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

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.

How balance transfer credit cards work

Balance transfer credit cards allow cardholders to transfer over their existing debt on to a new card, typically with a zero per cent 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 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 apply and are approved for a balance transfer credit card, you’ll notify your existing provider and start the process of closing that account and having your balance transferred to the new provider. Your new provider may send payment directly to the old card provider, so you can begin working off your debt with low or no interest hanging overhead.

How long does a balance transfer take?

Generally, a balance transfer 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
CBA Minimum 4 working days
NAB 3-5 days
Westpac Minimum 10 business days
American Express Up to 10 business days
Citi Up to 10 business days
HSBC Processed in real time once applications are received
Macquarie Bank Up to 5 business days
St. George/BankSA/Bank of Melbourne Up to 14 days

What other options do I 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. Any money you deposit into this account will ‘offset’ the balance of your mortgage. Meaning, if you have a $400,000 mortgage, and $50,000 saved in your offset, your home loan repayments will be for the equivalent of a $350,000 mortgage. You may be able to transfer your savings towards your outstanding credit card repayment. 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 their National Debt Helpline – 1800 007 007.

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Learn more about credit cards

What is a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer credit card lets you transfer your debt balance from one credit card to another. A balance transfer credit card generally has a 0 per cent interest rate for a set period of time. When you roll your debt balance over to a new credit card, you’ll be able to take advantage of the interest-free period to pay your credit card debt off faster without accruing additional interest charges. If your application is approved, the provider will pay out your old credit card and transfer your debt balance over to the new card. 

How to pay a credit card from another bank

Paying or transferring debt from one lender to the other is called a balance transfer. This involves transferring part or all of the debt from a credit card with one lender to a credit card with another. As part of the process, your new lender will pay out the old lender, so that you now owe the same amount of money but to a new institution.

Many credit card providers offer an interest-free period on balance transfers to help new applicants better handle their debt. During this period, cardholders are not required to pay interest on the debt they brought over from the other card. This can be a great opportunity for consumers to pay off credit card debt with no interest. There are often fees associated with balance transfers; normally, these are a percentage of the amount transferred.

So make sure you read the terms and conditions of the card before transferring any debt across.

How do you cancel a credit card?

It’s important to cancel your old cards to avoid any additional fees. Unless you’re doing a balance transfer, you’ll need to pay the outstanding balance before you cancel your credit card. If you’ve opted for a card with reward points, make sure you redeem or transfer the points before you close your account. To avoid any bounced payments and save yourself an admin headache, redirect all your direct debits to a new card or account. Once you’ve done all the preparation, call your bank or credit card provider to get the cancellation underway. Once you receive a confirmation letter, destroy your card and make sure the numbers aren’t legible.

How to get rid of credit card debt

  1. Calculate your debt. Credit card calculators make it easy to determine the repayments required to chip away at your debt in the shortest timeframe possible for your budget.
  2. Repayment plans. Take some time to formulate a credit repayment plan. Consider increasing your income, scaling back your lifestyle or refinancing.
  3. Talk to your credit provider. If you’re still struggling with your debt, give your credit provider a call. You may be able to come to a new arrangement.

How to calculate credit card interest

Credit card interest can quickly turn a manageable balance into unmovable debt. So being able to understand how interest rates translate into dollars is an important skill to acquire.

The common mistake people make is focusing on the credit card’s annual percentage rate (APR), which often sits between 15 and 20 per cent. While the APR does provide a rough idea of how much interest you’ll pay, it’s not entirely accurate.

This is because you actually accrue interest on your balance daily, not annually. So, you need to work out your daily periodic rate (DPR). To do this, divide your card’s APR by the number of days in a year (e.g. 16.9 per cent divided by 365, or 0.05 per cent). You can then apply this figure to the daily balance on your credit card.

How do you use credit cards?

A credit card can be an easy way to make purchases online, in person or over the phone. When used properly, a credit card can even help you manage your cash flow. But before applying for a credit card, it’s good to know how they work. A credit card is essentially a personal line of credit which lets you buy things and pay for them later. As a card holder, you’ll be given a credit limit and (potentially) charged interest on the money the bank lends you. At the end of each billing period, the bank will send you a statement which shows your outstanding balance and the minimum amount you need to pay back. If you don’t pay back the full balance amount, the bank will begin charging you interest.

How is credit card interest charged?

Your credit card will be charged interest when you don’t pay off the balance on your credit card. Your card provider or bank charges you the individual interest rate that is associated with your card, which is usually between 10 and 20 per cent. 

The interest will be added onto your bill each month or billing period if you don’t pay off the balance, unless you are in an interest-free period.

You will be charged interest on anything that hasn’t been paid for inside the interest-free period. Usually you will receive a notice on your bill or statement saying you will be charged interest so you have some form of notice before you’re charged.

How do you pay off credit cards?

The best way to pay off a credit card bill is to set a realistic spending budget and stick to it. Each month, you’ll get a credit card statement detailing how much you owe and how long it will take to pay off the balance by making minimum repayments. If you only make the minimum repayments, it will take you years to pay off your outstanding balance and add extra costs in interest charges. To avoid any extra charges, you should pay the entire bill. 

How do you use a credit card?

Credit cards are a quick and convenient way to pay for items in store, online or over the phone. You can use a credit card as a cashless way to pay for goods or services, both locally and overseas. You can also use a credit card to make a cash advance, which gives you the flexibility to withdraw cash from your credit card account. Because a credit card uses the bank’s funds instead of your own, you will be charged interest on the money you spend – unless you pay off the entire debt within the interest-free period. If you pay the minimum monthly repayment, you will be charged interest. There are many different credit card options on the market, all offering different interest rates and reward options.

How to get a credit card for the first time

A credit card can be a useful financial tool, provided you understand the risks and can meet repayment obligations.

If you’re a credit card first-timer, review your options. Think about what kind of credit card would suit your lifestyle, and compare providers by fees, perks and repayments.

Once you’ve selected a card, it’s time to apply. Credit card applications can generally be completed in store, online or over the phone.

When you apply for a credit card for the first time, you must meet age, residency and income requirements. As proof, you must also provide documentation such as bank account statements.

How does credit card interest work?

Generally, when we talk about credit card interest, we mean the purchase interest rate, which is the interest charged on purchases you make with your credit card.

If you don’t pay your full balance each month (or even if you pay the minimum amount), you are charged interest on all the outstanding transactions and the remaining balance. However, interest is also charged on cash advances, balance transfers, special rate offers and, in some cases, even the fees charged by the company.

The interest rate can vary, depending on the credit card. Some have an interest-free period, otherwise you start paying interest from the day you make a purchase or from the day your monthly statement is issued. So avoid interest by paying the full amount promptly.

How do you apply for a credit card?

You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at the bank. Once you’ve compared the current credit card offers, the application process is quick and easy. Before you get your application started, you’ll need to gather your personal information like proof of ID, payslips and bank statements, proof of employment and details of your income, assets and liabilities. To be eligible for a credit card, you’ll need to be an Australian citizen over 18 and earn a minimum of $15,000 each year. Once you’ve applied for a credit card, you should get a response fairly instantly. If your credit card application has been approved, you should receive a welcome pack with your new credit card within 10-15 days.

How to pay a credit card

There are a few ways to pay a credit card bill. These include:

  • BPAY - allows you to safely make credit card payments online.
  • Direct debits - set up an automatic payment from your bank account to pay your credit card bill each month. You can choose how much you want to pay of your credit card bill when you set up the auto payments.
  • In a branch.
  • Via your credit card provider's app.

What should you do if your credit card is compromised?

Credit card fraud is a serious problem. If your credit card is compromised and you’re wondering what to do, here are a few precautionary steps to take.

Contact you credit provider – Get in touch will your credit card provider. If you feel your card has been compromised, you should be able to lock or block it.

Monitor your accounts – Keep an eye on your credit card accounts. Any unauthorised transactions could be a sign your credit card has been compromised.

Check your credit rating – It’s also important to check your credit rating, to ensure you’re not a victim of identity theft or some other financial mischief.