Explore your options for moving credit card debt to or from someone else’s account.
There is a small selection of balance transfer credit cards that allow you to move a joint debt or another person's debt onto one account. This is usually possible if you and your partner or spouse already have a joint-account credit card, but may also be an option in other circumstances.
Use this guide to weigh up the different options you have and compare banks that allow joint balance transfers. You'll also find details of the steps you can take to transfer a credit card debt from your partner so that you can work out the best approach when dealing with shared debts.
Different ways to balance transfer a spouse's debt
If you want to transfer your spouse's balance to an account under your name, there are two main options you can consider.
Transferring the balance between two people’s names
In this instance, you would transfer the debt from your partner’s credit card to your own credit card. Their name would be removed from the debt and yours would be placed on it, meaning you would be the only person legally responsible for the balance. In some cases, credit card issuers will require you to add your partner as an "additional cardholder" before the debt can be transferred to the new credit card. Other issuers may not allow this type of transfer at all, so make sure you check before requesting the balance transfer.
Getting a joint account for the debt
Some credit card companies and other lenders will allow you and your partner to apply for a joint account. This option means that you and your partner would share the legal responsibility for the account and any balance that you transfer onto it.
To get a joint credit card account, both of you would provide your details when applying for the balance transfer credit card. Depending on the issuer, you may also be able to add your partner as a joint account holder after you have applied for the card.
The process of transferring your partner’s balance to a new card will vary depending on which of these two options you choose, as well as the specific credit card you want to use for the balance transfer. Use the below table as a guide to which banks offer these two balance transfer options for partners.
Which banks offer joint balance transfers?
Use the table below to compare credit cards and issuers that allow you to transfer debt from your partner's account. 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.
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 com. Make sure it has a credit limit that can support your balance (remember that some issuers only allow you to transfer up to a percentage of your credit limit) and that you can pay off the entire debt before the promotional period ends.
- Check the balance transfer terms and conditions. Make sure the credit card allows balance transfers between different account names, and whether or not your partner will need to be a secondary cardholder. For cards not listed on this page, you can check the card product disclosure statement or call the issuer for more information.
- Apply for the credit card. You will need to provide details including your full name, address, drivers 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 run 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.
Whether it is your own debt or your partner’s, balance transfer credit cards can be a convenient way to save money on interests and pay down the balance faster. But there are also some risks involved. Understanding the different options available and the varying conditions of credit card issuers means you can now find a balance transfer credit card that fits the needs of both you and your partner when you want to deal with debt.