If you’re looking at your credit card statement and getting worried about how your interest keeps snowballing with each new month, you can either get a personal loan, or a balance transfer.
What’s a balance transfer? In short, it’s a short-term cash facility that is typically offered at 0% interest, subject to a processing fee on the approved transfer amount.
It can help you transfer your outstanding credit card balances (hence the name!) to a 0% interest account or provide you with an immediate boost to your cashflow in a time of need. Some banks also term this a short-term funds transfer facility.
Let’s see which bank provides the lowest processing fees and check out the available balance transfer promotions in Singapore.
Which is the best balance transfer rate in Singapore in 2020?
Here are the rates currently being offered by banks for 6-month and 12-month balance transfers:
|6-month balance transfer||12-month balance transfer|
|Standard Chartered||0% p.a.+ 1.5% fee||0% p.a.+ 4.5% fee|
|Citibank||0% p.a.+ 1.58% fee
(for new to bank customers)
|0% p.a.+ 5.5% fee|
|OCBC||0% p.a.+ 2.5% fee||4.98% p.a.+ 0% fee|
|UOB||0% p.a.+ 2.5% fee||0% p.a.+ 4.28% fee
|DBS||0% p.a. + 2.5% fee||0% p.a.+ 4.5% fee|
|HSBC||0% p.a.+ 2.5% fee||4.88% p.a.+ 0% fee|
Do note that not all banks offer 3-month and 18-month balance transfers, hence we won’t include them in the above table.
The lowest rate in the market for 12-month tenure is offered by UOB at 0% p.a.+ 4.28% processing fee. Do note that this is a special online exclusive.
The lowest balance transfer rate for a tenure of 6 months is offered by Standard Chartered, at 0% p.a. with 1.5% processing fee when you apply online. This applies across all existing customers of Standard Chartered who have a credit card with the bank.
Second to that is Citibank, who is offering a fee of 1.58%, but only for those who do not have any existing relationship with the bank. They are offering 0% p.a.+ 1.58% processing fee. If you are already a Citibank customer, it becomes 0% p.a.+ 2.5% processing fee.
Balance transfer promotions 2020
There are several balance transfer promotions going on right now, the most popular kind is getting cashback. DBS is offering the most generous $500 cashback, but that’s for a loan of more than $50,000.
That said, definitely do not get a balance transfer just because of cashback promotions.
Only do it if you need to consolidate credit card bills, as it makes sense to bring down the interest rates of what you owe to the bank.
|Bank||Balance transfer promotion||Expiry|
|DBS||$150 to $500 cashback (depending on loan amount) for DBS Balance Transfer (12-month tenure) @ 4.5% administration fee via self-apply online application form||31 March 2020|
|OCBC||$80 to S$320 cashback (depending on loan amount) when you apply for Balance Transfer online||31 March 2020|
|UOB||$80 to $160 cashback (depending on loan amount) when you apply for UOB Balance Transfer (12-month tenure) online.||31 March 2020|
|Citibank||0% p.a interest for 6 months with 1.58% service fee with Citibank Balance Transfer||Not stated|
How does a balance transfer work?
When you apply for a balance transfer, you are borrowing from the available credit limit of your existing credit line or credit card account. The amount you borrow will be transferred to a bank account of your choice.
In that sense, it is just like a personal loan. However, there are significant differences between the two.
What is the difference between a balance transfer and a personal loan?
There are four main differences between a balance transfer and a personal loan.
|Balance Transfer||Personal Loan|
|Interest Rate||0%||3.88% to 7%|
|Processing Fee||1.5% to 5.5%||1% to 2%|
|Repayment Term||3 to 18 months||1 to 5 years|
|Repayment Amount||Varies, but minimum 1% to 3% of outstanding amount per month||Fixed amount per month throughout the term|
As you can see, for balance transfers, you are expected to only repay the bulk of the amount you borrowed by the end of the repayment term. You need to only pay a small amount of the amount you borrowed (or the minimum repayment amount, whichever is higher) monthly prior to the end of the repayment term.
For example, if your balance transfer is for 6 months, your outstanding amount is $5,000, and your minimum payment is $50, then for the first 5 months you only need to pay $50 each, but on the 6th month, you need to repay the remaining $4,750. Please also note that a one-time processing fee will be charged on the first month upon the approval of the balance transfer.
Do be careful: If you do not repay the full amount of the balance by the end of the term, the interest rate will change from 0% to the effective interest rate of the credit card or personal line of credit which you had initially transferred the funds from, which can be as high as 30% per annum.
Who should apply for a balance transfer?
Balance transfers are best if you need cash urgently, and when you are also able to make full repayment by the end of the term. That means you need to be sure about your cashflow at the end of the term; for example, if you know for sure that you will receive your company bonus by then.
It is also most appropriate if you are looking for short-term repayment loans and you want to avoid the higher interest rates on other term loan facilities.
What else should I be aware of?
Though the interest rate is at 0% for balance transfer, banks charge a processing fee of 1% to 5% of the approved transfer amount. You should therefore look for a bank that offers you the lowest processing fee for a balance transfer.
Also consider: 0% interest personal loans in Singapore
If you’re interested in balance transfers mainly for the fact that it advertises 0% interest rate, there are also a couple of new personal loans with a similar structure:
As you can see, both are short-term loans (12 months) and charge 0% interest, but the bank makes money from the 3.5% to 4.5% processing fee.
Should you pick a balance transfer or a 0% interest personal loan then? It actually depends more on your cash flow.
With a balance transfer, you can get away with paying very little throughout the tenure, but you really need to pay off the full amount at the end of the borrowing period.
With a personal loan, you will need to commit to monthly repayments, meaning you need to ensure a steady cashflow throughout the 1 year tenure. However, this slow and steady payment method may make it easier to avoid the temptation of overspending.
Ever took out a balance transfer? What was it for? Share with us in the comments.