When 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.
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 – currently up to 33 months with Barclaycard.
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 now charge around 2.5% but there are 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.
0% balance transfer cards with long interest-free periods
Let's start by looking at the cards with the longest 0% periods.
|Credit card||0% period on balance transfers||Balance transfer fee|
Cost of transferring £2,000 balance
|Barclaycard 33-Month Platinum Visa||33 months||2.79%||£55.80||18.9%|
|Barclaycard 32-Month Platinum Visa||32 months||2.69%||£53.80||18.9%|
|Halifax Balance 32-Month Balance Transfer MasterCard||32 months||2.7%||£54||18.9%|
|Lloyds Bank 32-Month Balance Transfer MasterCard||32 months||2.8%||£56||18.9%|
|Tesco Bank Clubcard 32-Month Balance Transfer Credit Card||32 months||2.9%||£58||18.9%|
|Bank of Scotland Platinum 32-Month Balance Transfer MasterCard||32 months||3.5%||£70||18.9%|
|MBNA 31-Month Platinum||31 months||2.88%||£57.60||18.9%|
|Sainsbury's Bank Nectar Balance Transfer||31 months||2.89%||£57.80||18.9%|
Compare the credit cards with the longest 0% period
0% cards with low balance transfer fees
However, if you're willing to go for a card with a shorter interest-free period, you can pay a much lower fee,as the table below shows.
|Credit card||0% period||Balance transfer fee||Fee paid on £2,000 transfer||Representative APR after 0% period ends|
|Barclaycard Low Fee Platinum Visa||6 months||None||£0||19.9%|
|Lloyds Bank Platinum 10-Month Balance Transfer MasterCard||10 months||0.4%||£8||18.9%|
|Sainsbury's Bank Nectar Low Balance Transfer Fee MasterCard||12 months||0.5%||£10||18.9%|
|Fluid Low Fee Visa||12 months||0.5%||£10||18.9%|
|Nationwide Select Card*||15 months||0.55%||£11||15.9%|
|Nationwide Credit Card||15 months||0.65%||£13||17.9%|
|Post Office Platinum MasterCard||18 months||0.7%||£14||17.8%|
|Halifax 28-Month Balance Transfer MasterCard||28 months||1.5%||£30||18.9%|
|Bank of Scotland Platinum 28-Month Low Balance Transfer Fee MasterCard||28 months||1.5%||£30||18.9%|
|Lloyds Bank Platinum 28-Month Low Balance Transfer|
*Nationwide current account customers only
Average credit rating
Sadly, some people won't be able to get any of the cards we've highlighted in this article. That's because the credit card companies are only willing to give these cards to people with good credit ratings.
If you want to improve your credit rating, follow the tips in How to build an excellent credit history.
If you want even longer to get back into the black, 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 around 4% 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.
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