A balance transfers is when you move debt from one credit card to a new card that allows balance transfers. Many cards have a balance transfer offer like an interest-free period that lets you pay off your debt faster. Here are the key things to know about balance transfers.
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.
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.
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 credit card 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 Brand||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|
|Bank of Melbourne (BOM)||80%||$500||BOM, BankSA or St George|
|Bank of Queensland (BOQ)||80%||$500||BOQ|
|BankSA||80%||$200||BOM, BankSA or St George|
|St George||80%||$500||BOM, BankSA or St George|
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.
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 %|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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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