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Can I transfer a balance from someone else’s credit card?
See which credit card providers will allow you to take on your partner's debt or transfer your debt to your partner.
If your partner is paying a high interest rate on their credit card debt, you might be able to help them save money, especially if you have a good credit score.
By transferring your partner’s balance to a credit card offering a low interest rate or 0% deal for a set time, you could pay off your partner’s debt faster without accruing unnecessary interest.
Can I transfer my partner’s credit card balance to mine?
While some credit card providers in the UK will only let you make a balance transfer from another card in your name, others will allow you to transfer a balance from someone else’s credit card.
However, before doing so, it’s important to be aware of a few things:
This guide will help you figure out your options, discover which providers allow balance transfers from someone else, and the steps you’ll need to take to transfer credit card debt from your partner.
How do I transfer a balance to or from my partner’s credit card?
While terms and conditions, as well as the application process, 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.
For more information, get in touch with the credit card issuer directly when you’re applying.
- Compare credit cards. Compare balance transfer credit cards to find one that has a lengthy 0% promotional period or competitive APR (annual percentage rate). Don’t forget to also check how much the balance transfer fee comes to (start by looking at deals with no balance transfer fee). If you’ve chosen a card with a 0% deal, it’s important to calculate how much you’ll need to repay each month to clear the balance before the interest-free deal ends. You should also keep in mind that most issuers only allow you to transfer up to a percentage of your personal credit limit (typically 90–95%).
- Check the balance transfer terms and conditions. Make sure the credit card allows balance transfers between different account names. If in doubt, call the issuer to double check, otherwise you could end up with a new credit card that won’t allow you to make a transfer from another account.
- Check your eligibility. Pretty much every card issuer now provides a “soft search” facility, allowing you to find out if you’d be approved before you apply and with no impact on your credit score. This is a smart option because when you do finally hit “Apply”, your credit file will be “hard searched”, which has a small (and usually short-lived) negative impact on your credit score. You only want to incur this small negative hit once in the whole process of choosing and applying for a card.
- Apply for the credit card. Provide details such as your full name, current address, previous addresses and employment details. Include information about the balance transfer. You will need to provide details of the account you’re transferring from, including your partner’s name and contact information, the card account numbers, their credit card provider’s name and the amount of debt to be transferred.
- Submit the application. You should get an initial response within a few minutes. If you get a conditional approval, follow the steps outlined by the issuer to accept its offer and finalise the balance transfer.
Once this process is successfully completed, you should receive your new credit card within 5–10 business days, although it could take longer 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.
Which credit card providers let you transfer a balance to or from a partner?
We asked some big-hitters in the balance transfers market what their policy was on transferring debt from a partner’s card.
Currently, Barclaycard, first direct, HSBC UK and NatWest allow customers to transfer a balance to or from a partner.
|Card issuer||Transfer from partner||More info|
|Barclaycard says that customers can transfer a balance from someone else’s card, but warns that this means the balance then becomes your responsibility. Barclaycard adds that unless told otherwise, transfers can’t be accepted from other credit card or loan accounts held with Barclays Bank UK PLC, or any other Barclays Group Company.|
|Customers can transfer a balance from a partner’s card but it cannot be from an HSBC Group card or some store cards.|
|Customers can transfer a balance from a partner’s card but it cannot be from an HSBC Group card or some store cards.|
|A spokesperson at Halifax told us: “When a customer contacts us looking to transfer a balance to a Halifax credit card, we advise them that they can only transfer a balance from an account in their own name.”|
|While previously Lloyds was willing to accept transfers from somebody else with the same address as you, a spokesperson at Lloyds Bank recently told us: “When a customer contacts us looking to transfer a balance to a Lloyds Bank credit card, we advise them that they can only transfer a balance from an account in their own name.”|
|As MBNA is part of Lloyds Banking Group, customers are advised that they can only transfer a balance from an account in their own name.|
|NatWest says that customers can make balance transfers from UK registered credit cards that are not part of the NatWest Group.|
|Tesco Bank says you can only make a transfer from a card in your own name, so you wouldn’t be able to carry out a transfer from your partner’s card.|
Can my partner and I get a joint credit card?
You might think it’s possible to get a joint credit card in order to consolidate debt with your partner. But unfortunately, that’s not the case in the UK. What is occasionally thought of as a “joint” credit card is actually a credit card in one person’s name with additional cards issued for others to use, essentially multiple users tied to one account in the name of one person.
Providers are only likely to approve additional cardholders if they are a spouse, partner or relative, aged over 18 and living at the same address. However, these conditions can vary between providers.
Be aware though, if a credit card is in your name and your partner has an extra card, you’ll have no control over their spending or if they exceed the credit limit. Plus, it will be your responsibility to make the monthly repayments and clear the outstanding debt.
Do I have any other options to help my partner clear their debt?
An alternative option to help your partner pay off their debt is to use a credit card that allows you to transfer money into your bank account. This is known as a money transfer credit card, and once the money has been moved into your bank account, you’ll be free to do what you want with it.
For example, you could transfer the money into your partner’s bank account, allowing them to pay off their credit card debt in full. You then repay the amount borrowed to your credit card provider, in the usual monthly instalments.
Money transfer cards often offer a 0% interest rate for an introductory period. However, as with balance transfer cards, you will usually have to pay a transfer fee – often around 3% to 4% of the transfer amount. And, once the 0% period ends, if you haven’t cleared the debt, you’ll start being charged interest at the card’s standard rate.
If you would prefer not to take out a credit card, you could consider a joint personal loan instead. These can allow you to borrow more than a credit card and the sum borrowed can be repaid over 1 to 7 years. However, monthly payments are fixed, making personal loans less flexible than credit cards.
What should I watch out for?
Whether it’s your own debt or your partner’s, balance transfer credit cards can be a handy way to save money on interest and pay down the balance faster. However, there are some risks involved. Being aware of the following mistakes will help you make an informed decision about balance transfers for you and your partner when you want to consolidate credit card debt.
- Don’t forget to communicate with your partner and agree on who will actually make the monthly repayments on the new balance transfer credit card. If your partner intends to make the monthly repayments, you’ll need to determine whether or not they can afford to, as you’ll be entirely responsible once the transfer has been made, not your partner. If your partner can’t meet the repayments, you’ll need to step in.
- Don’t accidentally apply 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.
- Don’t forget to check the balance transfer fees. These can vary from one card provider to the next. It’s worth finding out if you’ll still be saving even after paying the balance transfer fee.
- Don’t forget to check the promotional end date. The 0% balance transfer deal will only be available for a number of months. When this period ends, any outstanding debt from a balance transfer will usually attract a higher rate of interest until it’s paid off in full. Will you still be able to make the monthly repayments with interest?
- Don’t forget to consider what will happen if you miss (or your partner misses) a monthly repayment. Will there be any penalties and will you still save in the long run?
How does transferring a balance from someone else’s card affect my credit score?
While it’s an honourable act to help your partner out with their high-interest credit card debt, you’ll need to remember that your credit score will be affected if, for some reason, a monthly payment isn’t made. Regardless of the original debt belonging to someone else, you will bear the brunt if a payment is missed.
A missed or late payment will be noted on your credit record where it will stay for 6 years. Some lenders take late payments into account when calculating your credit score which means you could find it harder to get accepted for credit in the future.
However, if you repay the debt in full and on time, it should only affect your credit score in a positive way. That said, keep in mind that as you’ll be increasing your overall debt, your borrowing power will be affected until you’ve paid it off.
Exactly how much you’ll potentially save with a balance transfer credit card will depend on the size of your debt, the length of the 0% balance transfer offer and your repayments, but you could save hundreds or thousands of pounds in interest while you clear the debt.
Nick wants to help his wife Kate with the £5,000 debt she has on her credit card. She's struggling with a high rate of interest and can't get approved for a card with a better rate, having recently missed a repayment. As Nick has a good credit score, he has the opportunity to get a balance transfer credit card offering 0% on balance transfers for 20 months, with a £3,000 credit limit. He's allowed to use up to 90% of his credit limit towards the balance transfer but will have to pay a 3% balance transfer fee. Nick transfers £2,700 of Kate's debt to his new card and pays the £81 for the balance transfer fee. The 20-month interest-free period allows the couple to get out of debt much faster and pay less overall.
* This is a fictional, but realistic, example.
While it can be hard to find information about transferring a balance from your partner to a new credit card, it is possible under some circumstances. Understanding your options and the different card providers’ terms and conditions will mean you could find a balance transfer credit card that fits both your own and your partner’s needs.
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