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How to ensure your balance transfer application is successful

How to apply for a balance transfer and improve your chances of approval in six easy steps.

Getting your balance transfer approved could be just what you need to gain control of your debt, with a range of cards offering a promotional 0% interest rate for up to 24 months. While applying for a balance transfer credit card isn’t a difficult process, there is slightly more to it than simply filling out a form. Since every declined application has a negative impact on your credit score, it's wise to prepare beforehand to increase your chances of approval. Use this guide to find out everything you need to know to increase your chances of approval when applying for a balance transfer.

Learn how a balance transfer can affect your credit rating

Steps to help you get your balance transfer approved

1. Check your credit score

Your credit score is crucial when it comes to credit applications, because your credit history weighs heavily in the card provider’s decision to approve or decline your application. While each card company uses their own algorithm to decide if you’re a low-risk borrower, there are certain clues in your credit report that can help you predict whether your application is going to be favourably considered.

Credit defaults, late payments, court writs and bankruptcy number among the black marks on a credit report that could negatively impact your balance transfer application. Sometimes there can be mistakes in your report too, which can and should be rectified by the credit reporting agencies. It’s therefore important that you request your free credit report and a copy of your credit score yearly to stay on top of it. If you discover that you have a bad credit report or score, you can then spend some time improving your credit score (by making timely repayments and paying off your debts), rather than being rejected and damaging your credit history even further.
Get Your Free Credit Score

2. Check your credit card balance

You are going to need to know your existing credit card balance when you apply for a balance transfer. It’s important to get the most updated figure of your card debt so that you can balance transfer the whole amount. Otherwise, you may be stuck with a balance and have difficulty closing off that account.

Checking your balance online is usually the easiest thing to do, but be aware that your online balance may not be updated in real-time, and may not reflect the total amount you need to pay in order to clear the account. Also, some account or interest fees may be pending and only added to your statement at the end of the month, which wouldn’t show up in your online statement until much later. It would be safer to call your current card provider and ask them for the actual figure to balance transfer.

3. Compare a range of cards

This step is possibly the most important one of all, as you won’t be able to find the right card for you if you don’t weigh up your options. First of all, you’ll want to compare the balance transfer offer. Most balance transfer credit cards offer a promotional rate of 0%, but can be in place between 3 and 24 months. Consider the size of your debt and make sure you can pay off the entire balance before the promotional offer ends. When the offer has ended, a revert rate (which is usually the standard interest rate for purchases or cash advances) will apply. So you’ll want to make sure that the length of the promotional period is long enough for you to pay off your debt in full, otherwise the remaining amount will continue to accrue interest.

You’ll also want to consider other features such as the annual fee, balance transfer fee and other interest rates to make sure that the cost of the card doesn’t outweigh the savings you’ll earn from your balance transfer.

Compare balance transfer credit cards

Rates last updated November 22nd, 2017
$
% p.a.

Your search criteria didn't return any products. Click to reset your filter options and search again
Name Product Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Amount Saved Product Description
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months
12.74% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Platinum card benefits plus 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers (with no BT fee) and $0 annual fee in the first year. Ends 13 December 2017.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Earn 3 bonus Velocity Points per $1 for the first 3 months, a first year annual fee refund and a yearly $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher.
NAB Premium Card
0% p.a. for 20 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$90 p.a.
Benefit from premium perks including travel insurance, Platinum Concierge Service plus 0% p.a. for 20 months on balance transfers.
Citi Platinum Credit Card - 100k Bonus Points
0% p.a. for 15 months with 1% balance transfer fee
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 100,000 reward Points, take advantage of a long-term balance transfer offer and receive complimentary travel insurance.
ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 12 months
0% p.a. for 3 months (reverts to 19.74% p.a.)
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter)
Exclusive to finder, receive 0% p.a. interest on purchases for 3 months and 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months with no balance transfer fee.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.99% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Earn 1 Reward Point per $1 of eligible spend and receive complimentary travel and purchase protection insurances.
Bankwest Breeze Classic Mastercard
0% p.a. for 13 months with 2% balance transfer fee
0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)
$79 p.a.
Receive 0% interest offers on purchases & balance transfers, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and free emergency card replacement.
St.George Vertigo Visa - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
13.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers (with no BT fee). Plus, $0 annual fee in the first year. Ends 13 December 2017.
Westpac Low Rate Card - Online Only Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
13.49% p.a.
$59 p.a.
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee when you apply online by 31 January 2018.
NAB Low Fee Card
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$30 p.a.
Receive complimentary purchase protection insurance, special offers from Visa Entertainment and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.
Virgin Money Low Rate Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
11.99% p.a.
$49 p.a.
Receive a discounted annual fee, $100 cashback when you meet the spend requirement and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.
NAB Low Rate Platinum Card
4.99% p.a. for 6 months
0% p.a. for 9 months (reverts to 13.99% p.a.)
$100 p.a.
A platinum card that offers 0% p.a. for 9 months on purchases. Plus 4.99% p.a. on balance transfers for 6 months.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Offers a long-term balance transfer. Earn extra points on eligible international spend, plus complimentary travel insurance.
Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Receive a $50 eGift Card when you apply by 31 January 2018 and make an eligible purchase by 28 February 2018.
American Express Essential Credit Card
0% p.a. for 12 months with 3% balance transfer fee
14.99% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Get Smartphone Screen Insurance of up to $500 when you pay for your phone or contract with your Essential Credit Card.
American Express Explorer Credit Card
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
20.74% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Receive a $400 Travel Credit every year and up to two entries per year to the American Express Lounge at Sydney International Airport.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 60,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months on eligible spend and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.
Qantas Premier Platinum
0% p.a. for 15 months
19.99% p.a.
$149 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter)
Fly further with 75,000 bonus Qantas points, up to 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent and 2 yearly complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations.
Australian Military Bank Low Rate Visa Credit Card
0% p.a. for 12 months
10.99% p.a.
$49 p.a.
Enjoy up to 55 interest-free days on purchases, add an additional cardholder for $0 and enjoy the convenience of Visa payWave.
McGrath Pink Visa
4.99% p.a. for 8 months
4.99% p.a. for 8 months (reverts to 8.99% p.a.)
$40 p.a.
A basic, no-frills credit card with up to 55 days interest-free that donates half of the card's annual fee to the McGrath Foundation.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated November 22nd, 2017
$
% p.a.

Your search criteria didn't return any products. Click to reset your filter options and search again
Name Product Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Amount Saved Product Description
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months
12.74% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Platinum card benefits plus 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers (with no BT fee) and $0 annual fee in the first year. Ends 13 December 2017.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 60,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months on eligible spend and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Receive a long-term BT offer, earn Citi Reward Points and receive complimentary travel insurance.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.99% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Earn 1 Reward Point per $1 of eligible spend and receive complimentary travel and purchase protection insurances.
Westpac Low Rate Card - Online Only Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
13.49% p.a.
$59 p.a.
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee when you apply online by 31 January 2018.
Bankwest Breeze Classic Mastercard
0% p.a. for 13 months with 2% balance transfer fee
0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)
$79 p.a.
Receive 0% interest offers on purchases & balance transfers, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and free emergency card replacement.
Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Receive a $50 eGift Card when you apply by 31 January 2018 and make an eligible purchase by 28 February 2018.
St.George Vertigo Visa - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
13.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers (with no BT fee). Plus, $0 annual fee in the first year. Ends 13 December 2017.
NAB Premium Card
0% p.a. for 20 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$90 p.a.
Offers 7 complimentary insurance covers, access to a 24/7 concierge service and special offers through Visa Entertainment.
ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 12 months
0% p.a. for 3 months (reverts to 19.74% p.a.)
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter)
Exclusive to finder, receive 0% p.a. interest on purchases for 3 months and 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months with no balance transfer fee.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% p.a. for 13 months with 2% balance transfer fee
0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)
$99 p.a.
Receive complimentary international travel insurance, extended warranty cover and 0% foreign transaction fees.
Virgin Money Low Rate Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
11.99% p.a.
$49 p.a.
Receive a discounted annual fee, $100 cashback when you meet the spend requirement and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.
Qantas Premier Platinum
0% p.a. for 15 months
19.99% p.a.
$149 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter)
Fly further with 75,000 bonus Qantas points, up to 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent and 2 yearly complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations.
NAB Low Fee Card
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$30 p.a.
Receive complimentary purchase protection insurance, special offers from Visa Entertainment and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
20.74% p.a.
$450 p.a.
Take advantage of a high Qantas Points earn rate and two American Express Airport Lounge entries each calendar year.
Citi Signature Credit Card
0% p.a. for 15 months with 1% balance transfer fee
20.99% p.a.
$199 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn from 1 Point per $1 spent on selected purchases and receive a complimentary Priority Pass membership with two airport lounge visits per year.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated November 22nd, 2017
$
% p.a.

Your search criteria didn't return any products. Click to reset your filter options and search again
Name Product Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Amount Saved Product Description
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months
12.74% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Platinum card benefits plus 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers (with no BT fee) and $0 annual fee in the first year. Ends 13 December 2017.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 60,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months on eligible spend and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.
Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Receive a $50 eGift Card when you apply by 31 January 2018 and make an eligible purchase by 28 February 2018.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
A long-term balance transfer offer with a range of platinum rewards and benefits.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.99% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Earn 1 Reward Point per $1 of eligible spend and receive complimentary travel and purchase protection insurances.
St.George Vertigo Visa - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
13.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers (with no BT fee). Plus, $0 annual fee in the first year. Ends 13 December 2017.
Bankwest Breeze Classic Mastercard
0% p.a. for 13 months with 2% balance transfer fee
0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)
$79 p.a.
Receive 0% interest offers on purchases & balance transfers, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and free emergency card replacement.
Westpac Low Rate Card - Online Only Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
13.49% p.a.
$59 p.a.
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee when you apply online by 31 January 2018.
ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 12 months
0% p.a. for 3 months (reverts to 19.74% p.a.)
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter)
Exclusive to finder, receive 0% p.a. interest on purchases for 3 months and 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 12 months with no balance transfer fee.
NAB Premium Card
0% p.a. for 20 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$90 p.a.
Benefit from platinum perks plus take advantage of a low interest rate on balance transfers.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% p.a. for 13 months with 2% balance transfer fee
0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)
$99 p.a.
Receive complimentary international travel insurance, extended warranty cover and 0% foreign transaction fees.
Virgin Money Low Rate Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
11.99% p.a.
$49 p.a.
Receive a discounted annual fee, $100 cashback when you meet the spend requirement and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.
Qantas Premier Platinum
0% p.a. for 15 months
19.99% p.a.
$149 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter)
Fly further with 75,000 bonus Qantas points, up to 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent and 2 yearly complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations.
Citi Platinum Credit Card - 100k Bonus Points
0% p.a. for 15 months with 1% balance transfer fee
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 100,000 reward Points, take advantage of a long-term balance transfer offer and receive complimentary travel insurance.
NAB Low Fee Card
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$30 p.a.
Receive complimentary purchase protection insurance, special offers from Visa Entertainment and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Earn 3 bonus Velocity Points per $1 for the first 3 months, a first year annual fee refund and a yearly $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher.
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
20.74% p.a.
$450 p.a.
Take advantage of a high Qantas Points earn rate and two American Express Airport Lounge entries each calendar year.

Compare up to 4 providers

4. Confirm that your new card can support your debt

  • The available credit limit

Most credit cards allow cardholders to transfer a percentage of the approved credit limit. For example, St.George applicants can transfer up to 95% of the credit limit, while Latitude Financial Services customers allow cardholders to transfer the entire credit limit amount. To see whether the card is fit for your balance transfer, calculate the total debt you’ll have to transfer (this is where your confirmed payout amount comes in handy), the credit limit of the new card and how much of that limit you’re allowed to transfer.

If you don’t calculate these figures beforehand, you may find that you’re unable to transfer your entire balance. Not only does this mean that a chunk of your debt will continue to accrue interest, you’ll also be unable to close your old account. Consider these restrictions before applying to find a card that can support your balance.

  • Accounts under different names

There are some restrictions in place around transferring to or from joint accounts or from accounts under different names. Most providers won’t allow cardholders to transfer balances from an account unless the primary cardholder’s name is the same for both cards. So even if you’re an additional cardholder, the balance may still need to be transferred under the name of the primary account holder. If you’re unsure, contact the bank you’re interested in to confirm these details.

You can’t transfer joint accounts to single accounts or vice versa. Instead, if you have a joint account, you’ll only be able to transfer your balance to another joint account. If your credit history isn’t great, having a joint balance transfer can help improve your chances of approval if your partner has a solid credit score.

You can compare which banks allow joint cardholders and couples to conduct a balance transfer with our guide.

5. Make sure you can transfer between providers

Credit card providers usually don’t accept balance transfers from other providers that they are associated with. This means you can’t balance transfer debts between banks in the same institutional group. Less obviously, sometimes even though the two credit card brands and card issuers seem unrelated, they may be funded by the same larger bank. An example of this is Citi, which funds several smaller banks including Suncorp, IMB and Virgin Money. Make sure you check which banks you can transfer your balance to and from to avoid default rejection.

6. Check the other balance transfer requirementslisting requirements

Be sure to do thorough research, read the fine print and sieve out all the necessary requirements in this process. Some other important limitations that could impede your application include:

  • Card provider only accepting debts from credit cards or store cards. Some credit cards only allow you to balance transfer debts from other cards. If you have a personal loan, for example, you will have to consider cards that specifically accept this type of debt.
  • Balance transfer limits. Credit card providers generally allow you to balance transfer debt amounts between 70% and 100% of your new approved credit limit. This might be a tricky thing to navigate since you won’t know how much your new credit limit will be until the application is approved, but bearing this in mind can help you eliminate certain card options or request a specific credit limit amount. So say you want to transfer a debt of $3,000 to a card that allows balance transfers worth 70% of your credit limit. If you requested a limit of $5,000 on your application, that debt would be worth 60% of the new limit, which would increase the chances of the balance transfer being approved.
  • Balance transfer fees. As mentioned earlier, some cards charge a balance transfer fee worth 1-3% of the debt amount you are transferring. Make sure you factor in this cost before applying.

7. Complete your application

The process of applying for a credit card these days is greatly simplified by the Internet and usually takes around 10-15 minutes. Here are the typical things to note in your application:

Eligibility criteria

  • Age. You must be at least 18 years of age to apply for a credit card.
  • Minimum income. Some credit cards list a minimum income amount. Make sure you meet this criteria before you apply.
  • Credit rating. Most balance transfer credit cards require a good or excellent credit rating.

Required information

You’ll also need to provide the following documentation and details for your application to be processed.

  • Personal information. This includes your full name, date of birth, address, email address, phone number and driver’s licence number.
  • Employment details. This includes your current position, employer’s name and address, and duration of employment. You may also have to provide recent payslips.
  • Financial details. You will be required to provide information on any assets, including shares and properties, as well as debts and liabilities such as mortgages, rental payments, car loans and regular expenses.
  • Balance transfer details. You will need to provide details of the debt you wish to transfer, including your account name and number, your existing financial institution and their BSB number.

Some online applications can be approved in under a minute. You may also get a conditional approval pending submission of more details or documents. The card provider will generally contact you if they need more information, but if you have already waited a while, you may also want to check on the status of your credit card application.

What to do when you get your balance transfer credit card

Once your application is approved, you can expect your new card to arrive within 5-10 business days. After that, it’s only a matter of activating your new card, which you can do online, over the phone or in person at a branch office. This step will initiate the balance transfer process, which can take up to two weeks to be processed.

Meanwhile, it’s time to tie up any loose ends with your old credit card. Check your old account for any other fees that may have popped up, pay them off and close the account to avoid any future administrative or annual fees.

Now that you’re ready to get started on this balance transfer application, take your time and follow the steps we’ve outlined. Doing your research well and planning ahead will increase your chances of a successful application. Remember: when in doubt, always ask for help. Good luck!

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Amy Bradney-George

Amy is a Senior Writer at finder.com.au with more than 10 years experience covering credit cards, personal finance and various lifestyle topics. When she’s not sharing her knowledge on money matters, Amy spends her time as an actress.

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