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% introductory interest rate. This is usually because the credit card companies that are involved in the transfer have financial ties to one another. For example, when one company is the financial issuer of credit cards from the other company.
In this situation, your request for a balance transfer would typically be declined. To avoid this situation, it's important 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 card balance transfer restrictions
Use this table to find out what restrictions major credit card brands have around balance transfers from other credit cards.
|Credit card brand||Balance transfer brand restrictions|
|ANZ||Balance transfers are not allowed from any account issued by ANZ.|
|BOQ||Balance transfers are not allowed from one BOQ account to another BOQ account.Note: BOQ credit cards are issued by Citigroup, so restrictions may apply when requesting a balance transfer between other Citigroup brands including Citi, IMB, Suncorp Bank and Virgin Money.|
|IMB||Balance transfers are not allowed from IMB accounts or other Citigroup accounts. This includes cards from Citi, Suncorp Bank or Virgin Money.|
|Suncorp Bank||Balance transfers are not allowed 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.|
|Citi||Citi may refuse to process a balance transfer request when it is from another Citigroup account. This includes cards from Citi, Coles Mastercard, Suncorp Bank, IMB, Qantas Money and Virgin Money.|
|Bankwest||Balance transfers are not allowed from an existing Bankwest account to a new Bankwest account. While Bankwest is owned by CommBank, you can still request a balance transfer from a CommBank credit card to Bankwest.|
|CommBank||Balance transfers are not allowed from an existing CommBank account to a new CommBank account. While CommBank owns Bankwest, you can still transfer a Bankwest balance to CommBank.|
|Latitude Financial Services||Balance transfers are not allowed between Latitude accounts or its associated entities.|
|Coles credit cards||You may not request a balance transfer between Coles credit cards. Your balance transfer request may also be refused if the account is associated with a credit provider that has underwritten Coles credit cards. This includes Citigroup, which acquired the Coles credit card portfolio from Wesfarmers in 2017.|
|Myer||Balance transfers are not permitted between any Macquarie Bank or Card Services account and your Myer account.|
|Jetstar||You are unable to transfer balances between any account issued by Macquarie or Card Services account and your Jetstar Account.|
|Woolworths||Balance transfers are not permitted between any Macquarie or Card Services account and your Woolworths account.|
|Macquarie Bank||Balance transfers are not allowed from any account issued by Macquarie Bank. This includes cards from the following brands: Myer, Jetstar and Woolworths.|
|NAB||Balance transfers are not allowed from any account issued by NAB.|
|BankSA||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.|
|Bank of Melbourne||Balance transfer requests will not be accepted from another Bank of Melbourne, St.George or BankSA credit card.|
|St.George||Balance transfers are only allowed from non-St.George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA Australian issued credit, charge or store cards.|
|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.|
What this table helps show is that most major credit card issuers do not allow balance transfers for 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. 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.
Sometimes there are exceptions though. For example, you can transfer balances between Bankwest and CommBank credit cards, even though the former is owned by the latter. So reading the balance transfer terms and conditions, or asking the credit card brand, is also useful if you're unsure of your eligibility.
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 Platinum 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.