How A Balance Transfer Can Help You Pay Off Holiday Debt

Annette Anthony

Annette Anthony

Last updated 14 April, 2022

With travel restrictions beginning to ease, many of us are planning our next holiday. If you’re looking for a way to fund your vacation without swimming in debt, you’re in the right place. Balance transfer may just be the answer to avoiding high credit card interest rates.

You’re itching for a vacation, and even more so with borders opening up. A KitKat just won’t do for a break anymore. 

There are only a few things you could dread when it comes to vacations – saying goodbye to savings or saying hello to more debt. 

Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Saying hello to balance transfer instead could actually ease expenses by avoiding crazy-high bank rates. 

What exactly is a balance transfer? It is a way to move outstanding debt from your credit card to another bank at a much lower —or sometimes even 0% — interest rate. 

But before we go into balance transfer options, let's figure out your travel expenses.

What you need to pay for an overseas holiday

First, you must decide how much you can actually spend for this holiday.

Expenses for holidays will vary by country, so we’ll keep it simple by picking a specific place and country. Case in point — Bangkok, Thailand.

Expenses (2 pax) Cost (in S$)
Plane Ticket (Scoot Airlines) 512
Airbnb (including cleaning fees, 4 nights) 192
Transportation Cost (Taxi or Grab) 102 (estimate, including toll and airport taxi)
Food (mid-range, 4 days) 218
Shopping 300
Nightlife 250
Travel Insurance 121.60
Emergency Buffer Fund 300
Grand Total 1995.60
Source: Scoot, AirBnB, TripSavvy, Thaizer, Thaitravelessentials

It’s important to have a list of travel expenses (as above), as a guide on what expenses to look out and plan for. 

If you’d like to see the latest travel insurance deals to keep you safe, you may choose the best one on our travel insurance page. 

Why balance transfers are the hidden gems in financing your holiday break

The average Singaporean household spends about S$4,080 yearly on vacations. This is split into one to three vacations annually.

Now, let’s say you want to pay for a mid-range vacation with your family that costs about S$3,000. If you were to apply for a Standard Chartered Balance Transfer, you’d be eligible for a 0% interest rate for six months with a processing fee of 4.5% of your approved loan amount (the Effective Interest Rate or EIR is at 4.86% per annum). There’d also be a processing fee of S$45.

On the same front, the HSBC Balance Transfer offers you a lucrative 4.88% interest rate with no processing fee if you take a 12-month tenure, regardless of the balance transfer sum.

Meanwhile, the DBS Balance Transfer has a 0% balance transfer rate for six to 12 months with a processing fee of either 2.5% (EIR of 5.06% per annum for Cashline accounts) or 4.5% (EIR of 5.2% per annum for credit cards).

All three banks offer a 0% transfer rate.

Balance Transfer Rates for S$3,000 with a Repayment Period of 6 Months

Bank Prevailing Interest Rate Processing Fees Transfer Rate
Standard Chartered 26.9% S$45 0%
HSBC 18.5% S$75 0%
DBS 25.9% S$75 0%
*prevailing EIR rates apply

You can calculate other balance transfer offers and see the latest promotions on our page. 

How to ensure you enjoy the benefits of balance transfers

Balance transfers allow you the freedom to budget your holiday plan, but much like Buy Now, Pay Later, there are a few things you must take into account. You need to ensure that you:

  • Avoid the late payment fees by paying your balance transfer sums on time
  • Meet the monthly repayment sums to avoid unwanted interest rates after the interest-fee period of that specific sum
  • Understand that your balance transfer sum is tied to your credit card limit or your cashline account
  • Have sufficient funds to pay for the monthly repayments from your balance transfer loan

Having a repayment plan will allow you to fully enjoy that pandemic-stress-release holiday without money woes. So it’s equally important to tick all the financing boxes along with your travel requirements. 

COVID-19 travel restrictions (as of 13th April 2022)

The most obvious thing you need to do is pick a destination. Do you want to sip mojitos by a Maldives beach or indulge in a shopping/massage weekend in JB? 

Once you’ve decided on that, figure out the travel regulations you’ll be adhering to. There are two major lists of requirements for exiting Singapore and returning to Singapore.

Leaving Singapore

Before you leave the country, ensure that you have covered all aspects. Nobody wants a glitch in their arrival documents!

These are the major requirements you may come across: 

  • COVID-19 tests to take before departing 
  • Accepted vaccination cards
  • Proof of past COVID-19 infection (if applicable) 
  • Passport validity (usually more than 6 months)
  • On-arrival COVID-19 tests (depending on the country) 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has created a detailed list (in alphabetical order) on the requirements you need to fill for departure to each country here.

Re-entering Singapore

Under the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority website, you’ll find the COVID-19 Vaccinated Travel Framework. This is split into two segments: a checklist for fully vaccinated travellers and another for non-vaccinated travellers (for ages 13 and above).

You will find the requirements by clicking the self-help tool, which will redirect you to either one of the two checklists mentioned above, including additional details such as:

  • Filling up the SG Arrival Card
  • Using TraceTogether or HealthHub to verify your vaccination status in Singapore
  • Symptomatic travellers may need to take a COVID-19 test (the Antigen Rapid Test would cost you S$30 while the Polymerase Chain Reaction Test S$138) or be subject to any other requirements from the officers

Read these next:
Best Balance Transfers in Singapore (2021)
Balance Transfer: How Does It Work And Should You Get One?
Understanding Balance Transfers: How Much Can You Really Save in Interest?
Unpaid Credit Card Bills? Here's How a Balance Transfer Can Help


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