredibly low. Oh, and the 8.99% interest rate after the promotional rate ends is currently the lowest fixed rate in Canada.

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  • LMH

    Just a caveat to the PC FInancial Mastercard (perhaps they’re not the only ones): Their application form states “We’re sorry but a Balance Transfer is not available to applicants who are self-employed.” This seems somewhat short-sighted in today’s gig economy. I have a 9-year history of stable self-employment income as well as rental income, but since I wanted the card partly to take advantage of the low balance transfer rate (and partly for the points), I’ve abandoned the application.

    • Kathie

      If your credit reports at Equifax and TransUnion don’t indicate that you’re self-employed, don’t worry about it. Most self-employed people don’t even know they’re self-employed, And there are different definitions of “self-employed” used by Canada Revenue Agency, Employment Insurance, Ontario Works, etc. I haven’t had a day gig in over a decade, yet both of these credit reporting agencies still think I work at a big bank. If you pay all your bills on time all the time, you can get almost any card you want.

      • LMH

        I see your point, but the application specifically asks for your employment status from a pull-down menu (employed, retired, self-employed etc) so short of lying on the application, I can’t see how this can be avoided. In the Balance Transfer section, it specifically states that the transfer option does not apply to the self-employed. I’m not worried about being able to get the card, but I wanted the card partly to take advantage of the 0.97% balance transfer special, which won’t be available to me. Since my other card has a lower rate of interest than this card, I’m better off simply paying down the balance as quickly as possible.

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