The Fixer: Christmas credit card

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The Fixer logo Have you been left out of pocket due to poor service or sharp practice? Do you have a money problem that won't go away?

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Dear Fixer,
I am going to need a bit of extra spending power to get me through the festive season this year.

Hopefully, it will only be a short-term thing. Is a 0% credit card the best way to pay for my presents in these circumstances?

Or are there any downsides to this sort of borrowing that I have missed? Many thanks for your help.

J Ming, Rotherham

Dear Ms Ming,

A credit card charging 0% on purchases for an introductory period can be a good way to spread the cost of your Christmas shopping.

You can currently use cards of this kind to avoid paying interest on their spending for well over a year, while many 0% cards also come with schemes that reward you for spending.

High interest rates - typically of around 18% - kick in if you fail to clear the balance completely within the interest-free period, though.

So it is vital to have cleared your balance in full before that happens. And that means it is up to you to both keep a lid on your spending and to work out how much you need to pay off each month to avoid incurring interest charges.

If you are the sort of person who finds it hard to control your spending, I would therefore advise you to think carefully before taking out a 0% card - and to stay disciplined if you do.

If you still want to go ahead, you can check out market-leading deals from the likes of Tesco and M&S here.

However, it is also worth mentioning that these deals are generally reserved for those with very good credit scores, so you may be offered a less attractive deal or rejected altogether if your credit score is less than perfect.

If that is the case, it may be worth switching your current account to a provider such as Nationwide, which offers new FlexDirect customers a 0% overdraft for the first 12 months.

The Fixer

Whatever your financial problem, write to themoneyfixer@aim.com and The AOL Money Fixer will get on the case.