Can I balance transfer credit card debt from my partner?
Usually, a balance transfer needs to be from an account in your name but sometimes there are exceptions. Here's what you need to know.
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Only a few balance transfer credit cards accept debt from a joint account or one that's in another person's name – even if it's your partner. It's usually simpler if you and your partner already share a joint-account credit card, but it may also be possible in other circumstances. So, let's take a look at your options.
Different ways to balance transfer a partner's debt
If you want to transfer your partner's balance to an account that's held in your name, there are two main options you can consider.
Transferring a debt between two people’s names
With this option, you would transfer the debt from your partner’s credit card to your own credit card (or a new balance transfer card that you have applied for). Their name would be removed from the debt once the balance transfer is processed, which means you would become the person legally responsible for the debt.
In some cases, you may need to add your partner as an "additional cardholder" before the credit card provider will allow the debt to be transferred to your card. But not all providers allow this type of transfer, so make sure you check before requesting the balance transfer.
Getting a joint account for the debt
Some credit card providers offer joint accounts, where you and your partner would share legal responsibility for the credit card account and any balance that you transfer onto it.
If you apply for a balance transfer with a credit card provider that offers joint accounts, both you and your partner will need to provide your details when you apply. Depending on the provider, you may also be able to add your partner as a joint account holder after you have applied for the card. The option of transferring debt from one person's account to a joint account varies depending on the provider, so it's a good idea to call them before you apply for a joint credit card.
Which credit card providers let you balance transfer debt from your partner?
You can use the table below to compare credit cards and providers that offer joint balance transfers or allow you to transfer debts held in someone else's name. Keep in mind that the standard balance transfer terms and conditions will apply, which means the debt will need to be held in an eligible account (usually with a different issuer). Where possible, we've added further details for each issuer.
We update our data regularly, but information can change between updates. Confirm details with the provider you're interested in before making a decision.
Steps to transfer a balance from your partner’s account to your credit card
- Compare credit cards. Compare balance transfer credit cards to find a one that offers competitive interest rate and promotional period based on your circumstances.
- Check the balance transfer terms and conditions. Make sure the credit card allows balance transfers between different account names, and check whether or not your partner will need to be a secondary cardholder. For cards not listed on this page, you can check the product disclosure statement or call the provider for more information.
- Apply for the credit card. You will need to provide details including your full name, address, driver's licence or passport number and employment.
- Include details of the balance transfer. You will need to provide details of the account including the name and details of the primary account holder (i.e. your partner), the account number, the financial institution’s name, the BSB (where relevant) and the amount of debt to be transferred to the new card.
- Include details of any secondary cardholder/s. If the issuer requires your partner to be a secondary cardholder in order to process their balance transfer, make sure your partner fills out the relevant sections of the application.
- Submit the application. You should get an initial response within a few minutes. If you get conditional approval, follow the steps outlined by the issuer to complete the application process and finalise the balance transfer.
Once this process is successfully completed, you should receive your new credit card within 5-10 working days, although it could take up to 21 days in some cases. After you activate the new card, the issuer will process the balance transfer.
Make sure you stay in touch with the new issuer and be ready to answer any questions or provide supporting documentation as requested to help the transfer go as smoothly as possible.Back to top
How to apply for a joint balance transfer credit card with your partner
- To transfer a balance from an existing joint account
Apply for the credit card as usual and include details of the balance transfer request, including all the names of the joint account holders, as well as the account number, financial institution and the amount of debt you want to transfer. You can go through this process with an individual credit card in your name, or apply for a credit card that offers joint account status for you and your partner.
- To transfer a balance from your partner’s account to a new joint credit card account
Find a credit card issuer that allows "joint primary cardholders" and compare their balance transfer offers. Depending on the issuer you will either be able to apply and get joint account status immediately or apply as an individual and then have your partner request and fill out an additional application to be added as a joint primary cardholder.
What is the difference between joint-primary cardholder accounts and secondary cardholders?
It’s important to understand both of these terms when you plan on sharing a credit card account with your partner or someone else, as it can have an impact on the balance transfer options as well as your legal rights.
|Joint-primary cardholder accounts||Primary cardholder accounts with secondary cardholders|
|Two people have applied for a credit card under cardholder's name and both have complete access to the account.||One person has applied for a credit card in their name but wants to share the account with a partner (without joint account status).|
|Both have the ability to change credit limits, request account freezes or close the account.||Primary cardholder can request to add a secondary or additional cardholder but only the primary cardholder has control over credit limit changes, account freezes or account closure.|
|Both partners have regular sources of income and good credit histories.||Only the primary cardholder's income and credit history is assessed.|
|Both parties remain liable for all transactions and payments made on the card.||The primary cardholder is legally responsible for all transactions and payments made on the card, even if a balance has been transferred from an account held by the secondary cardholder.|
|If the closure of an account is the result of a divorce or a separation, both partners might have to pay half of the debt each, no matter who made which purchase.||In the event of a separation or a divorce, know that you, as the primary cardholder, would be liable to make repayments towards the entire account.|
Mistakes to avoid when transferring a balance from someone else’s card
- Applying for a card that doesn’t allow balance transfers from someone else’s account. Not all credit cards let you transfer another person’s credit card debt to a new card in your name. Make sure you check these details before you apply to avoid a declined application.
- Not discussing payments with your partner. If you and your partner share a balance transfer credit card account (whether it's a joint account or otherwise), it’s important to be clear on how and when you will both make payments towards the balance of the credit card. Discuss this before you apply for a new card or balance transfer to help reduce the risk of confusion and other issues down the track.
- Not checking the revert rate. The low balance transfer interest rate is only available during the introductory period on the card. When this period ends, any outstanding debt from a balance transfer will attract a higher standard interest rate until it is paid off in full.
- Balance transfer fees. You might have to pay a balance transfer fee when the debt is moved onto the new card, which could add to the overall costs involved. Weigh up the card fees with your partner to decide if this option is worth it for both of you.
If you're having trouble getting a balance transfer for your partner's debt, or for a loved one, you could also talk to them about applying for a 0% balance transfer offer in their own name. If they're eligible, this will give them an introductory period when they can save on interest and pay off the debt faster – then cancel the card if they want.
You could also make additional repayments to their credit card account from your own bank account (or a shared account), using one of the payment options listed on their statement.
While you're usually not legally responsible for someone else's credit card debt, it can be stressful for loved ones. If you, your partner or anyone else is feeling overwhelmed, you can get free financial counselling by calling the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007.
Images: ShutterstockBack to top
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