Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in Canada for 2018

by Barry Choi January 19, 2018 / 3 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.’s best balance transfer credit cards in Canada

PC Financial Mastercard

PC Financial Mastercard

  • 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 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.

Scotiabank Value Visa

  • Annual fee: $29
  • Low 11.99% 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 11.99% 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.

Also read:

  • 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.