Balance Transfer Credit Cards: Guide for Cardholders in the Philippines

Published: September 17, 2020 | Updated: September 23, 2020 | Posted by: Venus Zoleta | Credit Card


Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards | Moneymax

Are your credit card payments becoming too much of a burden? If you’re paying high interest on your balance every month, it’s time to switch to a balance transfer credit card with a lower interest rate. Doing so prevents worst-case scenarios like accumulating huge credit card debt.

Manage your credit card payments better through balance transfer. Get started with this guide to balance transfer credit cards in the Philippines.

What is a Balance Transfer Credit Card?

balance transfer credit cards meaning

A balance transfer credit card is a low-interest card where you can move the amount you owe on your other high-interest cards. Because of the lower interest rate, most of your payments will go toward your principal balance instead of the interest charges. This helps you save money on interest payments and pay off your debt faster.

This type of credit card also simplifies your payments by consolidating your balances on other cards into one monthly payment and due date.

Read more: Credit Card Balance Transfer: 8 Things Cardholders Need to Know

How to Choose the Best Balance Transfer Credit Card

The right credit card features spell the difference between paying off your balances fast and getting buried deeper in debt. Here’s what you can do to free up your finances with the best balance transfer credit card.

1. Compare Balance Transfer Features and Fees

balance transfer credit cards - how to choose the right card

Pay close attention to the following when choosing from different balance transfer credit cards:

Balance Transfer Rate

Once your balance transfer credit card is approved, an introductory rate (ranging from 0% to 2.15%) is charged on your transferred balance for a certain number of months. The lower balance transfer rate you get, the lower you’ll have to pay for your credit card bill during your installment period.

Banks set different balance transfer rates per installment term. For an apple-to-apple comparison, look at the balance transfer rates for the same installment term. For example, if Bank A offers 0.88% interest for 12 months and Bank B offers 1.50% for the same period, then you’ll get a better deal with Bank A.

Balance Transfer Amount Limit

Consider the amount you need to transfer to a new credit card. How much you can transfer depends on the issuing bank’s limits on balance transfer amounts. Banks set a minimum amount and require it to be within the unused credit limit of the balance transfer card. It’s a matter of choosing which bank matches your balance transfer needs.

Installment Terms

Low-interest balance transfer offers last for a limited period only. With a balance transfer credit card, you can choose to pay your transferred balances in installments ranging from three to 60 months.

Shorter installment terms have slightly higher balance transfer rates, making monthly payments more expensive. But over time, this can save you on interest payments. On the flip side, longer terms are more manageable on the budget, but you’ll end up paying more interest.

When comparing and choosing from the available payment terms, consider your monthly budget, your balance transfer amount, and the balance transfer rate. This enables you to determine the right term for you based on what you can afford to pay per month.

Balance Transfer Fees and Other Charges

There are costs involved in transferring your credit card debts. First is the processing fee, which is a fixed amount (usually PHP 100 to PHP 300) charged per approved balance transfer. Some banks charge it, while others don’t.

If you wish to pay off your transferred balance before the end of your installment term, the bank may charge a pre-termination fee, which is either a fixed amount (PHP 300 to PHP 550) or a percentage (usually 4% or 5%) of the remaining balance.

It’s also important to prioritize balance transfer credit cards with a low interest rate (charged after the end of the installment term) and low or no annual fee. If these two credit card fees are high, they’ll just offset the savings from the low balance transfer rate.

Lastly, consider the late payment fee in case you pay your credit card bills beyond the due date.

Related: 12 Credit Card Fees in the Philippines to Watch Out For

2. Compute and Compare Monthly Amortizations

balance transfer credit cards - how to choose the right card

Which balance transfer program offers the most affordable monthly payment based on the amount you’ll transfer and your preferred installment term?

You have to compute for that figure to know which bank allows you to save the most on your transferred balance payments. Banks like BPI and Metrobank have a balance transfer calculator[1] on their website for easy calculation of monthly amortizations for balance transfer credit cards.

For banks that don’t have an online balance transfer calculator, you can refer to their sample computation table and use their formula for computing the monthly installment.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards in the Philippines

RCBC Bankard Flex Visa

best balance transfer credit cards - rcbc flex visa

Balance Transfer Features:

  • Balance transfer rates: 0.89% (12-36 months) / 0.99% (3-9 months)
  • Installment terms: 3 to 36 months
  • Balance transfer amount: At least PHP 5,000 and not exceeding 90% of your available RCBC credit limit

RCBC has some of the lowest rates for balance transfer credit cards at less than 1%. With an RCBC credit card, you can pay your other cards’ balances in 3, 6, or 9 monthly installments at 0.99% interest or in 12, 18, 24, or 36 installments at 0.89% interest.

The best RCBC credit card for balance transfer is the Flex Visa because of its low annual fee and generous rewards. Plus, if you apply on or before December 31, 2020, you may qualify for RCBC’s no annual fee for life promo[2].

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Minimum monthly income requirement: PHP 20,833.33
  • Rewards:
    • 1 point per PHP 50 spend at non-service merchants, PHP 125 spend at service merchants, and PHP 250 spend on utilities
    • 2x points per PHP 50 spend on any two of the following categories: dining, transportation, clothing, or travel
  • Travel perks:
    • Free travel insurance and purchase protection
    • Free access to the Skyview Airport Lounge

Fees and Charges:

  • Annual fee: PHP 1,500 (free for the first year)
  • Interest rate: 3.50%
  • Processing fee: PHP 100 per balance transfer application
  • Balance transfer pre-termination fee: PHP 500 or 5% of the unpaid principal amount, whichever is higher
  • Late payment fee: PHP 400 to PHP 600

Citi Simplicity+

best balance transfer credit cards - citi simplicity+

Balance Transfer Features:

  • Balance transfer rate: 0.99%
  • Installment terms: 6 to 60 months
  • Balance transfer amount: Not exceeding the total amount due on your non-Citi cards and your available Citibank credit limit

The Citibank balance transfer program offers flexible payment terms to cardholders. You may pay in 6, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, or 60 monthly installments. Regardless of your chosen installment term, your transferred balance will be charged a low monthly interest of 0.99%.

Among Citi credit cards, the Simplicity+ has all the features that make it easy to pay off your balances from other cards. You’ll save more money with its waived annual fees for life and zero late payment and overlimit fees.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Minimum monthly income requirement: PHP 15,000 (for existing cardholders) / PHP 20,833.33 (for first-time cardholders)
  • Get 10% back on interest charges when you pay at least the minimum balance on or before the due date

Fees and Charges:

  • Annual fee: No annual fee for life
  • Interest rate: 3.50%
  • Processing fee: PHP 250 per approved balance transfer transaction
  • Balance transfer pre-termination fee: 4% of the unbilled portion of the principal amount plus accrued interest on the cancelled installment transaction
  • Late payment fee: None

Metrobank M Lite Mastercard

best balance transfer credit cards - metrobank m lite

Metrobank Balance Transfer Features:

  • Balance transfer rate: 0.99%
  • Installment terms: 6 to 60 months
  • Balance transfer amount: At least PHP 6,000 and not exceeding your available Metrobank credit limit

Get a lower interest rate when you transfer balances from your other cards to your Metrobank credit card, whether you’re a principal or supplementary cardholder. Metrobank’s balance transfer rate and terms are similar to Citibank’s, except that it offers a 9-month installment option.

To save more on your credit card bill, go for a balance transfer credit card that charges low interest after the end of your installment term. The Metrobank M Lite Mastercard has a regular interest rate of 2.49%—among the lowest in the Philippines—so you won’t be paying high interest in case you can’t pay off your transferred balances.

Metrobank M Lite Mastercard Key Features and Benefits:

  • Minimum monthly income requirement: PHP 16,666.67
  • Discounts, freebies, and other great deals at M Here partner merchants

Fees and Charges:

  • Annual fee: PHP 1,500
  • Interest rate: 2.49%
  • Processing fee: PHP 250 per approved balance transfer application
  • Balance transfer pre-termination fee: PHP 550 or 5% of the installment principal balance, whichever is higher
  • Late payment fee: PHP 850 or the unpaid minimum amount due, whichever is lower

Bank of Commerce Platinum Mastercard

best balance transfer credit cards - bank of commerce platinum mastercard

Balance Transfer Features:

  • Balance transfer rate: 0.60% to 1.30%
  • Installment terms: 3 to 24 months
  • Balance transfer amount: At least PHP 5,000 and within your available Bank of Commerce credit limit

Bank of Commerce offers the lowest balance transfer rate of 0.60% when you transfer at least PHP 20,000 balance from another card and pay it off in 24 monthly installments. The balance transfer rate is 0.88% if you choose to pay at least PHP 10,000 balance in 12 installments. If your transferred balance is between PHP 5,000 and below PHP 10,000, you can choose to pay in 3 or 6 months at 1.30% interest.

Enjoy the biggest savings when you get the Platinum Mastercard as your balance transfer credit card. Aside from waived annual fees for life, it also has a low interest rate of less than 3%.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Minimum monthly income requirement: PHP 100,000
  • Rewards:
    • 1 point per PHP 25 spend
    • 5x points at select department stores and restaurants
  • Travel perks:
    • Up to PHP 2 million travel insurance
    • Dual currency billing

Fees and Charges:

  • Annual fee: No annual fee for life
  • Interest rate: 2.5% (for Priority Access members) / 2.95% (regular)
  • Late payment fee: PHP 700 or the unpaid minimum amount due, whichever is lower

BDO Gold UnionPay

best balance transfer credit cards - bdo gold unionpay

Balance Transfer Features:

  • Balance transfer rates: 0.79% to 2.15%
  • Installment terms: 3 to 24 months
  • Balance transfer amount: At least PHP 5,000, not exceeding the outstanding balances on your non-BDO cards/loans, and within your assigned BDO credit limit

BDO’s balance transfer program allows you to transfer not only credit card balances but also personal loan balances from other banks. You also have the option to consolidate your immediate family’s non-BDO credit card or personal loan balances to your own BDO balance transfer card.

If you transfer at least PHP 20,000 balance to your BDO credit card, you’ll get the lowest balance transfer rate depending on your chosen term:

  • 0.79% for 12, 18, or 24 monthly installments
  • 0.95% for 6-month installments
  • 1.30% for 3-month installments

This BDO balance transfer promo[3] is valid until October 31, 2020. Regular rates of 1.75% to 2.15% apply to balance transfer amount of PHP 5,000 to below PHP 20,000.

The Gold UnionPay is one of the best BDO balance transfer credit cards because of its lower regular interest rate and annual fee waiver for the first three years. If your credit card transactions reach PHP 300,000 or more every year, you won’t have to pay annual fees at all.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Minimum monthly income requirement: PHP 35,000
  • Rewards: 1 point per PHP 50 local transaction or USD 1 international transaction
  • Travel perks:
    • Up to PHP 5 million travel accident and inconvenience insurance
    • Dual currency billing option

Fees and Charges:

  • Annual fee: PHP 2,400 (free for the first three years)
  • Interest rate: 3.25%
  • Balance transfer pre-termination fee: PHP 300 or 5% of the total remaining balance, whichever is higher
  • Late payment fee: 7% of the overdue amount

China Bank Freedom Mastercard

best balance transfer credit cards - china bank freedom mastercard

Balance Transfer Features:

  • Balance transfer rate: 1% (12-24 months) / 1.25% (3-9 months)
  • Installment terms: 3 to 24 months
  • Balance transfer amount: At least PHP 3,000 and within your available China Bank credit limit

Another credit card with a low balance transfer rate comes from China Bank. You can pay your transferred balances in 3, 6, or 9 monthly installments at 1.25% interest or in 12, 18, or 24 installments at 1% interest.

For maximum savings on your credit card payments, get the China Bank Freedom Mastercard with waived annual fees for life.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Minimum monthly income requirement: PHP 20,833.33
  • Rewards: 1 point per PHP 20 spend

Fees and Charges:

  • Annual fee: No annual fee for life
  • Interest rate: 3.50%
  • Balance transfer pre-termination fee: PHP 500 or 5% of the remaining unpaid installment balance, whichever is higher
  • Late payment fee: PHP 750 or the unpaid minimum amount due, whichever is lower

BPI Edge Mastercard

best balance transfer credit cards - bpi edge mastercard

Balance Transfer Features:

  • Balance transfer rate: 0.99% (36 months) / 1.50% (6-24 months)
  • Installment terms: 6 to 36 months
  • Balance transfer amount: At least PHP 3,000

BPI’s lowest balance transfer rate of less than 1% is available on the 36-month installment option. If you want to pay off your transferred balance sooner, you may choose from 6, 12, 18, and 24 installment terms—all of which come with 1.50% interest.

If you’re looking for the best BPI balance transfer credit card, consider the Edge Mastercard that charges a low annual fee and earns rewards points.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Minimum monthly income requirement: PHP 15,000
  • Rewards: 1 point per PHP 50 spend

Fees and Charges:

  • Annual fee: PHP 110/month (free for the first year)
  • Interest rate: 3.50%
  • Processing fee: PHP 100 per availed balance transfer
  • Balance transfer pre-termination fee: PHP 550 plus 2% interest on the principal amount
  • Late payment fee: PHP 850 or the unpaid minimum amount due, whichever is lower

Security Bank Classic Rewards Mastercard

best balance transfer credit cards - security bank classic rewards

Balance Transfer Features:

  • Balance transfer rate: 0% for the first 2 months and as low as 1.91% for the succeeding months throughout the installment term
  • Installment terms: 3 to 24 months
  • Balance transfer amount: PHP 10,000 to PHP 30,000 but not exceeding 50% of your Security Bank credit limit

Currently, only Security Bank offers a 0% balance transfer rate. New cardholders who applied for any Security Bank credit card (except for Cashback and Click cards) online can avail of this lowest balance transfer rate.

The 0% introductory rate is valid for 60 days from card approval date. After the two interest-free months, the balance transfer rate (which starts at 1.91%) applies to the rest of your monthly payments during your chosen term.

To maximize savings on your credit card bill, get the Classic Rewards Mastercard. It has the lowest annual fee among Security Bank cards while earning points fast.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Minimum monthly income requirement: PHP 15,000 (for existing cardholders) / PHP 30,000 (for first-time cardholders)
  • Rewards: 1 point per PHP 20 spend

Fees and Charges:

  • Annual fee: PHP 2,000 (free for the first year)
  • Interest rate: 3.50%
  • Balance transfer pre-termination fee: PHP 500
  • Late payment fee: PHP 600 or 6% of the minimum amount due, whichever is lower

How to Transfer Credit Card Balance

best balance transfer credit cards - how to transfer credit card balance

The balance transfer application process varies per bank, but here’s the general procedure to give you an idea.

1. Get a New Credit Card

First, you should apply and get approved for a credit card with another bank. You can transfer balance as long as the receiving card is not issued by the same provider. Make sure that the new card is eligible for balance transfer.

2. Apply For Balance Transfer

Depending on the bank, you may file your credit card application and balance transfer request at the same time, as in the case of Metrobank and China Bank.

Meanwhile, some banks require cardholders to wait for a minimum period before applying for balance transfer. It can be as fast as seven days after card approval (as in the case of Security Bank) or as long as 12 months of good credit standing (as in the case of BPI).

Once you qualify for the bank’s balance transfer program, you can request to transfer your credit card balances from other banks through your new provider’s customer service hotline or website.

Requirements for Balance Transfer Credit Cards

For your balance transfer application, you may be required to submit any or all these requirements via email, via online banking, or personally at a bank branch:

  • Accomplished balance transfer application form
  • Two valid IDs
  • Latest statement of account of credit cards from other banks

3. Wait For Balance Transfer Approval

Your balance transfer application will go through a verification and evaluation process, typically lasting for eight banking days. While waiting for the bank’s decision, you should continue paying at least the minimum balance on your other credit cards.

If you’re approved, your new credit card provider will pay off your other cards’ outstanding balance to your old bank. Once the payment is reflected in the billing statement with your old provider, coordinate with the bank to close your credit card accounts.

The balance gets transferred to your new credit card account and deducted from your available credit limit. Afterward, you can start paying your balance transfer installments to your new credit card provider.

Read more: 10 Money-Saving Credit Card Hacks That Work

Final Thoughts

Balance transfer credit cards are a useful tool in keeping your finances under control. As long as you get the best balance transfer card and use it responsibly, you won’t have to worry about having credit card debt ever again.

Save money on your credit card bills!

(Photos from Freepik)

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