Westpac reduces length of 0% balance transfer credit card promotions

Sally McMullen 31 January 2017

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Westpac drops the length of 0% balance transfer offers by four months and replaces 1% purchase offer for a shorter interest-free period.

As the post-Christmas period comes to an end, Westpac has reduced the length of its 0% balance transfer and purchase promotions across six credit cards. While you could previously repay your balance transfer debt without the cost of interest for 16 months, this has been shortened to 12 months.

This is a relatively significant drop, giving cardholders 25% less time to repay their debts without collecting interest. This means that if you want to clear your balance before the promotional period ends and the revert rate applies, you’ll need to pay a larger part of your balance each month.

As well as the balance transfer promotion, the low purchase rate promotion has also undergone some changes. Rather than paying 1% on purchases for 12 months, the card now offers 0% for 6 months. This will revert to a higher purchase rate between 13.49% p.a. and 20.24% p.a. depending on the card.

While paying no interest is seemingly better than paying 1% on purchases, you’ll only benefit from the interest-free offer if you can clear your balance within six months. However, if you need to make some large purchases and won’t be able to pay the balance in six months, you’ll find more value in a card that offers 0% on purchases for up to 12 months.

These changes will apply to the Westpac Low Rate card, the Westpac 55 Day card, the Westpac 55 Day Platinum card, the Westpac Altitude Classic card, the Westpac Altitude Platinum card and the Westpac Altitude Black card.

This news comes less than two weeks after ANZ dropped its balance transfer offers on its ANZ First Visa credit card and ANZ Platinum credit card from 0% for 18 months to 16 months. As we reported yesterday, finder.com.au’s analysis of Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) data revealed that more than 3 million Australians borrowed a combined $28 billion on credit cards over Christmas. This has resulted in an average credit card debt of $1,666 and combined interest debt of $397 million. From this data, you could assume that many Aussies are currently looking for ways to consolidate their debts and minimise their interest costs. While a year is still a generous period to repay your debts without attracting interest, it’s important to aim to pay your balance before the promotion ends.

Let’s say you had the average credit card debt of $1,666. If the 0% for 16 months offer was still in place, you would have to pay at least $104.12 each month to repay the entire debt before collecting interest. Now that the promotional period has dropped to 12 months, you’ll need to dedicate approximately $139 each statement period to get your balance down to $0 by the end of the promotion. If you can’t afford to repay your balance in 12 months, you could compare other balance transfer cards with up to 24 months interest free for some more options.

While some banks are still offering balance transfer offers for up to 24 months, it’s only for a limited time and more banks are bound to reduce the length of their offers as the year progresses. So, if you’re struggling to repay your post-Christmas debts and need a long 0% balance transfer period to pay it off, start comparing your options on our balance transfer guide.

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