What is a balance transfer limit?
A balance transfer limit is the minimum and maximum amount you can move onto a new credit card with a 0% balance transfer offer. The minimum balance transfer limit is typically around $200 to $500 and the maximum is based on your new card's approved credit limit.
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.
How do balance transfer limits affect me?
Put simply, you won't know exactly how much you can balance transfer until after you have applied and been approved for a new balance transfer credit card – because you need to know what credit limit you've been approved for on that card.
If you're transferring 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.
How much can I balance transfer?
The table below shows balance transfer limits offered by different financial institutions when you apply for a balance transfer credit card. You'll also find details on credit card review pages, as well as in the fine print for the balance transfer offer.
Balance transfer limits
|ANZ||Minimum balance transfer limit of $100 and a maximum balance transfer limit up to 95% of your credit limit.|
|BankSA||Balance transfer as little as $200 and up to 80% of your credit limit with BankSA.|
|Bankwest||You can use up to 95% towards a balance transfer with Bankwest.|
|Bank of Melbourne||You can balance transfer a minimum of $200 and up to 80% of your credit limit with Bank of Melbourne.|
|Bank of Queensland||You can balance transfer up to 80% of your approved credit limit.|
|Citi||You can transfer a minimum of $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 Bank||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.|
|Kogan Money||From $500 up to 80% of your available credit limit.|
|ME||You can transfer up to $100 less than your available 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 if the request is made within the first 30 days from account opening, and up to 100% of your approved credit limit if the request is made after 30 days.|
|St.George||St.George's minimum balance transfer is limit $200 and maximum balance transfer limit is up to 80% of your credit limit.|
|Suncorp Bank||You can transfer up to 80% of your approved credit limit.|
|Westpac||Westpac lets you to use from $200 up to 80% of your credit card limit towards a balance transfer.|
Remember: 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 report through Finder.
Can my balance transfer be higher than my credit limit?
No, your balance transfer must always be less than or equal to the approved credit limit for the new card. It could be lower than that, depending on the maximum balance transfer limit, along with lending criteria and assessment for your application.
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?
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.
Let's also 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 the following 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 issuers 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, issuers 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.
Balance transfers for existing customers
If you want to consolidate debt with a credit card you already use, you may be able to get a balance transfer offer as an existing customer. But the terms of these offers vary – including balance transfer limits.
For example, existing NAB credit card customers can request a balance transfer worth up to 100% of their available credit limit (minus any applicable annual fee or balance transfer fee). This also applies for NAB credit card customers who have opened their account in the last 30 days. In comparison, Westpac balance transfers for existing customers have the same balance transfer limits as new customers but may have different promotional balance transfer rates to those offered to new customers.
Ready to pay off debt? Compare 0% balance transfer credit cards and get insights into how much you can save.
Lenders know your credit score, so why shouldn't you?
Get your credit score and comprehensive report now!
More guides on Finder
Can I transfer Zip Money or Zip Pay funds to other accounts?
Find out what balance transfer credit card options you can use to consolidate debts from Zip Money, Zip Pay and other interest-free accounts.
Can I transfer my credit card debt to another bank?
Balance transfers are not allowed between certain credit card brands. Read on for a list of lenders that do and don’t allow a balance transfers between them.
Can I balance transfer a personal loan to a credit card?
Use this guide to see which providers accept balance transfers from a personal loan to a credit card and discover how you can repay your debt faster with 0% balance transfer offers.
Balance transfers for existing customers
Here's how to get more value out of your credit card with exclusive promotions, offers and perks available to existing customers.
Credit card debt settlement
Is it worth paying a debt settlement company to help you deal with credit card debt, or can you do it on your own?
Can you do a balance transfer to someone else’s credit card?
Get details of what credit cards may be available when you and your partner are looking for a way to balance transfer debt between you.
Ask an Expert