Get a 0% intro APR period for up to 21 months to save on interest.
With a balance transfer, you can use just one card to combine multiple credit card debts. Depending on the card, you could get a 0% intro APR period on a balance transfer for up to 21 months. This could help you save money on interest while you pay off your debt.
How to combine credit card debts with a balance transfer
Transfer your balance from several credit cards onto just one card by following these steps:
- Find out the total amount of debt you owe. Some charges may not show up on your latest statement. Call each credit card company to get an accurate total of your outstanding balance, including interest, fees and pending transactions.
- Compare balance transfer credit cards. Look at a range of balance transfer offers based on factors, such as the length of the 0% interest period, the rate of interest that’ll apply after that period, balance transfer fees and annual fees. Consider credit cards with high credit limits if you have a lot of debt to transfer. Your limit is subject to approval.
- Check that your card debts are eligible. You can usually transfer debts from financial institutions that aren’t affiliated with your card issuer. When transferring debts, check that they are eligible based on the card issuer.
- Start the application. You can apply for a balance transfer credit card online in around 10–15 minutes. Check that you meet the eligibility requirements, then make sure you have all the required details needed to apply.
- Include details of your existing credit card debts. During the application, you’ll need to provide details of the debts you want to consolidate onto the balance transfer card. This includes the account names, numbers and the total amount you want to transfer to the new account.
- Submit your application. Review the details on your application before you submit. Most online applications will provide a decision within minutes. If your application is successful, you should get your new card in around 10 days.
- Activate the card. Activate your new card by following the instructions provided by your issuer. Then the issuer will process your balance transfer, which usually takes between two and six weeks. It’s important to make any required repayments on your account during this time.
- Confirm the transfers and close your old accounts. Once your balance transfers have been processed, you should see that your previous account balances are $0. Call your old credit card providers and close the accounts to avoid any further fees or the temptation to use them.
Compare balance transfer credit cards
What to consider before combining credit cards with a balance transfer
Here are some key factors to consider with this type of debt consolidation:
- Low or 0% interest promotion periods. Balance transfer offers can be as short as six months or as long as 21 months. The more debt you have, the longer the balance transfer offer you’ll need.
- Standard interest rates. This refers to the interest rate that’ll apply once the promotional period is over. Make sure this rate is one you can live with if you think you’ll carry a balance.
- Balance transfer limits. Some cards restrict your balance transfer amount to a percentage of your credit limit, such as 75%. This could have an impact on your transfer if you have a lot of existing debt. But even if some cards let you transfer your balance up to your credit limit, there can still be a limit, often $15,000.
- Balance transfer fees. Most cards charge a one-time fee for balance transfers, typically between 3% and 5% of the total approved transfer. For example, if you have two cards with a combined debt of $6,000, moving it to a card with a balance transfer fee of 3% would cost you $180. A 5% fee would be $300.
- Other balance transfer restrictions. Your new card provider may impose its own set of rules around balance transfers. For instance, it may limit the number of accounts you can balance transfer at one time or the type of account you can move across. Ask your provider about any restrictions.
- Credit score. As with all types of credit card, most balance transfer card applications will require that you have a good to excellent credit score.
- Ongoing card features. Also consider other features of the card, such as the annual fee and any complimentary extras that may ensure its suitability and sustainability as your long-term credit card.
A balance transfer can be very helpful when you’re struggling with multiple credit card debts. If you’ve decided to go ahead with this process, make sure you carefully research the market, compare available card offers and weigh up your options before choosing the right balance transfer credit card for you.
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