Four year study reveals how interest-free balance transfer periods have almost doubled to up to 40 months
New research* from Gocompare.com Money has revealed how the 0% balance transfer credit card market has exploded over the past four years; with the longest deal currently available almost double the market-leading offer in 2012.
In a study of the entire credit card market going back four years, the comparison website found that both the longest deal available and the average introductory period has risen year on year, with the average length jumping from 15 months in 2012, to 24 so far in 2016.
Likewise, the longest 0% balance transfer period in 2012 was just under two years at 22 months. However, the longest deal currently available is a staggering 40 months from Tesco Bank, giving customers a year and a half longer to pay off their balance than the market-leading card of four years ago.
Balance transfer deals 2012 - 2016
Longest 0% balance transfer period (months)
Average period (months)
Highest balance transfer fee on the market
Average balance transfer fee on the market
Source: Defaqto Matrix, instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto. Correct as of 15/02/2016
Matt Sanders, credit card spokesperson for Gocompare.com Money credits the boom in 0% balance transfer periods to providers fighting for new customers in an increasingly competitive market.
Matt Sanders said: "Over the past few years there has been a massive surge in competition in the credit card market as providers fight to take the top spot in the best-buy tables. A few years ago a three-year 0% balance transfer period would have been almost inconceivable; however as we've entered 2016 we're already seeing cards that exceed that, with no sign of these increasingly long periods coming to an end anytime soon.
"Ultimately, the balance transfer battle that's waged over the past few years is good news for customers looking to manage their existing balances over a longer period of time, as there are some exceptionally good deals available to those who shop around. However, those considering these cards need to remember that after the initial 0% period ends they'll be charged interest on the remainder of the balance, making it important to keep on top of when your deal expires.
"When looking for a balance transfer card, it's worth considering whether you'll need the full amount of time offered by the card to pay it off. For those who are looking to transfer smaller debts, or are confident in being able to pay off the debt over sooner, then a card with a shorter 0% period and a lower or no balance transfer fee may be worth considering."
Matt added: "It's also worth remembering that while there are some extremely long deals available right now, the headline rates are typically reserved for those with a good credit history.
"Be aware that frequently applying for credit cards can negatively affect your credit rating which can impact your chances of getting credit in the future. When looking for a new card, be sure to use a comparison site which offers a 'soft search' service, like Gocompare.com, that can tell you how likely you are to be accepted for a card before you apply, without impacting your credit rating."
Read Gocompare.com's guide on 0% balance transfer cards for more information.
We've also created a guide on credit ratings and how to improve them.
Notes to editors:
*Source: Defaqto matrix, instant and unbiased market and competitor intelligence, from independent financial researcher Defaqto. Correct as of 15/02/2016