If you’ve been carrying 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 eliminate your debt once and for all.
A balance transfer credit card is a credit card that offers an ultra-low introductory interest rate (for example, 0%) for a set promotional period (for example, six months). When you transfer a balance onto this credit card, you’ll pay only this low interest rate for the promotional period. Balance transfer credit cards are a good way to pay off debt because you won’t have high interest charges adding to your balance every month.
After the promotional period ends, your credit card’s interest rate will rise back to normal levels, so it’s important that you pay off all of your debt before that happens. Some balance transfer credit cards also charge a fee to transfer a balance, usually in the range of 1 – 3%, but this is still lower than normal credit card interest rates.
Below, we’ve compiled our top picks for the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada for 2019. Many of the cards on this year’s list also ranked among the best balance transfer cards for 2018, and they’re back again because they continue to offer ultra-low interest rates to Canadians.
The best balance transfer credit cards in Canada for 2019
|Credit Card||Balance Transfer Offer||Annual Fee|
|MBNA True Line® Mastercard® (VIEW)||Cardholders can get a 0% promotional annual rate||$0|
|MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard® (VIEW)||Cardholders can get a 0% promotional annual rate||$39|
|Scotiabank Value Visa (VIEW)||0.99% for first six months||$29|
|American Express Essential Credit Card (VIEW)||1.99% for first six months||$0|
|BMO Preferred Rate MasterCard (VIEW)||3.99% for first nine months||$20|
MBNA True Line® Mastercard®
The MBNA True Line Mastercard is a no annual fee credit card offering 0% interest for ten months on balances transferred in the first 90 days for eligible new cardholders. There is a 3% balance transfer fee (minimum of $7.50) that you’ll pay when you transfer your balance. After the ten-month promotional period ends, the interest rate on the remaining balance increases to 12.99%.
Why we like it:
The MBNA True Line Mastercard is an excellent choice because of its super-low introductory interest rate of 0% – which is the best balance transfer offer in the country. The icing on the cake: the card’s balance transfer offer lasts for a lengthy ten months, as opposed to the standard six months found on most other balance transfer cards. Not to mention, the card also lacks an annual fee, so it’s free to carry. The only fee you’ll pay to transfer your balance is the 3% setup fee.
The MBNA True Line Mastercard offers 24/7 fraud protection and around-the-clock customer service. You can also take cash advances at over 1 million ATM’s internationally – although, at an interest rate of 24.99%, we can’t recommend this.
MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard®
The True Line Gold Mastercard is very similar to the balance transfer credit card we mentioned above – except for a few key differences. The first big difference is the 0% promotional interest rate is available for six months as opposed to ten. The second big difference is it has a rock-bottom fixed interest rate of just 8.99% (this is the interest rate that’ll come into effect after the balance transfer offer ends). Lastly, this card has an annual fee of $39.
Why we like it:
Not only does the MBNA True Line Gold MasterCard have the lowest balance transfer offer in Canada at 0% for six months, it also charges the lowest fixed APR on purchases at 8.99%. So, if you transfer a balance and use the 0% interest rate for six months to pay off a large portion of your debt, but you don’t quite pay it off in full during the promotional period, your remaining balance will be subject to a rate of just 8.99%. That’s eleven percentage points lower than standard credit card interest, which will help you save big as you continue to pay off your debt.
The MBNA True Line® Gold Mastercard® offers around the clock fraud protection, 24/7 customer service and a suite of comprehensive insurance.
Scotiabank Value Visa
If you’d prefer a balance transfer credit card from a major bank, the Scotiabank Value Visa has got you covered. With an annual fee of $29, this credit card charges a flat 12.99% on new purchases, cash advances and balance transfers. As a new cardholder, you’re also entitled to a promotional balance transfer rate of 0.99% for six months.
Why we like it:
The Scotiabank Value Visa is very straightforward, offering the same low interest rate across the board. This credit card is also offered by a major bank, so if you prefer to keep your chequing accounts, savings accounts and credit cards all with one provider, you can do so with this credit card.
Cardholders who rent a vehicle at AVIS car rentals will receive a 25% discount – perfect for those holiday road trips.
American Express Essential Credit Card
The American Express Essentials Credit Card has no annual fee and a flat interest rate of 8.99% on purchases, cash advances and balance transfers. If you have a balance to transfer when you apply for this credit card, you’ll qualify for an introductory 1.99% balance transfer rate for the first six months. The minimum income required for this credit card is $15,000 per year.
Why we like it:
The balance transfer rate offered by this credit card isn’t the lowest on this list, but if there is a chance you won’t pay off the entire transferred balance during the promotional period, the American Express Essentials Credit Card is a good option. Once the promotional period expires, the remaining balance will be subject to 8.99%, which is the lowest fixed interest rate in Canada. Not having to pay any annual fees is another big advantage.
The American Express Essentials Credit Card has quite a few perks and benefits beyond the low interest rate. When you book trips with this credit card, you’ll be covered by travel accident insurance ($100,000), and when you purchase electronics and other items with this credit card, you’ll be covered by extended warranty which doubles the manufacturer’s warranty up to one year. You’ll also have exclusive access to American Express Invites which grants you access to a variety of special offers and events.
BMO Preferred Rate MasterCard
The BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard has the lowest fixed interest rate on purchases of any BMO credit card at 12.99% and offers cardholders with a strong 3.99% promotional offer on balance transfers for the first nine months. In order to qualify for this card, you’ll need an annual income of $15,000 and a credit score of 660 or more.
Why we like it:
While the 3.99% promotional rate on balance transfers isn’t objectively the lowest, the promotional rate lasts for a lengthy nine months (which is three months longer than what most of the other cards on this list offer). This can prove beneficial if you think that you’ll require more time to pay off your credit card debt. Plus, even after the nine-month promotional period ends, the balance transfer rate will increase to a competitive fixed rate of just 12.99%.
In exchange for a nominal $20 annual fee, this card provides a number of built-in benefits, including free extended warranty coverage and protections against unauthorized use in instances your card is stolen and used for purchases you didn’t authorize – which means you can enjoy some added peace of mind as you consolidate your debt.
Best balance transfer credit cards – honourable mentions
Below, we’ve listed rewards credit cards that offer great balance transfer promotions.
We’ve categorized them as honourable mentions because they aren’t full-fledged low interest cards – which means their rates will increase sharply in the case you don’t pay off your transferred balance in full before their balance transfer offer period ends.
PC Financial Mastercard World Elite
The PC Financial Mastercard World Elite has no annual fee and a balance transfer offer of 0.97% for the first six months with no additional transfer fees – that’s objectively one of the best balance transfer offers on the market.
On top of being an excellent balance transfer credit card, the PC Financial Mastercard World Elite is also a rewards credit card that’s a great fit for anyone who spends big at stores where President’s Choice products are sold. With this card, you’ll earn PC Optimum points at a rate of 45 points per dollar spent at Shoppers Drug Mart, 30 points per dollar on groceries at Loblaws, No Frills or Superstores, and 10 points per dollar on everything else. For reference, 10,000 PC Optimum points equal to $10.
There is a minimum income requirement of $80,000 per year for individuals or $150,000 per year for families. On a final note, it’s important to highlight that once the balance transfer offer ends, this card’s interest rate increases to 22.97%.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
The Tangerine Money-Back Card is one of the best cash back credit cards in Canada that also happens to offer a competitive balance transfer offer. New cardholders can pay 1.95% on transferred balances for the first six months (after which the rate will increase to 19.95%).
While you won’t earn any rewards on your balance transfer, you’ll get cash back on your regular purchases at a rate of 2% in up to three bonus spending categories and 0.5% on everything else. You can choose your own bonus categories from a total of ten options (which includes gas, groceries, restaurants, hotels and more). This card has an income requirement of $12,000 and charges no annual fee.
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