The best balance transfer credit cards of 2021

Here's how you can get the best deal on a balance transfer credit card, from finding the longest 0% periods to paying the lowest fees.

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Long 0% periods

Santander All in One Credit Card image
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 23.7% APR (variable).
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Longest 0% deals

To access the longest possible 0% deals, you’ll need good credit and you’ll probably have to pay a small transfer fee – this can be added onto the balance you’re transferring. The absolute longest 0% deal currently available is 31 months, but it’s important to factor in the transfer fee and any ongoing fees when you’re picking the right deal for you.

Santander All in One Credit Card

Santander All in One Credit Card

★★★★★

Check eligibility Read review

26 months

0% interest on balance transfers

0%

Balance transfer fee

20 months

0% interest on purchases

23.7%

Representative APR

The Santander All in One card is a great option for those looking to cut-out the interest on card debt and to get debt-free sooner. While there's a small monthly fee, you'll get an impressive 26 months of 0% interest on both purchases and balance transfers.
  • Extra-long 0% period
  • Competitive rate
  • Up to 20 months of 0% interest on purchases made using the card
  • Monthly fee
  • Requires good credit
Availability Available to new customers
Residency UK Resident for more than 36 months
Min. income 7500
Foreign usage charge (EU) 0%
Cash advance fee 3% (min. £3)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 23.7% APR (variable).

If you don’t need quite so long at 0%, you should consider a low- or no-fee balance transfer deal.

Low- and no-fee balance transfer deals

Although these offers won’t have the very longest 0% interest periods on the market, if the 0% periods that they do offer can give you long enough to clear your card debt, they’re likely to be the cheapest option.

HSBC No Fee Balance Transfer Credit Card Visa

HSBC No Fee Balance Transfer Credit Card Visa

★★★★★

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20 months

0% interest on balance transfers

0%

Balance transfer fee

21.9%

Representative APR

£0

Account fee

Yes, you could easily find a longer 0% deal on the market, but this is the longest deal with no transfer fee or account fee (albeit with a very average revert interest rate charged after the 0% period is over). So if 20 months gives you long enough to clear your balance, this could be the card for you.
  • Long 0% period
  • No balance transfer fee
  • Competitive rate
  • Outside of the balance transfer deal, rates and fees are nothing to write home about
Availability Available to new customers
Min. income 6800
Foreign usage charge (EU) 2.99%
Cash advance fee 2.99% (min. £3)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).

Managing your card debt

To get debt-free as cheaply and as quickly as possible, you may wish to set up a direct debit to make a specific repayment each month. The card issuer will usually arrange this for you at your request or you may be able to arrange it yourself easily in the card issuer’s app or online banking. To ensure you clear your debt before the 0% period ends (and the card’s less-appealing “standard rate” or “revert rate” kicks in) you can divide your outstanding balance by the number of months in the 0% period and arrange to pay that much each month. Similarly, if you can make extra payments as and when you’re able, that will also help you to clear card debt faster.

HSBC Balance Transfer Credit Card

HSBC Balance Transfer Credit Card

★★★★★

Check eligibility Read review

29 months

0% interest on balance transfers

21.9%

Representative APR

£0

Account fee

3 months

0% interest on purchases

The HSBC Balance Transfer card offers an extended 0% interest period on balance transfer, but with a lower transfer fee than those found on cards with similar 0% periods, as well as a competitive APR and no annual fees.
  • Generous 0% period
  • Competitive balance transfer fee
  • Up to 3 months of 0% interest on purchases made using the card
  • Limited perks
  • Balance transfer fee
Availability Available to new customers
Min. income 6800
Foreign usage charge (EU) 2.99%
Cash advance fee 2.99% (min. £3)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).

What is the best balance transfer card?

This really depends on whether you want the longest possible 0% transfer period, or want to pay the least in order to transfer your balance. As a general rule of thumb, the longer the 0% balance transfer period, the more likely you are to have to pay a higher balance transfer fee.

The very longest 0% balance transfer period on the market is currently 31 months, but there are plenty of credit cards that offer balance transfer periods of more than 12 months. So choosing the best balance transfer card is really a matter of balancing the 0% period against any potential fees you’ll need to pay.

How to choose the best balance transfer credit card

There are lots of balance transfer card deals available, so to help you pick the right one, we recommend asking yourself these important questions:

  1. How much can you afford to repay each month?
    Take a look at your income and outgoings and try to get a rough idea of how much you could comfortably repay each month.
  2. How good is your credit score? The longest balance transfer offers may only be offered to those with excellent credit ratings, so it helps to have a good idea of the types of card you’re likely to get approved for.
  3. How long do you need in order to clear your debt?
    Divide your outstanding balance by the amount you can afford to repay each month to establish how many months at 0% you need. It’s a good idea to add a couple of months to act as a buffer.
  4. Could you get a deal with no transfer fee?
    Balance transfer fees typically come in at about 3% of the total sum being transferred, so they’re worth avoiding, if possible. No-fee deals don’t tend to have the very longest 0% periods around, so sometimes the fee is worth shouldering.
  5. Do you need the new card to offer anything else?
    If you’ve found cards offering the length of 0% period you need, and you can avoid a transfer fee, maybe a new card could offer you some perks. Just watch out for cards that encourage you to use them for further spending. If you only need the balance transfer deal for a brief period, then factors like the card’s standard rate and any perks on offer might have a greater importance to you.

Once you’ve answered these questions you should be well prepared to start comparing deals. If you need 26 months or less to pay off your balance, then you should head straight to the low-or-no-transfer-fee deals. If you need longer, you should probably swallow the transfer fee and head for the very longest 0% deals available.

Identifying the best balance transfer card for your unique circumstance really boils down to three factors: how much card debt you have, what you can afford to repay each month and which deals you can get approved for.

Best balance transfer card issuers by customer satisfaction

We asked cardholders to rate their satisfaction with some of the biggest names in balance transfers, and whether they’d recommend their card issuer to a friend. We’ve shown both for each brand in the table below. Our independent survey of 750 card customers was carried out in December 2019.

Overall satisfactionCustomers who’d recommendIssuerReview
★★★★★85%Santander logoSantander has some of the stronger 0% deals on the market, but it also offers a couple of fairly luxurious rewards/perks cards.View deals
★★★★★85%Barclaycard logoThe oldest bank in the UK has managed to keep its customer service standards high for centuries and offers a super-comprehensive range of cards.View deals
★★★★★84%Tesco Bank logoTesco Bank credit cards all earn Clubcard points. Despite being competitive cards in their own right, as you’d expect, they’re most popular with Tesco shoppers.View deals
★★★★★79%Virgin Money logoVirgin Money has a wide range of cards on offer, including a few with some of the longest 0% deals. Customers with a Virgin Money credit card can also sign up to a range of reward schemes.View deals
★★★★★77%HSBC UK logoOne of the world’s largest banks, HSBC has several cards on offer, including good 0% balance transfers deals.View deals
★★★★★76%NatWest logoNatWest offers a small but diverse range of cards, including balance transfer deals and premium reward cards.View deals
★★★★★69%mbna logoPart of the Lloyds Bank Group, MBNA is all about the 0% deals. Customers in our survey praised the bank’s online account management tools and customer service.View deals
★★★★★68%M&S Bank logoM&S Bank keeps things simple with only a handful of cards on offer. These will particularly appeal to M&S customers, as you can earn points to spend in store.View deals

How can I find the best card that I’m eligible for?

So, now you know how to spot a good balance transfer deal. But realistically, the longest 0% deals are reserved for those with excellent credit. Additionally, card issuers often tailor offers to the individual applicant, so if your credit history is limited or damaged, you may find you’re accepted for a card, but offered a shorter 0% deal or a higher revert rate.

Almost every card issuer now lets you use an eligibility checker to find out the likelihood that you’d get approved and the specific deal you might be offered. These facilities use a soft credit search of your credit file (in other words a “light” check, which won’t affect your credit score and isn’t visible to other banks). Card issuers don’t always call this the same thing – look out for “Quick check” or “Check your eligibility” on card issuers’ sites.

If you already know that you have excellent credit, then you might choose to head straight to the card issuer offering the deal that you’ve homed-in on, but if you have fair/bad credit or if you have no idea about your credit rating, you might prefer to narrow down your options to just those that you know you’re in with a good chance of getting approved for. To do this, you can use an eligibility checker which takes a few basic details that you provide, then looks at cards from a whole range of issuers and shows you your likelihood of getting approved for each.

Find out which balance transfer deals you’ll be approved for (with no impact on your credit score):

Check my eligibility

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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