The 5 biggest balance transfer traps to avoid in 2018

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

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    NAB Low Rate Card - Balance Transfer Offer

    Spend with confidence with a low 13.49% p.a. variable purchase rate and 0% p.a. interest on balance transfers for the first 28 months (T&Cs apply). 2% balance transfer fee applies. There’s also up to 55 interest free days on purchases to help you manage your budget better when you make minimum repayments. Minimum credit limit $1,000. No annual fee for the first year (usually $59).

    Balance transfer rate
    Purchase rate
    Annual fee
    Rewards program
    Estimated savings
    0% p.a. for 28 months and then 21.74% p.a. (2.00% balance transfer fee)
    13.49% p.a.
    $59 $0 in the first year
    -
    Details
  • Apply By 30 April 2024
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    Citi Premier

    120,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days from card approval. Complimentary features like travel insurance and concierge.

    Balance transfer rate
    Purchase rate
    Annual fee
    Rewards program
    Estimated savings
    0% p.a. for 6 months and then 22.24% p.a.
    21.49% p.a.
    $300 $150 in the subsequent years if you spend $48,000 on eligible purchases or cash advances in previous year., $150 in the first year
    Citi Rewards Program
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    Bank of Queensland Blue Visa Credit Card

    Balance transfer rate
    Purchase rate
    Annual fee
    Rewards program
    Estimated savings
    0% p.a. for 9 months and then 21.74% p.a.
    0% p.a. for 9 months then 20.74% p.a.
    $60
    Q Rewards
  • Apply By 14 May 2024
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    Virgin Money Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer

    Get in the air with a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year. 0% p.a. for 28 months on balance transfers.

    Balance transfer rate
    Purchase rate
    Annual fee
    Rewards program
    Estimated savings
    0% p.a. for 24 months and then 20.99% p.a.
    20.74% p.a.
    $149 $0 in the first year
    Velocity Frequent Flyer
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    Bankwest More Classic Mastercard

    Earn 1.5 More Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible purchases. Plus, if you meet the minimum annual spend, you'll receive a bonus 19,500 points every year.

    Balance transfer rate
    Purchase rate
    Annual fee
    Rewards program
    Estimated savings
    0% p.a. for 6 months and then 19.99% p.a. (1.00% balance transfer fee)
    19.99% p.a.
    $100
    Bankwest More Rewards

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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