Best balance transfer credit cards February 2017

Sally McMullen 3 February 2017

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We've picked the top four credit cards for consolidating debts and avoiding balance transfer fees this month.

Over recent years, Aussies have become better at repaying their credit card balances. This means that if you’re using a 0% balance transfer fee offer and repay your entire balance before the promotion ends, the bank or card provider loses potential profits it could have made from your interest repayments. To offset losses, we’ve seen a rise in balance transfer fees on these types of cards. So, when you conduct a balance transfer, you’ll often be charged a fee of between 2% to 3% of the total balance. On top of the annual fee and other costs, the balance transfer fee can potentially outweigh the interest savings you make from the 0% introductory offer.

However, there are still a few balance transfer cards that don’t charge a transfer fee. For this month’s roundup of the best balance transfer cards, we’ve focused on cards in Australia that offer a competitive 0% promotion without a balance transfer fee to help keep your card costs to a minimum.

Suncorp Clear Options Platinum credit card

The Suncorp Clear Options Platinum credit card offers a 0% balance transfer for 18 months. After this time, the balance transfer reverts to the cash advance rate of 21.99% p.a. The card also doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee. This offer is only available for applications submitted and approved by 31 July 2017. It does come with the highest annual fee in this roundup, though, charging $169 p.a.

While you shouldn’t use your card to make purchases while you’re concentrating on repaying your debts, the card also features a rewards program. If you continue to use the card after you’ve repaid your debt, the competitive earn rate of 1.25 points per $1 could offer some extra value and help outweigh the cost of the annual fee.

HSBC Platinum credit card

The HSBC Platinum Credit Card lets you repay any transferred balances at 0% for the first 15 months. Any remaining balances will attract the cash advance rate of 21.99% p.a. when the promotion ends. The card doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee but it does have an annual fee of $149 with no waivers or reduced fee offers. If you’re interested in using the card after the balance transfer offer finishes and you’ve repaid your debt, you could potentially earn 1 HSBC Rewards Point per $1 spent on eligible purchases.

St.George Vertigo Visa

The St.George Vertigo Visa shares the title of the longest 0% balance transfer in this month’s roundup. With 0% for 18 months and no balance transfer fee, you won’t have to pay off anything but the amount you’ve transferred for the length of the offer. After the 18 months, any remaining balances will begin to attract 13.24% p.a. interest. If you do have some emergency spending to do, the card also offers 0% for 6 months on purchases. This also reverts to a low ongoing purchase interest rate of 13.24% p.a. thereafter, which could come in handy if you plan to use the card for purchases after you clear your debt. The card also comes with a relatively competitive annual fee of $55 p.a. for the life of the card.

If you’re based in Melbourne, you might be interested in considering the Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa credit card as it offers an identical balance transfer offer, purchase promotion and annual fee as the St.George card.

ANZ Platinum Credit Card

When you apply for the ANZ Platinum credit card through finder.com.au, you’ll enjoy a 0% balance transfer for the first 12 months. With no balance transfer fee, the rate will revert to the 21.49% p.a. once the promotion ends. The card also offers 0% on purchases for the first 3 months, which could be useful in you need to make any necessary purchases. This also reverts to a high purchase rate of 21.49% p.a., though, so you’d want to make sure you’re paying off both the balances and purchases before the promotion ends. The card waives the annual fee for the first year (reverting to $87 thereafter), meaning you could pay nothing but your repayments if you clear your debt before the promotion ends.

How do these balance transfer credit cards compare?

While none of these cards charge a balance transfer fee, they all come with different promotion lengths and annual fees, so there are a few ways you can compare them. Of course, the exact costs will also vary depending on the size of your debt, so we’ve based the following table on the average Australian credit card balance of $3,073. Below we’ve compared the offer rate and length, the revert rate that applies to your balance if you don’t repay it before the promotion ends, the minimum repayment amount you’ll need to make each month to clear the balance before the introductory offer finishes and the annual fee to help you compare your options.

CardOffer rate and lengthRevert rateMinimum repayment per month to clear balanceAnnual fee
Suncorp Clear Options Platinum credit card0% for 18 months21.99%$170.72$169 p.a.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card0% for 15 months21.99%$204.86$149 p.a.
St.George Vertigo Visa0% for 18 months13.24%$170.72$55 p.a.
ANZ Platinum credit card0% for 12 months21.49%$256.08$0 p.a. For the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter)

Which card is right for you will depend on the size of your debt, ability to repay and financial situation. So what features should you pay attention to?

    • The size of your debt and length of the offer. If you have a large debt and need more time to pay it off, one of the cards with 0% for 18 months might be better. However, as the Suncorp Clear Options Platinum card has a high annual fee, you might want to consider the St.George Vertigo Visa to ensure the interest savings aren’t outweighed by the yearly cost.
    • Revert rate. If you don’t think you can repay your balance in 18 months, you might also want to consider the St.George Vertigo card as it has the lowest balance transfer revert rate out of the four above.
    • Annual fees. If you want to save on standard card fees while repaying your debt, consider the card’s annual fee. The ANZ Platinum credit card offers a waived annual fee for the first year, which is the length of the balance transfer offer. If you repay your balance in full by the time the promotion ends and can avoid the credit card fee, you won’t have any additional costs beyond your minimum monthly repayments.
    • Minimum monthly repayments. While your bank will have a minimum repayment amount of 2% or 3%, you should pay as much as you can each month to clear the balance before the promotion ends. You can do this by dividing the amount you owe by the number of months in the promotion. So, if you were transferring $3,073 to the HSBC Platinum Credit Card, you’d divide this by 15 and have to pay a minimum of $204.86 each month to clear the balance. If you don’t think you can afford to pay this each month, look for a card with a longer balance transfer offer to reduce your monthly repayments.

As you can see, although all of these cards boast no balance transfer fee, you’ll benefit from comparing your options before you apply. While these are some of the most competitive balance transfer offers with no fee, you can make a more comprehensive comparison of 0% balance transfer cards using our balance transfer guide.

Our best balance transfer credit cards roundup is a monthly regular that lists and compares current balance transfer promotions on the market. Check back in the first week of every month for the latest deals and the most competitive ways to consolidate your debts.

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