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What is a balance transfer?

Find out how a balance transfer credit card works and how you can use one to repay your debt faster.

A balance transfer allows you to move your existing credit card debt to a new credit card with a lower or 0% rate of interest. This usually means you can repay your debt faster and save significantly on interest costs. There are many balance transfer offers on the market and the length of the promotional period can vary from 6 to 36 months. Once the introductory period ends, any remaining balances will start to collect interest at the standard purchase or cash advance rate.

You can use this guide to find out how balance transfers work, compare the features and benefits as well as understand how to compare different offers to find the right one for you.

What is a balance transfer credit card?

You can use a balance transfer to move your credit card debt onto a new card from a different lender. If you have several debts, you can also consolidate them under one account with a balance transfer. These cards usually offer a 0% interest rate for a promotional period, which can help you save money as you pay off the debt. At the end of the introductory period you'll be charged a higher interest rate on any debt you have remaining from the transfer.

balance-transfer-process

Money expert Michelle Hutchison answers the question 'what is a balance transfer?'

Hi, I’m Michelle Hutchison, money expert at one of Australia’s biggest financial comparison websites, finder.com.au. Today I’m going to talk about balance transfer credit cards.

So what is a balance transfer? It’s essentially when you have a debt from one card, say it’s at seventeen per cent, and you move that debt over to a new card offering a balance transfer rate of say, zero per cent.

Unfortunately these low rates won’t last forever and they generally expire and revert to a much higher rate. One consideration is that you can’t generally transfer that balance to a balance transfer credit card in the same institution. For example, say you have an ANZ credit card with a debt on it, you can’t transfer that debt to another ANZ credit card but you may be able to transfer it to another bank or institution.

You can transfer a debt from credit card, store card, charge card, it’s a really good way of consolidating all your debts into one line of credit.

Balance transfers can be a great way to save loads in interest and pay off your credit card debts, and while you can apply for as many as you like, keep in mind that applying for too many in a short space of time can impact your credit file.

Key features and benefits of a balance transfer credit card

Now that you know what a balance transfer is, you can discover some of the key features and benefits of these cards below:

  • Introductory period. 0% balance transfer rates are only available for an introductory period which can last from 6 to 24 months (or sometimes longer) depending on the card. The promotional offer starts as soon as your card is activated, not as soon as you make your first repayment.
  • Revert rate. When the introductory period ends, the interest rate will revert to the standard purchase or cash advance rate. Considering the revert rate, it's best to repay your balance in full before the interest applies. Check out our guide for more information about balance transfer revert rates.
  • Balance transfer fees. When you first conduct a balance transfer, you may be required to pay a one-off balance transfer fee of 1% to 3% of the total amount you're moving to the new card.

Is a money transfer the same as a balance transfer?

No. A balance transfer is when you transfer the debt from your old card to a new one. A money transfer is sending money between two different accounts.

How much can you save on interest with a balance transfer?

You can use finder's balance transfer credit card calculator to discover how much you could save based on your current card's interest rate and the size of your debt. For example, let's say you have an outstanding balance of $5,000 that is collecting interest at 17.00% p.a. If you applied for a card with 0% for 12 months with no balance transfer fee or annual fee, you could save $850 in interest if you pay off the entire debt before the revert rate applies. That's $850 you could use to pay off your debt faster.

Compare balance transfer credit cards

Rates last updated December 15th, 2018
$
% p.a.

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Name Product Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Amount Saved Product Description
NAB Low Fee Platinum Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 25 months
19.74% p.a.
$90 p.a.
finder Exclusive: Take advantage of 0% p.a. interest for 25 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee. Ends 16 December 2018
More info
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card - Online Offer
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.
Westpac Low Rate Card
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1% balance transfer fee
13.49% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($59 p.a. thereafter)
Offers a 0% for 24 month balance transfer option, first year annual fee waiver and a competitive purchase rate.
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months
12.74% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Save with 0% p.a. interest for up to 24 months on balance transfers with no BT fee. Plus, platinum perks. Ends 17 December 2018.
Citi Clear Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
12.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Offers a 0% p.a. for 14 months balance transfer and $0 first year annual fee. Plus, insurance covers and Citibank Dining Program perks.
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 points in the first 3 months and save with a $64 first year annual fee. Plus, a long-term balance transfer offer.
ANZ Low Rate
0% p.a. for 15 months
12.49% p.a.
$58 p.a.
Save with a 0% p.a. introductory rate on balance transfers for 15 months with no BT fee. Plus a low 12.49% p.a. interest rate on purchases.
Virgin Money Low Rate Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
11.99% p.a.
$49 p.a.
Offers a $49 annual fee, 10% cashback on purchases made in the first 3 months (capped at $100) and 0% p.a. for 14 months on balance transfers.
ANZ First Visa Credit Card
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$30 p.a.
Get up to 18 months interest-free on balance transfers and save with a low $30 annual fee. Plus, up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.
St.George Vertigo Classic
0% p.a. for 16 months
13.74% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Get 0% p.a. interest for up to 16 months on balance transfers with no BT fee. Plus, a competitively low annual fee and purchase rate.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Save with a $64 first year annual fee and 0% p.a. balance transfer offer. Plus, receive a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.99% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Offers a 0% p.a. for 22 months balance transfer and an annual fee refund each year when you spend $6,000. Plus, 2 airport lounge passes every year.
NAB Low Fee Card
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$30 p.a.
Receive complimentary purchase protection insurance, a 18 month balance transfer offer and special offers from Visa Entertainment.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Platinum
0% p.a. for 26 months with 2% balance transfer fee
12.74% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Offers 26-month balance transfer, $0 annual fee for the first year, complimentary travel insurance and access to a 24/7 personal concierge service.
ANZ Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter)
Receive a 0% p.a. for 18 month balance transfer offer and a $0 first year annual fee. Plus, complimentary overseas travel and medical insurance.
Citi Signature Credit Card
0% p.a. for 12 months
20.99% p.a.
$195 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 15,000 monthly bonus reward Points for 20 months (300,000 total), enjoy a 0% p.a. balance transfer offer, plus, a $195 first year annual fee.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Classic
0% p.a. for 16 months
13.74% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Enjoy 0% p.a. interest for up to 16 months on balance transfers with no BT fee. Plus, a competitively low annual fee and purchase rate.
BankSA Vertigo Classic
0% p.a. for 16 months
13.74% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Enjoy a 0% p.a. interest rate for up to 16 months on balance transfers with no balance transfer fee. Plus, a low variable purchase rate.
Virgin No Annual Fee Credit Card
6.9% p.a. for 36 months
18.99% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Offers a balance transfer rate of 6.9% p.a. interest for 36 months and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases, all for a $0 annual fee.

Compare up to 4 providers

How to use the balance transfer calculator to see how much money you could save

Step 1. Enter the total debt/outstanding amount you would like to transfer
Step 2. Provide the interest rate that you are paying on your existing debt (if you don't have your interest rate at the top of your head, the average is around 18-20%)
Step 3. See the 'Amount Saved' column to find out which credit cards will save you the most money. The calculator automatically factors in any balance transfer fees and annual fees associated with each card. Click on the 'Amount Saved' title to sort the cards in ascending or descending order of money saved
Step 4. Compare the credit cards available in the table provided to find the card that suits your needs. If you still want to find out more about a particular credit card, click the ‘More info’ link for a full review on the features and benefits.

finder-balance-transfer-calculator

Frequently asked questions

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Important Information*
Citi Clear Platinum Credit Card

Interest rate

12.99

Annual fee

0*

*$99 p.a. after first year

ANZ Low Rate

Interest rate

12.49

Annual fee

58
Suncorp Clear Options Platinum Credit...

Interest rate

20.74

Annual fee

49*

*$129 p.a. after first year

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    October 24, 2018

    I have an ANZ rewards card. I’m looking to transfer the balance to a Virgin card (to get the Velocity points). After 3 months, I’d like to transfer any balance back to the ANZ card and continue using that. When I do that, will ANZ treat that entire balance as outstanding and charge interest on it?
    (note – I always pay the closing balance each month to avoid interest, but there’s always some balance on the card at any given time).

    Just want to know if this is a wise strategy to get some extra points quickly

    Hope this makes sense.

    Andrew

    • finder Customer Care
      JeniOctober 25, 2018Staff

      Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for getting in touch with finder.

      Please see answers to your query below.

      1. I have an ANZ rewards card. I’m looking to transfer the balance to a Virgin card (to get the Velocity points).
      – Please note that balance transfer do not earn Rewards Points. When you use your Virgin Velocity credit card, points are earned on everyday purchases only. Cash like transactions as well as balance transfer don’t earn points.

      2. After 3 months, I’d like to transfer any balance back to the ANZ card and continue using that. When I do that, will ANZ treat that entire balance as outstanding and charge interest on it?
      – If you transfer the balance back to ANZ without any BT promotional offer, the entire balance will be charged on the card’s purchase rate or cash advance rate p.a. – whichever is the BT rate. Basically, this part is discussed if you request a balance transfer with your existing ANZ card.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

  2. Default Gravatar
    DaniMay 14, 2015

    What are some features you should look for if you want to use a credit card?

    • finder Customer Care
      JonathanMay 14, 2015Staff

      Hi Dani, thanks for your inquiry!

      You may like to refer to this page which will provide a guide on choosing a credit card and the different features you may be looking for.

      Cheers,

      Jonathan

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