The Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in Canada

Carrying a credit card balance will cost you money and can negatively impact your credit rating if you’re not careful – which is why we spend a lot of time warning you against it. But we know (we’ve been there) that sometimes it happens, and when it does, this collection of the Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in Canada might be just what you need.

These cards let you transfer your balance from your old credit card to a new one… and give you a fantastic introductory interest rate for a few months while they’re at it. Let’s take a look at what they have to offer and how a promotional balance transfer rate can help you pay down your balance faster.

Card

Best For

Introductory Transfer Rate

Balance Transfer Fee

Annual Fee

Min. Income

Interest Rate

(purchases/cash advances)

Learn More

CIBC Select Visa

CIBC Select Visa

Lowest balance transfer rates + low interest

0% interest for up to 10 months

1%

$29 (first year rebated)

$15,000 household

13.99% / 13.99%

MBNA Trueline Mastercard

MBNA True Line Mastercard

Runner up for lowest balance transfer rates + low interest

0% interest for up to 12 months

3%

$0

None

12.99% / 24.99%

BMO Cashback Mastercard

BMO Cashback Mastercard

Cashback card with best introductory balance transfer rate

1.99% interest for 9 months

1%

$0

$15,000 personal

19.99% / 22.99%

BMO Air Miles Mastercard

BMO Air Miles Mastercard

Best rewards card with an introductory balance transfer rate

1.99% interest for 9 months

1%

$0

$15,000 personal

19.99% / 22.99%

PC Financial Mastercard

PC Financial Mastercard

Runner up for best rewards card

0.97% for 6 months

None

$0

None

20.97% / 22.97%

Balance Transfer Promotions (and why low rates are awesome)

A promotional balance transfer rate is a dramatically low interest rate that a credit card offers new cardholders who transfer a balance when they open their card. These rates generally range from 0% to 3.99%, whereas your standard credit card interest rate usually sits at around 20%.

Credit card companies offer these promotional rates for a set period (6-9 months is a common length). After that, they begin charging standard interest rates on the balance.

What this means for you, a new cardholder, is that you get a reprieve of several months where more of your money can go towards paying off, or at least paying down, your balance instead of going to interest. With promotional rates as low as 0%, a few months can make a big difference!

A Warning About Balance Transfer Card Fees

Most (not all, but most) credit card companies charge a fee for a balance transfer. It’s calculated as a percentage of your total transferred debt. The most common balance transfer fee on this list is 1%, but it can be higher. Make sure you take this fee into consideration when you’re looking at cards – it can add up, and the transfer fee actually made the difference between the winner and runner up in our first category!

How We Picked the Best Balance Transfer Cards

An important thing to remember about an introductory balance transfer rate is that promotional periods end. It’s essential to take the card’s everyday details into account and pick a card that will work for you outside of the balance transfer period.

That’s why we took more than just the introductory offer into account when we made our list. We looked at each card’s: 

  • Interest rate 
  • Earn rate (where applicable) 
  • Any available perks

so we could give you a range of excellent Canadian balance transfer credit cards to consider. That way you’ll know what kind of card you’re signing up for and be able to pick the one that fits you best while knowing that your list of potential cards is solid.

The Best Canadian Balance Transfer Credit Cards: Some Things To Consider

Keep in mind that the best card for you may not necessarily be the card with the lowest balance transfer rate. Take a minute before you start your credit card search and think about what exactly you’re looking for.

  • Are you looking for a no-frills card to help you pay off a balance, and keep your total interest rate low?
  • Are you looking for an everyday use card with some perks (which also happens to help you pay off your balance)?
  • Do you want to earn rewards or cash back?
  • How much are you transferring? Is it enough that a higher transfer fee will really cost you?

There’s a card for all these situations, but they’re not necessarily going to be the same card. That’s why we didn’t pick a single “best” Canadian balance transfer card (although we do have a couple of favourites). The only “best” that matters here is “best for you.”

Best Introductory Balance Transfer Offer/Best Low Interest Card: CIBC Select Visa

The words “0% interest on balance transfers” has a certain magic ring to it. The CIBC Select Visa gives new cardholders a 0% rate on balance transfers for 10 months with a 1% balance transfer fee, and is our winner for best introductory balance transfer offer.

The CIBC Select Visa was our Best Introductory Balance Transfer Card winner on our Best Low Interest Cards in Canada list, and we stand behind that award. The 1% balance transfer fee means you’re only paying 1 cent on the dollar for balance transfers, and once the promotional period ends, your interest rate stays about 6% lower than the industry average.

  • Annual Fee: $29
  • Minimum Income: $15,000 household
  • Interest Rate: 13.99% on both purchases and cash advances. If you use your credit card for cash advances, this is a good bet.
  • Welcome Bonus: 0% interest for up to 10 months on balance transfers with a 1% transfer fee. The first year’s fee is rebated.
  • Earn rate: n/a
  • Travel Insurance: 100,000 Common Carrier accident insurance
  • Perks:  none

CIBC Select Visa is a low interest card that doesn’t offer a lot of perks. It gives cardholders $100,000 in Common Carrier Accident Insurance and offers optional additional insurance for a fee. 

That’s it. Nothing fancy.

However, if you want to keep things simple and focus on paying down your debt, the CIBC Select Visa is a fantastic option. With an everyday interest rate of 13.99% for both purchases and cash advances, it’s a no-frills low interest card that can help you get to a zero balance faster. We appreciate a card that does a single job extremely well, and the CIBC Select Visa does that.

Runner Up for Best Introductory Balance Transfer Offer/Best Low Interest Card: MBNA True Line Mastercard

The MBNA True Line Mastercard is another low interest credit card with no annual fee. It doesn’t offer rewards or any perks beyond a 10% discount on Avis and Budget car rentals. But what it does offer is the longest introductory balance transfer promotional period we’ve seen: 0% interest for up to 12 months.

We had this card in our number one spot for a good long while before we discovered a downside that dropped it to our runner up spot, and that’s the balance transfer fee. MBNA charges 3% on introductory balance transfers – that means that if you need to move $5,000 they’re going to charge you $150 to do it (which is triple what most of the other cards on the list will charge).

We do love that you can spend a full year paying down your transferred debt on this card without paying any interest at all, though. That’s why it stays on our list and is still one of our favourites.

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Minimum Income: None
  • Interest Rate: 12.99% on purchases and balance transfers, 24.99% on cash advances. The MBNA True Line Mastercard is a fantastic low interest card—but if you tend to want cash advances, this likely isn’t the card for you.
  • Welcome Bonus: 0% interest for up to 12 months on balance transfers with 3% transfer fee.
  • Earn rate: n/a
  • Travel Insurance: None
  • Perks:  10% off Avis and Budget Rent a Car

The MBNA True Line Mastercard is a bit of a one trick pony. It saves you money that would otherwise go to interest. Period. The everyday interest rate on purchases and balance transfers is excellent and the 0% promotional balance transfer offer is great aside from the balance transfer fee.

Once your promotional period is over, you’ll still only be paying 12.99% interest, which is 7% lower than average credit card rates. If you don’t manage to pay off your balance over the first year (although we strongly recommend that you do), you’ll still end up paying far less in interest than you would with a standard credit card. And that means you can pay the rest off faster.

Canadian Cashback Card with the Best Introductory Balance Transfer Offer: BMO Cashback Mastercard

The no-fee BMO Cashback Mastercard is the first card on our list that offers rewards, plus a fully developed selection of perks. New cardholders receive a balance transfer rate of 1.99% for 9 months (plus a 1% balance transfer fee) as part of their welcome bonus package.

The BMO Cashback Mastercard also offers a welcome bonus of 5% cashback for the first three months… but be careful not to add to your existing carried balance while you’re earning that cashback. Only charge purchases that you can pay off immediately (this is a good policy in general, but especially when you’re carrying a balance).

After the promotional period ends, BMO charges 19.99% interest—so it’s even more important to pay off your balance in those first 9 months if you possibly can.

Annual Fee: $0

Minimum Income: $15,000 personal

Interest Rate: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances (or 21.99% for Quebec residents)

Welcome Bonus:

  • 1.99% introductory rate on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee
  • 5% cashback for the first 3 months (maximum spend of 2500 split between specific categories, e.g., 500 on groceries. Max 125 cashback)

Earn rate:

  • 3% cashback on groceries
  • 1% cashback on recurring bill payments
  • 0.5% unlimited cashback on all other purchases

Travel Insurance: None

Perks:  

  • Extended warranty
  • Purchase protection
  • Up to 25% off rentals at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car locations
  • 15% off Cirque du Soleil touring shows in Canada and 20% off resident shows in Vegas

We’re big fans of the BMO Cashback Mastercard (the student version of the card is featured in our list of the Best Student Credit Cards). The rewards are good for a no-fee card, and we love the bonus earnings on groceries. If you’re looking for a no-fee cashback card that also gives you a hand with a balance transfer, make sure this one’s on your list!

Best Rewards Card for Balance Transfers: BMO Air Miles Mastercard

Another excellent no-fee card from BMO, the BMO Air Miles Mastercard offers cardholders the same promotional balance transfer rate of 1.99% for the first 9 months with a 1% balance transfer fee. It also offers new cardholders 800 Air Miles, which can be redeemed for travel, merchandise, or in-store discounts at Air Miles partner locations.

If you’re an Air Miles collector, the BMO Air Miles Mastercard can accelerate your Air Miles earning capacity by allowing you to earn with every purchase, as well as double up your points when you shop at Air Miles partner locations. If you like the perks and balance transfer promotion that BMO has to offer, but you prefer Air Miles rewards over cashback, this is the card for you.

Annual Fee: $0

Minimum Income: $15,000 personal

Interest Rate: 19.99% on purchases, 22.99% on cash advances (or 21.99% for QU residents)

Welcome Bonus:

  • 1.99% introductory rate on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee
  • 800 bonus Air Miles (this is valued at just over $80 if you choose the Cash Miles option, although Air Miles can be redeemed for travel and merchandise as well)

Earn rate:

  • 3 miles for every $25 spent at Air Miles partners
  • 1 mile for every $25 spent everywhere else

Travel Insurance: None

Perks:  

  • Extended warranty
  • Purchase protection
  • Up to 25% off rentals at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent a Car locations
  • 15% off Cirque du Soleil touring shows in Canada, 20% off resident shows in Vegas

Both BMO cards on our list have excellent balance transfer rates while also offering more generous perks and rewards than low interest cards like the MBNA True Line Mastercard and the CIBC Select Visa. Their promotional (and everyday) interest rates are higher, but depending on your situation, they could strike a perfect balance (pun intended) between a card that helps you manage your existing debt and one that’s good for everyday spending and rewards.

Runner-Up Rewards Card for Best Balance Transfers: PC Financial Mastercard

If your balance is low enough that you can pay it off in 6 months, and if you shop often at Loblaws-owned stores such as Shoppers Drug Mart, No Frills, or Joe Fresh, the no-fee PC Financial Mastercard deserves a spot on your short list for balance transfer possibilities.

With 0.97% interest on balance transfers for 6 months, plus rewards that can earn you discounts at Loblaws-owned stores, the PC Financial Mastercard can help you transition from carrying a balance to managing your everyday spending—while also enjoying free groceries! Plus, it’s free, which is always a good thing!

Annual Fee: $0

Minimum Income: None

Interest Rate: 20.97% on purchases, 22.97% on cash advances

Welcome Bonus:

  • 0.97% promotional balance transfer rate for 6 months
  • 20,000 PC Optimum points (worth $20 in in-store discounts)

Earn rate:

  • 10 pts/$1 at Loblaws grocery stores
  • 25 pts/$1 at Shoppers
  • 30 pts/litre at Mobil and Esso
  • 20 pts/$1 on PC travel
  • 10 pts/$1 everywhere else

Travel Insurance: None

Perks:  

  • Purchase assurance (90 days)
  • Extended warranty up to an additional year

The PC Financial Mastercard wins our runner-up spot for best rewards card because, while the balance transfer rate is lower than the BMO Air Miles Mastercard, it only lasts for 6 months – the shortest period of all the cards on this list. The everyday interest rate is also slightly higher than the other cards. However, if you manage your spending well, the PC Financial Mastercard can help you pay down your balance as well as earn some discounts.

Canadian Balance Transfer Credit Card FAQ

Choosing the Best Balance Transfer Credit Card in Canada

Carrying a credit card balance is never ideal, but it does happen!

If it does, transferring your balance to a card with a low promotional interest rate can give you a chance to catch up. Instead of putting most (if not all) of your monthly payment towards interest, you can start paying down your balance. Most of the cards on our list give you 9 months or more to make payments before the regular interest rate kicks in.

The best balance transfer card for you will depend on your particular financial situation, but if you’re looking to pay down your debt fast and keep it down, the editorial team unanimously recommends the CIBC Select Visa or the MBNA True Line Mastercard. Both cards currently give you a 0% interest rate on balance transfers for at least 10 months (a year, in the case of the MBNA True Line Mastercard). We prefer the CIBC Select Visa because the transfer rate is lower, but either card will help you get where you want to go—to a zero balance.

These cards also offer lower interest rates than most other cards, which can be helpful if you’re in the habit of carrying a balance. You can find other outstanding low interest rate cards in our list of the Best Low Interest Credit Cards in Canada, but these two currently have the best balance transfer promotions available.

If you’re feeling like it’s time to get your finances in order, a balance transfer offer like the ones listed here can help you take charge. Good luck!

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Meg Goodmanson

Meg is a writer, editor, virtual assistant, credit card expert, and lifelong learner-of-things. A self-proclaimed nerd, Meg’s favourite thing is collecting information and presenting it in an interesting and helpful way—especially if it helps her travel for free!
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