Can you balance transfer someone else’s credit card?

Some providers will let you transfer the balance from someone else’s credit card. But doing so makes you responsible for their debt, so you should think carefully before going ahead.

5 min read
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What is a balance transfer credit card? 

A balance transfer credit card moves debt from one or more cards to another. They usually benefit from low or 0% interest periods, making it easier to pay off what you owe. Some providers will let you transfer a balance from someone else’s credit card to one in your name.  

How do you transfer a balance from someone else’s credit card? 

1. Get consent. Make sure the other person has agreed to a balance transfer. Ideally, you’d get this in writing for future reference.

2. Research providers. Not all providers allow balance transfers from someone else's card. Consider interest rates, additional fees, and terms and conditions before applying.

3. Apply for the transfer. Provide the necessary details your lender asks for, including the amount you’re looking to transfer. 

4. Await approval. The provider will review your application. A balance transfer usually takes a couple of days but can take several weeks in some cases.

Who’s responsible for the debt once it’s been transferred? 

When you transfer someone else's credit card debt, you become legally responsible for repaying it. This means the original cardholder is no longer in charge of the balance, and the total debt lies with you. 

Does transferring the balance from someone else’s card affect your credit score? 

Transferring the balance from someone else's credit card onto your own can affect your credit score for a few reasons: 

  • Higher credit utilisation ratio could make it look like you’re reliant on credit to get by. This is how much credit you're using versus what you have available. An ideal credit utilisation ratio should be under 30%, which will have a lesser effect on your credit score.
  • Hard credit checks are required when you apply for a new credit card or initiate a balance transfer. Hard inquiries can lower your credit score, although the impact is usually minor and lessens over time.
  • A new credit account could be added to your credit report. This alone may not have a significant effect on your credit score. But it could lower your score if you have a limited credit history or already have many open accounts. 

However, it is possible to improve your credit score by transferring someone else’s credit card debt to your name. You could see improvements over time by: 

  • Consistently making payments on time each month. This demonstrates responsible credit management.
  • Managing your account well over time can make your credit profile stronger. Credit scoring systems look at things like how long you've had credit and whether you have kept up with repayments. 

What are the alternatives to transferring someone else’s credit card debt? 

Balance transfers can be an effective way of tackling debt. However, there are other options available to help someone with their debt that are worth considering: 

  • Opening a joint credit card lets both of you share the responsibility for paying off the debt together. Some providers will let you balance transfer onto a joint credit card, so both of you can pitch in, and it's not all on one person.
  • Using a personal loan to pay off your credit card can save you money on interest. This is a longer term solution, which could help if you’re unable to get a balance transfer card.
  • Speaking to a professional debt specialist for guidance and support on managing your finances. Charities including Money Wellness, StepChange, Citizens Advice, National Debtline, and MoneyHelper are all free to access. 

Things to consider before balance transferring someone else’s credit card 

While there are potential benefits to balance transfers, it's essential to carefully consider the following: 

1. Legal and financial responsibility. Remember, when you transfer a balance to your credit card, you're taking on the responsibility of paying it off. This means you're legally obligated to repay the debt, not the original cardholder.

2. Interest rates and fees. Check the interest rates and any fees associated with the balance transfer. Make sure you understand the costs involved and how they'll affect your finances.

3. Repayment plan. Have a plan in place for repaying the transferred balance. Consider how much you can afford to pay each month and how long it will take to pay off the debt. Remember to factor in any low or 0% interest periods into your plan to minimise the amount of interest you pay.

4. Impact on your credit score. Think about how it might affect your credit utilisation ratio and overall credit history.

5. Relationship dynamics. Taking on someone else's debt might affect your relationship with them. Be sure you're okay with the plan and talk openly about what both parties can expect. 

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Intelligent Lending Ltd (credit broker). Capital One is the exclusive lender.

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Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

Fiona Peake, Personal Finance Writer

Fiona Peake

Personal Finance Writer

Fiona is a personal finance writer with over 7 years’ experience writing for a broad range of industries before joining Ocean in 2021. She uses her wealth of experience to turn the overwhelming aspects of finance into articles that are easy to understand.