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What if I have bad credit and can’t balance transfer?

Information verified correct on April 29th, 2017

Unable to do a balance transfer because of bad credit? Discover what you can do next to get your finances on track and apply for a balance transfer credit card

Balance transfer credit cards can be a great way to consolidate your debt and take control of your finances. However, you'll need to have good credit and a steady income to apply and receive approval. If you have bad credit and are unable to apply for a balance transfer, we've summarised four easy steps you can follow to improve your credit file and start consolidating your debts.

How does a balance transfer credit card work?

Balance transfer credit cards are used to move a debt that's collecting a high level of interest to a card with a low or 0% promotional interest rate. This low promotional rate will then revert to the standard interest or cash advance rate when the introductory offer ends. Before you go looking for a balance transfer credit card, take into account the amount you wish to transfer, your ability to repay and how you else you intend to use the card. Not all balance transfer credit cards work in the same way, so it's important to compare your options to find the one that'll offer you the most value.

Understanding balance transfer credit cards and bad credit

Most people decide to transfer their outstanding debts to such cards in order to enjoy reduced interest rates. However, credit card providers often don't approve balance transfer credit card applications from people who suffer from tainted credit files. Not all hope is lost though. There are other ways people with bad credit can work to consolidate their debts and improve their credit file.

Credit information can stay on your consumer credit account for up to (but not limited to) 5-7 years depending on the severity of a credit infringement. However, even if one payment has been received for overdue debts, the mark may remain on your credit report. Former overdue debts and late payments can have a negative impact on your ability to gain credit, which stresses the importance of keeping your payments and finances in order and paying your bills on time. Your chances of approval can be increased by repaying your outstanding debts and improving your credit file.

Repairing your credit file

If you're looking to apply for a credit card or balance transfer in the future, make sure you've spent the time repaying your debts and repairing your credit file before applying. Rejected applications can have a negative impact on your credit file, so you'll only want to apply for a balance transfer credit card when you meet the eligibility requirements and are likely to receive approval.

How to increase the chances of balance transfer approval 

Four things you can do if you're unable to get a balance transfer

  1. Get your finances and debt in order

    The first step to consolidating your debt is understanding exactly how much you owe. Whether you use a pen, paper and calculator or an app such as the Pocketbook app, begin listing each debt you owe and include the interest it attracts to give you a full overview of how much you owe. You can then reorder the list and place priority on high-interest debts first. Now it's time to look at all of your expenses and start eliminating the ones you don't need. Examples of expenses to cut back on include magazine subscriptions, expensive internet plans, cable TV and gym memberships. Once you have an idea of how much you owe and how much you need to repay, you can start looking at your debt consolidation options.
    Once you have an idea of how much you owe and how much you need to repay, you can start looking at your debt consolidation options. Learn how to use the Pocketbook app to take control of your money and expenses.

  1. Compare and enquire about debt consolidation loans

    If you're unable to apply for a balance transfer, a personal loan is probably your next best option. Most leading banks in Australia offer debt consolidation loans and these can help you combine your debts under the single account. You can then repay your entire debt with a single loan, meaning you'll only have to worry about a single payment each month. A debt consolidation loan can be a worthwhile way to repair bad credit because unlike a credit card, you won't have the temptation to spend.

  1. Payday loan

    A payday loan is another option for applicants with bad credit. The requirements payday loan are generally quite lenient and are less strict than credit cards. However, though the funds are generally quicker to access it should be noted that there are heavy fees involved and you need to pay it back in a much shorter period. Before applying, consider the fees and the period in which you'll need to repay your balance to calculate whether you can afford the loan.

  1. Consider a credit repair service

    While there is no guarantee that a credit repair service can completely fix your file, it still may help the overall status of your file. If you’ve filed for bankruptcy or something similar, these tend to stay on your file for a period of up to 5-7 years. Credit repair services can help you repair your credit file to get your finances back on track.

Credit repair services

Balance transfer credit card comparison

Rates last updated April 29th, 2017.

ANZ Low Rate Platinum

New balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee.

March 15th, 2017

Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card

$100 has replaced $50 eGift Card plus BT & annual fee offers have been extended until 30 June 2017.

April 1st, 2017

Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer

1.5% BT fee has been added to the existing balance transfer offer which is valid until 15 June 2017.

April 3rd, 2017

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Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Interest Saved
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
Earn 2 Velocity Points on top of the standard earn rate per $1 spent within the first three months. Plus, save with a long-term balance transfer offer and a reduced annual fee in the first year.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee 20.74% p.a. $64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter) 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.
0% p.a. for 15 months 19.99% p.a. $149 p.a. Go to site More info
ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
Receive a low introductory offer of 0% p.a. on purchases for 3 months and 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months. Also, enjoy an annual fee waiver in the first year.
0% p.a. for 12 months 0% p.a. for 3 months (reverts to 19.74% p.a.) $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
St.George Vertigo Visa
Introductory offer of 0% p.a. for 12 months on balance transfers and 0% p.a. for 6 months on purchases, plus a low annual fee.
0% p.a. for 12 months 0% p.a. for 6 months (reverts to 13.24% p.a.) $55 p.a. Go to site More info
HSBC Low Rate Credit Card
This card comes with a balance transfer offer, a low interest rate and up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
0% p.a. for 15 months with 2% balance transfer fee 13.25% p.a. $55 p.a. Go to site More info
NAB Low Rate Credit Card
A low rate card which offers 0% p.a. on balance transfers for the first 18 months combined with a low annual fee.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 3% balance transfer fee 13.99% p.a. $59 p.a. Go to site More info
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
A long-term balance transfer offer with the Citi Rewards Platinum Card. Earn extra points on eligible international spend, plus complimentary travel insurance.
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) Go to site More info
NAB Premium Card
Benefit from premium credit card advantages including travel insurance, Platinum Concierge Service plus 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers.
0% p.a. for 24 months with 3% balance transfer fee 19.74% p.a. $90 p.a. Go to site More info
American Express Essential®  Credit Card
Receive a $50 credit on eligible spend and get Smartphone screen insurance combined with a no annual fee for life card. Also enjoy a 0% p.a. balance transfer rate for 12 months.
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee 14.99% p.a. $0 p.a. Go to site More info
NAB Low Fee Card
Enjoy a low annual fee card with a low introductory rate of 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 18 months.
0% p.a. for 18 months with 3% balance transfer fee 19.74% p.a. $30 p.a. Go to site More info
St.George Vertigo Platinum
A platinum card with a balance transfer offer of 0% p.a. for 12 months and an introductory purchase offer of 0% p.a. for 6 months.
0% p.a. for 12 months 0% p.a. for 6 months (reverts to 12.74% p.a.) $99 p.a. Go to site More info
ANZ Low Rate Platinum
Enjoy platinum benefits with exclusive discounts, complimentary travel insurance and personal concierge. Also repay your credit card debt interest-free with 0% p.a. for 16 months on balance transfers.
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee 11.49% p.a. $99 p.a. Go to site More info
Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card
Receive a $100 eGift Card when you apply by 30 June 2017 and make an eligible purchase by 31 July 2017. Also, enjoy a long-term balance transfer offer and an annual fee waiver for the first year.
0% p.a. for 14 months 19.99% p.a. $0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info

Frequently asked questions from our users

I don't know the interest rate of my existing credit card. How do I find this out?

Go through your credit card statement. Alternatively, you can get in touch with your credit card provider and get the required information.

What is the minimum and maximum I can transfer to a balance transfer credit card?

Different banks have different minimum limits and you can expect to transfer as little as $500. When it comes to the maximum amount you can transfer, you normally cannot transfer more than the credit limit of the card.

Does the balance transfer feature attract a fee

Credit cards come with their share of fees and charges. When you undertake a balance transfer, the credit card provider tends to charge you a fee that is a fixed percentage of the amount you transfer.

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ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
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St.George Vertigo Platinum
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NAB Low Rate Credit Card
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