Looking for a credit card with a 0% deal that applies to both balance transfers AND purchases? Check out “matched” or “balanced” cards.
Balanced credit cards offer an introductory period of low or 0% interest that applies to both the purchases and balances that you transfer from an old card.
Although providers don’t have a uniform term for these types of cards, they make up the bulk of what would be described as all-round, dual, matched, balanced or combo cards.
There’s a large selection of credit cards on the market that offer 0% interest introductory offers on either balance transfers or purchases. However, if you want the best of both worlds, a balanced or matched deal could be the right fit for you.
While there are impressively long balanced deals out there, it’s worth noting that the very longest 0% deals are normally found on the most specialised cards. That means that in certain cases, if you could get approved and were happy to juggle two accounts, it might actually make sense to get one card for your balance transfer(s) and one for your forthcoming purchases.
Additionally, depending on your needs, you may want to look for a card that’s more geared up to purchases but still has a token balance transfer deal, or vice versa. In most cases, either the purchases deal or the balance transfer deal will be more important than the other to you, so having the deals exactly balanced might not be crucial.
Balanced credit card comparison
What are balanced credit cards?
“Balanced” or “matched” credit cards offer an introductory interest-free period that applies to both balances transferred from your old credit card(s) and also to forthcoming purchases. After the introductory period is over, any outstanding balance will start to accrue interest at the card’s standard rate.
Additionally, some of these cards may also offer an interest-free period on money transfers (that’s when you transfer money from your credit card to another account), although the duration of the offer period won’t necessarily be the same.
If you’re looking to transfer an existing credit card debt, but anticipate using your new card to make further purchases, it’s worth considering a “balanced” or “matched” credit card. Although the interest-free periods tend to be shorter than cards just offering 0% on only balance transfers or purchases, it could save you money in the long run.
What are dual credit cards?Rather confusingly, the term “dual” is used by different card issuers to describe two completely different types of product.
Some card issuers, such as those featured in the table above, might refer to their credit cards as “dual” because they offer a dual interest-free period – applying to both balance transfers and purchases.
Other issuers might use the term “dual” to describe a totally different type of product: when you have two separate cards, each on a different network, tied to the same account. For example, you might have a credit account with one card operating on the Mastercard network and a second card operating on the American Express network. In this situation, despite having the two cards, you would be issued just one bill each billing cycle. These tend to be reward or frequent flyer cards which may offer different perks or reward rates depending on the network.
How do balanced credit cards work?
Balanced or matched credit cards offer a break from interest on your existing card debt by letting you close your old credit card(s) and move the balance across to the new, cheaper card (you’ll normally be charged a transfer fee to move the funds across to the new card – typically around 3% of the balance). The cards also give you the opportunity to spread the cost of forthcoming purchases over the same timeframe by not charging interest (at least initially) on purchases made using the card.
You’ll still need to make a minimum repayment every month, which will be a percentage of your overall debt, but reassuringly 100% of each repayment will go towards clearing debt (unless you incur any fees, say by using the card to withdraw cash).
You should aim to pay off the full balance by the time the interest-free period ends, to avoid accruing interest once the card has reverted to its standard rate.
Pros and cons
- Clear credit card debt faster. With no interest charges, your money can go to clearing your balance instead.
- Spread the cost of upcoming expenditure. Enjoy interest-free purchases for an introductory period.
- No annual fee (usually). Most “balanced” or “matched” cards do not charge an annual or monthly fee, although it’s crucial to check.
- Flexibility. If you’re confident that the balance transfer offer gives you time enough to clear your existing debt, the purchases offer might simply act as a cheap “just in case” option should you need to use the card for any future expenditure.
- Balance transfer fee. Most of these cards will charge a fee for you to move your existing credit card debt, usually around 1-3% of the balance. Weigh up if the fee would be more than the interest you would pay on your existing card.
- High rate after the 0% period ends. Interest rates typically skyrocket after the 0% deal expires.
- Slightly shorter 0% periods. If you want to spread a balance transfer over the very longest period you can, it may be better to go for a specialised card.
- Fewer rewards. These types of cards don’t usually offer many rewards as an added incentive.
Frequently asked questions
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