Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in Canada

A balance transfer involves moving your existing credit card balance from one credit card to another, usually with the aim of lowering your interest charges.

It’s a common method borrowers use to consolidate their debt.

Balance transfer credit cards offer either a low or zero percent introductory interest rate for a set period (e.g., 12 months).

As a result, you can save a considerable amount on interest charges, eliminate burdensome debt faster, and improve your credit score.

3 Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards for Canadians

BMO CashBack® Mastercard®*

current offer

5% cash back in first 3 months on spend up to $2,500 and 0.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with 2% transfer fee. Conditions apply.

key highlights

BMO’s CashBack® Mastercard®* offers lucrative cash back rewards for those who spend heavily at grocery stores.

Your cash back points don't expire, provided you maintain your account in good standing. You can redeem your cash back any time you wish and set up automatic cash outs whenever you hit a certain threshold (which can be as little as $25).

You can also choose where you want your cash back to go: deposit the money into your chequing account, savings account, InvestorLine account, or use it as a statement credit.

Here are some of the additional benefits the card offers:

  • Extended warranty and purchase protection
  • Bonus cash back rewards when you add an authorized user to your account
  • Car rental discounts of up to 25% at select National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations
  • Savings of 15% on tickets to Cirque du Soleil shows in Canada and 20% on tickets to resident shows in Las Vegas

There’s no annual fee, and the interest rate is 20.99%.

Eligibility requirements include a minimum annual personal income of $15,000.
Annual Fee $0
APR Purchases 20.99%
APR Cash Advances 22.99%
Minimum Income $15,000


As a cardholder, you earn cash back on your spending as follows:

  • 3% on grocery purchases
  • 1% on recurring bill paying payments
  • 0.5% on all other purchases

Additional Info

Additional Cardholder Fee: $0


BMO does not maintain the accuracy of the information on this page. Please visit for the most current information.
All images and trademarks are property of their respective rights holders.
®The BMO logo and other trademarks are the property of The Bank of Montreal or its subsidiaries.

CIBC Select Visa* Card

current offer

0% interest up to 10 months with a 1% transfer fee and first year annual fee waived. Conditions apply.

key highlights

CIBC’s Select Visa* Card has a low interest rate and low annual fee, making it ideal for consolidating high-interest debt.

Here are some of the benefits and features you receive access to as a cardholder:

  • Fuel savings: link your card with the Journie Rewards program and garner discounts of up to 10 cents per litre at select gas stations, including Fas GasTM and PioneerTM.
  • Transfer money abroad: pay zero transaction fees on worldwide money transfers, provided you pay the balance in full by the due date.
  • Common carrier accident insurance: get instant coverage for up to $100,000.
  • Additional users: add up to three extra users to your account at no extra charge.

The card charges an annual fee of $29 with an interest rate of 13.99%.

Eligibility requirements include a minimum annual household income of $15,000.
Annual Fee $29
APR Purchases 13.99%
APR Cash Advances 13.99%
Minimum Income N/A
Additional Info

Additional Cardholder Fee: $0


CIBC does not maintain the accuracy of the information on this page. Please visit for the most current information.
All images and trademarks are property of their respective rights holders.
®The CIBC logo and other trademarks are the property of CIBC or its subsidiaries.

Scotiabank Value® Visa* Card

current offer

0% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 10 months and first year annual fee waived. Conditions apply.

key highlights

Scotiabank’s Value® Visa* Card is an affordable, no-frills credit card aimed at frugal spenders.

The most notable perk of this card is its low-interest rate – you pay just 12.99% on regular purchases and cash advances. As a result, it’s perfectly suited for financing large purchases, netting you possibly hundreds of dollars in interest savings a year. You can also use it to consolidate higher-rate balances on other accounts, allowing you to pay off your debt faster.

The card offers several quick and convenient payment options at checkout:

  • Visa payWave: wave your card over the card reader to complete your purchase.
  • Click to Pay: click the Click to Pay icon that appears on your screen to finalize your transaction, skipping the need to enter your 16-digit card number.
  • Apple Pay: add your card to your Apple Pay account to enhance your privacy and security when making payments.

As a cardholder, you qualify for discounts of up to 25% on car rentals at participating Avis and Budget locations across Canada and the U.S.

The annual fee is $29, and there’s no additional charge for extra cards you wish to add to your account.

Eligibility requirements include a minimum annual personal income of $12,000.
Annual Fee $29
APR Purchases 12.99%
APR Cash Advances 12.99%
Minimum Income N/A
Additional Info

APR Balance Transfers: 12.99%

Additional Cardholder Fee: $0


Scotiabank does not maintain the accuracy of the information on this page. Please visit for the most current information.
All images and trademarks are property of their respective rights holders.
®The Scotiabank logo and other trademarks are the property of Scotiabank or its subsidiaries.
*Visa and Visa Infinite are trademarks of Visa International Service Association

How Does a Credit Card Balance Transfer Work?

The first step in arranging a balance transfer is to apply for a credit card that facilitates it.

Various financial institutions offer cards with this feature, including the Big Five banks.

As part of the application process, the card issuer will conduct a hard inquiry on your credit report to determine the risk of extending financing to you.

You’ll also need to meet a certain income threshold.

For example, the CIBC Select Visa Card, you need a minimum household annual income of $15,000.

Once the card issuer approves your application, you can initiate a request to transfer the balance from your old credit card onto the new one. 

The card issuer will provide you with credit to apply against your old card, paying off the balance.

This amount will then appear on your new card, which you must pay off over time.

The entire transfer process can take a few days to a few weeks to complete, depending on how quickly your card issuer approves your application and transfer request.

Don’t Forget!

Typically, you need a good to excellent credit score (minimum of 650) to qualify for a premier balance transfer card.

Considerations before Completing a Balance Transfer

1. Promotional interest rate expiration date

The enticing low or zero-percent interest rates that balance transfer cards offer don’t last forever.

Once they expire, the default rate takes over, comparable to a standard credit card rate of 20%.

Some cards charge even higher rates.

Promotional introductory rates typically last between 6 to 12 months.

For this reason, it’s essential to evaluate your budget to determine how long it will take you to pay off your balance in full once you complete the transfer.  

Let’s say you’re assessing a card that offers a zero-percent promotional rate for six months, but you know there’s no way you’ll be able to settle the balance during that time frame.

In that case, consider searching for one with a lengthier promotional period or analyzing whether you would be better off leaving the balance on the card it is currently on.

Did You Know

Some balance transfer credit cards offer a permanently low default interest rate compared with standard cards, such as the BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard.

2. Balance transfer fee

Card issuers charge a fee for transfers, ranging from 1% to 3% of the outstanding balance.

This amount is tacked onto your account once the transfer takes place.

For example, a 3% fee on a $4,500 balance will cost you $135, bringing your total amount owing to $4,635.

Ensure you review what balance transfer fee different types of credit cards charge.

If your goal is to keep your costs as low as possible, choosing one with a reasonable fee is crucial.

Some card providers might waive the fee entirely through a special offer or reduce it if you negotiate with them.

3. Transfer limit

Balance transfer credit cards limit the amount of debt you can transfer onto them.

Some brands restrict your transfer to the card’s credit limit, while others impose a cap as a percentage of the credit limit, such as 50%.

As a result, if you’re carrying a significant balance on your existing card, you might not be able to transfer the entire amount to take advantage of the discounted rate. 

Be sure to select a card that can accommodate a large portion of your high-interest debt.

You want to make the transfer worthwhile, especially if you’ll incur a steep balance transfer fee in the process.

How to Complete a Balance Transfer between Credit Cards

In some cases, you must have a credit card account set up before processing the transfer, which entails completing an application.

Sometimes, however, you can conduct a balance transfer before your application is officially approved or complete both steps simultaneously.

Be sure to contact your card provider for further details on the specific procedure.

There are three ways to initiate a balance transfer between credit cards: by cheque, through your online banking, or by calling the card provider directly.

1. Credit Card Cheques

You can obtain a balance-transfer cheque by contacting the card issuer to which you’ll be transferring your balance.

This type of cheque is issued directly by the card issuer, which means that the funds originate from the card issuer when the cheque is deposited, not your bank account.

To set up the balance transfer, you’d make the cheque out to the card provider of the account you’d like to pay off.

Once the cheque arrives at its destination and is cashed, your outstanding balance on that account will drop to zero.

From there, you’re responsible for paying off the debt your new card provider extended to you via the balance-transfer cheque.

Occasionally, financial institutions send these blank cheques to prequalified cardholders as a promotional offer.

You might have come across them in your mailbox.


Some card providers will allow you to write a balance-transfer cheque to yourself, which amounts to a cash advance.

2. Online banking

Arranging a balance transfer using your online banking is easy and convenient.

Suppose you already have an account set up with the institution that’ll be accepting your transfer.

In that case, you can log in to your account and request a transfer with a few clicks.

Usually, you need to locate a feature called “Self-service” and then select “Request a balance transfer” (or something similar).

From there, you’d fill in some relevant details about the balance you want to move, such as your card issuer, the amount, and the name and address on your account.

Once complete, click on “Submit.”

3. Phone

Making a phone call to your balance transfer card issuer is always a viable option.

You call their customer service line, which you can find on the back of your card or listed on their website.

As with an online transfer, you’ll have to provide the representative with pertinent information, such as the amount you wish to transfer and the card issuer with whom you hold the outstanding balance.

Lady completing a balance transfer on her credit card online

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do balance transfers hurt your credit?
  • What’s the catch with balance transfers?
Mark Gregorski

Mark is passionate about educating people on how the financial markets work and providing tips to help them better manage their money. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and has more than a decade of experience as an accountant.

Outside of writing and finance, he enjoys playing poker, going to the gym, composing music, and learning about digital marketing.