Credit card debt is a looming avalanche of stress that steals the peace of millions of Canadians everyday. Sometimes making consistent payments fails to create any noticeable dent in the mountain of debt. One reason for this is high-interest rates. Everytime a bank hits you with an interest fee, any contribution made towards lowering your debt nullifies itself. Tackling debt successfully needs a more strategic approach. And this is where balance transfer credit cards can help.
A balance transfer enables you to shift your debt from a credit card with a high-interest rate to one with a low interest rate – some even as low as 0% for a limited time. This way, you spend more money towards paying off your principal balance rather than having interest eat away at all your efforts.
Balance transfer credit cards are right for you if you are currently paying a high-interest rate on your balance, and if you carry a balance on multiple credit cards. Consolidating all that debt into one card with minimal balance rate will help to chip away at your debt faster. Now that we have the basics out of the way, let’s look at the top 7 balance transfer credit cards available in Canada today.
Best Overall Balance Transfer Credit Card: MBNA True Line Mastercard
Best For Flat-Rate Cash Back: American Express SimplyCash Credit Card
Best For Low Interest Rate Offer: Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
Best For Low Interest Rate Offer (Long-Term): BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
Best For Grocery Rewards: PC Financial Mastercard
Best For Travel: BMO Air Miles Mastercard
Best For Hotel Rewards: Best Western Mastercard
Best overall balance transfer credit card in Canada
MBNA True Line Mastercard Credit Card
on MBNA’s website
Minimum Income Required
If you are carrying a balance on your current credit card(s), then shifting it to a low-interest, and balance transfer credit card will help you tackle your debt significantly faster. MBNA True Line Mastercard comes with no annual fee and its promotional balance transfer rate is a Big Fat 0% for the first 10 months. The transaction fee for each initiated transfer is 3% of the amount (minimum fee of $7.50). The promotional rate of 0% applies to any eligible balance transfer initiated within 90 days of account opening.
But even after the promotional period ends, the balance transfer rate will only increase to 12.99% which is still much lower than 20% (or higher)–which is standard balance transfer rate in the market today.
The reason this credit card sits at the top of our list is because with its low purchase interest rate of 12.99% and no annual fee, it is perfectly designed to do one thing really good– rescue you from debt. And, the undeniable fact is that many people who are in debt don’t have the strongest credit history which makes credit card approval a debilitating task. But with MBNA True Line Mastercard’s no income requirements, almost anyone—even those with a poor credit score– can seek solace in this credit card.
It comes with a few other much-needed features- Emergency Services, such as an immediate card replacement, are offered 24/7. There’s Trip Assistance available that provides customers supports for Lost Document and Ticket Replacement, Lost Luggage Assistance, Pre-trip Information and Legal Assistance. There are also emergency services for those needing an instant Credit Line Increase or Cash Advances. And, MBNA’s inbuilt fraud protection services constantly monitors, reports and blocks suspicious activities.
Best for flat-rate cash back
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express
on American Express’ website
19.99% (22.99% for cash advances, 22.99% for balance transfers)
You are a Canadian resident and have a Canadian credit file. You are the age of majority in the Province or Territory where you live.
The SimplyCash Credit Card from American Express rewards new cardholders with 2.5% cashback on purchases (for a maximum of $150) for the first 3 months of account opening. As a new member, you will also be able to enjoy a limited time offer of 1.99% balance transfer rate for the first six months. If you want to consolidate the debt from your other high interest credit card to this American Express card, then this is the time to do it. You can transfer up to 50% of your assigned credit limit up to a maximum of $7500, without losing money on balance transfer fee.
Once the promotional period ends, you will earn a flat-rate cash back of 1.25% on all purchases. You can also earn a referral bonus of $100 for each approved referral with a maximum annual bonus of $1500 cash back. This is a fantastic opportunity to get your hands on some extra money you can use to pay off your debt. You will also earn exclusive Front Of The Line invites to music, theater and other events.
This credit card comes equipped with $100,000 in Travel Accident Insurance, Buyers Insurance Protection and Purchase Protection Plan. Along with that, there is also a 24/7 customer care line, fraud protection service and emergency card replacement service available to help with your immediate needs.
Best for low interest welcome offer
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
on Tangerine’s website
Annual Fee: $0
Interest Rate: 19.95% (19.95% for cash advances)
Minimum Income Required: Personal: $15,000
Tangerine’s Money-Back Credit Card is outstanding for two reasons- Balance Transfers and Cash-back rewards. As a promotional offer, you get to take advantage of a balance transfer rate of 1.95% for the first 6 months, after which the rate goes up to 19.95%. The balance transfer fee remains the same at 3% of the transferred amount (or $5 minimum).
This credit card shines the most in its innovative reward structure. Tangerine money back credit card does not lock you into redeeming rewards from a select few categories. You have complete control on which categories you want to redeem the most incentives. If you apply by October 1, 2019, you can earn a 4% money back rewards in three categories of your choice for 3 months. Once the promotional period ends, you continue to earn 2% money back categories on your everyday purchases in two categories of your choice, and a flat 0.50% money back rewards on all other purchases. If you choose to save, instead of spending your rewards, by depositing them into your tangerine savings account, you unlock a third 2% money back category.
There are ten 2% money back categories for you to choose from – groceries, furniture, restaurants, hotel-motel, gas, recurring bill payments, drugstore, home improvement, entertainment, public transportation and parking.
Another remarkable feature of this card is that it comes with no annual fee. So you can focus on using your reward on your future purchases or to handle your debt. Additional benefits of this card includes purchase assurance and extended warranty which protects your new purchases for 90 days, and extends the repair warranty up to one year.
Best for long-term low interest rate offer
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
on BMO’s website
Balance transfers and access cheques: 12.99%
Cash advances: 12.99%
Min. Income Required
$15000 minimum personal income required
If you are someone who can’t afford to pay your balance in full every month, have a preexisting baggage of debt, and want to maximize your debt relief efforts, then you should consider getting the BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard. This card can save you hundreds of dollars on interest in the long-term.
For an annual fee of $20, you can get a flat-interest fee of 12.99% on purchases, cash advances and balance transfers, and that’s not including the promotional balance transfer rate of 3.99% for your first 9 months (with a 1% transfer fee)– which is the hottest window to significantly reduce your debt. If you pay your full balance by the due date, you will receive an interest free grace period of at least 21 days. If you are unable to pay your new balance by the payment due date, the grace period will increase to at least 25 days on your next statement. Once your balance is paid in full by the next due date, your grace period will return to at least 21 days starting the next monthly statement.
There are quite a few insurances provided with this card– Purchase Protection- protects your new purchases against loss, theft or damage for 90 days; Extended Warranty- doubles the repair period of the original warranty to a maximum of one additional year. To make your BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard more robust, you can add on Credit Alert, BMO Roadside Assistance, InfoProtector 360, BMO Credit Card Balance Protection for an additional fee.
Best for grocery rewards
PC Financial Mastercard
on PC Financial’s website
Purchase – 19.97%
Balance Transfer – 19.97%
promotional Rate – 0.97% for 6 months
Minimum Income Required:
PC Financial Mastercard not only minimizes your grocery bills with its rewards, it also comes in handy for paying down debt. For new cardholders, it has a running promotional balance rate of 0.97% for the first 6 months. You can use this period to consolidate your debts and pay it off as much as possible before the rates shoot up to 19.97%. And, if you are someone who regularly shops at Shoppers Drug Mart or other PC-owned stores, there’s more rewards for you.
This card comes with no annual fees, and shopping in PC stores like Loblaws, Zehrs, Fortinos, NoFrills, Real Canadian Superstore, Valu-Mart and Independent Grocers will give you 10 points for every $1 you spend. At Shoppers Drug Mart, you get 25 points/$1. Fueling up at Esso Mobil will yield you 30 points/1 litre. Booking travel at PC Travel will give you 20 points/$1. You will receive 10 points/$1 on all the other purchases you make.
This credit card gives you 21 days of interest fee grace period on new purchases made. Redemption is easy. For every 10,000 PC Optimum Points, you will receive up to $10 in free rewards at participating stores or online at Beautyboutique.ca or through the PC Express website.
Best balance transfer credit card for travel
BMO Air Miles Mastercard
on BMO’s website
Purchases – 19.99%
Balance Transfer – 19.99%
Promotional Rate – 1.99 for 9 months
Minimum Income Required:
People who want to lower their travel expenses, but also want to protect themselves from getting charged high interest-rate, should look into BMO Air Miles Mastercard. This card comes with a balance transfer rate of 1.99% for 9 full months. As a new card holder, you will also earn 800 Air Miles as bonus (about $80 in value). When shopping at Air Miles partners, you will receive double the Miles for every $20 spent. All other purchases will bring you 1 mile for every $20 spent.
If you’re looking to consolidate your balances on other credit cards into BMO, then you should take advantage of its introductory bonus while also redeeming travel rewards. With no annual fee, you can try this card risk-free, and you can use the amount you would otherwise pay as annual fee towards lowering your debt amount.
Moreover, you can receive up to 25% discount when renting a car at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-A-Car locations. This card also comes with extended warranty and purchase protection for 90 days. Also, when you fuel up at Shell with your BMO Air Miles credit card and Air Miles Collector Card, you can save 3 cents per liter.
Best for hotel rewards
MBNA Best Western Rewards Mastercard
on MBNA’s website
Purchase – 19.99%;
Balance Transfer Rate – 22.99%,
promotional rate – 1.99% for 10 months
Minimum Income Required:
A credit card with a low balance transfer fee and a free night at a hotel sounds unbelievable– but it’s true. MBNA’s Best Western rewards credit card gives you that and more. It offers a striking intro balance transfer rate of 1.99% for your first 10 months. This rate applies to any amount that transferred within 90 days of account opening. The default balance transfer rate is high at 22.99%, but it does not have an annual fee, and if you are someone who travels a lot, you will be able to quickly stock up rewards points from your purchases that can be put towards future hotel stays.
You earn 1 Best Western rewards point/ $1 spent through this credit card. If you book accommodation at Best Western properties, you will earn 5 best western reward points for every $1. As a welcome bonus, you will start off with 20,000 Best Western rewards point right after your first eligible purchase, which is enough for a free one night.
Just after your first purchase, you will also be awarded the gold status. Once you spend $10,000 within a year, you will be automatically upgraded to diamond status which has its own set of amazing benefits.
This card is best suited for Frequent travelers who are trying to consolidate their debt into a no-fee credit card that has a compelling low balance transfer rate, and a strong rewards system that can help save significantly in future hotel stays.
Methodology: How We Choose The Cards In This List
The credit cards mentioned this list were compared and analyzed based on features such as intro balance rate, default balance rate, purchase interest, annual fee and other perks and rewards absolutely necessary in a top-quality Balance Transfer credit card in Canada.