Can I transfer debt from my partner?

How to alleviate or consolidate your partner's debt with a balance transfer.

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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 transferring the debt to another person.

What is a joint balance transfer?

A joint balance transfer is when a balance is transferred to relieve a partner’s debt. Not all credit card providers allow this, but there are several that give you the option to move your debt to a partner’s credit card.

There are two ways to do this: transfer between two names, or create a joint account for the debt. Transferring between accounts involves moving your balance to a new card with your partner’s name attached.

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 replaced with yours.

    This means you’re 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 depends on which option you choose and the 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/Institution Types of shared accounts Balance transfer between two people’s names? Joint primary cardholders
American Express Authorized user cross-icons cross-icons
Bank of America Cosigner or joint account holder; guarantor; authorized user transparent-green-tick transparent-green-tick
Barclaycard Authorized user transparent-green-tick cross-icons
Capital One Authorized user cross-icons cross-icons
Chase Authorized user cross-icons cross-icons
Citibank Authorized user cross-icons cross-icons
USAA Joint account holder and authorized user transparent-green-tick transparent-green-tick
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Compare credit cards for balance transfers between two people

We’ve chosen balance transfer cards from providers that may allow you to transfer credit card debt to another person — or from them. Be sure to check with the provider before applying to verify that it will accept the transfer from another person’s account.

%
Name Product Amount saved Balance transfer APR Balance transfer fee Recommended minimum credit score Filter values
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 12.65% to 27.65% variable)
3%
670
Earn 2,500 bonus points when you make your first purchase and earn 1x points on all purchases.
0% intro for the first 15 statement closing dates (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
No balance transfer fees for the first 60 days (then $10 or 3%)
670
Enjoy a 0% intro balance transfer APR for the first 15 statement closing dates, then variable.
0% intro for the first 15 statement closing dates (then 15.74% to 25.74% variable)
$10 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
720
Earn $200 after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days form account opening.
24.74% variable
$10 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
300
Helps establish, strengthen and even rebuild your credit.
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 16.74% to 24.74% variable)
$10 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
Earn 25,000 online bonus points after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days from account opening.

Compare up to 4 providers

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

Most credit card issuers only allow one primary cardholder, so transferring the balance from your partner’s debt to your credit card is the more likely option.

While qualifications and application processes 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.

  1. Compare credit cards.

    Compare balance transfer credit cards to find one that has a competitive APR and even a 0% promotional period.

    Make sure it has a credit limit that supports your balance and you can pay the debt off before the promotional period is up. Also remember that some issuers only allow you to transfer up to a percentage of your credit limit or a flat maximum amount it sets.

  2. Check the balance transfer terms and conditions.

    Make sure the credit card allows balance transfers between different account names, and check if your partner will need to be a secondary cardholder. Check the card’s disclosure statement or call the issuer for more information.

  3. Apply for the credit card.

    Provide details including your full name, Social Security number, address, driver’s licence or passport number and employment details.

  4. Include details of the balance transfer.

    You’ll need to provide details of the account, including your partner’s name and contact info, the account number, the financial institution’s name and the amount of debt to be transferred.

  5. Provide details of secondary cardholders.

    If the issuer requires your partner to be a secondary cardholder to process the balance transfer from their account to your new credit card, 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 five to 10 business 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.

Stay in touch with the new issuer and be ready to answer any questions or provide supporting documentation if needed to help the transfer run as smoothly as possible.

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How to transfer to a joint-primary cardholder account

With some credit cards, it’s possible to transfer a balance from a joint account, or transfer your partner’s credit card debt to a new joint credit card account. Not all credit cards or issuers allow you to have a joint credit card account, so make sure you choose a card that offers this feature.

  • To transfer a balance from an existing joint account

    Apply for the credit card and include details of the balance transfer request, including all the names of the joint account holders, 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 its balance transfer credit cards. Depending on the issuer, you’ll either get joint account status immediately or apply as an individual and add your partner.

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?

The difference can impact your balance transfer options — and your legal rights — when transferring or sharing debt.

Joint-primary cardholder accounts Primary cardholder accounts with secondary cardholders
Two people applied for a credit card under both cardholders’ names and have complete access to the account. One person applied for a credit card in their name but wants to share the account with a partner but without joint account status.
Both have the ability to change credit limits, request account freezes or close the account. 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 histories. Only the primary cardholder has to have a regular source of income and a good credit history.
Both parties remain liable for all transactions and payments made on the card. Primary 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 purchases. In the event of a separation or a divorce, only the primary cardholder is liable for any balances on the entire account.
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Mistakes to avoid when transferring a balance from someone else’s card

Whether it’s your own debt or your partner’s, balance transfer credit cards can be a way to save money on interest and pay down the balance faster. But there are some risks involved.

Being aware of the following common missteps will help you make an informed decision about balance transfers for you 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’ll make payments. Discussing this before you apply for a new card or balance transfer reduces the risk of confusion, missed payments or other issues down the road.
  • 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’s paid off in full.
  • Not accounting for balance transfer fees.
    You might have to pay a balance transfer fee that can vary from one card provider to the next, typically between 3% and 5% of the balance being transferred.

How does a joint balance transfer affect my credit score?

Your credit score is determined by a number of factors, and it impacts your ability to get a loan or other credit cards. When you decide to take on more debt through a joint balance transfer, one thing’s for certain — your credit is affected.

Transferring debt can raise your debt-to-income ratio and your credit utilization ratio, which weighs how much debt you have compared to have much credit you have available. Both can lower your credit score and affect your ability to qualify for low APRs.

Making regular, on-time payments also will affect your credit score. It’s important to know who’s responsible for making payments and when the due date is. Some credit card companies charge high fees for late payments, and may even end a low introductory rate early.

Bottom line

While it can be difficult to get information about transferring a balance from your partner’s account to a new credit card, it’s possible under some circumstances. Understanding the different options available and the varying conditions of credit card issuers means you can find a balance transfer credit card that fits you and your partner’s debt-relief needs.

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Balance transfer calculator

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this calculator, the results should be used as indication only. Certain assumptions have been made around the repayments made. This calculator is neither a quote nor a prequalification for a credit card.
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6 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    alexNovember 27, 2017

    I have a Citi credit card it gives me the option to transfer to a checking account in the balance transfer tab can I do a balance transfer from my credit card to my daughter checking account with Citi even when my name is not on her account because it gives me the option to put in a account information?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JoanneDecember 27, 2017Staff

      Hi Alex,

      Thank you for visiting finder, we are a comparison website and general information service.

      This page listed which banks offer joint balance transfers. Citi does not allow balance transfers between two people’s names or Joint primary cardholders. Should you need further information about the option that allows you to put in an account information, you may need to reach out directly to Citi’s customer care service.

      Cheers,
      Joanne

  2. Default Gravatar
    YesicaJuly 10, 2017

    When I apply for a credit card at chase bank can I transfer the money on the credit card to another person account?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      AnndyJuly 11, 2017Staff

      Hi Yesica,

      Thanks for your question.

      I would like to confirm, are you referring to depositing money to another person’s bank account using your credit card?

      Kindly note that you can’t directly transfer money from your credit card to another person’s bank account. But you could try getting a money transfer service.

      With a money transfer service, you can send money to a bank account or for cash pickup, and be paying it through your credit card. However, please note that this type of transaction may attract cash advance interest. Chase and these companies offer money transfer services.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  3. Default Gravatar
    WillApril 24, 2017

    When transferring a credit balance between two people, is this considering giving or receiving income for either party?

    For example. Jane owes $4000 on her credit. She transfers the balance to her mom. Is this like receiving $4000 from her mother?
    Say for tax purposes or reporting income for child support?

    • Default Gravatar
      LiezlAugust 4, 2017

      Hi Will,

      Thanks for your question.

      Assuming one’s credit card debt through a balance transfer can be considered as a gift provided that no payment is expected from the cardholder. Based on IRS gift tax guidelines, generally, the person who receives your gift will not have to pay gift tax because of it. Also, that person will not have to pay income tax on the value of the gift received. Instead, the gift tax will be paid by the donor, the mother in this case, if the value of the gifts given to a person exceeds the annual exclusion of $14,000.

      I hope this has answered your question.

      Kind regards,
      Liezl

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