If you get an offer in the mail or see an attractive offer online for a balance transfer credit card, you may be ready to jump on it. You might be surprised to learn that most credit card providers won’t allow you to make the balance transfer within the same credit card company or a card offered by one of their affiliates.
So if you’re considering a balance transfer, find out the issuer and what debt it’s willing to take on.
Transferring debt between cards with the same provider is typically not allowed. Most credit card providers have restrictions on transferring balances on other credit cards or loans from the same provider or one their affiliates.
For example, if you have debt on an MBNA credit card that you’d like to consolidate onto a TD credit card, your application will likely be denied because MBNA is an affiliate of TD. Check with the provider before you apply for your balance transfer card to learn if you can transfer balances from cards issued by certain providers.
While it’s very rare a provider will approve a balance transfer within the same bank or credit card provider, there are sometimes exceptions. These exceptions will likely be made on a case-by-case basis.
Which credit card providers accept balance transfers from cards they issued?
Although you can’t balance transfer to a card offered by the same provider, you may be able to transfer a balance from another provider to a credit card you’ve held for a long time with a different bank — sometimes even scoring a promotional APR.
This is not always the case, as some providers require you to be a brand new customer to reap the rewards of a promotional offer such as a low or 0% APR balance transfer offer. Although the providers below may allow existing customers to do a balance transfer, they may not reward you with the promotional introductory offer.
What’s the difference between a credit card provider and a credit card brand?
To understand this more clearly, let’s distinguish between a credit card provider and a credit card brand. While credit cards are often branded by banks, stores or even supermarkets — like Costco and BestBuy — these cards are actually issued by larger financial institutions like TD or CIBC.
To go one step further, there’s also a difference between a credit card provider and a credit card network. Scotiabank may issue the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card, but the card is part of the Visa network. Networks – which include Visa, Mastercard and American Express – facilitate transactions and determine where cards are accepted.
Note that American Express is both a network and a credit card provider.
Changes between credit card brands and providers
Some credit card brands may change card providers from time to time. So, check your current card provider when you’re about to request a balance transfer.
In some cases, a different provider may be affiliated with your account, which could affect your ability to balance transfer your debt to other associated credit card brands.
Why are balance transfers not allowed between cards by the same provider?
When you’re sent balance transfer offers in the mail, the provider is often looking for new customers. Balance transfers let you move your debt from one creditor to another, typically with the benefit of a lower APR on your debt for a specific period of time.
A provider will not allow you to transfer the debt you currently have with it to another affiliated card to get a lower rate simply because they are profiting from your debt – so why change that?
If you accidentally apply for a balance transfer with the same provider, the impact depends on the companies involved and your financial circumstances. Some potential outcomes include:
- Your application will probably be declined. In most cases, the reason your application is denied has more to do with other factors, including your credit score and history. However, if you hold debt with that provider, they will likely deny your application as well.
- It could affect your credit score. Every time you apply for a credit card, the provider does a hard pull on your credit that can temporarily lower your score by a few points.
- You could get an offer for the new card without the balance transfer. If you have good credit, a provider may offer you the chance to apply for a different credit card issued by them. While you might be approved for this card, any promotional balance transfer offers that come alongside the card won’t usually be available.
Banks and credit card providers generally won’t allow you to transfer debt from a card issued by the provider or its affiliates.
Contact the bank or credit card provider and explain which cards you want to transfer debt from and ask if it’s allowed before you apply to avoid being rejected.
Before applying for any balance transfer credit cards, read the terms and conditions of the card to understand the fees, expectations and restrictions. Even if you’re approved for a balance transfer card, you might find out that you can’t move all of your debt to the new card, since some providers limit the amount of debt you can move to your new card.Back to top