Balance transfer credit cards

Balance transfer credit card comparisons


  • Compare balance transfer credit cards deals from multiple providers and apply online
  • Use smart search to find balance transfer cards without impacting your credit records
  • Consider 0% balance transfer cards, low transfer fee cards and more

What’s a balance transfer credit card?

A 0% balance transfer credit card allows you to move debt from one or more credit cards onto a new, with no interest to pay for a set period.

The 0% interest promotional period will vary from card to card, and can last from six months up to around 35 months.

After the introductory 0% period ends, the card’s standard interest rate will apply on any unpaid balance on the card, which tends to be high.

Used wisely, they could help you clear your debt faster and may even save you hundreds of pounds if you’re currently paying a lot of interest on your credit and store card/s.

Some 0% balance transfer cards also offer an introductory 0% APR on purchases, too.

credit cards

How do balance transfer cards work?

After being accepted, you'll need to ask your provider to transfer the balance from your existing card - or cards - onto the new one.

You usually have to pay a balance transfer fee and the maximum amount you can transfer cannot normally exceed 95% of your credit limit.

So, for example, if the credit limit on the card was £2,000, they would allow you to transfer £1,900 (95%).

You’ll then need to ensure you make the minimum monthly payments on time. Though it’s a good idea to make higher payments, ideally as much as you can comfortably afford, to pay off the balance before the 0% deal ends.

Late or missed payments could mean you lose the introductory rate and can negatively affect your credit score.

Once the 0% promotional period ends, you’ll need to pay the card’s standard interest rate on any remaining balance.

To pay off your debt in time, you should calculate how much you need to pay per month while the introductory 0% period runs. To do this, divide how much you owe by the number of months the card offers the 0% rate. So, for example, if you owe £1,500 and the 0% offer runs for 15 months, you need to pay off £100 per month to clear the balance.

After you’ve worked out exactly how much you need to pay each month to clear your debt in time, it’s a good idea to set up a standing order for that amount.

It’s worth noting that if you have any remaining debt when your no-interest period is about to end, you could apply for another 0% balance transfer card and move it over. This would prevent you from having to pay interest for the foreseeable, but your aim should still be to clear the debt as quickly as possible.

Will there be a transfer fee to pay?

Typically, you’ll be charged a balance transfer fee that’s a percentage (usually between 1% and 5%) of the amount you’re transferring.

So, the cost will depend on how much debt you’re moving over to your new card.

This transfer fee will be added to your balance and you won’t be charged interest on it while the 0% period lasts.

Some cards offer free transfers, though they may come with shorter interest-free periods.

What are the pros and cons of balance transfer cards?

Balance transfer cards can be a very useful way to clear debt if used correctly. It’s important to know what to look out for before opening an account though.

Pros

  • If you make your monthly payments on time and stay within your limit, you can avoid paying any interest on your credit card debt and reduce what you owe faster
  • Consolidating multiple credit card balances onto one card can also make it simpler to manage your payments
  • Clearing your credit card debt may help you to improve your credit score
  • You may be eligible for a balance transfer card which also offers 0% interest on purchases for a certain period

Cons

  • Most cards charge a fee for transferring a balance, typically around 3% of the amount you’re transferring. Some cards do offer free balance transfers - though they usually come with shorter 0% periods.
  • When the 0% period finishes, interest rates can be among the highest on the market. So clearing your balance, or as much of it as you can before this happens, is your wisest move
  • If you’re late, or miss a payment, your provider could withdraw the 0% deal, leaving you with the standard interest rate to pay, or even a penalty APR (a special interest rate that some cards apply when you default). Late or missed payments also leave a mark on your credit report
  • You should avoid spending on your balance transfer card if it doesn't offer 0% on purchases, too
  • Even if it does, be aware that the introductory period for new purchases and balance transfers can differ.

Tips for choosing the right balance transfer card

When choosing a card to best suit your circumstances, you’ll need to factor in:

  • How long the 0% introductory period lasts
  • How much the transfer fee is
  • What the typical APR will be after the 0% offer expires
  • Whether or not it offers a 0% deal on purchases, too, if you want to use the card to buy goods or services.

Finding a card with the longest 0% introductory period will mean you can take more time to pay off the debt and the monthly payments will be more affordable.

Remember to check whether annual fees or late payment penalties apply.

If you 've got a smaller amount of debt or you're confident you can clear it relatively quickly, choosing a card with a shorter 0% period and smaller transfer fees might work out better for you.

[1] Gocompare.com introduces customers to Runpath Regulated Services which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Gocompare.com's relationship with Runpath Regulated Services is limited to that of a business partnership, no common ownership or control rights exist between us. Please note, we cannot be held responsible for the content of external websites and by using the links stated to access these separate websites you will be subject to the terms of use applying to those sites