The five-card shuffle: August 2013

credit cards
Cards galore, yesterday
"Halifax, Barclaycard and Tesco have all wheeled out the heavy artillery"
  • | by Matthew Sanders

The UK credit card market is heating up.

With a number of big-hitters trading blows in the 0% market, rate-surfers have been enjoying a bumper summer. Halifax, Barclaycard and Tesco have all wheeled out the heavy artillery, taking it in turns to out-do each other with ever-longer interest-free terms on balance transfer deals.

What’s more, there is plenty of competition in the cashback and reward market, too.

Read on for five cards which have got my attention this month… and why they might be worthy of yours, too.

Barclaycard 28-Month Platinum Visa


• 0% on balance transfers for 28 months, for an initial 4% fee which is reduced to 3.5% through a refund, subject to terms and conditions

• 0% on purchases for six months

• Representative 18.9% APR (Variable)

This card has possibly the longest balance transfer terms in the history of the known universe. Well, perhaps not. But if you’re carrying a lot of debt, this will give you nearly two-and-a-half years of interest-free terms to tame it.

Bear in mind that you can't transfer your balance from another Barclaycard, so hold your horses if that was your plan.

Alternatives: Tesco is offering 27-month 0% terms for a 3.5% fee, and you’ll also get Clubcard points on all your spending with it. Elsewhere, Halifax’s self-explanatory 27-month Balance Transfer Master Card will offer you precisely that amount of 0% for a 3% fee.

Nationwide Visa

Platinum Visa card

• 0% on balance transfers for 26 months, for an initial 2.4% fee

0% on new purchases for three months

• Representative 17.9% APR (Variable)

For the sake of just two months of interest-free terms, you could save yourself a modest bomb with this little gem.

A 2.4% fee will bag you 26 glorious 0% terms on balance transfers, and you’ll also get commission-free purchases abroad if you build up your allowance through UK spending.

Alternatives: Bank of Scotland has slashed the price of its 24-month 0% card, effectively giving you two years of 0% terms for a measly 1.5% fee. Lloyds TSB is offering a pretty similar deal, too.

Fluid 26-Month Balance Transfer

Fluid card

• 0% on balance transfers for 26 months, with a 2.89% fee

• 0% on new purchases for three months

• Representative 18.9% APR  (variable)

What? Another balance transfer card with comparable terms to the ones I’ve just mentioned?

Why, yes. But this one’s got a twist, as it allows you to transfer funds to your current account. This might be good to help you tackle overdrafts and personal loans, for instance. Be careful, as there’s an inflated transfer fee for doing this.

Another real boon of Fluid’s offer is that you’ll be able to check whether it’s likely you’ll be accepted before completing your application, thus reducing the chances of a potential black mark on your credit history in the event of being turned down.

Bear in mind that you won’t be able to switch your balance from another Fluid card, or BMI or MBNA cards.

Alternatives: None, at the moment. Fluid’s offer is pretty unique.

American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday Card

American Express card

• 5% cashback on purchases up to £2,000 of yearly spend, for a three-month introductory period, then up to 1.25% afterwards. (Terms and conditions apply)

• 19.9% representative APR (variable)

The undisputed ‘big dog’ of the cashback yard, this card allows potential users to – in the words of Mark Knopfler - get money for nothing. Well, sort of - they’ll have to pay off their entire balance in full every month without fail to get their hands on the money.

Fortunately, there’s no annual fee for the card, although you must be at least 18 and have an annual household income of £20,000 a year or more.

Oh, and if you fancy a bit of this particular cashback action, you’d best get your skates on – this sort of deal won’t hang around forever.

Alternatives: There are all manner of cashback and reward cards on the market, including Santander’s sportsman-endorsed 123 Card and Captial One’s Aspire Elite, which also offers a 5% introductory period (capped at £200) and 2% thereafter.

Tesco Clubcard Credit Card for Purchases

Tesco card

• 0% on balance transfers for nine months, with a 2.9% fee

• 0% on purchases for 18 months

• Representative 16.9% APR (Variable)

This card is the reigning champion of 0% introductory terms, weighing in at a not-inconsiderable interest-free 18 months on new purchases. It will also allow you to rack up Clubcard points galore to spend in Tesco, providing you keep within the card’s terms and conditions.

Don't forget that once the introductory terms are up, they'll revert to the standard rate of interest.

Alternatives: While we’re on the subject of credit cards with a tie-in to retailers, there’s always the M&S Credit Card, which will give you 0% introductory terms for 15 months and the chance to rack up points to spend in Marks & Sparks.

Meanwhile, Fluid’s Purchase Credit Card Visa offers 0% introductory terms for a slightly less impressive 16 months, but you’ll be able to see if you’re likely to be accepted for it before applying.

Fancy the look of any of these? Then step this way to compare credit card rates.

All information correct at time of publication.