Get a balance transfer card to reduce your interest payments, save money and get out of debt faster.
Matt had been living large and loving life. Having built up $10,000 on his card Matt paid the minimum repayment of $200 towards lowering his balance. But with 20% p.a. interest card at such a slow pace it was going to take Matt over 8 years to pay it down to $0.00.
Something had to give, mainly, his old card. He compared his options and finally, Matt switched to a 0% interest balance transfer card.
Now he’ll avoid about $2,000 in interest repayments over the course of 24 months. In plain English: that’s $2,000 that can go to paying off Matt’s debt in full, not his credit card interest.
A balance transfer is when one bank pays off the outstanding debt at your old bank and transfers it to a new account with them. Typically, banks offer promotional deals with low interest rates for a period of time to attract new customers. The promotional offer can save a significant amount of money; many people use it repay their debt faster. See our FAQ below for questions about how balance transfers work, how they affect your credit score and more.
The most popular balance transfer credit cards with the visitors of this comparison site are the cards that offer the lowest rates on balance transfers with which will save people the most money. Typically this means 0% balance transfer rates for 12 months or more. If you’re like most people you’ll appreciate longer periods of time to pay off old card debt and start to move forward again with your personal finances.
Say you currently have a balance of $3,000 – about average for Australia, according to research by the RBA – that is charged an interest rate of 15% per annum. This means approximately 1.25% in interest per month, which works out to be $37.50. If you were to switch to a card with 0% for 6 months, you would save around $225.
Or, let’s imagine you have a balance of $10,000 and paying 15% p.a., which works out to an interest bill of $125 per month. Switching to one of the long-term balance transfer deals offering 2% for the year would reduce your total interest payments on a $10,000 balance to $17 per month, saving you around $1,250 during the first year.
To see how this would affect your debt repayment, you can use one of the calculators below (but remember to account for transfer fees as well as annual fees):
Like the United Kingdom and the United States, balance transfer fees are now the norm for credit cards in Australia. A balance transfer fee is a one-off fee charged to you by your new credit card provider to establish a credit plan for the amount you transfer onto your new credit card from your old card. If there is a balance transfer fee charged our comparison tables will show it and the savings calculation will factor it in. Generally, a balance transfer fee is charged straight away and will appear on your first credit card statement.
The majority of banks offer new customers a balance transfer deal in the region of 1-4% for a period of 6-18 months. The 0% rate offers are the exception rather than the rule in Australia. But you can compare 0% balance transfer cards in this comparison site and find out how much you stand to save.
When the low balance transfer rate expires, the amount that you transferred over will be subject to either the ongoing purchase rate or the cash advance rate. Our comparison tables will show which rate the balance transfer rate reverts to.
Most people take immediate advantage of a balance transfer offer and include the details of their debts in their application. However, banks may give you up to 3 months leeway. Failing to use the promotional offer when applying for a new card means your outstanding balance, which will still be on your old card, will be charged the standard interest rate. Therefore, you would unnecessarily be paying interest instead of saving money.
In addition to the comparison table above, you can compare credit cards which offer balance transfers with:
Even if you have been with your bank for years, you’ll have to transfer your balance to an account with a different bank in order to take advantage of the introductory offer on interest. Most banks in Australia do not permit their customers to transfer a balance from one account held with them to another. This may sound like a lot of hassle, but in reality it isn’t, especially because most banks do not charge a fee for doing this.
You have two choices when switching to a new card. Either you fill in the details of the balance you would like to transfer on the application form, or you wait until the account has been opened and then initiate the process. You’ll typically get the same interest rate regardless, but you should be wary about delaying because most banks insist that you start the balance transfer within a set window of time if you want to get the introductory deal. Failing to do so may mean that you’ll have to pay a higher rate of interest on any debt transferred across to your new account.
All banks and credit card issuers look at your personal financials in order to figure out if you should be approved or declined. The bank will want to verify your age to make sure you are over 18 years old, look at your income, check your residency status, and also check your credit rating to calculate your ability to repay your credit card on time.
Assuming that your credit card application has been successful, your balance will usually be transferred inside two weeks.
Yes, you can transfer what you owe on your store card (e.g. your David Jones credit card).
Yes, but you and your spouse will both need to be named as joint primary cardholders prior to filing for a balance transfer. Adding yourself as a joint primary cardholder can typically be done easily via phone or online banking.
In short, it depends. If you apply for multiple credit cards in a short period of time, and want to consolidate a large outstanding debt, your credit score will be lowered. This is further compounded if some of your applications have been declined and you continue to apply for more offers. It is best to spread out your applications for new accounts as much as you can while keeping your existing accounts in good order by not missing payments or spending too much.
Your credit limit, or the amount of money you are allowed to borrow, does come into play. If you intend to consolidate debt from multiple accounts onto a single card using a promotional offer, you may not be able to transfer the entire outstanding amount because your credit limit is not high enough. Should this happen to you, you can still transfer as much of your outstanding balance as possible to take advantage of the low interest rate and work towards paying it off. If you manage to pay off some of what you owe on your new card and essentially free up some space on it, you could move some of the amount still owed from your old card to your new card, but most likely at a rate that is higher than the promotional rate. As long as you space out your applications adequately, you could apply for another credit card and move the rest of your outstanding debt to it.
Assuming that you want to apply for a balance transfer credit card and use the low interest rate to pay back your debt faster, you’ll also want to avoid other fees as much as possible. An annual fee is one such charge you would rather avoid. However, if you are planning to move a very large balance at a low rate, the impact of the annual fee is diminished because of the amount of money saved per month on interest alone. Conversely, if you are moving a relatively small debt, the annual fee may practically wipe out any potential savings. Ideally, you are looking for a really cheap and prolonged balance transfer deal without an annual fee. The potential savings are calculated by our comparison tables and make it easier to see how much you could save.
Many banks charge a one-off handling fee for doing a balance transfer. This balance transfer fee typically ranges between 1% to 3% of the amount you transfer and it is charged upfront when you are approved for the new card. If you transfer $5,000 to a card with a 1% BT fee then you’ll be charged $50 for doing the balance transfer. This is additional to the Annual Fee which is a separate charge. To make it easy to see if it is worth paying the balance transfer fee Credit Card Compare’s comparison tables have included the balance transfer fee (for cards that charge the fee) in the calculation of your potential savings.
No. With the exception of Citibank, it is not possible to do that. Most banks do not allow you to put your personal loan debt or line of credit onto a credit card. Other than Citibank, your best bet might be to find a cheaper personal loan with lower interest rates to save on interest repayments.
No. It is not possible to do that.
Yes, you can. However, the rules vary from bank to bank. As the balance transfer is typically a promotional rate aimed at attracting new customers, some banks are quite strict in terms of when they make it available. To be safe, include the details of your balance transfer when applying.
This really depends on your financial situation. If you want to open a new account in order to pay less interest and use the money saved to pay off your debt, then no, it’s best not to spend with the card. If your new card has a combined promotional interest rate on balance transfers and purchases, and you can afford to pay for what you buy plus make a repayment on the debt, then you can use the card to buy with. However, in general it’s best to live within your means, pay off your debt first and only buy things with your credit card that you can pay off fully each month.
Beyond the minimum, it’s totally up to what works best for your personal financial circumstances. Be aware that paying off only the minimum each month will translate into a long time paying off your balance.
No. Balance transfer cards are different to fixed schedule personal loans and home loans. There are no early payment penalties for clearing your credit card debt on time or ahead of time.
Many people don’t realise that a bank doesn’t treat the amount owed as one single account. In other words, if you have transferred a balance at a low interest rate and use your new card to spend with, the bank will allocate payments to the cheapest debt first. So if you are not disciplined in your spending, you’ll not only be adding to your outstanding debt, but you won’t even be paying off the amount of money that was transferred. If you want to get rid of your debt, then don’t use your new balance transfer card to buy stuff!
However, there is an exception to this rule. Banks are now offering cards with a combined low interest rate on both balance transfers and purchases. Therefore, you would pay the same rate of interest on any new purchases as you would on the amount of money that was transferred across. Note that the promotional interest rate offer on these tend to vary between balance transfers and purchases, i.e. you might get 9 months interest free on a balance transfer, but only 6 months on purchases. Still, the best thing to do is to avoid spending on your card until you are no longer in debt and can afford to pay off your monthly spend in full.
Yes – you are free to do a follow up balance transfer to another card with a different bank. If you have a bigger debt, you should look for cards with longer balance transfer periods.
Yes – you’ll need to pay the minimum each month. Typically it’s about 2-3% of your balance. But, given the debt-busting potential of a well managed balance transfer you should try to pay back as much as you can afford each month while the interest rate is low. Once the rate reverts to the higher level, if you still have some debt, you can transfer the balance to yet another card, with a better rate. You can calculate what your minimum repayment would be paying using our minimum repayment calculator
Yes – your credit card number and expiry dates will change so if you have set up automatic direct debits and monthly bills with companies (e.g. telco’s) then you’ll need to contact them to change these. There is automated way to do this. Just think, it’s a small inconvenience compared to the money you’ll save.
That is up to you. Once you’ve been approved for your new credit card and you’ve had confirmation that the balance has been transferred over, unless you plan on keeping your old card to continue spending on it then you should probably cancel the old card(s). The new bank will not make you close your old card.