Balance transfer limit: How much can I transfer with a balance transfer card?
Understand how balance transfer limits work so you can find the right credit card to consolidate your debts.
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How do balance transfer limits work?
When you apply for a credit card, the card issuer assigns you a maximum credit limit based on your income, credit history and other factors (including any credit limit you request during the application). If you're also applying for a balance transfer, your approved credit limit could have an impact on how much debt you're able to move onto the new card.
Usually, you can transfer between 70% and 100% of the new card's approved credit limit, although this varies between card issuers. For example, if a card allows you to transfer 80% of your credit limit and you're approved for a $10,000 limit, you'd be able to balance transfer $8,000 worth of debt.
If you're transferring multiple debts from more than one account, you need to make sure that the combined debt doesn't exceed this balance transfer limit. Otherwise, the bank may only transfer the maximum amount of debt, which could leave you with a balance on your old account. You may also find that there is a minimum transfer limit, which is usually between $200 and $500. Balance transfer credit limits vary between cards, so you can compare your options below.
How much can I balance transfer?
The table below shows balance transfer limits for different financial institutions. If you're looking at a particular balance transfer credit card, you can also find these details on the review pages.
Balance transfer limit
|Commonwealth Bank||Commonwealth Bank can process balance transfer requests from $500 up to your available credit limit.|
|Bankwest||You can use up to 95% towards a balance transfer with Bankwest.|
|ANZ||Minimum balance transfer limit of $100 and a maximum balance transfer limit up to 95% of your credit limit.|
|NAB||NAB’s minimum balance transfer limit is $200. NAB’s maximum balance transfer limit is up to 90% of your approved credit limit at the time of processing the balance transfer request.|
|Westpac||Westpac lets you to use up to 80% of your credit card limit towards a balance transfer.|
|St.George||St.George’s minimum balance transfer is limit $200 and maximum balance transfer limit is up to 80% of your credit limit.|
|Bank of Melbourne||You can balance transfer a minimum of $200 and up to 80% of your credit limit with Bank of Melbourne.|
|BankSA||Balance transfer as little as $200 and up to 80% of your credit limit with BankSA.|
|Bank of Queensland||You can balance transfer up to 80% of your approved credit limit.|
|Citi||The minimum credit limit is $500 and up to 80% of your approved credit limit.|
|Coles Mastercard||You can transfer up to a maximum of 80% of your approved credit limit to a Coles credit card.|
|Community First||Balance transfers to Community First credit cards start at $500 and are capped at your Community First credit card credit limit.|
|HSBC||You can transfer up to 90% of your credit limit.|
|ME||You can transfer up to $100 less than your available credit limit.|
|Suncorp Bank||You can transfer up to of your approved credit limit.|
|Woolworths||Woolworths can process balance transfer requests from $500 up to your available credit limit.|
As well as the size of your debt, you may need to meet income requirements and have a good credit score to be approved. Before you apply, you can get your free credit score and report for free through Finder.
Can my balance transfer be higher than my credit limit?
The amount of debt you can balance transfer to a new card must be less than or equal to the approved credit limit for that card. The amount you can transfer is also subject to maximum balance transfer requirements and approval.
This means you won't know exactly how much you can balance transfer until your application is approved. So in some cases, you could be approved for a balance transfer credit card with a credit limit that is worth less than the debt you wanted to transfer.
What happens if I am approved for a credit limit that is worth less than the debt I want to transfer?
There are four main options you can consider if your balance transfer debt is higher than the credit limit you're approved for on a new card:
- Cancel the application. If you haven't received or activated the card, you can call the issuer and ask them to cancel the application. There should not be any charge for this.
- Cancel the card. You can cancel your new card at any time after it's been activated. But make sure you do this before the balance transfer has been processed. Also note that if the card charges an annual fee, you may need to pay it before the account can be closed.
- Go ahead with the transfer. If you've got a balance transfer credit card with a competitive introductory 0% interest offer, then you may still want to use it to pay down whatever debt can be moved to the card. Just remember to budget for repayments on your existing card and, if possible, aim to pay off the debt that's still being charged interest first to help keep your costs down.
- Consider a personal loan to pay off some or all of your debt instead. If a balance transfer credit card does not cover your entire debt, you could look at getting a personal loan to cover the debt that is left over on your original credit card, or as an alternative option for consolidating all your debt. As personal loans typically offer lower standard interest rates than most credit cards, this could help you save on interest charges that would apply to your existing card's balance.
Example: Is getting a partial balance transfer worth it?
Let's say you owe $5,000 on a credit card with an interest rate of 19.99% p.a. and can afford to pay $400 off it per month. If you stuck with this card as it is, it would take 15 months to pay off the debt and cost you $653.35 in interest.
Now, say you're approved for a balance transfer credit card offering 0% p.a. for 18 months but can only transfer $3,000. If you went ahead with the transfer, you could split up your $400 payment between the cards to help save on interest.
For instance, if you paid $300 per month off the card with the $2,000 debt and interest rate of 19.99% p.a., it would take around 8 months to clear the debt and cost you $137.91 in interest. During this time, you'd also be paying $100 per month off your new balance transfer card's debt. So after 8 months, the balance on that card would be $2,200 and you'd still have 10 months of the 0% interest rate.
If you then continued to pay $400 per month on the debt, it would take you 6 more monthly repayments to clear the debt. So in this scenario, you'd enjoy a 0% p.a. interest rate on your $3,000 balance transfer for the whole time before you paid it off.
Even if you aren't approved for the full $5,000 balance transfer, transferring the $3,000 you're eligible to transfer to a new 0% p.a. card saves you $515.44 in interest and you'd be out of debt one month sooner.
What else should I think about?
Keep these factors in mind when you're comparing credit cards or applying for a balance transfer, so you can find an option that suits your needs.
Income and employment
Credit card providers use details of your income and employment to help determine your credit limit. By law, they can only approve you for a credit limit that you could afford to reasonably pay off, with interest, over a three-year period. This means that if you earn a low income, work casually or part-time or have recently changed jobs, you may be approved for a lower credit limit than if you were working full-time.
However, it is less about the absolute numbers and more about how your income compares to your expenses. When you apply for a credit card, you will have to provide details of all of your sources of income as well as your expenses (rent or mortgage payments, childcare, groceries). If you're spending the majority of what you earn (or more), it will be looked upon less favourably than if you were saving every month.
Minimum credit limits
Just as there is usually a minimum balance transfer amount, providers will list a minimum credit limit for different cards. While this could be as low as $500 on some credit cards, there is also a range of credit cards that offer high minimum credit limits of say $6,000 or $15,000 (subject to approval). If you have a lot of debt, you could look for balance transfer offers on one of these cards. Just make sure you compare the card's features and meet the application requirements before you apply because these cards also typically require high minimum incomes.
When you apply for a credit card, lenders review your credit report. You're unlikely to be approved for a credit card if you have a low credit score, but your credit history (and existing debts) is something the bank will consider when determining your credit limit. This includes existing credit cards or loans and your current credit limits.
How much credit you're already accessing could also impact the credit limit you're approved for on your new balance transfer card. You can get a free copy of your credit report and credit score through Finder to see what details are listed and how they could impact your application.
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