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How long does it take to transfer my credit card balance?

Alex Ritchie avatar
Alex Ritchie
- 5 min read
How long does it take to transfer my credit card balance?

Balance transfer credit cards can be an invaluable tool for cardholders hoping to work off their existing card debt. But just how long does it actually take to transfer your existing balance over to your new credit card?

The application process for a balance transfer credit card may only take you a few moments gathering paperwork and minutes applying online, but actually transferring your balance may take days, sometimes weeks, depending on the provider.

Let’s explore how balance transfer credit cards work, and how long it takes some of the biggest issuers in Australia to transfer balances. 

How long does a balance transfer take?

Generally, a balance transfer for a credit card will take between a few days and a couple of weeks. 

Instant balance transferral – particularly from major providers and the big four banks in Australia – is still a ways away. But some providers, such as HSBC, are able to process transfers in ‘real time’. 

Your new credit card provider will typically provide you with information upfront on just how long you may be waiting for your balance to transfer.

Some of the biggest banks and card providers in Australia have the following transfer time windows:

Credit card providers

Estimate time to transfer balance

ANZ

3-15 business days after card activation.

CBA

Minimum 4 business days

NAB

Balance transfer on a new NAB card: 5-10 business days.

Balance transfer on existing NAB card: 3-5 days from the day you submit the request for the balance transfer to be completed.

Westpac

A few business days

American Express

5-7 days (in some cases up to 6 weeks)

Citi

Up to 10 business days

HSBC

Balance Transfer for existing credit card customers is processed real time.

Balance Transfer for new credit card customers are processed when the application is approved which could be before the card is received or activated.

St. George/BankSA/

Bank of Melbourne

In a few days, but in some instances up to 4 weeks.

Source: RateCity.com.au. Data accurate as of 08/08/2023.

How balance transfer credit cards work

Balance transfer credit cards allow cardholders to transfer over their existing debt onto a new card, typically with a 0% or low interest rate for a set period of time.

If you can budget and pay off your debt in that set period of time, you’ll not only save big on interest but hopefully pull yourself out of a debt cycle. However, if you’re unable to pay off your balance in time or continue to use the new credit card as normal, you’ll begin to accrue interest on new purchases or your existing debt. 

Once you are approved for a balance transfer credit card, your existing provider will be notified, and start the process of closing your account and transferring your balance to the new provider. Your new provider should then send payment directly to the old card provider, so you can begin working off your debt with low or no interest hanging overhead.

What other options do you have to pay off a debt?

If you’re looking to get some breathing room and pay down a debt - particularly if you have multiple sources - here are some other options you may want to consider as well:

Debt consolidation loan

If you have more than one source of debt, then chances are you are paying multiple interest repayments with differing repayment dates and amounts. As the name suggests, a debt consolidation loan is a personal loan that consolidates all your debts into one, more manageable debt. Personal loans typically come with lower interest rates than credit cards too, so you’re likely to be reducing your overall interest costs.

Offset account

An offset account is a linked transaction or savings account connected to your home loan. If you’ve been saving funds into an offset account, you may consider transferring your savings towards your outstanding credit card repayment. And as it is an electronic transfer, your funds could arrive faster than some of the aforementioned transfer times.

Redraw facility

If you have a redraw facility attached to your home loan, you may be able to withdraw any extra repayments you’ve made over the years and put this towards your debt. 

Not only will this help you chip away at your outstanding balance faster than making minimum repayments, but you won’t need to take out additional financing to do so. It is different from an offset account, in that accessing these funds is slightly harder. 

There may be a cap on how much you can withdraw, or you may be able to access the full redraw facility balance, minus one months’ mortgage repayment.

Keep in mind that the funds you put into your redraw facility or offset account can help to reduce your home loan interest repayments and withdrawing them may see your repayments increase each month. This may, in turn, put more pressure on your budget and make paying for regular expenses and utilities more challenging.

If you’re struggling with financial hardship, don’t be afraid to reach out for help from professionals, such as accountants and financial advisers. The Australian government has free financial counselling services available, along with the National Debt Helpline – 1800 007 007.

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Product database updated 21 May, 2024

This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.