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Can I transfer someone else's credit card balance to mine?

Can I transfer someone else's credit card balance to mine?

If your spouse, or family member is struggling with debt, it’s natural to want to help them out..  But how can you take responsibility for their debt, without impacting your own credit history or falling into the debt spiral? 

There are a few options available to the partners and family members of those struggling with debt. Here are some you may want to consider. 

How to transfer debt from another person’s card?

Most card companies offer two options to transfer someone else’s credit card debt to your name. These include:

  • Joint account

You may be able to join on the original credit card of your spouse or family member by making it a joint account. You will share the legal responsibility of making timely payments with this person.. 

You may also want to consider opening a new balance transfer credit card under a joint account with this person, and having them transfer their original debt to a new card you have some control over. In either scenario you’ll generally be able to take some level of control of the repayments and help the indebted person get back on their feet.   

  • Balance transfer between two individuals

Another option you may be offered is to transfer the credit card debt from the original credit card to your own, and you take sole ownership of the card account. You have the full legal responsibility of repaying the debt. Some companies may add your partner as an additional holder to prevent balance transfers between unrelated individuals.

Will a card issuer let me transfer the credit card balance of one card to another?

The answer to this question depends on the card-issuing company. First of all, most credit card issuers companies may not have specific rules related to balance transfers from someone else's credit card. 

Before you try and take on someone else’s debt, it’s worth it. You must read the terms and conditions, as well as the product disclosure statement, for any restrictions around  and the fine print related to balance transfers to know more about this. Also, reach out to the card issuer via phone or online to see what debt options they may already have available for you both.

Should you transfer someone else’s credit card balance?

It’s one thing to ask how you can transfer someone else’s credit card balance, but another to ask if you should.

Taking on another persons’ debt is a difficult decision and you're the only person who can answer it. If you're married and jointly managing finances, then a transfer may be a good option. If you're considering the transfer of an adult child's, siblings, parents, or best friend card debt, you'll need to take into account the possible consequences like:

  • Repaying the debt becomes your sole responsibility
  • Your credit score may be negatively impacted
  • The credit limit available to you will reduce

Impact of taking on someone else’s debt on your credit score

 When you take on the card debt of another person, it will most likely impact your credit score.

The transfer will increase your level of debt, which may reduce your credit score. After transferring the balance, it is important to make timely payments and keep on top of the debt to help not only the indebted person, but your own finances to stay healthy. If payments get delayed or missed, this may further hurt your credit score.

Avoid these mistakes if you use a balance transfer credit card

Balance transfer between individuals can faster repayments and chipping away at the debt quicker; however, there are some risks. Avoid the following mistakes while choosing balance transfers:

  • Don’t forget to check if the card company allows such transfers before applying, to prevent the rejection of your application.
  • Discuss the repayment plan with the individual with a credit card debt to ensure there is no confusion later that leads to missed or late payments.
  • Ensure you check the introductory rates as these are available only for a certain period, which may later revert to a higher interest rate.
  • Check for any balance transfer fees

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

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