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Combine credit cards with a balance transfer

Save on interest and repay your debt faster by using a balance transfer to consolidate your credit cards onto one account.

A balance transfer gives you a way to combine your credit card debts so that you're not juggling different interest rates and payment due dates. Depending on the card you choose, you could also get a promotional 0% p.a. balance transfer rate during the introductory period. Use this guide to learn this debt consolidation option works and what you need to consider so you can decide if it will work for you.

How to combine credit card debts with a balance transfer

Follow these simple steps if you’re looking to consolidate your credit card debts using a balance transfer.

  1. Find out the total amount of debt you owe. Call each credit card company and ask them for your total outstanding balance, including interest, fees and pending transactions. This gives you the most accurate details of your balance, as some charges may not be shown on your latest statement or even your online statement.
  2. Compare balance transfer credit cards. Look at a range of balance transfer offers based on factors including the length of the 0% interest period, balance transfer fees and annual fees and the rate of interest that will apply at the end of the introductory period. If you have a lot of debt to transfer, you may also want to consider credit cards that offer high credit limits, although keep in mind that the limit you'll get is subject to approval.
  3. Check that your card debts are eligible. You can usually transfer debts from Australian store, charge or credit cards held with a different financial institution to the one that is issuing your new balance transfer card. But it's not always obvious when card brands share the same issuer. So, then you're transferring several debts, it's a good idea to check that all of them are eligible based on the card issuer.
  4. Start the application. You can apply for a balance transfer credit card online in around 10–15 minutes. Get started by checking that you meet the eligibility requirements, then make sure you have all the required details ready to fill in the application form.
  5. Include details of your existing credit card debts. During the application, you'll need to provide details of the debts you want to consolidate onto the balance transfer card. This includes the account names, numbers, relevant BSBs and the total amount you want to transfer to the new account.
  6. Submit your application. Review the details on your application and submit it once you've confirmed. Most online applications will give you with an outcome in a few minutes. If your application is successful and you have provided all the required documents, you should get your new card in around two weeks.
  7. Activate the card. When you get your new credit card, activate it by following the instructions provided by your issuer. Once you've done this, the issuer will process your balance transfer. This usually takes between 5–10 business days to process, so it's important to make any required repayments on your account during this time.
  8. Confirm the transfers and close your old accounts. Once your balance transfers have been processed, you should see that your previous account balances are $0. Call your old credit card providers and close the accounts to avoid any further fees or the temptation to use them.

Top balance transfer credit card offers*

Rates last updated December 10th, 2018
$
% p.a.

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Name Product Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Amount Saved Product Description
NAB Low Fee Platinum Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 25 months
19.74% p.a.
$90 p.a.
finder Exclusive: Take advantage of 0% p.a. interest for 25 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee. Ends 16 December 2018
Citi Clear Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
12.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Offers a 0% p.a. for 14 months balance transfer and $0 first year annual fee. Plus, insurance covers and Citibank Dining Program perks.
ANZ Low Rate
0% p.a. for 15 months
12.49% p.a.
$58 p.a.
Save with a 0% p.a. introductory rate on balance transfers for 15 months with no BT fee. Plus a low 12.49% p.a. interest rate on purchases.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 60,000 bonus points in the first 3 months and save with a $64 first year annual fee. Plus, a long-term balance transfer offer.
Citi Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 13 months
0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 20.99% p.a.)
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
finder Exclusive:
Save with 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for 13 months (with no BT fee). Plus, a discounted $49 annual fee for the first year.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.99% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Offers a 0% p.a. for 22 months balance transfer and an annual fee refund each year when you spend $6,000. Plus, 2 airport lounge passes every year.
Suncorp Clear Options Platinum Credit Card - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Save with a 0% balance transfer offer and earn up to 60,000 Bonus Rewards Points. Plus, a discounted first year annual fee when you apply online.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn reward Points per $1 spent, take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 24 month balance transfer offer, plus complimentary international travel insurance.
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months
12.74% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Save with 0% p.a. interest for up to 24 months on balance transfers with no BT fee. Plus, platinum perks. Ends 17 December 2018.
Westpac Low Rate Card
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1% balance transfer fee
13.49% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($59 p.a. thereafter)
Offers a 0% for 24 month balance transfer option, first year annual fee waiver and a competitive purchase rate.
Qantas Premier Everyday
0% p.a. for 9 months
0% p.a. for 9 months (reverts to 19.99% p.a.)
$49 p.a.
Take advantage of 20,000 bonus Qantas Points, a 0% p.a. purchase and balance transfer offers. Plus, complimentary overseas travel insurance.
Citi Simplicity Card
0% p.a. for 6 months
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Get 0% p.a. interest for up to 6 months on balance transfers with no BT fee. Plus, a $0 annual fee for life.
ANZ First Visa Credit Card
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$30 p.a.
Get up to 18 months interest-free on balance transfers and save with a low $30 annual fee. Plus, up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.
ANZ Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter)
Receive a 0% p.a. for 18 month balance transfer offer and a $0 first year annual fee. Plus, complimentary overseas travel and medical insurance.
Qantas Premier Platinum
0% p.a. for 18 months
19.99% p.a.
$149 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter)
Get 70,000 bonus Qantas points when you meet the spend criteria and 30,000 more when you pay the second year's annual fee (100,000 total).
Citi Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 12 months
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 10,000 monthly bonus reward Points for 20 months (200,000 total), enjoy a 0% p.a. balance transfer offer, plus, a $49 first year annual fee.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 6 months
0% p.a. for 14 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
finder Exclusive: Save on credit card costs with half the annual fee for the first year and a 0% p.a. interest rate on purchases for 14 months.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Save with a $64 first year annual fee and 0% p.a. balance transfer offer. Plus, receive a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year.
St.George Vertigo Classic
0% p.a. for 16 months
13.74% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Get 0% p.a. interest for up to 16 months on balance transfers with no BT fee. Plus, a competitively low annual fee and purchase rate.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Platinum
0% p.a. for 26 months with 2% balance transfer fee
12.74% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Offers 26-month balance transfer, $0 annual fee for the first year, complimentary travel insurance and access to a 24/7 personal concierge service.

Compare up to 4 providers

What to consider before combining credit cards with a balance transfer

Here are some key factors to consider with this type of debt consolidation:

  • Low or 0% interest promotion periods. Balance transfer offers can be as short as 3 months or as long as 36 months. The more debt you have, the longer the balance transfer offer you’ll need to consider to help reduce your fees while you pay off the debt.
  • Standard interest rates. Also called the “revert rate”, this refers to the interest rate that will apply once the promotional period is over. Make sure this rate is one you can live with if you think you’ll carry a balance beyond the introductory period.
  • Balance transfer limits. The amount of debt you can transfer is based on the credit limit you’re approved for with the new card. For example, some cards restrict your balance transfer amount to a percentage of your credit limit, such as 75% or 90%. This could have an impact on your transfer if you have a lot of existing debt.
  • Balance transfer fees. Some cards charge a one-time fee for balance transfers, which could be between 1–3% of the total approved transfer. For example, if you have two cards with a combined debt of $6,000, moving it to a card with a balance transfer fee of 2% would cost you $120.
  • Other balance transfer restrictions. Your new card provider may impose its own set of rules around balance transfers, for instance by limiting the number of accounts you can balance transfer at one time, or the type of account you can move across.
  • Credit rating. As with all types of credit card, most balance transfer card applications will require that you have a good to excellent credit score. Find out more about your credit file and how to improve your credit score.
  • Ongoing card features. Also consider other features of the card, such as the annual fee and any complimentary extras that may ensure its suitability and sustainability as your long-term credit card.

A balance transfer can be very helpful when you’re struggling with multiple credit card debts. If you’ve decided to go ahead with this process, make sure you carefully research the market, compare available card offers and weigh up your options before choosing the right balance transfer credit card for you.

Images: Shutterstock

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Amy Bradney-George

Amy is a senior writer at finder.com.au with more than 10 years experience covering credit cards, personal finance and various lifestyle topics. When she’s not sharing her knowledge on money matters, Amy spends her time as an actress.

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