Understand the rules around balance transfer credit cards and learn which banks you can and can’t transfer your debt between.
Balance transfer credit cards have restrictions around which institutions you can balance transfer your debts from to enjoy a low or 0% promotional interest rate. This is usually because the credit card companies have financial ties to one another. For example, when one company is the financial issuer of credit cards from the other company.
The result is that there are times when your request for a balance transfer from your current card to a new card with a different company could be declined. Use this guide to find out which credit card companies you can and can't transfer a balance between so that you can choose the right balance transfer card for your circumstances.
Credit cards you can and can’t transfer between based on the card issuer
This table shows which credit card issuers provide credit to other brands, and how this could impact on your ability to balance transfer your debt between them.
|Credit card issuer||Credit card brands owned by issuer||Balance transfer between brands allowed?||Conditions and other tips|
|Citi (Citigroup)||BOQ||No||Balance transfers are not allowed from one BOQ account to another BOQ account.|
|Citi (Citigroup)||IMB||No||Balance transfers are not allowed from IMB accounts or other Citigroup accounts.|
|Citi (Citigroup)||Suncorp Bank||No||Balance transfers are not allowed from Citigroup or Suncorp accounts.|
|Citi (Citigroup)||Virgin Money||No||Virgin Money may refuse to process a balance transfer request when it is from another Virgin Money or Citigroup account, worth less than $500, from offshore or overseas accounts or from an account not in the name of the primary account holder.|
|Citi (Citigroup)||Citi||No||Balance transfers are not allowed from one Citi account to another.|
|CommBank||Bankwest||Yes||Balance transfers are not allowed from an existing Bankwest account to a new Bankwest account, but you can transfer a CommBank balance to Bankwest.|
|CommBank||CommBank||Yes||Balance transfers are not allowed from an existing CommBank account to a new CommBank account, but you can transfer a Bankwest balance to CommBank.|
|Latitude Financial Services||28 Degrees||No||Balance transfers are not allowed between Latitude accounts or its associated entities.|
|Latitude Financial Services||Coles credit cards*||No||You may not request a balance transfer from a credit card issued outside Australia or from a Coles Mastercard or Coles Platinum Mastercard, or any card issued by Latitude Finance Australia.|
|Latitude Financial Services||Myer credit cards||No||You may not request a balance transfer from a credit card issued outside Australia, from any Myer branded card or from certain credit cards issued by Latitude Finance Australia.|
|Macquarie||Jetstar||No||You are unable to transfer balances between any account issued by Macquarie or Card Services account and your Jetstar Account. Foreign currency balance transfers and balance transfers to offshore accounts or debit accounts are also excluded.|
|Macquarie||Woolworths||No||Balance transfers are not permitted between any Macquarie or Card Services account and your Woolworths account. Foreign currency balance transfers and balance transfers to offshore accounts or debit accounts are also excluded.|
|Macquarie||Macquarie||No||Balance transfers are not allowed from any account issued by Macquarie Bank. Foreign currency balance transfers and balance transfers to offshore accounts or debit accounts are also excluded.|
|Latitude Financial Services||Coles credit cards||Balance transfer exclusions include credit cards issued outside Australia, other Coles Mastercard cards and Latitude Financial Services issued credit cards.|
|Westpac||BankSA||No||Balance transfers are not allowed from BankSA, St.George or Bank of Melbourne credit cards, or any other BankSA, Bank of Melbourne or St.George account.|
|Westpac||Bank of Melbourne||No||Balance transfer requests will not be accepted from another Bank of Melbourne, St.George or BankSA credit card, or if the transfer amount is from a credit card not issued in Australia.|
|Westpac||St.George||No||Balance transfers are only allowed from non-St.George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA Australian issued credit, charge or store cards.|
|Westpac||Westpac||No||Balance transfers are only allowed from non-Westpac Australian issued credit, charge or store cards.|
As you can see, most major credit card issuers do not allow balance transfers for other credit card brands that they underwrite. This means if, for example, you had debt on a Citi credit card, you could not get a balance transfer to a credit card from BOQ, IMB, Suncorp Bank or Virgin Money.
The key exception highlighted on this table is that you can transfer balances between Bankwest and CommBank credit cards. This makes it important to check the issuer when you do your balance transfer between cards so you know that you will receive the balance transfer offer rate.
What’s the difference between a credit card issuer and a credit card brand?
To understand this more clearly, let’s unravel the slightly tricky distinction between a credit card issuer and credit card brand. While credit cards are often branded by banks, stores or even supermarkets (e.g. St.George, David Jones, Woolworths, etc.), these cards are in fact issued by larger financial institutions.
For example, St.George credit cards are issued by Westpac, David Jones credit cards are issued by American Express, and Woolworths credit cards by Macquarie Bank. At the same time, these card issuers also offer their own brand of credit cards, i.e. Westpac credit cards, Amex credit cards and Macquarie credit cards.
Coles credit cards are another example. These cards were previously issued by Latitude Financial Services and are now issued by Wesfarmers (the parent company of Coles). But because Latitude is still listed as an “authorised credit representative” of Wesfarmers, you still may not be able to balance transfer between either of these issuers (ie. from a Coles credit card to a 28 Degrees Mastercard).
Changes between credit card brands and issuers
Some credit card brands may change card issuers from time to time. This makes it important to check your current card issuer when you’re about to request a balance transfer. In some cases the previous issuer may still be affiliated with your account, which could affect your ability to balance transfer your debt to other associated credit card brands.
Why are balance transfers not allowed between cards by the same issuer?
This comes down to the structure of a balance transfer. This process essentially lets you shift a debt from one creditor to another with the aim of refinancing your loan at a lower interest rate.
The actual transfer takes place when your new credit card issuer transfers the amount of your debt to the previous issuer, usually charging a transfer fee in the process. Since balance transfer offers are typically promotions to bait new customers and gain new debt on their books, card issuers rarely permit existing customers the opportunity to refinance within their own umbrella of issued cards.
What happens if I apply for a balance transfer with the same credit card issuer?
If you accidentally apply for a balance transfer with the same provider, the impact will depend on the companies involved and your financial circumstances. Some possible results could include:
- Your application may be declined. In most cases, the reason that your application gets denied usually has more to do with other factors including your credit score and credit history. Even if a balance transfer isn’t possible, you could still be approved for the card.
- You could get a black mark on your credit history. If your application is denied, the credit inquiry potentially leaves a black mark on your credit report. However, it’s not terrible unless you repeatedly apply for credit and keep getting rejected. Learn more about good and bad credit ratings.
- You could get an offer for the new card without the balance transfer. If your credit report is in good order, you will more likely receive an offer for the card, with a side note that your balance transfer request can’t be processed.
Most of the time, you will be able to balance transfer between non-affiliated lending institutions, but it’s safer to check before applying just to make sure. Call your prospective card company, provide details of your current issuer and ask them if you can transfer your existing balance to them.