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Balance Transfers: key rules explained
Smart Money

Balance Transfers: key rules explained

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We get a lot of questions and comments about balance transfers here at creditcard.com.au, so we’ve addressed the most common ones below and also discussed them in a video.

  1. How long does a balance transfer take?
  2. Watch the balance transfer video
  3. Which banks can I balance transfer to?
  4. Whats the minimum amount I can transfer?
  5. What rate does the balance transfer revert to?

This video asks; Can you transfer to the same bank?  Are there interest free days on this new card I’ve transferred to?  How long does it take? Do I have to cancel my old card account? To read the full dialogue of the video, please see the bottom of the page.

What is the minimum amount I can balance transfer?

Some banks allow as little as $100, with others you have to transfer at least $500. Use the table below to see the minimum amounts for each of the main banks.

What rate does the balance transfer revert to?

You also need to be sure whether the balance transfer rate reverts to the purchase interest rate or the cash advance rate at the end of the promotional period. This is the interest rate you’ll pay on any amount left over after the balance transfer period ends. If the balance transfer reverts to the cash advance rate it will usually mean you pay more interest on any amount left over.

If your question isn’t answered on this page or in the table, take a look at our Balance Transfer FAQs, and if you still can’t find the answer you’re welcome to submit your question there.

Which banks can I do a balance transfer to?

Some of the banks have complicated underwriting relationships, which means if you have a card with X bank, you might not be able to transfer a balance to the new bank you want.  Our table tells you instantly if the card you’re considering is a not an option because of an existing credit card or account you already have.

New Card Issuer Maximum % of Your Credit Limit You Can Transfer Minimum Amount You Can Transfer You Cannot Transfer A Balance from These Institutions
American Express $10,000 or 70%, whichever is less $50 American Express
ANZ 95% $100 ANZ
Bank of Melbourne (BOM) 80% $500 BOM, BankSA or St George
Bank of Queensland (BOQ) 80% $500 BOQ, Citi, CUA or Suncorp
BankSA 80% $200 BOM, BankSA or St George
Bankwest 95% $500 Bankwest
Citi 80% $500 BOQ, Citi, Coles, Virgin Money, CUA or Suncorp
Commbank 95% $500 Commbank
CUA 80% $500 BOQ, Citi, CUA or Suncorp
HSBC 100% $500 HSBC
IMB 80% $500 BOQ, Citi, CUA or Suncorp
NAB 90% n/a NAB
St George 80% $500 BOM, BankSA or St George
Suncorp 80% $500 BOQ, Citi, CUA or Suncorp
Virgin 80% $500 Citi
Westpac 95% $200 Westpac
Woolworths 100% $500 Woolworths

What percentage of my credit limit can I actually transfer across?

Don’t think that if you request a credit limit of $3,000, because that’s the amount of debt you have, you’ll always be able to transfer 100% of it. You will be able to transfer a percentage of your credit limit, check the table above to see how much each bank permits.

Credit limit vs. Maximum Balance Transfer

If you’re considering a balance transfer credit card where you can’t transfer 100% of the credit limit, the below table will give you some idea of the credit limit you require to balance transfer the amount you want to. If you want to further understand how much credit you should apply for when making a balance transfer, consider the below table.  As shown above, some banks don’t allow more than 80% of your new card’s credit limit to be used up on a balance transfer. Therefore applying for their card means you may need to apply for a higher credit limit.

 

Corresponding Maximum Amount You Can Balance Transfer %
Credit Limit 70% 80% 95%
$2,500 $1,750 $2,000 $2,375
$5,000 $3,500 $4,000 $4,750
$7,500 $5,250 $6,000 $7,125
$10,000 $7,000 $8,000 $9,500
$15,000 $10,500 $12,000 $14,250
$20,000 $14,000 $16,000 $19,000

Video Questions and Transcript;

Can I transfer to the same bank?

The answer is no. The banks only put out balance transfer deals to attract new customers, so they’re not going to give one of their own customers a good deal – remember they’re making interest on the balance that you’re currently owing.

Balance transfer fees

Some banks charge a one off balance transfer fee. It could be 1% – 3% of the total amount, balance transfer fees can add up. If you wanted to move $5000 to a balance transfer credit card that charged 1%, for example, you would pay an extra $50. A card with a 3% fee, on the other hand, would set you back $150 before any other charges are even applied.

Interest Free Days don’t apply

If you’ve just transferred a balance over to a new credit card, that credit card won’t have any interest free days until you’ve paid off that full balance – which means you shouldn’t really use it, unless you’re prepared to pay the higher interest rate on any purchases that you make. In fact you could keep your old credit card open and use that if it’s got a reasonable purchase rate, and just pay that off as quickly as you can. But you should really focus on paying that balance you’ve transferred over as soon as possible. Remember you will have to pay any annual fee though.

How long does a balance transfer take?

A balance transfer usually takes about two weeks to get processed entirely, but as soon as the deal is approved by the bank which could be (for example) a few days into the start of the two week period –your balance transfer period begins. So if you come out of it with a credit card in your hand after two weeks that you’ve just received in the post, you have to trace back about a week, because your balance transfer period has already started. So it’s not going to go for six or nine months from that date, it’s going to go from the week before when the deal was first approved. That’s something you should really check with your bank closely.

Do I need to cancel my old card?

You DO need to close your old credit card account down with the old bank. If it has an annual fee on it they’ll just leave it ticking over and you’ll get charged the annual fee year after year. Obviously you’d expect not to have any balance left on that credit card, but you should (if you want to) definitely close it as soon as possible, so you don’t occur any other fees or charges.

For more information on this, check out our post on closing the balance transfer card when the promo ends.

Pauline

Pauline Hatch

Pauline is a personal finance expert at CreditCard.com.au, with 8 years in money, budgeting and property reporting under her belt. Pauline is passionate about seeing Aussies win by making their money – and their credit cards – work smarter, harder and bigger.

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8 comments (showing the latest 10 Q&As)

Dani M

Dani M

16 October 2021
I have a biz affected by lockdown. I am still working intermittently however will be paid at end of projects when work is completed and but can’t access supplies until lockdown is lifted. My income is now coming fortnightly from the government COVID disaster payment. Will this be considered as income if I apply for a credit card balance transfer? I am paying extra on current credit card to reduce debt but the interest is high. It is a St George Vertigo card. If so, which bank do you suggest to apply for. Thank so much for your advice in advance.
    Roland B Bleyer - CreditCard.com.au Founder

    Roland

    18 October 2021
    Hi Dani, thanks for your comment and sorry to hear about your situation. According to the ATO, the disaster payment is non-taxable income, and credit applications generally need to see your taxable income. When the lockdowns are over, it’s worth keeping in mind if you are looking to transfer debt away from St.George, it can’t be to Bank of Melbourne or BankSA. We wrote a few guides around credit cards and coronavirus, which could provide you with some tips.
Jonn

Jonn

18 August 2021
Hi roland, im planning on obtaining a lattitude go mastercard for 16k limit. Aside from the transfer fee, if i was to reach the limit of the card and then apply for a 0% balance transfer deal with another provider, is there anything that i need to consider? How soon can i apply for a balance transfer?
    Roland B Bleyer - CreditCard.com.au Founder

    Roland

    20 August 2021
    Hi Jon, welcome and thanks for your question. There’s no written rules around when you can apply for another card after your previous one. However, we do know that multiple applications for credit in a short period of time can be detrimental to your credit file and score. It’s also worth noting that some banks only allow a certain percentage of your debt to be transferred, so each time you’d have to up your credit limit. This limit is also based on your credit score as well. We’ve written some extensive guides on Balance transfers and the things to watch out for and the key facts. We hope this has helped you, if you have other questions leave us a reply!
Graham Moxham

Graham Moxham

30 July 2021
I am retired,can I get a balance transfer card?
    Roland B Bleyer - CreditCard.com.au Founder

    Roland

    2 August 2021
    Hi Graham, banks can’t discriminate against customers based on their age. There’s legislation for that thankfully! However, there’s a few stringent criteria you must meet to be approved. We prepared this credit card guide for pensioners, but it can apply to a range of applicants. If you have a read and have any other questions, feel free to hit reply!
Zarina

Zarina

1 February 2021
I have a personal (not business) $25,000 credit card with ANZ. I have been paying the monthly interest for a couple of years as I get a new company up and running. I am self employed with no current income. Put $2M into a new business venture. I want to transfer the balance. I have two banking accounts with Westpac, one is a joint personal account the other is a business that is deregistered bc it wasn't used and ASIC closed/ deregistered it, which I was wondering if it would ring alarm bells to westpac as the $25 in it needs to transferred to ASIC. Should I go to Westpac for a credit card application or should I use someone like HSBC. My thinking is, if Westpac reject it, will it affect other applications. Ideally, I would like to get the maximum time interest free and then potentially transfer one more time. Depending on the launch and cash flow with the new business venture. I don't have any bank loans or outstanding debts. I have one electrical bill for $1250 that debt/ origin I need to pay. I would like to use Westpac and then another credit card supplier after 26 months (if I decide too) so I was trying to maximize the ability to do so. I am guessing if I use CITIBANK for example, a bank may not take a transfer after the 24 months. Warm regards
    Roland B Bleyer - CreditCard.com.au Founder

    Roland

    2 February 2021
    Hi Zarina, with no income it will be tough to get approved for a new credit card. I would make payment of any ASIC obligations ASAP. Problem I keep thinking is how you would get approval with no income. Every bank will ask what you current income is. Then you will need proof of that income. Is there anyway you can just pay out the credit card debt with the funds from the business? $2 million is a huge investment. Unfortunately, without income I do not see a balance transfer offer as an option for you right now.

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