Do you belong to the growing number of Singaporeans who are having difficulty in managing their debts? If you are, this article is right for you.
Here, you will learn a great way to pay off and settle your credit in a process called balance transfer. Learn more about this brilliant way of managing your debts. And discover where is the best place to apply for one.
What Is Balance Transfer?
As the name suggests, balance transfer is a process of moving an outstanding debt to another credit account. It is a short term arrangement often offered by banks at 0% interest but bears a processing fee.
Transferring your credit to a 0% interest account allows you to manage your finances better. It buys you more time to improve your cash flow so you can take the necessary actions to settle your debt.
Balance transfer is often applied to settle credit card debts. The interest rates of credit cards are extremely high. Each late pay earns additional fees. The unpaid bill and the fees are charged interest on top of that. Without a balance transfer, it would be costly, and not to mention almost impossible, for credit card owners to settle their credit card balances without a financial solution like a credit card balance transfer.
Pros and Cons of Balance Transfer
In essence, the balance transfer as a cash facility is a hack meant to help credit card owners and other debtors to settle their loans and credits without the need to pay surging interest charges and late payment fees.
But in reality, opening a balance transfer account or taking a balance transfer loan also has its own set of problems and challenges. Below are the pros and cons of doing balance transfers.
- Lower interest rate or 0% interest rate
- Extended repayment plans
- Balance transfer fee
- High annual percentage rate
There are banks and other financial facilities whose balance transfer account is much lower than the 25% annual percentage rate (APR) of credit card companies. In some cases, you can even find promotional offers where they have 0% interest rate. With zero per annum (p. a.) interest, you save a lot of money.
Also, your credit card debt continues to grow each day you fail to settle it. Doing a balance transfer means that you are somehow extending your repayment plan. Instead of your monthly due date in your credit card account, you are given additional 6 months-12 months to settle your debts.
On the other hand, note that there is a so-called balance transfer fee which is usually 3% of the loan amount you are transferring. There is no way to escape this charge because it is standard for most banks to charge a transfer amount.
Another downside of this set-up is its annual percentage rate or interest rate p. a. (per annum). Often times, not all banks apply a zero interest rate on their balance transfer accounts. This would mean that you still have to pay an interest rate each month, which is sometimes the same as your credit card interest rate.
Which Is the Best Balance Transfer Rate in Singapore?
Here are the top 5 banks where you can apply for a credit balance transfer or a balance transfer loan.
Note that some banks consider your balance transfer amount, credit limit, presence of savings accounts, credit card statement, and many more in computing the processing fees and effective interest rates for balance transfers.
The interest rates, fees, and charges below are the lowest offering from these banks. You can visit their website for more details about their balance transfers.
The 6 months UOB balance transfer has an effective interest rate (EIR) of 5.34% p. a. if you have a UOB credit card and a 2.5% processing fee. Meanwhile, the 12 months option of UOB has 4.95% p. a. and 4.28% fee (online exclusive). Check the details on the website of UOB.
A 3 months Maybank fund transfer would cost you a 2.8% effective interest rate (EIR) per year and a 0.68% processing fee. On the other hand, its 6 months balance transfers would cost you a 1.38% processing fee and 2.96% EIR. You can read more details here.
The 6 months Citibank balance transfers cost a service fee of 1.58% and an EIR of 3.65 % p. a. Note that your effective interest rate depends if you own a Citibank Ready Credit or Citibank Credit Cards. You can read the details here.
The 3 months POSB balance transfer will cost you a 1.5% administration fee and a 6.12% EIR p. a. Meanwhile, their 6 months balance transfers cost 2.5% processing fee and 5.27% EIR p. a. Lastly, their 12 months balance transfers cost 4.5% processing fee and 5.06% EIR p. a. Check out the fine print of the deals here.
The 6 months DBS balance transfer cost 2.5% administration fee and 5.27% EIR p. a. Meanwhile, the 12 months DBS balance transfer has a 4.5% processing fee and a 5.06% EIR p. a. Note that the fees and charges of DBS vary whether you own a cash line or a credit card. Read the details here.
What Is the Difference Between a Balance Transfer and a Personal Loan?
Remember that balance transfer is not only your option in consolidating your debt. You can also apply for a personal loan to banks or to licensed moneylenders.
There are four differences between balance transfer and a personal loan namely: interest rate, processing fee, repayment period, and repayment amount.
Here is a comparison table so you can see how they may be different.
|Balance Transfer||Personal Loans from banks||Personal loans from licensed moneylenders|
|Interest rate||0%||3.88% to 7% per year||Maximum of 4% per month|
|Processing fee||1.5% to 5.5% one-time processing fee||1% to 2%||Maximum of 10%|
|Repayment period||3 to 18 months||1 to 5 years||Up to 12 months|
|Repayment amount||Usually, at least 1% to 3% of the outstanding amount per month||Fixed amount per month depending on the agreement||Fixed amount per month depending on the agreement|
What Should I Look Out for When Taking up a Balance Transfer?
Balance transfers are not the same. As seen above, banks have their fees, charges, and policies. If you think that balance transfer is the best way for you to consolidate your debt, pay attention to the following details of your balance transfer.
When negotiating with a bank representative, ask them these details so you can be certain that you are getting the best deal available in the market
Banks have different processing fees. Look for the lowest processing fee available in the market. Note that this is a one-time processing fee, which means that a customer is only charged once with this fee.
Take note that banks usually charge 3% of the transfer amount for the so-called transfer fee. To cut this cost, you might need to look for balance transfer promotions where banks would waive this for loyal account holders. This fee is different from the processing fees.
Most balance transfers have 0% interest rates. This does not mean that you do not have to pay any other interest fees. Banks have other fees and charges which are reflected in the so-called effective interest rate or EIR. To have an idea of the true and actual cost of balance transfers, it is best to check the EIR of your balance transfer.
Length of the repayment period
The minimum period you apply for is 3 months, and the maximum is 18 months. Most banks offer 6 months-12 months of repayment. Take note that in most cases, longer repayment periods means that you will be charged higher interest rates and processing fees.
Eligibility and criteria
To apply for balance transfer, you must satisfy the following requirements and submit the necessary documents. These are some of the bank requirements. Note that banks have their own rules on bank transfers. It is best to ask your bank of choice about their eligibility and criteria.
- Must be at least 21 years old
- Singapore citizens or permanent residents must have an annual income of at least SGD 30,000
- Meanwhile, foreigners must have an annual income of at least SGD 42,000
- Some banks require Employment Pass
- Some banks require a credit card or bank account issued by them. Others ask these for promotions and discounts.
- Some banks only offer balance transfer to Singapore citizens and permanent residents
It is true that balance transfer is great for credit card debt consolidation. But it isn’t the only option for those with high outstanding balances. For one, a personal loan from a bank or a licensed moneylender is also a good option.
A personal loan from a bank is best for those looking for a low-interest rate and who have the necessary requirements to apply for a secured loan, including a collateral asset or the required minimum annual income.
Meanwhile, a licensed moneylender personal loan is best for those who need the money immediately. They offer a quick and fast loan application process where you can get the money you need within an hour of the process.
One of the best licensed moneylenders in Singapore is 365 Credit Solutions Pte Ltd. Aside from personal loans, we have various loan services with reasonable interest rates.