first direct Balance Transfers Credit Card review 2021

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If you're an existing 1st Account holder, you can transfer your existing card balances to first direct and benefit from 27 months of 0% interest.

Finder rating: ★★★★★

Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).

27 months

0% interest on balance transfers

18.9%

Representative APR

£0

Account fee

Up to 56 days

Interest-free each billing period

Details

Issuerfirst direct
NetworkVisa
Annual/monthly fees£0
Balance transfers0% for 27 months reverting to 18.9%
Balance transfer fee2.29% (min. £5) for 3 months reverting to 2.9% (min. £5)
Purchases18.9%
Purchases interest-free periodUp to 56 days
Cash advances24.7%
Min credit limit£500
Max credit limitNot specified
Additional cards available1
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Review by


Chris Lilly is a publisher at finder.com. He's a specialist in credit-based products including business and personal loans, mortgages and credit cards, and is passionate about helping UK consumers make informed decisions about their borrowing. In his spare time Chris likes forcing his kids to exercise more.

Expert review

This card is designed to allow current first direct account holders to easily transfer outstanding balances from cards held with other banks and enjoy an interest-free period. It is one of two credit cards offered by first direct, the other one being the first direct Gold Card, designed for spreading the cost of upcoming purchases.

The balance transfer deal is close to the longest available on the market and it’s the main advantage of this card. In exchange for the balance transfer fee (2.29% (min. £5) for 3 months reverting to 2.9% (min. £5), which is pretty average compared to the rest of the market) you get plenty of time to pay off your existing debt, interest-free.

However, if during the same period of time you also need to spread the cost of a new purchase, you’re out of luck. This card doesn’t offer any 0% deal on purchases, which is less than ideal. Of course, you can still shop with the card, but you’ll need to make sure you pay the bill in full every month (billing cycle is 56-month long), or your purchases will accrue interest at the card’s standard rate (18.9%, not particularly competitive).

Good news is, while this isn’t a rewards credit card, there are some treats in it for you in the form of a scheme called Visa Offers, which is available to first direct and HSBC cardholders. If you subscribe, you can get cashback when you shop at partner retailers.

The first direct Credit Card is issued on the Visa network (used by a whopping 3.3 billion cards), so you'll be able to use it at more than 46 million merchants across more than 200 countries and territories.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Easy to apply for if you already have a first direct current account.
  • Minimum limit of £500.
  • Cashback offers with Visa offers.
  • Apple Pay and Google Pay compatible.
  • No annual fee.

Cons

  • You'll need to be an existing 1st Account holder to apply.
  • You cannot transfer balances from any members operated by the HSBC group (which includes M&S Bank and John Lewis Financial Services) to this credit card.
  • The standard interest rate applies to purchases.

How does it compare?

First Direct's card

Name Product Balance transfers Balance transfer fee Purchases Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Incentive Link
first direct Credit Card
0% for 27 months reverting to 18.9%
2.29% (min. £5) for 3 months reverting to 2.9% (min. £5)
18.9%
£0
18.9% (variable)
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 18.9% APR (variable).
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Other popular balance transfer deals

Table: sorted by length of 0% balance transfer offer, promoted deals first
Name Product Balance transfers Balance transfer fee Purchases Annual/monthly fees Rep. APR Incentive Link
M&S Bank Transfer Plus Mastercard
0% for 29 months reverting to 21.9%
2.75% (min. £5)
0% for 3 months reverting to 21.9%
£0
21.9% (variable)
Earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
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).
Check eligibility
HSBC Balance Transfer Credit Card
0% for 29 months reverting to 21.9%
2.85% (min. £5)
0% for 3 months reverting to 21.9%
£0
21.9% (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 21.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 21.9% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
Santander All in One Credit Card
0% for 26 months reverting to 17.9%
0% for 26 months reverting to 3% (min. £5)
0% for 20 months reverting to 17.9%
£3 per month
23.7% (variable)
0.5% cashback after £1 of monthly spend. 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 17.9% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £3 per month, your representative rate is 23.7% APR (variable).
Check eligibility
M&S Bank Shopping Plus Credit Card
0% for 20 months reverting to 21.9%
2.9% (min. £5)
0% for 20 months reverting to 21.9%
£0
21.9% (variable)
Earn 1 point for every £1 spent at Marks and Spencer's and 1 point for every £5 spent elsewhere. 100 points = £1 reward voucher. Points will be converted into reward vouchers 4 times a year.
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).
Check eligibility
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Approval for any credit card will depend on your status. The APR shown represents 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.

Repayment options

You can make manual repayments through First Direct's app, by logging in to your online banking or over the phone (03 456 00 24 24). Alternatively, you may wish to set up a direct debit.

A direct debit protects you from forgetting to make a repayment and losing your promotional interest rate as a result (as well as damaging your credit score and incurring the late payment fee of £12). You could use a fixed-amount direct debit to ensure you've cleared your debt before the 0% period expires – simply divide your outstanding balance by 27 to see what you'll need to pay each month (this assumes you don't use the card for additional spending).

You can arrange a direct debit for repayments when you apply for the credit card. The table below shows the options available.

Choose from the following direct debit options for your monthly repayments:

Minimum amount Fixed amount Fixed percentage Full amount

How to apply

If you want to transfer balances from other accounts and save on interest with 0% for 27 months with this card, complete first direct's secure application form, which takes about 10-15 minutes. Before you apply, check that you meet the eligibility requirements and have the information and documents you'll need so that you can make this process as easy as possible.

Frequently asked questions

What credit limit will I get with the first direct Credit Card?

If First Direct is able to offer you this deal, the offer will specify a personalised credit limit based on First Direct's assessment of your situation. The minimum limit offered on this card is £500 and First Direct does not specify a maximum. Once you've had the card for a while and shown First Direct that you're reliable, you may wish to apply for a credit limit increase.

Can I withdraw cash using the first direct Credit Card?

Although it's possible, withdrawing cash from a credit card account is generally not a good idea, as "cash-like transactions" (withdrawing cash at an ATM, getting cashback at the till, spending at a casino, buying currency, etc.) often incur steep fees and/or higher rates of interest.

The cash advance fee on the first direct Credit Card is 2.99% (min. £3). For example, if you withdraw £50, you'll incur a fee of £3.00. Withdraw £250, and you'll incur a fee of £7.48.

The interest rate on this part of your balance will be 24.7%, which is 31% more than the standard purchases rate (chargeable from the day of the transaction – the card's usual "up to 56 days interest-free" grace period won't apply).

Can I transfer a balance from another first direct-branded card to the first direct Credit Card?

No. first direct doesn't accept balance transfers from credit cards issued through HSBC group, which includes M&S Bank, John Lewis and first direct cards.

What should I do with my old credit card after transferring the balance to the first direct Credit Card?

Transferring a balance doesn't automatically close your old account. In most cases, you'll want to close the old account(s) straightaway, especially if they have an annual/monthly fee or if you might be tempted to use them in the future. There is an argument that you should keep the old account open to help your credit score. That's because doing so keeps your "credit utilisation ratio" lower (that's a measure of how much credit you're using compared to what's available to you), and helps the average age of your credit accounts. However, unless you're just about to apply for a new mortgage, it's probably fair to say that most people would prefer to have no more bank accounts open than was truly necessary.

How much does it cost to use the first direct Credit Card abroad?

Non-sterling transactions are subject to a 2.99% charge. For example, if you spend 200 euros (£172.27), it'll cost you around £5.15.

What is the minimum payment on the first direct Credit Card?

Each month you must pay at least 3% of your balance at that point or £5.00 – whichever of the two figures is greater. So if you had, say, £150.00 outstanding, you'd pay £5.00, and if you had £666.67 outstanding, you'd pay £20.00.

Paying only the minimum required amount each month is generally not advisable as it makes it much harder to get debt-free before that introductory 0% period expires.

Finder credit card ratings

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★★★★★ — Good
★★★★★ — Average
★★★★★ — Subpar
★★★★★ — Poor

Our experts score balance transfer cards to determine their value against similar products on the market. We look at a number of important factors, like the length of the balance transfer offer, the balance transfer fee, any restrictions to making a transfer, plus the potential costs involved with running the card both in the short and longer term.

You can read more about our scoring criteria on our credit card methodology page.

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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4 Comments

    Default Gravatar
    tom
    March 27, 2019

    I don’t understand the Balance transfer fee information:
    2.29% (min. £5) for 3 months reverting to 2.9% (min. £5)

    Does this mean a one off fee of 2.29% on the amount transferred, or does this apply a fee of 2.29% over 3 consecutive months??

    Or does it mean a one off fee of 2.29% applies until ?end of May, then after this it reverts to a one off fee of 2.9%?

    Thanks

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      nikkiangco
      March 29, 2019

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks for getting in touch! A 2.29% fee is applied to your monthly balance payment due for the first 3 months of your account after which reverts to 2.9% every month until your balance transfer period is over. Hope this helps!

      Best,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    Paula
    October 26, 2018

    Is there a fee if you pay back the amount before the 0% ends?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      Jhez
      October 30, 2018

      Hello Paula,

      Thank you for your comment.

      According to First Direct, there’s no fee for paying the balance in full before the due date and no interest will be incurred.

      Should you wish to have real-time answers to your questions, try our chat box on the lower right corner of our page.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

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