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Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Sean Callery Editor Money.com.au

Sean Callery

Shaun McGowan Money.com.au founder

Reviewed by Shaun McGowan

Compare the top balance transfer credit card deals from 45+ providers, with 0% offers for up to 28 months. Sort and filter your options based on what matters to you in a balance transfer card.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Sean Callery Editor Money.com.au

Sean Callery

Shaun McGowan Money.com.au founder

Reviewed by Shaun McGowan

Compare the top balance transfer credit card deals from 45+ providers, with 0% offers for up to 28 months. Sort and filter your options based on what matters to you in a balance transfer card.

Compare balance transfer credit card offers

We have nothing to hide, so we don’t put credit cards behind a filter if they don’t pay us. See how it works.

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Rates updated 18 June 2024

What is a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer on a credit card means moving your existing credit card balance (or the balances of multiple cards) to a new lower-cost credit card. The aim is to pay off the existing balance(s) faster and save on interest. Here's how it works...

How it works...
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Helps you clear credit card debt faster

Some credit cards come with a special offer of a reduced interest rate on an existing balance you transfer from a different card for a limited ‘balance transfer period’. This makes it easier to pay down debt as less interest is being added to your balance.

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Low or 0% interest for a limited period

The best balance transfer deals offer 0% interest, with balance transfer periods of between between six months and two years, or longer on some cards.

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Watch out for high fees and ‘revert rates’

You may be charged a balance transfer fee, which is a percentage (usually 1-3%) of the balance. At the end of the introductory period, any remaining balance on the new credit card will have higher interest rate interest rate applied to it. This is usually either the card's cash advance interest rate.

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Any new purchases will be expensive

Usually while you have a balance transfer, there are no interest-free days on the card, meaning if you make new purchases using the card you will be charged interest on them immediately. This is why it's a good idea to avoid spending using the card while you have a balance transfer outstanding.

Pros and cons of a balance transfer credit card

Pros
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  • Access low interest rates or pay no interest at all on an existing balance during an intro period.
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  • Because interest is not being added, you may be able to pay off your credit card balance faster.
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  • The balance transfer intro offer gives you a clear timeframe to work towards paying off debt.
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  • You may be able to get a credit card that’s better than your existing one overall, even when the offer ends.
Cons
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  • There could be an initial balance transfer fee to pay which will cancel out some of your savings.
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  • You'll likely be charged a much higher interest rate if there is any balance left when the initial offer period ends.
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  • The intro rate only applies to the existing balance – new purchases will incur interest (with no interest-free period).
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  • Balance transfer limits mean you may not be able to transfer your entire balance to the new credit card.

How to choose the best balance transfer credit card

Before you commit, it’s important to compare your options to make sure you’re getting the best balance transfer credit card based on your goal. For example:

  • If the sole purpose of the balance transfer is to clear credit card debt, you might decide to prioritise finding a great introductory interest rate offer and low sign up fees.
  • If you plan on keeping the card beyond the balance transfer period, you’ll want to pay very close attention to the broader costs and features of the card. You might also choose to consider rewards credit cards or frequent flyer credit cards or a cashback credit card.
  • Don't assume you can apply for any credit card and do a balance transfer. Some cards don't offer balance transfers at all, e.g. American Express credit cards.

Below are some of the main factors to look at when choosing the best balance transfer credit card for your situation.

Factors to compare

The balance transfer rate is the limited-time interest rate applied to the existing credit card balance you move over to the new card.

It’s common to see 0% introductory rates offered by providers for periods ranging from 6-24 months. The aim is to entice cardholders to make a switch from their current card provider.

Choose the lowest introductory rate to pay the least amount of interest on your transferred balance during the offer period.

Next, you’ll want to look at how long that enticing balance transfer interest rate will last.

Generally balance transfer offers are for 6-24 months depending on the card.

Choose the longest introductory period with the lowest introductory rate to put yourself in the best position for repaying your balance without incurring any interest.

A balance transfer fee is an amount charged by the provider of a new credit card to transfer your existing balance over. It will either be a fixed amount, or a percentage of the transferred balance (1-3% is common).

For example, a balance transfer fee of 2.5% on a $8,000 balance will mean a $200 upfront fee.

Remember the balance transfer fee will offset some of the money you save in interest, so it’s important to find a low fee to make the balance transfer worth your while overall.

Will the new card allow you to transfer the entire balance of your old card? That is generally beneficial as it means you can completely close the existing credit card account and focus on paying off the balance of the new card.

But when transferring your existing balance, the credit card provider will need to ensure you don’t ‘max out’ the limit on your new card. This means you may only be approved to transfer a percentage of your new credit limit. For example, some providers will only allow you to transfer a balance of up to 80% of the limit on your new card.

When the introductory balance transfer offer period on your new credit card ends, any remaining balance will be subject to the credit card’s standard interest rate. This ‘revert rate’ may be either:

If you're not sure you’ll be able to fully repay the balance transfer from your existing credit card during the offer period, this revert rate is vitally important to consider. Look for a low interest rate credit card.

If not, you could end up paying a very high amount of interest on any remaining unpaid balance. Or indeed if you intend to keep the credit card after the initial balance is cleared.

Another factor to consider when comparing balance transfer credit cards is the new card’s annual fee.

If you plan to repay your existing balance over a number of years, a high annual fee will make clearing your balance all the more challenging. However, there are plenty of no annual fee credit cards to shop around.

What repayments will be needed to clear debt with a 0% balance transfer credit card?

This will depend on your starting balance and the timeframe available – i.e. the duration of the 0% balance transfer offer. But to give you an idea, below are some hypothetical examples based on sample card balances and common balance transfer offer lengths.

BalanceMonthly payment for 12 monthsMonthly payment for 18 monthsMonthly payment for 24 months

$5,000

$417

$278

$208

$10,000

$833

$556

$417

$15,000

$1,250

$833

$625

Note: These examples assume no new purchases or advances are made using the credit card and that the repayments shown are made every month during the 0% offer period. The examples do not factor in the impact of balance transfer fees that may apply depending on the card you choose, or the impact of an annual card fee that may apply. If fees apply, the repayment required will be higher.

Money Tip: Don’t let a long introductory period allow you to become complacent with your repayments. Create a repayment plan and stick to it.

How to do a credit card balance transfer

1

Confirm the balance transfer amount

Work out the amount you need to transfer to your new balance transfer credit card. Remember, you can usually transfer multiple balances if needed. The average credit card debt in Australia is around $2,990.

2

Check if you’re eligible

The new credit card will have eligibility criteria you’ll need to meet. This generally includes a credit check. You can do a free credit score check in advance to see if you’re in a good position to apply.

3

Submit a credit card application

You’ll need to provide information about the balance transfer amount and the existing credit card provider(s). Like all credit applications you’ll also need to give information about your income and expenses (e.g. payslips and bank statements).

4

Set up the new card & close the old one

Your new provider will help you get set up with online banking so you can manage your card from your phone. If the balance has been completely cleared from your old card, consider closing the account completely to avoid any further spending or being charged fees.

How to repay a balance transfer credit card faster

Now that you’ve transferred your existing credit card balance to a new card, you’ll want to pay down the balance as quickly as possible, without building up any new debt.

Here are some steps to consider to help you clear your credit card balance faster, with expert tips from financial coach David Rankin.

Cancel your old card immediately

“If you decide to apply and your application is successful, and if the limit of the new card is sufficient to transfer the whole balance of the old card across to the new one, now is your chance to close that old card,” Rankin says.

Contact your provider and ask them to cancel the account completely. Simply cutting up the card or removing it from your mobile wallet won’t mean the account is cancelled. You’ll still technically have a credit card account and you could still be charged fees.

One thing to watch out for here is whether your old card came with complimentary insurance (e.g. there are some credit cards with travel insurance) you rely on. Once the card is cancelled you will lose that cover.

Pay more than the minimum repayment amount

If you only pay the minimum monthly amount, you won’t clear the debt during your credit card's balance transfer period.

Rankin suggests a different approach: "Work out how much needs to be repaid on the new card by the monthly due date to pay off the whole balance within the interest-free term."

You can also make one-off transfers to your credit card if you have any extra cash built up.

"At 0% interest, every dollar you repay is a dollar off the balance, so – if you have the discipline to do so – it’s an opportunity to become debt-free quicker," Rankin says.

Avoid new purchases on your balance transfer card

This is an important one. New spending on a balance transfer card can be bad news for a couple of reasons:

Adding to your balance will make it harder to clear. New purchases generally incur interest. In other words, they are not eligible for the low interest balance transfer offer you signed up for.

"The aim of any balance transfer application is to lower your overall credit footprint, not increase it", Rankin explains.

"The new card should be used solely to pay down the old debt, so cut up the new card or do whatever it takes to ensure you don’t spend on it."

Create a spending budget and plan

These steps will be easier to do if you have a budget to help manage your spending. It can be helpful to have a written budget (or there are apps you can use) that outlines your regular spending.

By working out how much you need for your essential spending each month, fortnight or week (and some extra for other optional costs if you want) you’ll have a firm budget to work from. For some people, this can be an effective way of avoiding overspending.

Your questions answered

When the introductory period ends on a balance transfer credit card, any remaining debt from the initial balance transfer amount typically reverts to the card’s usual purchase rate (and occasionally the higher cash advance rate on some cards). This will likely be a much higher rate.

If there is still a substantial balance remaining, this will mean you’ll start to incur big interest costs. It’s why it’s important to pay off your balance in full (or as much as possible) during the initial balance transfer offer period if possible.

When choosing between balance transfer credit card offers, you’ll see plenty of competitive deals and interest-free introductory offers. Your existing provider will likely have a balance transfer offer.

In the first instance, it can be worth speaking to your current provider and telling them you’re considering moving to another bank to take advantage of a balance transfer offer. They may well make a matching balance transfer to keep you as a customer.

However, there are sometimes restrictions on which credit cards you can transfer an existing balance to.

For example, you may find you’re unable to transfer a balance from one card to another with the same provider, or even one provider to another, if they are within the same financial group.

Below is a quick of some of the card issuers in Australia that issue credit cards via a wider group of providers:

Westpac Banking Corporation - Westpac, Bank of Melbourne, BankSA, St.George NAB Group - NAB, Citi, BOQ, Coles, Suncorp Bank, Virgin Money, Qantas

This depends. In the short term, a credit card application will be recorded on your credit record. If you make multiple applications in a short space of time, this could affect your credit score.

However, if doing a credit card balance transfer means you are better able to make all of your repayments on time consistently and repay your debt faster, this help improve your credit score in the long run.

Again, closing your old credit card account is important here as it will you won’t be managing multiple credit cards, which could increase your chances of missing payments.

There are some credit cards in Australia offering 0% interest for the life of the card. However, it’s generally not possible to transfer an existing balance to one of these no-interest credit cards.

If you see balance transfers or other offers promising no interest for a very long period, make sure you read the fine print to understand what conditions are attached.

In reality, it’s unlikely you’ll find 0% interest offers lasting for longer than 24-30 months. If you do, be sure to check if it’s a ‘too good to be true’ situation.

You can use a balance transfer credit card to make purchases or pay expenses (like bills) and withdraw cash (a cash advance) just like you would with any other credit card. Just be aware that you’ll generally be charged interest on these purchases, even during the balance transfer offer period.

Preferential balance transfer credit interest rates offers usually only apply to the balance you transfer to the new card initially.

If you make overseas purchases with your card (i.e. use it as a travel credit card), you may be hit with further fees – the main one being a foreign transaction fee.

Theoretically this is a possible, but we wary of using this as a solution to deal with your credit debt.

Credit card applications are recorded on your credit record. Multiple applications within a short period of time will be a red flag for lenders and could damage your credit score.

It's also worth asking yourself why you were not able to clear the debt using the initial balance transfer offer and whether getting another credit card is a good solution to the broader issue. Seek advice from an expert is you are struggling to pay off your debt.

Yes, balance transfer credit cards are designed to help the cardholder pay off an existing credit card balance. They do this by offering a low interest rate (or no interest at all) on that debt for a period of time after the balance has been transferred.

However, a balance transfer credit card needs to be carefully managed to make sure the debt is cleared during the offer period, and that no additional debt is added.

Sean Callery Editor Money.com.au

Written by

Sean Callery

Sean Callery is the Editor of Money.com.au. He has over 15 years of international experience. He is qualified with a Certificate IV in Finance and Mortgage Broking (FNS40821) and is compliant to provide general advice in Tier 1 General Insurance (RG 146) products.

Shaun McGowan Money.com.au founder

Reviewed by

Shaun McGowan

Shaun McGowan is the founder of Money.com.au. He's determined to help people and businesses pay as little as possible for financial products, through education and building world class technology. Previously Shaun co-founded CarLoans.com.au and Lend.

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