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Do Balance Transfers Count Towards Points?

Learn whether or not balance transfers earn reward points.
By: Vivian Xia
Credit Cards - General
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Do balance transfers count towards points?

A credit card can offer you tons of benefits such as earning you cashback points or frequent flyer miles that you can exchange for valuable rewards. 

However, if you’re carrying an expensive balance on your card, you might be wondering if transferring that balance will earn you rewards points.  

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Let’s dive in.

Do Balance Transfers Count Towards Points?

Unfortunately, transferring a credit card balance doesn’t count towards points. 

The good news is that you won’t lose points either. 

The value of a balance transfer lies in the balance transfer offer. 

The best credit card deals offer a 0% introductory offer on balance transfers for up to 21 months. That gives you a decent chunk of time to pay down debt while avoiding interest charges. 

If you’re considering transferring a balance from a rewards card to a new credit card, you might be worried you’ll lose your rewards points. 

However, your credit card company views a balance transfer as a payment from your new creditor (i.e., the issuer of your new credit card) to your old (existing) creditor. As such, a balance transfer doesn’t affect your credit card points. 

You may find an exception, offering you cashback on balances transfers during a promotional period, but these are few and far between. 

The credit card issuer should disclose the type of transactions that don’t earn points, including: 

  • A cash advance
  • Balance transfers
  • A traveler’s check purchase
  • Purchasing or reloading prepaid debit cards
  • Purchasing cash equivalents

Should You Get a Balance Transfer Card with Rewards?

Rewards credit cards are an appealing option. 

If you’re set on earning credit card rewards, you may have thought about performing a balance transfer to one card while earning rewards on another. This way, you don't have to worry about paying interest on any eligible purchases. 

However, doing so may not be the wisest decision. 

Earning rewards and paying down debt are two separate endeavors. 

If the goal is to minimize your credit card debt, focus on the balance transfer credit card and don't be tempted by any valuable rewards. 

Make the most of the no-interest period and pay down the balance first. You may forfeit any welcome bonus points, but the card’s reward scheme will be there once the intro APR offer expires. 

Additionally, consider the balance transfer fee before applying for a new balance transfer credit card. The credit card company will likely charge between 3-5% for a standard balance transfer fee. If you’re transferring a small amount of credit, make sure it doesn’t negate any savings.  

But what if you don’t want to transfer your balance?

What about carrying a balance on your usual reward cards? 

Should You Hold a Balance on a Rewards Card?

Credit card rewards can be lucrative, more than making up for the annual fee. 

Some of the best credit card reward programs offer unlimited cash back or points on eligible purchases and provide the opportunity to put each point towards statement credit, gift cards, or travel rewards. 

However, you need to make a new purchase to earn the reward. That could distract from the goal of performing the balance transfer: paying off the balance. 

Each new purchase adds more credit card debt to your existing credit card balance, and it can quickly start feeling two steps forward and one step back. Remember, if you maintain a good credit score, you’ll have plenty of opportunities in the future to apply for rewards credit cards. 

In fact, while you’re paying off your debt, it might be a good decision to stop using credit cards altogether. 

What Happens to Your Points if You Close a Card?

If you want to close an account to save on the annual fee, for example, you might wonder what’ll happen to your accumulated points. 

If you transfer a balance from a rewards card to a balance transfer card, the type of card will determine what happens to your points. 

Any unused rewards points or bonus points you have that aren’t transferred to a partner program will be forfeited. That means that the credit card issuer will wipe your points once you’ve closed your account. 

However, if you have multiple cards earning the same type of points, you’re in luck. 

For example, if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® and a Chase Freedom Flex℠ card, both of which earn Chase Ultimate Reward points, you can transfer them from the Sapphire to the Freedom before closing your Sapphire account. 

Things work differently with hotel and airline rewards since those cards are tied to specific loyalty programs. The upside is that these points are stored directly on the airline or hotel account. 

As such, you shouldn’t lose your points if you eventually close the account. 

However, the airline or hotel’s point expiration policy still applies. 

3 Excellent Balance Transfer Cards

Here are a few fantastic rewards credit cards that also provide an attractive balance transfer offer: 

Final Thoughts

A balance transfer can be fantastic for saving money on interest charges while paying off debt. If you’re transferring a balance from reward cards, you might be wondering what happens to your points. 

The good news is that they likely won’t be affected by a balance transfer, but you probably won’t earn any points either. 

Interested in learning more about balance transfer cards? 

Check out our list of the top balance transfer cards available today.

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