The 5 biggest balance transfer traps to avoid in 2018

Ceyda Erem   |   09 Jan 2018

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Choosing to transfer debt onto a balance transfer credit card is often a no-brainer for many Aussies because of the alluring 0% interest rate. But with this handy zero interest offer comes a lot of misconceptions about how it can be used effectively, leading many card holders to fall into dangerous balance transfer traps.

If you are thinking of using a balance transfer credit card to crush debt, here are the five biggest balance transfer traps to avoid.

5 balance transfer credit cards to help crush debt - rates updated daily

  • Apply By 31 October 2018

    Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card

    0% p.a. for 14 months and then 21.99% p.a.

    19.99% p.a.

    $49 $0 in the first year

    10% off your 1st Woolworths shop on selected dates once a month. No annual fee for the first year.

    • 0% p.a. for 14 months and then 21.99% p.a.

    • $49 $0 in the first year

    • 19.99% p.a.

    • 55

    • 21.99% p.a.

    • 3%, minimum $5

    • Woolworths Money Shopping Card sent every 4 months if enough points have been accrued.

    Details Close

  • American Express Velocity Escape Card

    0% p.a. for 12 months and then 20.74% p.a. (1.00% balance transfer fee)

    20.74% p.a.

    $0

    No Annual Fees and receive 0% p.a. on balance transfers for the first 12 months

    • 0% p.a. for 12 months and then 20.74% p.a. (1.00% balance transfer fee)

    • $0

    • 20.74% p.a.

    • 55

    • Points automatically transferred to your Velocity account

    Details Close

  • Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard

    2.99% p.a. for 9 months and then 17.99% p.a.

    17.99% p.a.

    $0

    2.99% p.a. for 9 months and then 17.99% p.a. on balance transfers. $0 annual fee & no foreign transaction fees with the Zero Platinum Mastercard

    • 2.99% p.a. for 9 months and then 17.99% p.a.

    • $0

    • 17.99% p.a.

    • 55

    • 21.99% p.a.

    • 2%, Min $4.00

    Details Close

  • 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard

    4.99% p.a. for 6 months and then 21.99% p.a.

    21.99% p.a.

    $0

    $0 overseas fees on purchases + Enjoy fast, premium quality Global Wi-Fi at more than 1 million hotspots worldwide

    • 4.99% p.a. for 6 months and then 21.99% p.a.

    • $0

    • 21.99% p.a.

    • 55

    • 21.99% p.a.

    • 3%, min $4

    Details Close

  • Apply By 31 October 2018

    Virgin Money Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer and Points Offer

    0% p.a. for 18 months and then 20.99% p.a.

    20.74% p.a.

    $129 $64 in the first year

    Earn 3 bonus Velocity Points on top of standard earn rates in first 3 months

    • 0% p.a. for 18 months and then 20.99% p.a.

    • $129 $64 in the first year

    • 20.74% p.a.

    • 44

    • 20.99% p.a.

    • 2.7%, Min $2.70

    • Points are credited to the Velocity Frequent Flyer program.

    Details Close

Only making the minimum repayment 

While you may jump for joy at the minimum amount your are eligible to pay each month, do not give in to this temptation. By only paying the minimum amount, you run the risk of not being able to pay off the debt by the time the interest-free period ends, and winding up paying interest at the higher revert rate.

Moving debt around 

Aha, you think you’ve found the answer to escaping the dreaded revert rate? Does it involve moving from one BT card to another? Not so fast. Yes, you will avoid paying interest on your debt, but jumping from one card to another can hurt your credit score, especially if your application is declined. Plus, this doesn’t fix the problem of your debt - it just delays having to deal with paying off your balance.

Using those rewards points for spending

Remember those misconceptions we mentioned earlier? This is one of them. Your balance transfer card is designed to help you climb out of debt, not make the hole deeper. If you use your card to make purchases, you will have to pay off this spending first, before moving onto other debt. And if you withdraw money using the card, you will have to pay the cash advance rate from the day you make the withdrawal until it’s paid off in full.

Forgetting about your old card 

First of all, it’s important to keep in mind that balance transfers usually take up to 2 weeks to complete, so you’ll still need to continue making repayments on your old card in the meantime. Otherwise, you may face a late payment fee. Another trap to avoid is leaving your old card account open and either paying an annual fee for a card you’re not using, or falling back into the habit of spending on it and starting the debt cycle all over again.

Paying transfer fees 

Balance transfer fees typically range between 1% - 3% of the balance you’re transferring and are usually charged for BT cards with longer interest-free periods, like 18 - 24 months. This can add up over time if you find yourself often moving debt around, or if you’re transferring a hefty balance.

But the good news is, balance transfer fees are avoidable you just need to look for a BT card offer with no transfer fees.

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