Great 0% credit card transfer deals around - how to choose one

If you've got a hefty credit card balance racking up interest each month, transferring it to a 0% balance transfer card is one the savviest moves you can make.

In fact, now is the best time to do it, as there are currently 54 credit cards offering an interest free balance transfer term of 12 months or over, the highest on record. So what do you need to consider before making the move?

Even though the economy remains in a fragile state, Andrew Hagger of Moneynet highlights that there are a number of factors in the card provider's favour, which is enabling them to offer these record-breaking deals.

"Not only are borrowing costs very low, the Consumer Credit Directive which came into effect on 1st February this year means that lenders can be more selective as they only have to offer the best deals to 51% of successful applicants, compared with the previous requirement of 66%," explains Hagger.

Transfer with caution
Of course, providers don't offer great deals out of the goodness of their hearts, so it is crucial to take a good look at the small print before you even think about applying.

Offering long term 0% deals is a way to generate massive free advertising exposure via the best buy tables – which remains the easiest way to compare different deals. Yet downside for consumers is that even though lower borrowing costs mean providers can offer extended interest-free terms, once the promotional deal expires, cards tend to revert to high interest rates. This means you need to be prepared to switch again to avoid getting stung for holding a balance on your card.

Tighter terms of use
As lenders are now able to be more selective in who they lend to, it's important to think carefully before applying for a deal. Applying for multiple cards in the hope you'll be accepted for one is not a wise move – each application will leave a footprint on your credit file and could damage your record. So before applying, it makes sense to view your credit record, using one of the services such as Experian, Equifax or Call Credit, and take steps to improve your history if it is poor

Further restrictions come with these extended 0% balance transfer deals. For example, providers are offering smaller credit limits to keep the cost of interest free lending to a minimum, and taking a tougher line with defaulted payments. If you happen to be late with or miss a monthly repayment, even if it is your first slip up, you're likely to see the interest-free offer terminated immediately.

Some of the longest 0% balance transfer terms currently available are - Barclaycard Platinum 20 months, while MBNA, Virgin Money Bank of Scotland and NatWest both offer deals of 18 months.

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