Can you do a balance transfer to someone else’s credit card?
Usually, a balance transfer needs to be from an account in your name but there are exceptions. Here's what you need to know.
Only a few balance transfer credit cards accept debt that's in another person's name or from a joint account – 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 someone's credit card debt
If you want to transfer your partner or someone else's balance to a credit card 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.
Keep in mind that 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
Joint account credit cards are rare in Australia but if you can get one, 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.
Steps to transfer a balance to another person's credit card
- Compare credit cards. Compare balance transfer credit cards to find one that offers competitive interest rate and promotional period.
- Check the balance transfer terms and conditions. Make sure the credit card allows balance transfers between different account names. 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 (e.g. 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 cardholders. 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.
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.
Risks of taking on someone else's credit card debt
If you're transferring a credit card debt to someone else – or they're taking on your debt – it means you're also legally changing who is responsible for it. But the agreement between both of you usually won't be based on a written contract, and can have other impacts.
So before going ahead with a balance transfer from one person to another, make sure you think about the following.
- Your credit history and credit score
If you transfer debt from someone else to an account in your name, it will be added to your credit report and have an impact on your credit score.
- Your future borrowing power
Taking on more debt can also have an impact on how much you can borrow in the future. For example, if you decide you want a new car or are saving up to buy a home, lenders will look at all your current accounts. Any debt – regardless of where it came from – can impact your ability to borrow the money you need for your goals.
- Your relationship with the person
Having someone take on another person's debt could have an impact on the dynamics of a relationship. In some cases, it may feel like you owe them or they owe you.
The National Debt Helpline states that you should carefully think about how you'll manage a relationship "where there's a constant awareness that you're in debt to that person. Many relationships have ended over the issue of money."
If you want more information on relationship issues and debt, you can call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or visit the website and speak to a financial counsellor for free.
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. If you're sharing 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 and the other person will 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.
Current balance transfer credit card offers
Other ways to help pay off someone else's credit card debt
Debt consolidation personal loans
A debt consolidation personal loan gives you a way to pay off existing balances for yourself or anyone else. With this option, you could apply for a personal loan in your name and request an amount that covers the existing debts. You'd then repay the personal loan, which could have a lower interest rate than the original credit card.
Guarantor personal loans
If your partner is worried they won't get approved for a new credit card or loan, you could act as a guarantor for their personal loan application. With a guarantor personal loan, you become responsible for the loan if the person who applies doesn't make repayments.
Help pay off the existing account
If you want to help clear the existing credit card debt, you could 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. You can also use a repayment calculator to see how quickly you could clear the debt based on repayments and interest costs.
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.Back to top
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