Consolidate and pay off debt with a large balance transfer
Explore your options for getting a balance transfer credit card for debts larger than $20,000.
A large balance transfer gives you a way to consolidate your debts or simply move them to a credit card with a lower interest rate. This can help you manage repayments, save on interest and pay off your debt faster.
Before you can enjoy these potential benefits, you’ll need to apply and get approved for a balance transfer credit card with a high credit limit that will cover the large debt you want to pay off. Use this guide to learn more about how large balance transfers work, including how to apply, potential costs and the repayment process. You can also compare different balance transfer credit cards that offer high credit limits to help you decide if this option will work for you.
What's in this guide?
Is a large credit card balance transfer right for me?
There are many different options to help you get back on track when you’re juggling debts or struggling with high rates and fees. These include balance transfer credit cards, as well as debt consolidation loans, focusing on one debt at a time and setting up a payment plan through your lender.
Each of these options has different features, benefits and factors to consider. In the case of a large credit card balance transfer, you typically need a good credit score and solid income to get approved for the most competitive offers.
You also need to think about the interest rate cost and how much you’ll need to pay to make the most of any 0% p.a. introductory period. For example, if your debt is $30,000 and you qualify for a card with an introductory rate of 0% p.a. for 12 months, you would need to pay $2,500 per month towards your balance to pay it off within the introductory period. If that’s a stretch for you, another option is to look at personal loans that offer set payment schedules that may be more manageable.
What are the benefits of a large credit card balance transfer?
- Move all your debt to one account. If you’re approved for a large balance transfer, you’ll only need to make one monthly repayment and pay one set of rates and fees on the debts you’ve moved to the new credit card.
- Introductory low or 0% interest rate. Balance transfer credit cards offer lower introductory interest rates that can help you save on costs when you first transfer your debt (or debts).
- Potential to pay off debt faster. A lower interest rate means less interest and smaller monthly repayments. If you pay more than the minimum during the 0% p.a. introductory period, you’ll save more on charges and could pay off the debt faster.
What should I watch out for?
- Interest charges on new purchases. If you make new purchases on a large balance transfer credit card, the card’s standard variable purchase rate will apply and you’ll be charged interest on that part of your balance.
- Eligible debts. Most balance transfer credit cards only accept debts from Australian credit cards or store cards issued by a different bank. Some also accept balance transfers from personal loan accounts. There may also be a limit to the number of debts you can transfer. For example, you may be able to request a balance transfer from up to three existing accounts.
- High interest rates after the introductory period. If you don’t pay off the entire balance during the introductory period, you’ll have to pay a higher, standard balance transfer interest rate, which is typically 19% p.a. or higher.
- Balance transfer fees. Some credit cards charge a fee worth 1-3% of the debt you move onto the account. For a large balance transfer of $20,000, this could cost you an extra $200 to $600.
When you’re comparing credit cards for a large balance transfer, remember to check the fine print. Look at the fees, standard interest rates and what you need to do during the application process to actually get the promotional 0% p.a. interest rate on your balance transfer.
Compare balance transfer cards that offer high credit limits
How do I choose a credit card for my large transfer?
It can be easy to get as intimidated by choices as the debt itself. Remember the key parts of a large credit card balance transfer that we highlighted before. Introductory period, the amount that can be transferred, rewards, fees and post-introductory APR are all important to keep in mind when making a decision.
Which features should I prioritise?
|Factors||Explanation||What to Expect|
|Introductory balance transfer interest rate||An interest rate offered specifically for balance transfers. This varies based on the lender.||Try to find a card with a 0% interest rate for a long period of time. After the introductory period ends, this rate usually changes to one that’s much higher.|
|Length of introductory period||This is the amount of time you can benefit from the low or 0% interest rate before it goes up.||Typically between 6 months and 24 months.|
|Revert rate||This is the standard, variable interest rate that applies to any balance transfer debt you have left at the end of the introductory period.||Usually 19% or higher.|
|Balance transfer fee||A one-off charge that some credit cards apply when you move debt from an existing account to the new card. This is calculated based on the amount of debt you move to the card.||Typically 1-3% of your balance transfer debt.|
How do I decide if a large credit card balance transfer is worth it?
- Can you afford the repayments? Credit cards usually have a minimum repayment amount based on the account’s balance, so a large debt will mean higher payments. For example, if you had a $20,000 debt on a card with a 3% minimum repayment, you’d have to pay at least $600 off the account each month.
- Are there credit cards that can take your full balance? With a large balance transfer, there’s the possibility that you’ll only be able to transfer a percentage of your debt to the credit card. This depends on the credit limit you’re approved for and the card’s terms and conditions. So before you apply, consider whether a balance transfer credit card would be worth it if only part of your debt is approved for the transfer.
- What would your debt repayments be like with and without a balance transfer? Take a look at your current balance and see how long it would take to pay it off based on your required repayments or an increased repayment amount that’s affordable. Then consider interest charges on your existing account, as well as on a balance transfer card both during and after the introductory period. If there isn’t too much of a difference, a large credit card balance transfer may not be worth the move, even if there is some short-term gain.
How can I get a large credit card balance transfer?
Follow these steps to get a large debt or debts moved to a balance transfer credit card:
- Shop around for a balance transfer offer that suits your needs. Compare balance transfer credit cards based on the introductory offer, fees and any other features you want.
- Figure out how much you want to transfer. Check how many different debts you can transfer to the card and whether the card has a maximum balance transfer amount. The amount of debt you can transfer is subject to approval and depends on factors such as your income and credit history. So make sure you meet the eligibility requirements before you apply.
- Submit your application. Once you’ve figured out which card you want and the amount you want to transfer, get your details ready and fill out the application.
- Wait for your application to be approved. If you apply online, you could get a response within 60 seconds. In other cases, you may have to wait several days for a response. Remember to make any required payments on your debts while you wait, so that you don’t fall further behind.
- Confirm the transfer details. If your application is approved, you’ll be sent details of the new card. Make sure you check your credit limit and the details of the balance transfer before activating the card. In some cases, your credit limit may not be high enough for your whole balance transfer to go ahead, especially if it’s a large balance transfer. If that’s the case, you could get a partial balance transfer, or cancel the card and look at other options.
- Close your old accounts. Once the balance transfer has been processed to your new credit card, pay any outstanding account costs and close your accounts.
- Pay your debt down. Avoid making purchases on your new card, make sure you pay at least the minimum each month and consider making larger repayments or additional repayments so you can make the most of the introductory interest rate.
Your ability to get out of debt is directly affected by your ability to make a smart plan and follow through. While a large balance transfer may help you pay off your debt, it’s important to consider just how much it will help over time. Make sure you compare your options before you make a choice and consider the costs beyond the introductory period to decide if a large balance transfer credit card is affordable for you.
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