If you want a credit card balance transfer, make sure you know what you’re applying for. It’s important not to get caught out. Here are five balance transfer things to think about before you make the call.

Give me the main points

  • A balance transfer takes two to four weeks to go through.
  • Usually there’s a limit on how much you can transfer to your new card.
  • The special introductory rate is for a limited time. Find out what rate it then reverts to.
  • You get no interest-free days when you make a balance transfer.
  • A debt consolidation loan might be a better option in some cases.

Before we get started, make sure you’ve read Is a balance transfer right for you? It covers off the basics.

1. Balance transfers are not instant

Transferring your balance can take a while—usually around two to four weeks. During this time, your old card will still be active. You'll need to keep up your payments until the transfer takes place, otherwise you might end up paying extra fees and interest.

Once the transfer's done, you’ll need to cancel your old card (if you haven’t already). There’s no point transferring the debt if you start using your old card again.

2. Transfer amounts are limited

The amount you can transfer to your new card is often a percentage of the card’s credit limit. It can vary between banks so you’ll need to check this.

Our cards have a maximum balance transfer of 90%. What does that mean in practice? If your new credit limit is $1,000, you can only transfer $900 from another credit card. Just bear in mind that buying things affects paying off your transferred balance. We'll explain this more in point four.

3. Special interest rates end

If there’s a special offer—with a promotional or introductory rate— attached to the credit card, it’ll only last for the promotional period. Make sure you know how long you've got left on your promotional rate before the interest on your balance transfer goes up. Obviously it’s best if you can pay it off before the promotional rate ends.

Also check how your bank calculates interest at the end of the special rate period. With us, after the promotional period or introductory rate, unpaid balance transfers will revert to the cash advance rate. Be sure to read the fine print.

You can see interest rates for our credit cards in our credit card comparison table.

4. Interest-free days don’t apply

If you've transferred a credit card balance to your NAB credit card, you won't have interest-free days while you have a balance transfer. We calculate interest on your balance transfer (at the promotional rate) from the first day you make the transfer. When the promotional rate ends, any unpaid balance transfers will revert to the cash advance rate.

Interest-free days don't apply for anything (including purchases) until you've paid your transferred balance in full. So if you have a balance transfer and you use your credit card for purchases, your card's standard purchase rate will apply, from the day you make the purchase.

Pay off your balance transfer, plus any purchases made during the balance transfer period, as soon as you can. Once you've done this, interest-free days will be available on your purchases.

5. A debt consolidation loan might be better

If you've transferred your balance to a new card but can’t get back to zero within the special interest rate period, consider applying for a personal loan.

For more on this, have a read of Is a debt consolidation loan right for you?

Or find out more about applying for a balance transfer.

Ways to apply for a balance transfer

Don’t have a NAB credit card yet?

You can apply for a balance transfer at the same time you apply for your new NAB credit card.

Compare our cards and special offers

Already a NAB credit cardholder?

If you’re the primary cardholder, you can transfer a balance to your existing NAB credit card any time. Apply online, use our Mobile Banking app or call us.

Find out more about transferring a balance to your NAB credit card

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