Balance transfer credit cards allow you to move your debt from one card to another to save money on interest and fees. However, you can't do this between cards from the same bank or lender. So if you have an ANZ Frequent Flyer credit card with debt on it, you can't apply for a balance transfer to the ANZ Low Rate card, for example. Usually, you also can't transfer debts with different credit card companies that have financial ties to one another. For example, transferring from Virgin Money to Qantas Money is not allowed since they're both part of Citigroup.
Credit card balance transfer restrictions
This table will tell you which debts aren't eligible to be transferred to these major Australian banks and lenders.
|Credit card brand||Balance transfer brand restrictions|
|American Express||If you have an Amex, you can transfer balances from other non-American Express accounts.|
|ANZ||Balance transfers are not allowed between two accounts issued by ANZ. You can transfer debts from other Australian card issuers, so long as the balance doesn't exceed 95% of your approved credit limit.|
|Bank of Melbourne||Balance transfer requests will not be accepted from another Bank of Melbourne, St.George or BankSA credit card. However, you can transfer balances from Westpac cards even though BankSA is a division of the Westpac Banking Corporation.|
|BOQ||You can't transfer balances between two BOQ accounts. You also can't transfer balances from other Citi-issued credit facilities (including Citi, IMB and Suncorp Bank).|
|BankSA||Balance transfers are not allowed from BankSA, St.George or Bank of Melbourne credit cards as all of these banks are under the Westpac Banking Corporation. However, you can transfer balances from Westpac.|
|Bankwest||Balance transfers are not allowed from an existing Bankwest account to a new Bankwest account. While Bankwest is a division of CommBank, you can still request a balance transfer from a CommBank credit card to Bankwest.|
|Citi||You can't transfer balances from other Citi accounts or balances from other Citigroup accounts. This includes cards from Coles Mastercard, Suncorp Bank, IMB, Qantas Money and Virgin Money.|
|CommBank||You can't transfer balances from one CommBank account to another. As mentioned, balance transfers between CBA and Bankwest are permitted.|
|Coles||You may not request a balance transfer between Coles credit cards and other Citigroup credit cards.|
|IMB||Balance transfers are not allowed between IMB or other Citigroup accounts. This includes cards from Citi, Suncorp Bank or Virgin Money.|
|Jetstar||If you have a Jetstar credit card, you are unable to transfer balances from accounts issued by Jetstar Mastercard, Macquarie or Card Services.|
|Latitude Financial||Balance transfers will not be accepted from other Latitude Financial credit or loan accounts.|
|Macquarie Bank||Balance transfers are not allowed from any account issued by Macquarie Bank. This includes other Macquarie or Card Services accounts.|
|Myer||Balance transfers are not permitted between any Macquarie Bank or Card Services account and your Myer account.|
|NAB||You can't transfer a balance from one NAB account to another.|
|St.George||You can only transfer balances from non-St.George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA Australian issued credit, charge or store cards. This means you can request a balance transfer from Westpac cards, even though St.George is a division of the Westpac Banking Corporation.|
|Suncorp Bank||If you have a Suncorp credit card, you can't request a balance transfer from Suncorp or other Citigroup accounts. This includes cards from Citi, IMB and Virgin Money.|
|Virgin Money||Virgin Money may refuse to process a balance transfer request when it is from another Virgin Money or Citigroup account. This includes cards from Citi, Suncorp Bank and IMB.|
|Westpac||Balance transfers are only allowed from non-Westpac Australian issued credit, charge or store cards. While Westpac is affiliated with St.George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA, you can request balance transfers from any of these brands to Westpac.|
|Woolworths||You can't transfer balances from other Woolworths credit cards, Macquarie or Card Services accounts.|
As you can see in the table, most major credit card issuers do not allow balance transfers between other credit card brands that they underwrite. For example, if 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 because they are also issued by Citigroup. Sometimes there are exceptions. For example, you can transfer balances between Bankwest and CommBank credit cards, even though the former is owned by the latter.
This is why it's important to check the card issuer or underwriter as well as taking time to read the balance transfer terms and conditions to ensure your eligibility before you apply.
What’s the difference between a credit card issuer and a credit card brand?
To understand this more clearly, let’s unravel the distinction between a credit card issuer and credit card brand. While credit cards could have branding for a bank, airline, store or even a supermarket (such as St.George, David Jones, Woolworths), these cards are issued by larger financial institutions.
For example, Qantas Money credit cards are issued by Citigroup, David Jones credit cards are issued by American Express and Woolworths credit cards are issued by Macquarie Bank. At the same time, these card issuers also offer their own brand of credit cards (such as Citi credit cards, Amex credit cards and Macquarie credit cards).
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 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 entice new customers, card issuers rarely allow 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 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 can 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.
Comparison of balance transfer credit cards
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