How to manage a new credit card after a balance transfer

Your old account won't automatically close when you complete your balance transfer to consolidate your debt. Here are some tips on how to manage both your new credit card and your old one.

Balance transfer credit cards can be an efficient way to free yourself from high interest and start consolidating your debt. Conducting a balance transfer is a simple process, but repaying your debt before the promotional offer runs out can sometimes be tricky.

Compare balance transfer credit cards

1 - 10 of 51
Name Product Finder score Purchases Balance transfers Annual/monthly fees Representative APR Incentive Link
Santander Everyday No Balance Transfer Fee Credit Card
3.5
★★★★★
0% for 3 months reverting to 23.9%
0% for 12 months
(0% fee)
£0
23.9% APR (variable)
Sign up for Santander Boosts to receive cashback, vouchers, offers and prize draws from selected retailers.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 23.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 23.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Santander Everyday Long Term Balance Transfer Credit Card
4.3
★★★★★
0% for 3 months reverting to 23.9%
0% for 26 months
(3% fee)
£0
23.9% APR (variable)
Sign up for Santander Boosts to receive cashback, vouchers, offers and prize draws from selected retailers.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 23.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 23.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
HSBC Purchase Plus Credit Card
3.8
★★★★★
0% for 18 months reverting to 24.9%
0% for 16 months
(3.49%, min £5 fee)
£0
24.9% APR (variable)
Discounts and exclusive offers for dining experiences, leisure activities and shopping available through HSBC Home and Away.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable). You might get different interest rates and promotional periods to those shown here, because these depend on your circumstances.
Check eligibility
HSBC Balance Transfer Credit Card
4.0
★★★★★
0% for 3 months reverting to 24.9%
0% for 27 months
(3.49% fee, min £5 fee)
£0
24.9% APR (variable)
Discounts and exclusive offers for dining experiences, leisure activities and shopping available through HSBC Home and Away.
When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable). You might get different interest rates and promotional periods to those shown here, because these depend on your circumstances.
Check eligibility
M&S Bank Credit Card Purchase Plus Offer Mastercard
4.1
★★★★★
0% for 20 months reverting to 24.9%
0% for 12 months
(0% fee)
£0
24.9% APR (variable)
1 point per £1 spent with M&S and 1 point per £5 spent elsewhere. Enjoy 55 days interest free, preferential rates plus no cash advance fee when buying M&S travel money with the card.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
M&S Bank Credit Card Transfer Plus Offer Mastercard
3.9
★★★★★
0% for 3 months reverting to 24.9%
0% for 26 months
(3.49%, min £5 fee)
£0
24.9% APR (variable)
1 point per £1 spent with M&S and 1 point per £5 spent elsewhere. Enjoy 55 days interest free, preferential rates plus no cash advance fee when buying M&S travel money with the card.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Santander All in One Credit Card
4.5
★★★★★
0% for 15 months reverting to 23.9%
0% for 15 months
(0% fee)
£3 per month
29.8% APR (variable)
0.5% after £1 of monthly spend. Maximum of £10 cashback paid per month. Cashback paid monthly into Card Account. Maximum spend for cashback purposes is limited to credit limit.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 23.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 29.8% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
The Co-operative Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card Visa
4.1
★★★★★
0% for 4 months reverting to 20.6%
0% for 24 months
(3% (minimum £5) fee)
£0
20.6% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 20.6% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 20.6% APR (variable).
TSB Platinum Balance Transfer Card
4.0
★★★★★
0% for 3 months reverting to 22.95%
0% for 24 months
(2.95% fee)
£0
22.9% APR (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 22.9% APR (variable).
M&S Bank Credit Card Shopping Plus Offer Mastercard
4.1
★★★★★
0% for 18 months reverting to 23.9%
0% for 15 months
(3.49% fee)
£0
23.9% APR (variable)
1 point per £1 spent with M&S and 1 point per £5 spent elsewhere. Enjoy 55 days interest free, preferential rates plus no cash advance fee when buying M&S travel money with the card.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 23.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 23.9% APR (variable).
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Approval for any credit card depends on your status. The representative APRs shown represent the interest rate offered to most successful applicants. Depending on your personal circumstances, the APR you're offered may be higher, or you may not be offered credit at all. Fees and rates are subject to change without notice. It's always wise to check the terms of any deal before you borrow. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables is provided by Moneyfacts.

Pay attention to the details of the promotional offer

It’s important to look at these key details when you’re choosing a balance transfer card. Once your balance transfer goes through, take a look at them again:

  • How long is the promotional offer? A balance transfer promotional period is generally between 6 months and around 30 months, and it begins as soon as your card is approved (note: this is not necessarily the same date as when you make the transfer). Set reminders on your calendar and/or your phone to prompt you to make regular repayments and to ensure you have plenty of notice before the promotional period ends.
  • What’s the interest rate during the promotional period? If you didn’t manage to bag a 0% balance transfer offer, your balance will grow each month: you’ll need to factor this into your repayment plan if you’re going to repay your entire debt by the end of the promotional period.
  • What will the interest rate revert to once the promotional period ends? Like all good things, the low promotional rate on your balance transfer won’t last forever. Once it ends, the revert APR will kick in and start collecting interest on your remaining debt. The revert rate is generally much higher. To avoid growing your debt again with interest once the offer expires, make regular repayments, don’t use your card for purchases and make sure you know when the promotional period is going to end.
  • How is the minimum repayment calculated? Even if you have a 0% interest rate, you’ll still need to make minimum repayments each month. The amount you have to pay will vary from card to card. Making only minimum payments is unlikely to repay your entire debt by the time the promotional offer ends. Consider the size of your debt, the length of the promotion and the interest rate to calculate how much you will have to pay, or save, each month to ensure that your entire debt is repaid by the end of the offer. If not, your remaining balance will begin accruing interest at the higher revert rate, and you could get stuck in the debt trap once again.

Decide what to do with your old card(s)

Opening a balance transfer credit card doesn’t automatically close your old accounts. If your old card came with a monthly or annual fee, you should close the account to avoid paying fees for something you don’t use. Otherwise, there are pros and cons to keeping them open:

Pros

  • Having credit available and not using it keeps your debt-to-credit-limit ratio (also known as your credit utilisation ratio) lower, which is generally looked upon favourably by lenders.
  • Keeping your old accounts open may help your credit score by increasing the average age of your credit accounts.

Cons

  • If an old card has a low credit limit, then it’s probably not helping your debt-to-credit-limit ratio significantly.
  • You might be tempted to use the card(s) again in the future and get into more high-interest debt. The more cards you have, the harder it can be to keep track of them all.

How long does a balance transfer take?

Using your balance transfer credit card for purchases: what you need to know

The purpose of a balance transfer is to consolidate your current debt. Using your balance transfer card to build up more debt on new purchases undermines that goal: here’s why.

  • Balance transfer credit cards often charge high interest on purchases. You’re likely to be charged different rates of interest on different parts of your card balance, and your repayments will automatically go to whichever debt is collecting the most interest. That means if you make new purchases on your balance transfer card this month, some or all of your payment next month will go towards paying off those purchases, instead of paying off your balance transfer.
  • Cash advances cost even more. A cash advance is when you use your credit card to withdraw cash at a cash machine or to get cashback at the till, and it’s likely to incur an even higher rate of interest than purchases, as well as a fee.
  • Interest-free days may not apply to your purchases. Credit cards typically come with around 55 days interest-free on your purchases, but these will not apply if you fail to pay off your purchases each billing cycle.

If you anticipate using the card to make purchases, it may be worth considering a different type of credit card. Your options include a low or 0% interest rate on purchases card. Or if you do want to transfer a balance and make new purchases on the same card, it’s worth looking at “balanced” or “matched” credit cards instead, which offer a 0% interest rate on both purchases and balance transfers (although usually for a shorter introductory period).

debt payment hierarchy graphic

After the offer ends

If you find yourself with a remaining debt at the end of your promotional period, you may want to consider doing a second balance transfer to another provider. However, since your credit history will show you weren’t able to repay your debt during the promotional period, lenders may be less likely to approve your application.

Applying for too many credit cards and rejected applications can have a negative impact on your credit file. Lower the risk of having a rejected credit card application by doing an “eligibility check” on the provider’s website first. This is known as a “soft search” which won’t affect your credit history.

If you can’t access another balance transfer, or if you find yourself in a pattern of building up debt and moving it around from card to card, it might be time to find another solution: read our guide to dealing with debt to get an idea of your options.

Bottom line

Balance transfer credit cards can be a worthwhile consolidation tool, but only when used properly: your goal is to pay your debt off, not just move it around. Plan your strategy, make regular repayments and follow the above simple tips to ensure you get the most out of your balance transfer; and if you find yourself relying too heavily on doing one balance transfer after another, consider whether it’s time to get some debt advice.

Frequently asked questions

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. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.

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