If you have outstanding balances and debt on your current credit card, transferring such outstanding balance through a credit card transfer is one of the considerations people choose to get out of their debt faster.
They also do this so that they won’t have to spend more money on interest and recurring charges that can eventually hurt their credit rating.
However, a balance transfer comes with corresponding processing fees and interest rates that might even further hurt your credit portfolio in the long run.
In this article, we will tackle what balance transfers really are, their pros and cons, and of course, the alternatives that you can consider as strategies to easily get out of your debt.
By sheer definition, a balance transfer is what you call when you would one to move your debt from one of your cards to another card.
This method is usually being made by those who would want to transfer the amount that they owe to a credit card company or account that has a substantially lower interest rate than the former card.
In hindsight, conducting balance transfers are done to help save borrowers money.
Example: you have a S$5000 balance on your credit card with an annual percentage rate (or APR) of 20%. This would mean that you will need to pay for $1,134 in interest. However, if you secure a 12-month along with a 0% balance transfer on a different credit card and transferring the 5k balance, then you will no longer have to pay off the interest, but just the processing fees to transfer the balance.
The challenge that will come along with this method is that having a credit card balance transfer will only have logical sense if the customer will be able to pay most (if not all) of the debt during the period of the promotional rate (usually with 0% interest).
This is a challenge, after that period ends and if the debt is still not paid, the customer will eventually have to deal with another high interest rate on their outstanding account balance.
In these cases, personal loans (because they have fixed and competitively lower rates) would therefore turn out to be the smarter and more viable option than a balance transfer.
While in general, transferring your outstanding balance from a credit card of higher interest to that of a lower one can be a great strategy to help you save money.
Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of opting to work on this method:
- To some extent, a balance transfer may save you money because promotional periods would charge 0% on interest (although with high processing fees).
- It may get you out of debt at a relatively faster pace, but may be a con given some conditions
- Balance transfers may not help you save enough to the point that it is worth the trouble.
- To make sure that you’d be able to save on balance transfers, you should be certain that you can afford your repayments before the promotional period lapses
- You might fall into deeper traps of debt if you continue on making new purchases on the credit card to which the balance has been transferred to.
- Most credit card companies do not offer grace periods on new purchases after the balance transfer has been made.
- Paying late may sometimes cause you to forfeit the promotional APR and may be a great risk for those who experience challenges of paying on time
The key takeaways here are that when you transfer a credit card balance from one credit balance to another, it could be one option to help you get out of debt faster.
However, it should not be a way to minimize your outstanding debt by making your payments into smaller portions for a few months.
Balance transfers may be a logical choice, but it is important to understand the math behind these transactions. It is important to create a strategic repayment plan that you can commit to, so you can really get out of debt faster and spend less money on unnecessary interest rates.
Here are the top five banks with the most competitive transfer rates in Singapore this season
|Bank||6-month balance transfer||12-month balance transfer|
||0% interest per annum and 1.58% processing fee (only for new customers)||0% interest per year and 4.5% processing fee|
||0% interest per year and a 1.5% processing fee||0% per year and 4.5% processing fee|
||0% per year with a 2.5% processing fee||0% per year and an online exclusive offer of 4.28% fee|
||0% per year with a 2.5% processing fee||0% per year plus 4.5% processing fee|
||0% per year with a 2.5% processing fee||No processing fees; but with 4.88% per annum|
To help you further understand the difference of balance transfers and a personal loan, we have categorized them into five characteristics: approval process, interest rate, processing fees, repayment terms, and repayment/loan amounts. This is summarized in the table below:
|Balance Transfer||Personal Loan|
|Approval Process||Long and tedious (takes days or weeks)||Fast and easy (within an hour)|
|Loan Amount||Varies, with repayments of 1% to 3% outstanding amount each month||Fixed; up to 6x the borrower’s monthly income|
|Interest Rate||0% but only within the promotional period||Up to 4% per month|
|Processing Fees||High; from 1.5% to 5.5%||Low; will not exceed more than 10% of the principal loan amount|
|Repayment Period||Short; 3 up to 18 months||Up to 12 months, depending on the loan agreement|
Based on the table above, it can be seen that applying for a personal loan to help repay your outstanding debt can be the more viable option. Repayment periods are much longer and more flexible than to that of traditional balance transfers.
Furthermore, the approval process for a personal loan is faster, more accessible, and easier than when engaging with balance transfer promotions. While the interest rates are relatively higher than the 0% promotional period of balance transfers, doing the math would show that you can save on the other hand, on transaction and processing fees if you opt to take on a personal loan instead.
1) Processing Fees
As compared to borrowing cash from moneylenders with more financially strategic rates, you should look out for processing fees when conducting balance transfer promotions. The fees that you can incur when you engage on these transactions are:
Balance Transfer Rate: Typically 0% but some would charge 2.5%-4.88% per year
Processing Fee: S$88 up to S$316 (1.5% up to 4.5%)
Annual Fees: Typically at an approximate of S$60
Late payment fees: S$75 to S$120
Given all the fees above, you can determine that borrowing from moneylenders can be a huge consideration because of their lower processing fees. For instance, a late payment fee with a moneylender will not exceed S$60 per month.
2) Transfer Fee
Transfer fees are relatively low, and most banks would offer this at 0%. However, this usually applies only to a specified repayment loan tenure, or repayment period. At this rate, you should look out for extremely high interest rates on your unpaid outstanding amount if you exceed and get past the repayment period you have agreed upon with your bank.
3) Length of the repayment period
Balance transfers would usually offer 6 months and a tenure of 12 months, although there are others that offer a 3 month or a 9 month tenure. It is important to be completely aware about the repayment period as exceeding the period you have agreed upon will incur high interest rates on your account–and will charge you with whichever is higher.
In general, the basic eligibility requirements and criteria include:
- Being at least 21 years old and above;
- Should have a minimum annual income of S$30,000 for the citizens of Singapore or its permanent residents;
- Should have a minimum annual income of S$42,000 for the foreigners residing or working in Singapore;
- Should be able to secure a Singapore Employment Pass–for foreigners;
- Some banks would require its applicants to own a credit card or, in some cases, even a bank account with the bank that you would want to transfer your balances to. You should note that some banks can only offer balance transfers to Singapore citizens or to its permanent residents, and not to foreigners.
Having a balance transfer loan on your credit balance with banks is something that is ideal for those who would not just want to get out of debt faster, but most especially for those who can afford to stick strictly to their repayment plans and repayment periods.
While a balance transfer loan may be a tempting option for some people, in most cases, experts would still recommend having a personal loan to pay for your outstanding balances instead.
But to do this successfully, it is important to engage only with the top licensed money lenders in Singapore, such as GM Creditz. You wouldn’t have to wait for long periods just to have your loan approved (it saves you time AND money). You also wouldn’t have to worry about high processing fees and expensive late repayment fees. Repayment periods are also flexible to your needs, and at the same time, fixed.
Lastly, since not all banks offer balance transfers to foreigners, having a foreigner loan would be the most viable option to immediately pay for your outstanding credit card debt.