Most providers allow you to transfer several balances to the one account, though this can vary from provider to provider. As long as your total transfer balance doesn’t exceed the balance transfer limit, you should have no issue transferring debts from multiple credit cards.
There are more than 32.3 million credit card holders in the UK, and according to The Money Charity, the total credit card debt in April 2018 was over £70 billion – that’s around £2,600 per household. In short, we like paying on plastic, with many of us using more than one credit card.
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Did you know?In most cases, card issuers will allow you to transfer debt from multiple credit cards, though the total transfer must not exceed the card’s balance transfer limit (typically be between 75% and 100% of your credit limit). You may also be charged a balance transfer fee (usually between 2% and 3% of the balance amount).
Can I transfer balances from another person?
Many card issuers will allow you to transfer a balance from somebody else’s card. In this situation, the balance would then become your responsibility.
Can I transfer balances between cards issued by the same bank?
Unfortunately, your bank won’t allow this. That’s because banks use balance transfer promotions to attract new customers, rather than to give current customers a break from interest.
How to conduct multiple balance transfers
When you apply online for a credit card with a balance transfer promotion, you’ll be prompted to enter the details of any balances you’d like to bring across to the new card. Here you’ll need to provide the issuer of the credit card you’re transferring the balance from (e.g. HSBC), the 16-digit number on the card and the amount you wish to transfer.
Most balance transfer applications will provide more than one section in the application for you to fill out the details of multiple balances. But if the application only has the option to list one or two accounts, contact the provider to confirm whether you can request an additional account to be added.
You’ll then need to organise the closure of your accounts once you’ve completed the balance transfer. If you don’t close your accounts, you may continue to incur fees (such as an annual card fee).
Other balance transfer tips
Remember, the clock is ticking and you have to use every day you get with a balance transfer promotional rate of interest to reduce your credit card debt.
Start repaying immediately
Because the low introductory rate only lasts for a specified number of months, you have a limited time to repay your balance in full. Once the promotional period ends, your remaining balance will begin collecting at a rate (usually the standard interest or cash advance rate) which can exceed 20%. Divide the outstanding balance by the number of months in the promotional period to work out what you need to pay each month.
Don’t use your balance transfer card for purchases
Your purchases will be paid off before your existing debt as the purchase amounts will be collecting a higher interest rate than the promotional balance transfer rate.
Mistakes to avoid when transferring multiple balances to one card
Transferring multiple balances means you’ll need to keep track of quite a few details. That said, stay vigilant and avoid these common balance-transfer mistakes.
Applying to transfer a balance within the same banking group
If you have an outstanding balance on a Bank of Scotland credit card, you won’t be able to transfer it to a Halifax card. Take a moment to quickly double-check that the banks aren’t part of the same group before you apply.
Not factoring in the balance transfer fee
The balance transfer fee is usually 2-3% of each transaction. That means a £3,000 transfer might cost you £90. Add up a few balance transfers and you could pay a larger fee than you thought. To make sure the fee is worth paying, calculate how much you’ll save with your balance transfer.
Not keeping track of payments on your old cards after making your balance transfers
Balance transfers can take a while to complete, especially if they’re on a newly-issued card. Until that time you must make at least the minimum payments on your old card bills.
Forgetting about the offer deadline
With many balance transfer credit cards, you must transfer your balances within a certain period to qualify for the intro APR. For example, a card offering 0% interest on balance transfers for 18 months might only apply this rate to transfers you make within the first four months. All providers have to clearly show a “summary box” for the cards they issue, and sometimes going straight to this document can be the quickest way to find out exactly what you need to know. Here’s the relevant section from a Virgin Money credit card’s summary box.
What to do with older accounts
So, you’ve transferred your balances to your new credit card. Should you close your old accounts?
There is an argument that you should keep the account open, because this keeps your debt-to-credit-limit ratio (also known as your credit utilisation ratio) lower, which is generally looked upon favourably by lenders. Keeping your old accounts open may even help your credit score in another way – by increasing the average age of your credit accounts.
However, there are also several good reasons to close the old accounts: If an old card has an annual or monthly fee, you’ll probably want to close it; if it has a low credit limit, then it’s not helping your debt-to-credit-limit ratio anyway; additionally, fewer cards are much easier to keep track of; and perhaps most importantly, there’s a chance you could be tempted to use the old cards, and end up with a dangerously-high level of debt.
It’s often best to just close the old accounts and be done with it, but you can weigh up the points above and how they apply to your specific situation.
The bottom line
You may feel apprehensive about transferring multiple balances. That’s perfectly normal. Take the process step by step, asking your prospective card issuer if you’re unsure about the rules.
While making your balance transfers, keep records of what transactions you’ve initiated. Also, record important details about your intro offers and when you should pay off your debt – setting calendar reminders can work particularly well.
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