If you have credit card debt, a balance transfer credit card offer can be your ticket to getting ahead of it. A 0% balance transfer offer means you won’t pay any interest on your debt for up to three years, giving you time to clear the balance and breathe easy again.
Credit cards should be used to earn rewards, grow your credit score and manage your cash. But, if you’ve found yourself with debt, you can transfer your debt to a new credit card like the ones below. Called a ‘balance transfer’, you’ll pay no interest while you make repayments during the promotional period. Look for a card with a 0% balance transfer offer, an affordable annual fee, and any other features that will save you more money.
Get back on track with 0% p.a. on balance transfers for a massive 28 months with a 2% balance transfer fee. Plus, save more with $0 annual fee the first year, and a low $59 p.a. after that. This card comes with a low variable interest of 12.49% p.a. on everyday purchases, one free additional cardholder and special offers with Visa Offers + Perks. The NAB Low Rate card with a promotional 0% p.a. balance transfer offer is a good match if you’re looking for a way to get on top of debt and save on card cost
Currently offering new cardholders the opportunity to save on balance transfers, the Bankwest Breeze Card has 0% p.a. on purchases and balance transfers for a 12-month promo period with 2% balance transfer fee. Reverts to 12.99% p.a. Cardholders can transfer up to 95% of their approved credit limit, with unpaid transferred balances reverting to the standard purchase interest rate. This card is also quite generous in helping you save money with a low annual fee of $49 p.a.. You can also add up to 3 additional cardholders for free.
A frequent flyer card with decent points-earning potential and awesome introductory offers, the Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer credit card comes with an extended 0% balance transfer period of 24 months with no BT fee and a 20.99% p.a. revert rate. You can transfer a credit card balance as well as a personal loan, up to 80% of your approved credit limit. Plus, enjoy $0 annual fee in your first year ($129 p.a. thereafter) and earn an exclusive $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year. Other nifty features include complimentary Purchase Protection and Extended Warranty insurance covers.
A simple, affordable credit card that charges a low interest rate plus an admirable introductory offer. The ANZ Low Rate credit card offers a massive 28 months interest-free on a balance transfer with a 2% balance transfer fee. The rate reverts to the standard balance transfer rate of 21.99% p.a. The promo period starts when ANZ issues the Letter of Offer and not when the balance transfer is processed (usually 3-15 business days after card activation). Pay $0 annual fee in the first year, then $58 thereafter.
A platinum card with some modest rewards perks, the HSBC Platinum Credit Card could be the perfect choice for cardholders looking to take advantage of a 0% balance transfer for a year. With this card, you can benefit from 0% p.a. interest on balance transfers for 12 months with a 2% balance transfer fee to pay. Balance transfers must be requested at application, and you can request to transfer up to 90% of your available credit limit from non-HSBC credit and store cards. Unpaid transferred balances revert to the card’s cash advance rate. On top of this long balance transfer offer, you will enjoy a $0 annual fee for the first year, reverting to $149 per year after that. Offer may be withdrawn at any time.
Credit card debt can seem insurmountable, especially if you have a lot owing. Debt you can’t pay off is called revolving debt, because you’re also paying interest each month and never quite getting ahead on your repayments.
You might even have multiple credit cards with debt burning a hole in your pocket. But, having a credit card should reward you, not create stress.
What’s the solution?
One standout option is a balance transfer. Credit card providers allow you to move your debt from one credit card to another for an interest-free period, giving you time to pay it off without getting an overwhelming interest bill every month.
You can even use your balance transfer to streamline debt from store cards and even personal loans, although that’s restricted to just a couple of providers.
Normally, providers offer 0% interest on your balance transfer as part of an introductory deal when you sign up as a new cardholder. The interest-free timeframe differs between cards, but can be anywhere between six months and three years.
Once the introductory period has ended, interest comes back into play and is charged on any balance you have left over.
The best thing to do is set up a budgeting plan so your debt is paid off before the period ends.
If you still have a balance, you can think about switching to a new 0% balance transfer credit card – as long as your credit score isn’t already affected by your debt, and you’re aware that switching cards too often can leave a sour taste with lenders.
Balance transfers aren’t just for people in soul-crushing debt. You can use a balance transfer to:
Well, it all depends on your debt and the features of the card. Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say you had $10,000 owing on your credit card, with an interest rate of 19.99%.
You move the debt to a card with a 0% balance transfer offer for 14 months, and don’t use the card for any other spending.
If you made the minimum monthly repayment of 3%: you’d save $4,451 in interest, and have $3,489 remaining to pay off.
Note: if you still have a balance on the card when the interest-free introductory period ends, you’ll be charged at the revert rate, which can be as high as 20% or more.
If you made a plan to pay off the card within the 36 months: you’d be paying back $278 per month and have a clear balance at the end of the interest free term.
You’d also have to take into account any annual fees on the card, although there are plenty of providers that waive or discount the annual fee for the first year.
There are a few factors that can change the terms of your credit card when you have a balance transfer. Always read through the PDS to see the conditions of each card.
First and foremost, interest free balance transfers are a promotional offer to attract new customers, so you may not be eligible for a balance transfer if you’re applying within the same bank, or even the same network as your existing credit card.
For example, Westpac and St George are under the same ‘umbrella’, so you can’t transfer a balance from one of those to the other.
You can check a full list of eligible balance transfers between banks on our comparison page here.
On top of that, make sure you read the application details to see if you’re eligible to apply for the card. There’s always the usual age (usually 18) and minimum income requirements, but you’ll also have to check your credit history isn’t blemished by past defaults on card payments. Each application counts as a query against your credit score.
We’ve made it easy to compare cards. You can see all the 0% balance transfer offers in our one-click comparison engine, so you can sort by the features you want to prioritise, and click ‘go to offer’ for more details and to apply through the card’s website.
When you’re comparing, you need to know what’s going to make the card the best one for you. Here’s some things to look for:
A balance transfer is a tool you can use to get out of debt, so it’s important to find the right card. That means you need to avoid:
Not doing enough comparison. You’ll need to compare cards to find one that’s going to work best for you. You can use our comparison tool to compare the cards with one click, and access a full review of its features and uses by clicking the card name.
Not paying down your transferred balance. Think of your 0% balance transfer credit card as a pitstop. You can pop your money owing on it, refuel, fix it all up and head back onto the track in peak condition – debt free.
Unfortunately, sometimes people don’t take the reprieve from interest to pay down the debt. Instead, they use the card for more spending, or use the old card again (which now has loads of credit on it). Your best bet is to put a plan in place that pays down the debt, or gives you flexibility to do another balance transfer once the introductory period has ended.
Here are some simple tips to help you get the most out of your balance transfer card, so you can clear your debt and develop a healthier relationship with credit.
Tip 1. Cancel your old credit card.
When you transfer a balance from an existing card, that card remains open until you choose to close the account.
Having a card in your wallet with a zero balance and large credit limit available can make it tempting to spend. But, if you do that, you will have an even bigger debt to pay off, with interest continuing to accrue on your new balance on the old card.
It’s a good idea to cancel the card as soon as the balance has been transferred to avoid the temptation of spending on it, and avoid paying any annual fees.
Tip 2. Work out a repayment plan
Set up a repayment plan that allows you to pay off your transferred balance within the introductory period. Using a repayment calculator can help you with this, allowing you to work out how much you will need to pay back each month.
Setting up an automatic repayment could make the process easier. The aim is to clear the entire transferred balance by the end of the introductory period, before interest starts accruing.
Tip 3. Consider whether you want to spend on the new card
Paying off your transferred balance should be your main focus. If you can only afford to pay off that much each month, it may be best to avoid spending more on the card until the balance transfer is cleared.
When you use the card to make new purchases, you have to be able to pay off that balance before interest starts accruing, or you may end up in more trouble with your credit card debt. Be aware that some credit cards don’t offer interest free periods when there is a balance transfer on the card, which may make it harder to pay off the balance on new spending.
Make your balance transfer card work for you by choosing the right card and dealing with it correctly. Start by comparing your options and apply today.
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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