How to get the best 0% balance transfer credit card; saving money on credit cards

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If you owe money on your credit card and know you won’t be able to clear it in a few months, you could consider a 0% balance transfer deal. There are some competitive 0% balance transfer credit card deals around. Find out how to get the best 0% balance transfer card.

How to get the best 0% balance transfer credit card; saving money on credit cards

If your credit score is good enough so you can qualify for the best deals, there are some competitive offers around. I’ve used press releases sent by card providers, the finance information website Moneyfacts and to compare deals I did check on Moneysupermarket.com as well, but the deals listed on Moneyfacts had a far longer balance transfer period.

  • MBNA Platinum 0% balance transfer credit card for 43 months has £20 cashback if you transfer at least £1,000 in your first 60 days. There’s a 3.29% fee if you transfer your balance within 60 days of opening the account. If you transfer your balance after 60 days, you’ll be charged 22.9% interest on that and there’s a hefty balance transfer fee of 5%. If you make any purchases you’ll be charged interest at 18.9% APR representative.

SAVVY TIP: You can transfer money from your MBNA credit card to your current account (effectively transferring your overdraft to your credit card), but here the balance transfer period is only 20 months. If you do that, you’ll be charged a 4% balance transfer fee. If you transfer your overdraft after 60 days, you’ll be charged 22.9% interest on that and there’s a hefty balance transfer fee of 5%.

  • Barclaycard 0% interest balance transfer for 42 months. There’s £20 cashback if you transfer at least £500. The balance transfer fee is 3.5%, but reduced to 2.99% on balances transferred in the first 60 days. You only have 60 days to transfer your balance(s) to qualify for the 0% deal. The ‘representative’ APR is 18.9% – this is the rate you’ll pay on purchases once any 0% rate has run out.

Extras: You’ll get free, ongoing access to your Experian credit score (this is something Experian offers free to anyone). You manage your account online.

SAVVY TIP: You may not get this balance transfer offer if your credit score is not good enough. You can take a test to find out whether you’d be likely to be accepted and it won’t harm your credit rating. Use the Check your eligibility tool on the Barclaycard site.

  • Sainsbury’s Bank 0% balance transfer for 42 months. You also get 0% on purchases for the first three months. There’s an initial balance transfer fee of 4% but you’ll get a refund of 0.5% on balances you transfer in the first 90 days. There’s a balance transfer fee of 3% on anything you transfer after that.

Extras: You also get Nectar points on this card. You’ll get 3,000 bonus points if you apply for the card by January 31st and transfer £1,000 or more in your first month. You’ll also get Nectar points on your spending after that (although this card is best kept for balance transfer only).

SAVVY TIP: Sainsbury’s balance transfer credit cards are unusual in that you can transfer your balance at any point over the life of the balance transfer credit card. Most cards only let you transfer the balance for a limited period. Also, they don’t ‘tier’ their offers. This means you either qualify for the full 42 months 0% balance transfer card or you don’t get it. Some credit card providers offer a reduced balance transfer offer if you don’t qualify for their headline-grabbing balance transfer rate.

  • Halifax 0% balance transfer for 41 months. You also get 0% on purchases for the first six months and there’s an initial balance transfer fee of 3.5% but you’ll get a refund of 0.32% within the first 90 days. After that, any further balances you transfer incur a fee of 3%. The representative APR is 18.9% once the balance transfer and 0% on purchase periods run out. I don’t like the fact that the fee on this card is so complicated.

SAVVY TIP: You’re not guaranteed to get this balance transfer period. If you don’t qualify for it, you will get a balance transfer period of 41 months with an APR interest rate of 21.9% or a shorter balance transfer period of 20 months and an APR of 27.9%.  You cannot transfer your balance from any Halifax or Bank of Scotland products.

  • Virgin 0% interest balance transfer for 41 months: Here you can transfer both balances from other credit cards and from overdrafts (called a money transfer). There’s also 0% on purchases for the first three months. The fee for balance transfers is 3.09% and for money transfers is 3.79%. I like the fact that the fees are straightforward.

SAVVY TIP: You can check whether you’d be eligible for this card using Virgin Money’s card checker (there’s a box you can click on next to every card. Virgin Money also does a 40 month, 32 month, 30 month and 24 month balance transfers (as I write this).

  • Nuba’s 0% interest balance transfer card charges 0% interest for 41 months. You may not have heard of Nuba, but it’s an online-only brand from MBNA. There’s a 3.29% balance transfer fee and you can transfer your credit card balance for the first 60 days. You can also transfer your balance from an overdraft and pay no interest for up to 20 months. You also have to do this within the first 60 days. If you transfer your balance after 60 days, you’ll be charged 22.9% interest on that and there’s a hefty balance transfer fee of 5%.

SAVVY TIP: There’s a £20 Amazon gift card if you transfer at least £1,000 in the first 60 days.

  • MBNA Platinum 0% balance transfer credit card for 43 months has £20 cashback if you transfer at least £1,000 in your first 60 days. There’s a 3.29% fee if you transfer your balance within 60 days of opening the account. If you transfer your balance after 60 days, you’ll be charged 22.9% interest on that and there’s a hefty balance transfer fee of 5%. If you make any purchases you’ll be charged interest at 18.9% APR representative.

SAVVY TIP: You can transfer money from your MBNA credit card to your current account (effectively transferring your overdraft to your credit card), but here the balance transfer period is only 20 months. If you do that, you’ll be charged a 4% balance transfer fee. If you transfer your overdraft after 60 days, you’ll be charged 20.9% interest on that and there’s a hefty balance transfer fee of 5%.

  • Santander’s All in one credit card charges 0% interest on balance transfers for 40 months. There’s also 0% interest on purchases for six months. You have to make the transfer in the first 90 days. The balance transfer fee is just 1%, but you’ll pay a monthly fee of 0.5%. You’ll get cashback of 0.5% on all your purchases.

SAVVY TIP: This card won’t be right for everyone because of the £3 monthly fee. Santander has an online calculator where you can work out what you might save.

  • Bank of Scotland 40 month 0% balance transfer card: charges 0% interest on balance transfers for 40 months. There’s also 0% interest on purchases for six months. You have to make the transfer in the first 90 days. he fee is 3%, but it’s reduced to 1.98% if you transfer your balance within 90 days (you get a refund on the difference).
  • Lloyds bank 40 month 0% balance transfer card: charges 0% interest on balance transfers for 40 months. There’s also 0% interest on purchases for six months. You have to make the transfer in the first 90 days. The fee is 3%, but it’s reduced to 1.98% if you transfer your balance within 90 days (you get a refund on the difference).

What’s the representative APR?

Credit card companies (and other lenders) use an APR to tell you how much interest you’ll pay.

  • In the case of credit card companies, it assumes you’re borrowing £1,200.
  • The APR is based on the rate of interest you pay for purchases and includes any fees (such as an annual fee) that you have to pay.

SAVVY TIP: The representative APR is the interest rate that the credit card company has to offer at least 51% of successful applicants. That means almost half of those who successfully apply for the card may get a different (higher) rate. That’s why you could end up paying a lot more than the rate that is advertised.

What you must watch out for – 5 tips

1. These deals often look great on the surface but the hardest part will be qualifying for them at the rate that’s advertised.

2. The balance transfer fee can be as high as 3.5%. That means if you transferred a balance of £1,000, you’d pay a balance transfer fee of £35. So, although the card wouldn’t charge you any interest during the 0% interest period, it’s not ‘free’.

3. 0% balance transfer cards may only work in your favour if you use them to clear your debt but don’t necessarily keep the same card for purchases (unless they have a ‘0% interest on purchases’ offer as well). That’s because the interest rates don’t tend to be the most competitive once the 0% deal runs out.

4. You must pay off your balance before the 0% interest rate runs out, otherwise you’ll be charged interest and the rate could be quite high.

5. Normally, you must transfer your balance within a specified time – often 60 or 90 days. In some cases you may qualify for a lower balance transfer fee if you do this. Sainsbury’s Bank credit cards are unusual in that they let you transfer your balance at 0% throughout the life of the deal.

Related articles:

Getting the most from reward and cashback credit cards

How you’re protected if you pay by credit card

Borrowing money from a peer-to-peer (or social) lending site

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