Balance transfers are a very prudent way of cutting down on high interest rates that are so prevalent in credit cards.
Most people use balance transfers to transfer balance from one card to another where both of those cards are in their name.
However, I often get asked about whether you can balance transfer someone else’s credit card debt. This would mean that the outstanding balance on their account would be transferred onto your card.
Today, I’ll be discussing whether this is even possible and what are some pitfalls you should watch out for if you’re considering it.
How Do You Even Reduce Debt by Transferring Balance from One Card to Another?
The key to reducing your debt using a balance transfer lies in the fact that a lot of credit cards have extremely high interest rates. This can cause the amount you owe on a certain card to skyrocket very quickly.
Balance transfers can help you mitigate this problem. The idea is to transfer the outstanding balance from your current card to a card that has a low or 0% interest rate. As I mentioned earlier, typically, people do this for themselves, i.e., both of their cards are in their name and they transfer the balance in order to reduce their own debt.
While this is definitely a very sensible solution that can work if you’re successful in obtaining a card that has little or 0% interest, it’s often not possible since credit card companies are often apprehensive about issuing low-interest cards to people with poor credit scores.
If you’re a person that’s struggling with debt, it’s likely that your credit score will not be very good and it’ll definitely be difficult for you to secure a card with a low interest rate.
Of course, if you’re able to secure one despite your poor credit score, all the more power to you. You can begin utilising it to minimise your debt.
Keep an Eye Out for Balance Transfer Fees
One additional thing you should be on the lookout for is the balance transfer fee. Most companies charge a fee when you transfer a balance from one card to another. This balance transfer fee is typically 2 – 3% of the total balance that is transferred. If it’s a large amount, you may be paying a lot in balance transfer fees so you must make sure you keep this in mind.
Can I Transfer Balance from Someone Else’s Credit Card?
The short answer is yes.
However, only some specific providers give you the option of transferring balance from someone else’s credit card. These providers may also limit whose card you can transfer the balance from.
For example, the person from whom you’re transferring the balance may have to be your spouse or close relative.
Keep in mind that only the person who is taking on the debt, i.e. you, can authorise the balance transfer.
The card to which the balance is being transferred may be a new credit card that you’re applying for or it could be a credit card that you already have.
How Do I Transfer a Balance from Someone Else’s Credit Card?
The process of transferring balance from someone else’s credit card is pretty much exactly the same as a regular balance transfer.
You have to provide the name of the credit card along with the credit card number as well as the amount that is being transferred to your account.
If you’re applying for this balance transfer online, it’s likely that you won’t be asked for the name of the credit cardholder; You will most likely only be asked for the credit card number.
However, if you’re applying for it over the phone, it’s likely that you will be asked for the name of the cardholder.
What are Some Things to Keep in Mind when Transferring Someone Else’s Credit Card Debt to My Account?
I’ve already mentioned balance transfer fees. They can rack up to a significant amount if the amount of money you’re transferring is large.
You may have to discuss with the person whose debt you’re transferring about who will be paying for the balance transfer fees.
Other than that, the single most important thing you need to worry about is the fact that now that the outstanding balance has been transferred to your account, you are the one who’s liable for the debt.
This means that in the future, if a payment is missed or paid late, you are the one who the credit card company will contact to inquire about it. You will be solely responsible for the debt since it will be in your name now.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve had an informal agreement with the person whose debt it originally was. According to guidelines set and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, you’re the one who’s responsible for taking care of the debt now.
Since the debt is in your name now, it will also have an effect on your credit score. Any missed or late payments will affect your credit score drastically. Thus, this is definitely something to think about before you take on someone else’s debt on your account.
Hence, it’s important that before you transfer someone else’s outstanding balance onto your account, you make sure that:
- You trust them completely to make the repayments to you so you can forward them to the credit card company.
- You don’t have a problem paying off the debt from your own pocket on behalf of the other person in case they are unable to or if they refuse to.
Although you are legally responsible for the debt now, this does not mean that you have to pay it yourself.
In most cases like these, the balance transfer is done in order to reduce the debt for the original debtor.
Make sure that before you transfer the balance to your account, you talk with the original debtor thoroughly about what their plan is for paying off the debt so that you’re both on the same page.
Make sure to talk about how much they will pay towards their debt each month.
You can also ask them to set up a direct debit so that they can make payments to the credit card provider themselves each month.
It’s a good idea to get the agreement in writing and to also keep a record of the payments that the original debtor has made towards their debt. They could come in handy in case any disputes arise later.
Balance Transfers are a great tool that you can use in order to reduce debt both for yourselves as well as for your loved ones.
However, it’s very important that before you transfer someone else’s debt onto yourself, you have an idea of the magnitude of responsibility that you’re taking on.