Long 0% periods
Long 0% periods
No account fee
Low transfer fee
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.
If you don’t need quite so long at 0%, you should consider a low- or no-fee balance transfer deal.
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.
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.
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.
There are lots of balance transfer card deals available, so to help you pick the right one, we recommend asking yourself these important questions:
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.
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 satisfaction||Customers who’d recommend||Issuer||Review|
|★★★★★||85%||Santander 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%||The 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 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 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%||One of the world’s largest banks, HSBC has several cards on offer, including good 0% balance transfers deals.||View deals|
|★★★★★||76%||NatWest offers a small but diverse range of cards, including balance transfer deals and premium reward cards.||View deals|
|★★★★★||69%||Part 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 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|
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.
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