The best 0% balance transfer credit cards

balance transfer cardsWhen you choose a balance transfer credit card, you shouldn't just focus on the card with the longest 0% period.

It's easy to compare credit cards that offer interest-free periods on purchases. All you need to know is how long the 0% period is – the longest offer will be the best card.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
Things are more complicated with 0% balance transfer credit cards. As a general concept, these are great products. You can transfer an existing credit card debt to a new card and then not pay any interest on that debt for a long period – possibly as long as 23 months.

However, the problem is that you will have to pay a balance transfer fee. This is a percentage of the debt you're transferring to your new balance transfer card. Many cards charge around 3% but there a few that are significantly cheaper.

So when you're choosing a balance transfer card, you need to look at both the length of the 0% period and how expensive the fee is.

Let's start by looking at the cards with the longest 0% periods:

0% balance transfer cards with long interest-free periods

Card 0% period Balance Transfer Fee Fee paid on £2000 transfer Rate after 0% period ends
Barclaycard 23-month Platinum 23 months 2.8% £56 17.9%
HSBC Visa for existing customers 23 months 3.3% £66 17.9%
Tesco Clubcard Credit Card for Balance Transfers 22 months 2.99% £60 16.9%
Natwest Platinum 22 months 3.2% £64 17.9%
Royal Bank of Scotland Platinum 22 months 3.2% £64 17.9%
Halifax 22 Mth MasterCard 22 months 3.5% £70 17.9%
Barclaycard 22-month Platinum 22 months 2.6% £52 17.9%
Virgin Money MasterCard 20 months 2.99% £60 16.8%
MBNA Platinum Visa 20 months 2.85% £57 16.9%
Halifax 20-Month MasterCard 20 months 3% £60 17.9%
Nationwide Visa 20 months 3% £60 15.9%
first direct Gold Card 20 months 2.9% £58 16.9%

The cheapest card in the above table is the Barclaycard 22-month Platinum card. The combination of a 2.6% fee and 22-month interest-free period is very attractive.

However, if you're willing to go for a card with a shorter interest-free period, you can pay a much lower fee. Look at this table:

0% balance transfer cards with low fees

Credit card 0% period Balance transfer fee Fee paid on £2000 transfer Normal APR Notes
Barclaycard Platinum Low Balance Transfer Fee 16 months 1.5% £30 18.9%
Lloyds TSB Platinum MasterCard 15 months 1.5% £30 17.9% 50% refund on balance transfers over £1500 before 16th Nov
Fluid Card 15 months 1.5% £30 15.9%
MBNA Everyday Credit Card 17 months 2% £40 11.9%
Barclaycard 22-month Platinum 22 months 2.6% £52 17.9%
Barclaycard 23-month Platinum 23 months 2.8% £56 17.9%

If your existing debt isn't that big, and you think you could pay it off within 15 or 16 months, then it makes a lot of sense to go for a low-fee balance transfer card. If you transferred a £2000 debt to the Fluid card, you'd only have to pay a £30 fee, but if you transferred the debt to the Natwest Platinum card, you'd have to pay £64.

That's a big difference and, of course, the difference will be even larger if you're planning to transfer a bigger sum.

Average credit rating
Sadly, some people won't be able to get any of the cards we've highlighted in this article so far.

That's because the credit card companies are only willing to give these cards to people with good credit ratings.

However, if your credit rating is only 'average', there are a couple of cards that might be worth applying for. The Capital One Balance Card Visa card offers a seven-month interest-free period with a 3% fee while the Barclaycard Gold Visa card has a nine-month 0% period with a 2.5% fee.

Read more in Capital One launches balance transfer card for those with 'average' credit.

Other options
Alternatively, you could apply for a personal loan and use the money you've borrowed to pay off your credit card debt. Right now, the top personal loans are charging just 5.6% in interest.

0% is best
But if you can get one of the top 0% cards, go for one of them. Just make sure you pay off your minimum monthly repayment promptly every time. Otherwise your credit card provider will use your late payment as an excuse to withdraw your 0% deal. And you wouldn't want that!

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