Can I balance transfer a debt from my partner?

Information verified correct on January 20th, 2017

Can I balance transfer a credit card from my partner?Looking to consolidate a joint debt or alleviate your partner’s debt? Discover which providers allow joint balance transfers below.

Transferring a balance from your existing credit card or cards to a new credit card with a low promotional interest rate is a common way to deal with debt. What’s less common, though, is getting a balance transfer for a partner or family member’s debt.

Not all credit card providers allow this process, but there are many that do give you the option to move another person’s debt or a joint debt to your own credit card. As with any loan or credit card application, you need to meet the eligibility criteria before you’re approved for the balance transfer.

This guide outlines the different options you have, banks that allow joint balance transfers and the steps you can take to transfer a credit card debt from your partner so that you can work out the best approach when dealing with shared debts.

How to conduct a balance transfer for someone else’s debt

Financial institutions have two main options if you want to transfer someone else’s balance to an account under your name. They are:

  • Transferring the balance between two people’s names

    In this instance, you would transfer the debt from your partner’s credit card to your own credit card. Their name would be removed from the debt and yours would be placed on it, meaning you would be the only person legally responsible for the balance. In some cases, credit card issuers will require you to add your partner as an ‘additional cardholder’ before their debt can be transferred to the new credit card. Otherwise, you may simply be able to transfer the balance from any person’s account to your own.

single-to-single

  • Joint accounts for the debt

    Some credit cards and other loans will allow you and your partner to apply for a joint account. This option means that you and your partner would share the legal responsibility for the account and any balance that you transfer onto it.
    To get a joint credit card account, both of you would provide your details when applying for the balance transfer credit card. Depending on the issuer, you may also request that your partner is added as a joint account holder after you have applied for the card.

singles-to-joint

The process of transferring your partner’s balance to a new card will vary depending on which of these two options you choose, as well as the specific credit card you want to use for the balance transfer. Use the below table as a guide to which banks offer these two balance transfer options for partners.

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Which banks offer joint balance transfers?

 Bank/InstitutionTypes of shared accountsBalance transfer between two people’s names?Joint primary cardholders
american-express-logoAuthorized userNoNo
bank-of-americaCo-signer/joint account holder; guarantor; authorized userYesNo
barcalycardAuthorized userYesNo
capital-oneAuthorized userNoNo
chaseAuthorized userNoNo
citi-bankAuthorized userNoNo
discoverJoint accountholder and authorized userYesYes
usaaJoint accountholder and authorized userYesYes

Rates last updated January 20th, 2017
Intro APR for Balance Transfer APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate ) Annual fee
USAA Cash Rewards Visa Signature®
You can get price protection and extended warranties for your purchases and rewards for your day-to-day purchases.
10.40% to 26.40% $0 p.a. Go to site More info
USAA Military Affiliate Card
Earn 2,500 bonus points credited to your account with your first purchase and then 1 point per $ spent. No expiration date.
0% Intro APR for 12 (with After 12 months, your APR will be 11.15% to 26.15% based on your% balance transfer fee) 11.40% to 26.40% $0 p.a. Go to site More info
USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum
Get price protection and extended warranties on products you purchase, which allows you to refund payment for products.
3% Intro APR for 12 (with 3% of the transaction amount (maximum fee is $200)% balance transfer fee) 7.40% to 24.40% $0 p.a. Go to site More info

Have we missed anything in the comparison table? Tell us

How you can use, compare and apply for a balance transfer credit card

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How to transfer a balance from your partner’s account to your credit card

As most credit card issuers only allow one primary cardholder, transferring the debt from your partner’s debt to your credit card is probably the most likely option.

While the requirements and process you take can vary between credit card providers, the following steps can be used as a general guide when transferring someone else’s debt to a balance transfer credit card in your name. Get in touch with the institution you’re applying with for further information.

  1. Compare credit cards. Compare balance transfer credit cards to find a one that has a competitive interest rate and promotional period to suit your debt consolidation needs. You’ll want to make sure it has a credit limit that can support your balance (remember that some issuers only allow you to transfer up to a percentage of your credit limit) and that you can pay off the entire debt before the promotional period ends.
  2. Check the balance transfer terms and conditions. Make sure the credit card allows balance transfers between different account names, and whether or not your partner will need to be a secondary cardholder. For cards not listed on this page, you can check the card product disclosure statement or call the issuer for more information.
  3. Apply for the credit card. You will need to provide details including your full name, address, drivers licence or passport number and employment.
  4. Include details of the balance transfer. You will need to provide details of the account including the name and details of the primary account holder (i.e. your partner), the account number, the financial institution’s name, the BSB (where relevant) and the amount of debt to be transferred to the new card.
  5. Include details of secondary cardholders. If the issuer requires your partner to be a secondary cardholder in order to process the balance transfer from their account to your new credit card, make sure you fill out this section of the application with your partner.
  6. Submit the application. You should get an initial response within a few minutes. If you get conditional approval, follow the steps outlined by the issuer to complete the application process and finalize the balance transfer.

Once this process is successfully completed, you should receive your new credit card within 5-10 working days, although it could take up to 21 days in some cases. After you activate the new card, the issuer will process the balance transfer.

Make sure you stay in touch with the new issuer and be ready to answer any questions or provide supporting documentation as requested to help the transfer run as smoothly as possible.

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How to complete a balance transfer to a joint primary cardholder with a partner

With some credit cards, it is possible to transfer a balance from a joint account you currently share, or to transfer your partner’s credit card debt to a new joint credit card account. The important thing to remember is that not all credit cards or issuers allow you to have a joint credit card account, so you will need to make sure you have chosen a card that does offer this feature before going ahead.

  • To transfer a balance from an existing joint account
    Apply for the credit card as usual and include details of the balance transfer request, including all the names of the joint account holders, as well as the account number, financial institution and the amount of debt you want to transfer.
    You can go through this process with an individual credit card in your name, or apply for a credit card that offers joint account status for you and your partner.

joint-to-joint

  • To transfer a balance from your partner’s account to a new joint credit card account
    Find a credit card issuer that allows ‘joint primary cardholders’ and compare their balance transfer credit cards.
    Depending on the issuer you will either be able to apply and get joint account status immediately or apply as an individual and then have your partner request and fill out an additional application to be added as a joint primary cardholder.

single-to-joint

See our guide on how to apply for a balance transfer for tips to improve your chances of approval.

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What is the difference between joint-primary cardholder accounts and secondary cardholders?

It’s important to understand both of these terms when you plan on sharing a credit card account with your partner or someone else, as it can have an impact on the balance transfer options as well as your legal rights.

Joint-primary cardholder accountsPrimary cardholder accounts with secondary cardholders
Two people have applied for a credit card under cardholder’s name and both have complete access to the account One person has applied for a credit card in their name but wants to share the account with a partner (without joint account status)
Both have the ability to change credit limits, request account freezes or close the accountPrimary cardholder can request to add a secondary or additional cardholder but only the primary cardholder has control over credit limit changes, account freezes or account closure
Both partners have regular sources of income and good credit historiesOnly the primary cardholder has a regular source of income and a good credit history
Both parties remain liable for all transactions and payments made on the cardPrimary cardholder remains liable for all transactions and payments made on the card, even if a balance has been transferred from an account held by the secondary cardholder
If the closure of an account is the result of a divorce or a separation, both partners might have to pay half of the debt each, no matter who made which purchase.In the event of a separation or a divorce, know that you, as the primary cardholder, would be liable to make repayments towards the entire account.
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Mistakes to avoid when transferring a balance from someone else’s card

Whether it is your own debt or your partner’s, balance transfer credit cards can be a convenient way to save money on interests and pay down the balance faster but there are also some risks involved. Being aware of the following mistakes will help you make an informed decision about balance transfers for your and your partner when you want to consolidate credit card debt.

  • Applying for a card that doesn’t allow balance transfers from someone else’s account. Not all credit cards let you transfer another person’s credit card debt to a new card in your name. Make sure you check these details before you apply to avoid a declined application.
  • Not discussing payments with your partner. If your partner becomes a secondary cardholder on your account, or if you apply for joint account status, it’s important to be clear on how and when you will both make payments towards the balance of the credit card. Discussing this before you apply for a new card or balance transfer will reduce the risk of confusion or other issues down the track.
  • Not checking the revert rate. The low balance transfer interest rate is only available during the introductory period on the card. When this period ends, any outstanding debt from a balance transfer will attract a higher standard interest rate until it is paid off in full.
  • Balance transfer fees. You might have to pay a balance transfer fee for the balance transfer to take effect, and this fee can vary from one card provider to the next.

While it is hard to find information about transferring a balance from your partner’s accounts to a new credit card, it is possible under some circumstances. Understanding the different options available and the varying conditions of credit card issuers means you can now find a balance transfer credit card that fits the needs of both you and your partner when you want to deal with debt.

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Frequently asked questions

Is there is minimum and maximum limit to how much I can transfer?

Yes, credit card providers tend to have minimum and maximum limits when it comes to balance transfers. While the minimum is usually around $200 to $500, the maximum can limit between 70% to 100% of your card’s credit limit. Check the product disclosure statement for specific details relating to the card you’re applying for.

What details do I have to provide to initiate a balance transfer request?

You would have to provide the name of the account holder, the account number, the amount you wish to transfer, and the name of the credit card provider.

How much time does the balance transfer request take?

This depends on the card you’re using and can take anywhere in between one to 10 business days.

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