Key considerations when completing a balance transfer

Information verified correct on October 21st, 2016

Understand the rules that you need to follow to conduct a successful balance transfer

A balance transfer is a great way to pay off your existing credit card debt at a much lower rate, but these deals are restricted by many terms and conditions. We’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we get from users in hope that it will make your debt consolidation journey easier. Here are some of the key considerations when completing a balance transfer.

What should I consider when conducting a balance transfer?

  1. What is the maximum/minimum amount I can balance transfer?
  2. Credit limits and how much you want to balance transfer
  3. Which banks can’t I do a balance transfer to?
  4. What is the revert rate of my balance transfer?
  5. Can I transfer to the same bank?
  6. Do interest free days apply?
  7. How long does a balance transfer take?
  8. Should I cancel my old credit card?

How much can you transfer?

Some banks will allow a minimum of $100, some $500. In terms of maximums, it depends on the institution. Some institutions don’t put a maximum on how much you can transfer, though this can sometimes sit between 75%-100% of your approved credit limit. Confirm what the minimum and maximum transfer amounts are by checking your relevant product disclosure statement. Generally speaking you can transfer up to 90% of your approved credit limit.

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Which banks can’t I balance transfer to?

You generally can’t transfer your debt from a balance with the same bank. So you can’t transfer a balance from a St.George card to a new St.George card. There are also some other institutions that you can’t transfer between. These are generally because the providers are owned by the same institution, as is the case with BankSA, St.George and Bank of Melbourne who are all owned by Westpac. Check who you can and can’t transfer between using the link below.

Which banks am I able to transfer my balance to and from?

What is the revert rate of my balance transfer?

Your low or 0% balance transfer rate will only last for the length of the promotional period, after which it will revert to either the much higher interest or cash advance rate. Usually the cash advance rate is higher, but you should check regardless because you could stand to collect around 20% in interest on your remaining balance. To confirm what your provider will revert the rate to, please click the link below.

What rate does my balance transfer revert to?

Do interest free days apply?

No, the credit card that you just transferred your balance to will not have any interest free days until you’ve paid off the full balance. This means that you shouldn’t really use it unless you’re prepared to pay a higher interest rate. If your old credit card has a reasonable purchase rate, it might be worthwhile to use that one instead and pay it off as quickly as you can. However it’s important to focus on paying the balance you’ve just transferred first.

How long does a balance transfer take?

This depends on the financial institutions involved. It usually takes about two weeks to complete, but as soon as the deal is approved by the bank your balance transfer period begins. When you’ve received your new credit card in the mail, assume that the balance transfer period has started a week beforehand. It’s important to remember that your balance transfer period doesn’t start from the date you receive the credit card. It’s important to start repaying your debt as soon as possible, because the promotional period starts from the moment your balance transfer is completed, so you’ll want to take advantage of the full offer if possible.

How long does it take to transfer?

Do late payments affect the promotional balance transfer rate?

The promotional rate is effective for the entire period offered and is not usually affected by other rates on the credit card (e.g. late payments, cash advances etc). Check with your provider if you’re unsure.

Should I cancel my old credit card?

Yes, especially if it has an annual fee and you’re not intending to use it. If there still a balance on your old credit card pay it off as soon as possible and cancel the card to eliminate the chances of any other fees or charges. If you want to keep the card as a backup for purchases, make sure it has a low purchase rate and you can repay it in full each month to avoid building up debt again.

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10 Responses to Key considerations when completing a balance transfer

  1. Default Gravatar
    nerida | March 7, 2016

    Can you tell me if there are any credit card transfers that will do a 100% change over?
    Also I would like to put 3 card balances into one.
    Thank you

    • Staff
      Jonathan | March 8, 2016

      Hi Nerida, thanks for your inquiry!

      To clarify ‘change over’ did you mean a credit card that accepts 100% of your existing credit card debt? You will be able to transfer your 3 balances into one credit card providing that the total debt amount does not exceed the ‘balance transfer limit’. The balance transfer limit is how much the bank allows you to transfer to the credit card. For more information on how much you can transfer and to compare balance transfer credit cards see this page.



  2. Default Gravatar
    Jessie | July 8, 2015

    if I have recently opened a credit card (within the last two months) and had to make some large unexpected purchases on the card, would it negatively affect my credit rating if I were to transfer the balance to another card so soon?

    • Staff
      Jonathan | July 13, 2015

      Hi Jessie, thanks for your inquiry!

      That is correct. Frequent credit applications within a short time period can affect an individual’s credit rating and potentially create a negative signal to banks. Balance transfer switches are generally recommended at least once per year or 18 months.



  3. Default Gravatar
    ScribePJ | January 14, 2015

    I note that usually there is no ‘interest free days’ for my ‘purchases’ if a ‘balance transfer’ applies where the ‘balance transfer’ is at a low or Nil interest rate.
    What happens if I have a ‘balance transfer’ of say $10,000 interest free for the offered term of the ‘balance transfer’ say 12 months and I miss a monthly payment of my ‘full closing balance’ for ‘purchases’ during the previous month?
    Do I then forfeit my discounted interest rate on my ‘balance transfer’ of say $10,000, whereupon I may be charged the ‘purchase’ or ‘cash advance’ interest rate on my ‘balance transfer’ of $10,000 for a penalty period eg. 2 months or perhaps until it is repaid?

    • Staff
      Jonathan | January 15, 2015

      Hi ScribePJ,

      Thanks for your question!

      Generally for credit cards that have been balance transferred to, will not have any interest free days on purchases until balance has been paid off in full. If a monthly payment of the full closing balance has been missed there a late payment fee will apply and possibly an overlimit fee if the closing balance on your statement of account exceeds your approved credit limit. The balance transfer rate is set for the entire promotional period, even if there has been a missed payment.

      I hope this has helped!



  4. Default Gravatar
    Nikita | August 20, 2014

    Once you have completed a visa balance transfer to a 0% p.a interest free offer would you be best to have it all paid of as soon as possible ie. within a few months as we do have the money just sitting there or should we wait till the end of the free term offer and then pay it off all at once? Or possibly even a combination of the two? Many thanks

    • Staff
      Shirley | August 20, 2014

      Hi Nikita,

      Thanks for your question.

      This is completely up to you. Ideally, it’s probably best to pay it off as soon as you can just to get rid of the debt.

      Please keep in mind that you’re still required to make minimum repayments during the BT period.

      All the best,

  5. Default Gravatar
    Jo | October 9, 2013

    ok so just came back from a fabulous holiday and spent more than expected.. now have $3000 owing on card.
    Just before I went away i applied for another card (intending to travel with it) but it didn’t arrive in time so I haven’t used it.
    My questions are:
    1. the new unused card offers a balance transfer of 3.99% for 6 months should I transfer my outstanding balance and pay it off on this card rather than the higher rate
    2. should I apply for an entirely new card with a zero balance transfer rate (I will EASILY pay this off before Christmas) – if I do this will I adversely affect my credit rating some way? (presently i have a car loan that commenced Feb this year_

    • Staff
      Jacob | October 9, 2013

      Hi Jo.

      Thanks for your question.

      Check with the card issuer to see when the balance transfer promotion actually started. It could be that the promotion began when you were approved for the card. If this is the case, it’s worth applying for a new card. It can be an issue if you’ve had a number of applications for credit in a short space of time; however, use your best judgement when it comes to this. If you’ve applied for a couple of credit products in the past year or six months, and you’ve had no issues with paying them back on time, then it shouldn’t be an issue.

      I hope this helps.

Credit Cards Comparison

Rates last updated October 21st, 2016
Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
Enjoy a 0% p.a. balance transfer offer for 18 months and also earn 2 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months on everyday spend.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 18 months $64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
ME Bank frank Credit Card
Enjoy a low and consistent interest rate on purchases and cash advances, combined with no annual fee.
11.99% p.a. $0 p.a. Go to site More info
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
Receive a full annual fee refund and save $149 if you meet the $6,000 spend requirement. Enjoy a balance transfer offer and platinum card benefits such as complimentary insurances and concierge services.
19.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 15 months $149 p.a. Go to site More info
NAB Low Rate Credit Card
The NAB Low Rate Card offers 0% p.a. on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. This card also comes with a low annual fee.
0% p.a. for 15 months (reverts to 13.99% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 15 months with a one off 3% balance transfer fee $59 p.a. Go to site More info

* The credit card offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of credit cards has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing cards.

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