Credit card balance transfers move what you owe on one card to another cheaper card, so you can pay less interest while you clear the balance.

Can you transfer someone else's balance to your credit card?

Yes - you can move somebody else's credit card balance onto your card. This gives them the money they need to pay off their credit card.

You could choose to pay off the balance for them or ask them to pay you back.

It can be useful if you have a better credit record than your partner, family member or friend, as you might be able to get a much cheaper card than they would.

0% balance transfer cards can save you money because they let you repay the balance without charging any interest for a period of several months to more than three years.

You will be responsible for paying it back

Once the transfer has been made, the debt will be in your name, leaving you responsible for repaying it.

If the person whose debt you are taking on misses a payment or stops repaying altogether, you will be chased by your credit card company, not them. It will also be up to you to run the account and manage the paperwork.

Make sure you get repaid

If you are lending them the money to clear their credit card debts, agree how much they need to pay to you each month before you set up the transfer. Keep a written record of the agreement and keep track of the payments made on paper or in a spreadsheet.

Only make the transfer if:

  • You are happy to pay off the debt for your partner, family member or friend

  • You can trust them to make the payments

How will you be affected financially?

Short terms costs

If your family member, partner or friend does not make the repayments, you will be left with:

  • Having to pay off the balance yourself

  • Paying any interest if it is not cleared during the 0% period

  • Charges for missed payments

Long term effects

Your credit history will also be affected by any missed payments, which could mean you are refused loans, credit cards or mortgages in the future. Here is how your credit record works and what affects it.

Taking on someone else's debt can affect how much you could borrow yourself, even if you keep up with the repayments. Having an outstanding balance in your name will show up on your credit record.

This can make it more expensive to borrow and harder to get accepted when you apply because lenders will need to consider if you can afford to borrow more.

How much can you transfer?

This depends on your credit limit, which is the maximum amount your provider will let you borrow at once.

You can usually only use a percentage (often 90 or 95%) of your credit limit towards a balance transfer. For example, if you had a credit limit of 3,000 and could use 90% of it, you could move up to 2,700 onto your card.

How much will it cost?

The main cost of a balance transfer is its transfer fee, charged as a percentage of the amount you want to transfer.

For example, if you moved 1,000 onto your credit card with a 3% fee, this would cost 30.

If you are able to pay off the balance before the interest free period ends, you can avoid paying any interest at all.

Annual fees and charges for things like missing repayments or going over your credit limit can also be applied to your card. Read this guide to credit card charges and interest so you can avoid them.

How to make the transfer

You will need a credit card that accepts balance transfers and a high enough credit limit. Even if your existing credit card will allow this, it is worth looking for a cheaper deal elsewhere.

Read our tips on picking the right deal and use our comparison to find a credit card with a long enough interest free period that offers the lowest transfer fee.

You can arrange the transfer through your credit card provider. The process is exactly the same as transferring a balance from your own card.

Make sure you know your friend, family member or partner's card number and the amount you need to move across. Once they have the information they need, your provider will be able to make the transfer within a few days.

Where can you transfer a balance from?

You can only use a balance transfer credit card to move a balance from another credit card.

If you want to pay off someone's overdraft or loan for them instead, you will need to get a money transfer credit card, and you can get deals that include an interest free period for up to around three years.

Most providers will not allow you to transfer a balance from another credit card held with them, so you could not transfer your partner's Barclaycard balance to your own Barclaycard.

What to do after the transfer

Whoever will be making the card's repayments, stick to these rules to avoid paying any fees:

Any fees you are charged on the card could cancel out the savings you made with the balance transfer. Here is how to manage your credit card to keep your costs down.

The easiest way to make sure you do not miss any repayments is by setting up a direct debit.