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 you can qualify for the best deals, and there are some competitive offers around. Here is a list of the top offers available, in order starting with the longest balance transfer times:

  • Santander All in One 0% balance transfer for 43 months: Charges 0% interest on balance transfers for 43 months and there is no balance transfer fee. At the end of the 0% offer period, interest will be charged at 15.9% p.a. (variable) on any balance that you’ve not paid off as well as any new balance transfers. This rate also applies to purchases. There’s also 0% interest on purchases for six months and you can earn 0.5% cashback on purchases.

SAVVY TIP: There is no balance transfer fee but the sting is that there’s a £3 monthly fee. Santander has an online calculator where you can work out what you might save. You won’t be able to transfer from other Santander or Cahoot credit cards, or from any loans or current accounts.

  • Sainsbury’s Bank 0% balance transfer for 40 months: This offer applies to balance transfers that are made within three months of opening your account. You also get 0% interest on purchases for the first three months. The balance transfer fee is exclusive to Nectar card holders only and is 1.69% – they charge an initial fee of 2.89% then give you a partial refund of 1.20%. After three months from the account opening, the fee will be 3% (min. £3 fee at all times). Extras: You can collect two Nectar points per £1 spent on Sainsbury’s shopping and fuel, and one point for every £5 spent on your card elsewhere. Collect 5,000 bonus Nectar points when you use their credit card to spend £250 on Sainsbury’s shopping or fuel in your first month. Offer ends 28th August 2017.

SAVVY TIP: This is for new customers with a Nectar card.

  • Barclaycard 0% balance transfer for 40 months: The balance transfer fee is 3.5%, but reduced to 1.68% on balances transferred in the first 60 days. The ‘representative’ APR is 18.9% – this is the rate you’ll pay on purchases once any 0% rate has run out.
    Extras: If you use Uber, this card will pay for every 11th trip, up to £15. They also say you get free, ongoing access to your Experian credit score, however 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 also must have a personal income of more than £20,000 per year. 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.

  • Virgin 0% interest balance transfer for 39 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 then 20.9% thereafter. The fee for balance transfers is 2.40% and for money transfers is 3.80%. 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 do 38 month, 32 month, 30 month and 24 month balance transfer cards.

  • MBNA Platinum 0% balance transfer for 39 months: There’s a 1.48% 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 20.9% 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, 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%.

  • Nuba’s 0% balance transfer for 39 months: You may not have heard of Nuba, but it’s an online-only brand from MBNA. There’s a 3.49% 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.co.uk Gift Card if you transfer at least £1,000 in the first 60 days.

  • Halifax 0% balance transfer for 38 months: You get 0% on purchases for the first six months and there’s an initial balance transfer fee of 3% but you’ll get a refund of 0.75% 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. You can transfer balances from most credit cards and some store cards, excluding Halifax products.

  • Bank of Scotland 0% balance transfer for 37 months: There’s also 0% interest on purchases for six months. There is a 2% transfer fee made in the first 90 days – an initial 3% fee applies, then they refund 1% within 90 days – after that, a 3% fee applies for each balance transfer.
  • Lloyds Bank 0% balance transfer for 37 months: There’s also 0% interest on purchases for three months. You have to make the transfer in the first 90 days. There is a 2% transfer fee – an initial 3% fee applies, then they refund 1% within 90 days – after that, a 3% fee applies for each balance transfer.

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.

Related articles:

Getting the most from reward and cashback credit cards

How you’re protected if you pay by credit card

How to get a better deal on credit cards, insurance and loans

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