Balance transfer credit card comparisons
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.
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.
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.
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.
When choosing a card to best suit your circumstances, you’ll need to factor in:
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.
The longest 0% deals are usually only available to people with good credit scores.
But there are some 0% cards on the market for people with poor credit ratings. Just be aware that, after the introductory offer ends, the APRs for these types of cards are typically extremely high.
In fact, you may find your current credit card offers a lower APR. If this is the case, rather than transferring all of your debt from that card onto the new one, you could move only the amount you're confident you can repay before the 0% deal ends.
Opening up any new line of credit can negatively affect your credit rating for a short period.
Making multiple applications can lower your score, too, so be sure to check your chance of being accepted for a 0% balance transfer card using our eligibility calculator before you apply.
This sort of soft credit check won’t affect your credit rating.
No, you can’t transfer a balance between two cards that are issued by the same bank or banking group.
So, you wouldn't be able to transfer from one Barclaycard to another. And, for example, if you have an HSBC credit card, you couldn’t transfer the balance to an M&S Bank card as it’s part of the same banking group.
You’d need to move over to a new lender.
0% introductory offers vary from card to card but typically last between 6 months and 35 months.
If you can’t get accepted for a new 0% balance transfer card, you could always ask your current card issuer for a lower interest rate.
They should consider your request if you’re a reliable customer who has been with the company for some time.
If you do get accepted for a lower interest rate, you could then move any existing debt from higher interest cards onto the plastic with the lower rate. Remember to factor in any transfer fees before making a decision.
Another option might be to consider moving your credit card debts into a debt consolidation loan which offers a lower interest rate than your current cards.
Most cards allow you to transfer a balance of between 90- 95% of your total credit limit.
That might mean you can’t move all the debt from a current credit card onto your new 0% balance transfer card.
If that’s the case, you could move as much as you can onto the new 0% card, then check your chances of getting approved for a second 0% balance transfer card to move the rest of your debt.
If it looks like you won't be approved for a second 0% card, it’s worth asking your high-interest card provider for a lower APR on the remaining balance.
When you transfer the balance of your old credit card onto a new one, the card remains open unless you let your card provider know you want to cancel it.
There are pros and cons to closing old credit card accounts. But the main thing to remember is that you should avoid the temptation of using the old card when you're trying to get your debt under control.
If you don’t manage to pay off all your debt by the end of the 0% interest period of your card, you could look at transferring what’s left onto a new 0% balance transfer card with the aim of clearing the debt in a new cycle.
In theory, you can keep moving your outstanding balance from one 0% card to another indefinitely, but your goal should be to free yourself from the debt as quickly as possible.
If you can’t get accepted for another 0% balance transfer deal, you could look at moving the remaining debt to a card with a lower APR.
Yes, you can transfer the balance from multiple cards onto a 0% balance transfer card, as long as the amount doesn’t exceed the card’s limit.
That’s what makes a 0% card a good option for people looking to consolidate their debts into one place.
If you do want to transfer debts from multiple cards, off-load those that charge the highest interest rates first.