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If your credit card balance is larger than you’d like it to be and the interest is starting to add up, it might make sense to transfer the balance over to a card with a more competitive interest rate. Credit card providers are always on the lookout for new customers, and one way of bringing you over is by offering a highly incentivised interest rate on balance transfer deals.

What is a balance transfer card?

A balance transfer card works by literally taking your credit balance from one card and transferring the whole amount over to a new credit card with an incentivised and more affordable interest rate. Generally speaking, balance transfer cards offer 0 per cent promotional rates for a set period of time, which is anywhere between three and 12 months. After the honeymoon period ends, the interest rate usually shoots up and can leave you with a whole lot more in interest and fees.

For a balance transfer card to work in your favour, you’ll ideally need to pay off the balance while the promotional interest rate is still 0 per cent. In some cases, there may be additional fees if you still have an outstanding balance when the promotional period ends. Before you apply for a balance transfer card, make sure you compare your options and leave yourself enough time to pay off your debt.

If you decide that a balance transfer card is right for you, the actual process of rolling your balance over to a new card is relatively simple. When you fill out the application, you’ll provide the name of your current credit card along with the card number. Once you’re approved, the new card provider will reduce the balance of your old card to $0 and transfer it to the new card.

What is a 0% balance transfer card?

Some balance transfer cards offer an introductory 0 per cent interest rate when you transfer your existing balance onto a new credit card. A 0 per cent interest rate is usually valid for a fixed period of time and literally charges you no interest on the amount you transfer over. Depending on the card, you may be charged a one-time transfer fee when you move the balance over. A 0 per cent interest rate can potentially save you from accruing additional interest while repaying your credit card debt.

Credit cards with 0 per cent balance transfer are usually available for periods starting from two months up to 24 months.

The benefits of a balance transfer card

A balance transfer card is a great short-term strategy to save you money and reduce your credit card debt. The major benefit is that you have a definitive period in which to pay back the money you owe without adding any additional interest. Because balance transfer cards are often bundled together with other benefits like reward points or free travel insurance, you might find a credit card that can help you pay off your balance with great benefits.

What to look out for when comparing balance transfer cards

Before you choose a balance transfer card, make sure you check what happens when the promotional period ends. You specifically want to check what the post-promotional interest rate will be. In most cases, they tend to be on the higher side. If you’re not certain you can pay the entire card balance off, do the sums to make sure you're not worse off when the rate reverts back to the standard.

Some cards also charge an initial fee to transfer the balance over, which is added to the balance on the new card. Before you make the switch, compare any additional card or annual fees against what you’re currently paying to ensure you come out on top.

A common misconception with balance transfer cards is that you don’t have to pay anything during the promotional period. This is not the case. Even if the card offers you a 0 per cent interest rate, you still have to pay the minimum balance each month. If the balance transfer card has a period of interest-free days, you won’t be able to take advantage of this until you’ve paid the entire balance off.

When the incentives are so appealing, it can be tempting to apply for multiple balance transfer deals. Every time you make an application for a credit card, it gets recorded on your credit report.

How to use a balance transfer card to consolidate debt

If you’ve got a manageable amount of credit card debt which you can pay off within the card’s promotional period, then a balance transfer card might be worth considering.

The main consideration with balance transfer cards is what happens when the honeymoon period ends. If you’ve done the maths and it’s not likely that you’ll pay the card off before the promotional rate ends, you might be better off exploring other debt consolidation options, like a personal loan.

Before you make a decision, do your research and compare your options to make sure you find a balance transfer card that works for you.

^Depending on your finanical situation, the best balance transfer card for you may not be the best balance transfer card for somebody else. Compare the available options, consider how different features and benefits can help you reach your financial goals, and read the fine print before making any decisions. If you need help deciding on the best credit card for you, consider contacting a qualified financial adviser.

Frequently asked questions

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. 

Current Annual Fees

These are the current annual fees on your existing credit card.

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 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 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 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 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.

Can I transfer money from my American Express credit card to my bank account?

If you’re an American Express credit card customer, you may not be able to transfer money from your credit card to your bank account. However, you may be eligible for cash advances, which involves withdrawing money through an ATM. 

To qualify for a cash advance, you’ll likely have to enrol for American Express Membership Rewards. Consider checking your online credit card account to see if you can withdraw a cash advance and, if so, the fees and charges you’ll incur for this transaction. 

You should remember that cash advances are different from balance transfers, which were available with some American Express credit cards earlier. Balance transfers allow customers to consolidate debt from high-interest credit cards to a credit card offering a lower interest rate. If you only recently applied for an American Express credit card, balance transfers may not be available irrespective of the card you own. 

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.

What should I do if my ANZ credit card has expired?

Your ANZ credit card is considered expired only after the last day of the month and year marked on your card. For instance, if your card’s expiry date reads 03/22, it is valid until 31 March 2022 and expires on 1 April 2022. Typically, you should have received a new credit card by that date, and you won’t have to request a new card. 

Once you get the new card, you should remember to switch any automatic payments you have - such as a utility or mobile phone bill - from your expired credit card to your new credit card. Equally, if you are using CardPay Direct to repay your ANZ credit card debt, you may need to update the credit card account details for that service as well. 

In case the new card doesn’t arrive by the expiry date of your current credit card, you can call ANZ on 13 22 73 to find out the reason and if you need to request an expedited card. Please note that if you were planning to close your credit card account or request a credit card upgrade, you may need to call ANZ at least before the 25th of the month your current credit card expires in, as that’s when they may send you the new credit card.

How do I apply for a BOQ credit card limit increase?

If you’re an existing BOQ customer, you can request a BOQ credit card limit increase over a phone call. However, you should remember that owning and using a credit card is a matter of financial responsibility, so it might be worth thinking this decision through. 

When requesting a credit card limit increase, you’ll need to be just as responsible in terms of how much you earn and can set aside to repay the outstanding card balance. A credit card company may approve a credit limit increase only if you can show that you have either the income or the disposable income, which is the amount you have left after all expenses have been paid out.

For this purpose, you may need to submit your latest income documents and bank statements for an increase. You may want to estimate how much you usually have left after deducting your expenses, and then use this amount to try and convince the credit card company. Also, you may prefer to pay off the card balance in full each month and thus avoid paying interest on the card, helping you back up any claims of financial responsibility, as well. 

Remember that you may not be able to apply for a credit card limit increase beyond any limitations on the type of card you own. For instance, if you own a card whose ceiling is $10,000, and your current limit is $5,000, you won't likely be able to apply for a $10,000 credit card limit increase.

Which credit card has the highest annual percentage rate?

The credit card market changes all the time, so the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate is also liable to change.

Keep in mind that credit card interest rates are expressed as a yearly rate, or annual percentage rate (APR). A low APR is generally good but also consider:

  • There can be different APR's for each feature of the card (e.g. purchases may have an APR of 14 per cent, while cash advances on same card could have an APR of 17 per cent.
  • Credit cards with a variable rate can change throughout the year, affecting your APR, so check the full details.
  • If you pay your balance in full every month, having the lowest APR is not as important as the other fees associated with the card. However, if you carry a balance from month to month, then you want the lowest APR possible.

Should I get a credit card?

Once you've compared credit card interest rates and deals and found the right card for you, the actual process of getting a credit card is quite straightforward. You can apply for a credit card online, over the phone or in person at a bank branch. 

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.

What should you do when you lose your credit card?

Losing your credit card is a serious situation, and could land you in financial trouble. Here is a simple guide detailing what to do when you lose your credit card.

Lock you card – Contact your provider and inform them about your lost credit card. From here lock, block or cancel your card.

Keep track of transactions – Look out for unauthorised credit card transactions. Most banks protect against fraudulent transactions.

Address recurring charges – If your card is linked to recurring charges (gym membership, rent, utilities), contact those businesses.

Check credit rate – To ensure you’re not the victim of identity theft, check your credit rating a month or two after you lose your credit card.

Can I use PayPal to transfer from a credit card to a bank account?

You can easily link your credit card to your PayPal account. When you need to make a payment, PayPal makes an instant transfer from your bank account, provided you’ve linked and confirmed your credit card details.For credit card holders, you can transfer funds from eligible cards listed in the “Instant” section of the money transfer page.

Here is how you can transfer money from PayPal to your bank account:

  1. On the “My Wallet” tab, select “Transfer Money” and then click on the “Transfer to your bank account” option.
  2. Choose the bank account where you want to transfer the money and click “Continue.”
  3. Enter the amount, review and click “Transfer Now.”
  4. When you confirm the transfer, the amount should be moved to the bank account linked from the chosen credit card.

How does the Commonwealth Bank credit card instalment plan work?

Commonwealth Bank credit card instalment plans allow you to structure the schedule for repaying your outstanding credit card balances. So, rather than pay the entire amount on the due date, you’ll pay a fixed amount on every due date for a particular period.

You can choose from three types of plans. The first is to pay-off a one-time large purchase exceeding $100 made during the previous 14 days. The second plan is to pay off the credit card balance (excluding cash advance, balance transfers, and existing instalment plans) of $600 or more in whole or part over a predetermined period. The last plan allows you to pay off the cash advance balance of $600 or higher in part or fully, over a certain period.

You can break down large purchases into affordable instalments over some time that you specify. Additionally, you enjoy the flexibility to cancel or prepay the plan before its last instalment. You can simultaneously have ten active plans without additional credit checks on all eligible cards.

Once you select the eligible purchase or balance and the desired repayment term, the monthly instalment and due date are shown in the next statement, which includes the new payment and the summary of the plan’s progress. In case you miss a payment, the plan isn’t cancelled, but an unpaid instalment is re-transferred to the applicable balance, and you’ll be charged the standard rate. The plan can be revoked at any time, and the outstanding amount is added to the cash advance or purchase balance as applicable.

What to consider before transferring money from your credit card to your bank account in Citibank?

You can transfer money from a Citibank credit card to a bank account depending on the available limit of each. The process is known as a cash advance transaction, and Citibank should allow you to transfer some portion of the total credit limit.

Transferring funds from a credit card to a bank account is likely to attract additional charges, so please consider the following potential costs:

  • A cash advance fee, which is a per cent of the total transfer amount
  • A 2 per cent transaction fee when you transfer money from a Citibank credit card to a bank account
  • Cash advance interest rate applicable on the transfer amount without any interest-free period.

To learn more about such transfers, you can contact the bank via the online service desk, email, or by calling 13 CITI (13 24 84).

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 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.