Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

The MoneySaving Forum: join to chat & swap tips with other MoneySavers. Learn how in the Forum Introduction Guide

Balance Transfer Credit Cards

34 months 0%, 2.99% fee

A balance transfer can cut £100s or £1,000s off the cost of existing borrowing. It is where you get a new credit card to pays off the debts on old cards for you so you owe the new card but at a far lower rate; meaning you’re debt free quicker.

This guide takes you through how to safety shift your debts, compares the longest 0% and no fee 0% deals and includes our unique ‘eligibility calculator’ to find the cards you’ve the best chance of being accepted for.

Good / Evil Credit Card

The 5 golden rules

Before you do a balance transfer there are five things you need to know. Get this wrong and it can cost you large, so please read the following (even if you only have time to read and remember the headlines it should help protect your pocket).

  • Always clear debt or shift again before the 0% or cheap rate ends, otherwise costs rocket

    Cheap balance transfer deals are designed to make lenders money when you fail to pay them off or switch to a new 0% before the low rate ends. At that point, the interest rate jumps massively, to a standard 15%-20% APR.

    Quick question

    What can I do if I can't pay off my debt within the 0% period?

  • Repay AT LEAST the set monthly minimum (preferably more) or you may lose the cheap rate

    Just because you grabbed a 0% deal, it DOESN'T mean you can get away with paying nothing - you must pay at least the minimum monthly payments. Otherwise you will be hit with penalties and some card providers will withdraw the deal, leaving you on an expensive rate.

    Quick question

    How much should I aim to pay?

  • Don't spend or withdraw cash on cheap balance transfer cards. It's not usually at the cheap rate

    Credit cards let you spend, shift debt or withdraw cash but banks must put repayments towards the most expensive debt first. So spending on a balance transfer card isn't as bad as it was, as repayments first clear the spending, but it can still cost, as you only avoid interest if you pay off the FULL balance, including transfers and purchases.

    Quick questions

    If I need to spend, what is the best option?

    Why do I pay interest on my cash withdrawal if I've paid it off in full?

    Does withdrawing cash on a credit card affect my credit score?

  • To protect your credit score use our eligibility calculator before applying to find which cards you're most likely to get

    The only way to know if you'll be accepted is to apply, but each application marks your credit file. Some cards let you do a pre-application check to work out whether to go ahead, or you can use our balance transfer eligibility calculator, which shows your odds of getting almost every top card so you can hone your choice to minimise applications.

    Quick questions

    How does the eligibility calculator work?

    Will credit scoring affect the deal I get and my credit limit?

  • You may be able to cut your interest WITHOUT new cards

    Most cards in this guide are 0% deals, but usually require a good credit score. If your score is patchy, the Credit Card Shuffle could be the solution. It isn't the latest poker trick but our technique to allow you to shift debt around cards you have (if you're not maxed out). It's complex, but it's saved people £100s, without new cards.

    Quick question

    How do I do the credit card shuffle?

Rather watch than read? Martin Lewis balance transfer video briefing

Some people find it easier to watch than read - if that's you, here's a full video run-down on how balance transfers work.

Best Buys Longest 0% balance transfers

The best credit card deals currently break all records, though acceptance is tough (see eligibility calculator info above). When deciding which to choose, a good rule of thumb is...

Balance transfers charge a one-off fee of the amount transferred. Go for the lowest fee provided you're CERTAIN you can clear the card within its 0% length.

A lower fee can be trivial compared to interest if you don't clear the card or shift again before the 0% ends. A card with a 1% fee is £10 per £1,000 transferred. And a card with a 3% fee is £30 per £1,000, only a £20 difference, which could quickly be eaten up by interest. If unsure, go long; to help, we built the Which Card Is Cheapest? calculator.

Barclaycard Platinum 34 months

Longest 0% balance transfer card

Barclaycard Platinum* 34 months 0%, 2.99% fee

The Barclaycard Platinum* card is great for anyone who needs what is almost three years to pay it off. But if you can pay the debt off quicker, you could save by opting for a lower-fee option, such as one of the cards below. For example, a different Barclaycard* is 33 months 0% with a smaller 2.79% fee (then 18.9% representative APR), plus see far more options below.

Need to Knows
  • You're actually charged 3.5% of the amount shifted but you get 0.51% back in two days.
  • To get the deal, you must transfer existing debt in the first 60 days.
  • If you’ve a poor credit rating you may get fewer than 34 months.
  • You can’t transfer from another Barclaycard, so check the cards below if that’s you.
  • After the 0%, you'll pay 18.9% or 29.9% interest.
  • Our Which card is cheapest? tool explains if this is best for you.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 34 months, 2.99% fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% of balance or £5
  • Min income: £20,000 | Card issuer: Visa | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 60 days
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (see Official APR Example)
Key Questions

When may you get fewer than 34mths 0%? This is one of a group of cards which may accept you, but choose to give a shorter 0% period - in this case, 17 months 0%, which isn't a competitive deal. Most accepted applicants will get the full 34 months, but if your credit rating isn't tip-top, you're at risk of getting the shorter period - so think twice.

How does the eligibility calculator work? You can check your eligibility for the 34 month card using our Eligibility Checker. It does a 'soft' credit search of your file, which YOU can see but lenders CAN'T, so there's no impact on the chances of you getting credit.

Or use this eligibility link to check your chances of getting the 33mth Barclaycard. The results tell you your likelihood of getting this card, and all others we're able to check on this page.

Halifax* - 32 MONTHS, 2.65% FEE

Longest 0% if you already have a Barclaycard

Halifax* 33 months, 2.8% fee

The Halifax* balance transfer credit card offers a little less time at 0% than the card above but the fee's slightly lower too. So it may work out cheaper for some. Of course, if you already have a Barclaycard, you can't transfer a balance to the deal above, so this is the next best option.

Need to Knows
  • You'll be charged a fee of 3% of the amount transferred, then Halifax will credit back 0.2% within 90 days, so the effective fee is 2.8%.
  • Depending on your credit score, you may get a shorter 0% period - either 30 or 27 months.
  • You can't transfer from a Halifax card but you can from its sister firm, Bank of Scotland.
  • After 33 months, it’s 18.9% interest, but poorer credit scorers will get 21.9% or 25.9%.
  • Our Which card is cheapest? tool explains if this is best for you.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 33 months, 2.8% fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5
  • Min income: n/a | Card issuer: Mastercard | Balance transfer time limit: First 3 mths
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Fluid Balance Transfer Credit Card 29 months

Longest 0% that also lets you pay cash into your overdraft

Fluid* 29mths 0%, 2.9% fee

This Fluid* card is a few months shorter than the longest 0% but it also allows you to transfer money from it to your current account at 0% for 29 months. Though the fee to transfer to a bank account is higher at 4%, it's a powerful tool to cut overdraft costs. There is one card which with a cheaper 2.69% money transfer fee; full info on this and much more in the Money Transfers guide.

Need to Knows
  • There are better balance transfer cards, but this is the longest 0% money transfer card.
  • If you've already got a Fluid, Virgin or MBNA card, you can't do a balance transfer to this one.
  • If transferring to your overdraft, don't withdraw the cash, tell Fluid to do it.
  • After 29 months, you'll pay 20.9% interest on balance transfers, 22.9% on money transfers.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE’s free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 29 months, 2.9% fee (min £3)
  • Money transfer length & fee: 29 months, 4% fee (min £3)
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25
  • Min income: n/a | Card issuer: Visa | Balance transfer time limit: First 60 days
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Key Questions

How do money transfers work? With a standard balance transfer, you use one card to pay off another. A money transfer is only slightly different, in that you use the card to pay cash into your bank account. Therefore, you now have the cheap debt on the card and the cash in your bank account.

These money transfers open up all kinds of opportunities. But it's crucially important that you pay off or shift the debt before the 0% intro period ends, as money transfers have an even higher interest rate than most balance transfers - 22.9% isn't uncommon.

There are two main uses for money transfers; firstly to pay off small but costly non-card debts, like payday loans or overdrafts. The second is to use one to buy something in cash when the retailer can't accept credit cards. Whatever you want to use it for, make sure it's for planned spending, and that you've cleared the card by the end of the 0% period.

Is this the best money transfer card? That all depends on what you mean by 'best'. It's the one with the longest 0% money transfer offer, but there is one card that has a cheaper 2.69% money transfer fee, although that has a lower 24 month 0% period. See full Money Transfer credit card options.

Got those above? More 0% balance transfer cards

If the cards above don't suit you, here are some quick details of the next best. The 0% periods aren't as long, or they come with a slightly higher fee, but they're still good alternatives.

Card 0% length BT fee APR Eligibility Calculator
HSBC* HSBC 34 mths 3.3% (min £5) 18.9% -
Lloyds* Lloyds 33 mths 2.85% 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Sainsbury's* Sainsburys 33 mths 2.89% 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Tesco* Halifax 33 mths 2.9% 18.9%
MBNA* MBNA Platinum 32 mths 2.69% 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
  • Representative variable APR, your balance transfer interest may be different
  • See all Official APR Examples

Best buys Lowest fee 0% balance transfers

If you can clear your debts quicker than the 0% periods above, it's possible to slash the fee you pay, cutting the overall cost of paying off your debts. Pick the one that allows the lowest fee - or no fee at all - and the most realistic timeframe for you to pay it off.

The faster you can pay your debts off, the lower the fee you'll pay. We've ordered them from lowest to highest fee, but if you can't pay it off as quickly as you'd need to with the zero or really low fee cards, scroll down for more options. Our Which card is cheapest? tool is a ready reckoner if you're not sure.

However, remember it's always better to err on the side of caution and go for a longer 0% deal than you might need.

Santander Credit Card

NO fee. Nothing, nil, absolutely zilch

Santander* – 15 months 0%, NO fee

A year is a nice neat timeframe to work with when you're aiming to become debt-free. But if you think you might need a teeny bit of leeway on hitting your deadline, a 15-month card could be a more suitable option. This Santander* credit card has no fee to transfer a balance so if you can pay your debt off within 15 months, then you can borrow at absolutely no cost.

If you know it'll take you longer to get out of the red, it's worth checking out the cards above and below, as it's almost always cheaper to pay a balance transfer fee than it is to pay interest when an 0% deal ends.

Need to Knows
  • You either get the full 15 months or you get rejected.
  • You must shift debt within the promotional period, otherwise there's a fee of 3% (min £5).
  • After 15 months, you'll pay 18.9% on any debt left over.
  • You can’t transfer a balance from another Santander credit card.
  • Our Which card is cheapest? tool explains if this is best for you.
  • You also get 15 months 0% on new spending.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE’s free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check your chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & transfer fee: 15 months, NO fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5
  • Min income: £7,500 | Card issuer: Mastercard
  • 0% balance transfer time limit: During promo period
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Tesco’s* 12 months 0%, no fee

NO fee, but three months less at 0% than the Santander card

Tesco* 12 months 0%, no fee

Super-long deals are great, but they can lead to complacency about clearing debts. If it’s feasible you could pay off your whole balance in just a year, Tesco's* deal will not only force you to be disciplined, but will also save you paying a fee for your transfer. If you need longer, consider the other options above and below.

Need to knows
  • You’ll either get the whole 12 months or be rejected.
  • You can’t transfer a balance from another Tesco card.
  • After the 0%, it’s 20.6%-26.7% interest on any remaining transferred debt.
  • Our Which card is cheapest? tool explains if this is best for you.
Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 12 months, NO fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25
  • Min income: £5,000 | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: n/a
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (see Official APR Example)
Santander Credit Card

NO fee to transfer, but £24 annual fee means it's best for big sums

Santander* – 23 months 0%, NO fee

This new Santander* 123 credit card is a bit of an odd one. It allows you to transfer a balance to it for 23 months at 0% without a balance transfer fee, but it does have an annual fee. And it's this annual fee that means we're not shouting too loudly about this one. Over the life of the 0% balance transfer, you'd need to pay two annual fees, totalling £48. This means it's only a good deal for those with hefty balances to transfer or a 123 bank account – we've done a fuller analysis in the key questions.

Need to Knows
  • There's no balance transfer fee, but there's a £24 annual fee.
  • If you're a 123 bank account holder, you get the first year's annual fee refunded (see key questions).
  • You either get the full 23 months or you get rejected.
  • You must shift debt within the promotional period, otherwise there's a fee of 3% (min £5).
  • You also get 23 months 0% on purchases, plus cashback on some spending.
  • After 23 months, you pay 12.7% interest on any debt left over.
  • You can’t transfer from another Santander credit card.
  • Our Which card is cheapest? tool explains if this is best for you.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE’s free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check your chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & transfer fee: 23 months, NO fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5
  • Min income: £7,500 | Card issuer: Mastercard
  • 0% balance transfer time limit: During promo period
  • Rate: 16.5% representative APR (incl £24 annual fee, see Official APR Examples)
Key Questions

Is this card really a good deal? Well, it's not a normal balance transfer card because it has an annual fee, something that would normally make us run a mile. But, as there's no balance transfer fee, there are some situations where this card's actually not a bad deal.

Assuming you kept the card for the full 23 months, you'd pay two annual fees amounting to £48. Comparing this to the most similar card, the 24 month 0% Barclaycard below, on that card you could transfer £3,850 before you'd pay £48 in balance transfer fees, and you'd get an extra month at 0%.

However, if you do get a high enough credit limit to allow you to transfer £3,850 or more, and you have that much debt to transfer, then this card becomes the better deal, as the annual fee is fixed no matter how much you transfer.

I'm a Santander 123 bank account customer. Does this work out better for me? Well, it could. If you get this card and pay it by direct debit from your 123 bank account, then you get the first year's annual fee refunded. That means the card would only cost you £24 over the life of the balance transfer, making it a better deal than the Barclaycard providing you're transferring £1,925 or more.

What about the cashback? Usually, we tell you not to spend on balance transfer cards, but this card also gives you 23 months 0% on purchases, meaning this is one of the cards where you can break that rule. You get 3% cashback on fuel/rail travel (max £9/mth), 2% on department store spending and 1% on supermarket spending, though any spending outside of these gets no cashback.

While you can spend on this card at 0%, do budget the extra spending in on top of your balance transfer debt, so that you'll clear both from the card by the time the 0% period ends.

Barclaycard Balance Transfer Credit Card 24 months

New. Low fee card if you need two years to pay your debts off

Barclaycard* – 24 months 0%, 1.25% fee

This new card from Barclaycard* is a good option if you only need 24 months to clear your debt, and the fee's cheap too. But remember if you need more time to clear the card, then it's better to go for a longer 0% period with a slightly higher fee than risk paying interest at 18.9%.

Need to knows
  • The fee's actually 2% of the amount shifted but you get 0.75% back within two days.
  • Poorer credit scorers might not get the 24 month deal – some will get 12 months.
  • You can’t transfer a balance from another Barclaycard.
  • After the 0% deal ends, it’s 18.9% interest, though poorer credit scorers could get 29.9%.
  • Our Which card is cheapest? tool explains if this is best for you.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE’s free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check your chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 24 months, 1.25% fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% of balance or £5
  • Min income: £20,000 | Card issuer: Visa | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 60 days
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (See Official APR Examples)

Got those above? More 0% balance transfer cards

If you didn't find a card above to suit you, here are quick details of the next best cards.

Card 0% length BT fee APR Eligibility Calculator
Fluid* Fluid card 10 mths 0.35% 19.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Lloyds* Lloyds card 10 mths 0.4% 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Sainsbury's* TSB 12 mths 0.5% (min £3) 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Nationwide* Nationwide 15mths 0.65% (min £5) 17.9% -
TSB* TSB 15 mths 0.8% 17.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Tesco* Tesco 15 mths 0.85% 18.9% -
  • Representative variable APR, your balance transfer interest may be different
  • See all Official APR Examples

Best buys 0% balance transfers & purchases credit cards

Most credit cards offer either a good deal on balance transfers OR purchases, but some do a bit of both. This means you can get a strong deal while only applying for one card, which saves damaging your credit score with unnecessary applications.

One of the top all-rounder cards is below. For more best buys and further information, see the 0% Balance Transfer & Spending guide.

Santander - 15mths 0%, no fee

The all-rounder of 0% cards

Santander* 15mths 0%, no fee

This Santander* balance transfer card offers you the opportunity to break one of MSE’s golden rules and spend on a balance transfer card. The 0% period applies to both spending and balance transfers - so you won't be hit with interest on spending as you would with other cards.

Need to Knows
  • You must shift debt within the promotional period, otherwise there's a fee of 3% (min £5).
  • After 15 months, you'll pay 18.9% on any debt left over.
  • You can’t transfer a balance from another Santander credit card.
  • Our Which card is cheapest? tool explains if this is best for you.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE’s free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer/purchases length & transfer fee: 15 months, no fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5
  • Min income: £7,500 | Card issuer: Mastercard
  • 0% balance transfer time limit: Within promotional period
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Key Question

What is the problem with spending and doing a balance transfer on the same card?
The key problem is you can normally never avoid interest, unless you pay the whole balance off, which defeats the object of doing a balance transfer as any interest-free period on spending only applies when you pay off the entire debt.

You're charged interest on purchases from the day you make them to the day you clear them. As all payments go to clearing the most expensive debt first, they will clear the spending balance first, but there will nearly always be a period between spending and paying it off, so there will nearly always be interest to pay.

But with this card, as the 0% balance transfer and spending lengths are the same, if you cleared the entire debt (or shifted it again) by the time the 0% deal ends, you don't have that problem as the interest-free period means there is no interest to pay.

Our 0% Balance Transfers & Spending guide has more best buys.

Best buys Low rate life-of-balance credit cards

This route can be simpler - get a card, shift your debt, then put the card away and pay it off, knowing it's cheap.

If you can pay off a 0% card in the stated time, then do that. But if you may need longer or you prefer a stable relationship to trying to be a credit card tart by switching 0% cards every time a deal runs out, a low-rate, life-of-balance card could be for you.

These cost money in interest each month, but could nevertheless work out the lower interest rate option overall as you won't ever end up on a sky-high rate as you would if you let a 0% deal lapse while still owing money on it.

However, there are the two big things to consider...

0% cards can be cheaper than long-term deals

You can use life-of-balance cards like a personal loan


Lloyds Balance Transfer Credit Card 6.4%

Cheapest low-rate, life-of-balance card and no fees to do a balance transfer

Lloyds* 6.4% APR, no fee

The new lowest rate life-of-balance card is Lloyds* Platinum. We call this a life-of-balance card, as, although the 6.4% rate is technically variable, the rate jacking rules mean the bank can't raise it in year one, and after that, if it tries to, you can reject the rise as long as you keep repaying and don't borrow more. So in effect you can lock in the debt you shift at this cheap rate until the balance you've shifted is repaid.

Need to knows
  • Some people accepted for the card will get higher APRs - either 10.9% or 14.9%, which isn't a good deal. Sadly, our eligibility checker can only give your chances of getting the card, but can't predict the chances that you'll get the lowest APR.
  • You can’t transfer a balance from another Lloyds card.
  • You must transfer within 90 days or you'll pay a 3% fee.
  • Our Which card is cheapest? tool explains if this is best for you.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE’s free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card with MSE’s free eligibility calculator

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 6.4% interest, no fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: 90 days
  • Rate: 6.4% representative APR (see Official APR Example)

MBNA Low Rate*

Slightly costlier card, but best if you have a Lloyds card

MBNA* 6.5% interest, no fee

A lot of relationships don’t last, but here’s one that does. MBNA’s* card lets you balance transfer at 6.5% interest for the life of the balance. You don’t get an introductory 0%, but you also avoid nasty 20%+ APRs later on. Beware though, the rate is variable so could rise, though it won't in the first year. However, like the Lloyds card above, you can reject any rate rise and maintain the 6.5% rate, as long as you don't spend on the card.

Need to Knows
  • Not everybody gets the 6.5% rate, poorer credit scorers get 8.9% or 11.9% rates.
  • No balance transfers are allowed from other MBNA cards, including Virgin Money cards and MBNA-issued Amex cards.
  • This card also allows you to do a money transfer, where you take cash from the card & put it in your current account.
  • Our Which card is cheapest? tool explains if this card could be a good option for you.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE’s free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 6.5%, no fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25
  • Min income: n/a | Card issuer: Mastercard | Time limit: n/a
  • Rate: 6.6% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Key Questions

What happens if it increases the rate?
If a rate change is announced, as long as you agree not to borrow more, you have a right to reject any rise and pay off your balance at the current rate. See the Rate Jacking guide for the full rules.

Is there a time limit to transfer balances?
No. You can transfer a balance on to the card at any time and providing the rate hasn't changed in the future, you'll only pay the 6.5% annual rate on the debt transferred.

Sainsbury’s* 6.9%, no fee

Not the lowest rate, but also gives Nectar points on spending

Sainsbury’s 6.9%, no fee

If you spend at Sainsbury's or want to transfer a balance from an MBNA or Lloyds card, consider the Nectar Credit Card. The rate is slightly higher than MBNA but you can use the card for spending at the same rate and collect Nectar points at Sainsbury's and elsewhere. Beware, the rate is variable so could rise but you can reject a rise and maintain the 6.9% for the life of the balance provided you then don't spend further on it.

Need to knows
  • You get 2 Nectar points per £1 on Sainsbury's shopping and fuel, 1 point per £5 elsewhere.
  • Those with poorer credit scores may get 9.9% or 12.9% interest rates.
  • The rate is variable, but can’t rise during the first year.
  • You can’t transfer a balance from another Sainsbury's card.
  • Our Which card is cheapest? tool explains if a low rate card is best for you.
Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 6.9% representative APR for life, NO FEE
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% of balance, or £5
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: N/A
  • Rate: 6.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Key Questions

What happens if it increases the rate?
If a rate change is announced, as long as you agree not to borrow more, you have a right to reject any rise and pay off your balance at the current rate. See the Rate Jacking guide for the full rules.

Can I transfer a balance from a Halifax/Bank of Scotland card?
Sainsbury's cards are provided by the Halifax/Bank of Scotland banking group. You can transfer from a Halifax or Bank of Scotland card, but not from another Sainsbury's-branded card. If this affects you, try a different card.

Best buys Easier-to-get balance transfer cards for poorer credit scorers

To be accepted for most of the card deals in this guide, you need you to have a decent credit score - so people who need cheap credit the most often struggle to get it.

The two cards in this section are aimed at different people. The Barclaycard's for those with only a very short credit history, while the Capital One card's designed for people with a history of defaults & CCJs who are trying to rebuild their credit history.

Sainsbury’s* 6.9%, no fee

Best balance transfer card if you haven't had much credit before

Barclaycard Platinum* 18mths 0%, 2.9% fee

If your credit history's short and you need to build it up to get decent products, the Barclaycard Platinum* card gives 18 months at 0%, so it’s still going to get you through this Christmas and the next.

Need to Knows
  • It's easier to qualify for than other cards in this guide that require a top credit score.
  • If accepted, you'll get 18 months. Barclaycard doesn’t operate risk-based offers for this card.
  • You can’t transfer a balance from another Barclaycard.
  • After the 0% period ends, interest varies depending on your credit score, but will be at least 24.9% so aim to clear it by then, or shift the debt again.
  • It is NOT for those with serious credit problems, such as recent CCJs or defaults.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE’s free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 18 months, 2.9% fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% of balance, or £5
  • Min income: £17,500 | Card issuer: Visa | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 60 days
  • Rate: 24.9% representative APR (see Official APR Example)
Key Questions

Will I definitely get 24.9% APR?
Some accepted applicants with a slightly poorer credit score will be given a 29.9% interest rate as Barclaycard operates rate-for-risk pricing. This can hit the cost of your balance transfer, especially if you find you can't pay it off within the 18-month 0% period.

What should I do when the 0% ends?
After the 18 months 0% is up, any debt left on the card will start to accrue interest at 24.9% or 29.9%. Either clear the card before interest hits, or, if you can't, do a balance transfer to another card.

Capital One* - 0% until April 2015, 3% fee

A short-term respite from interest if you've a poor credit history

Capital One* 0% for six months, 3% fee

For those who've had past credit problems, Capital One's* Balance card provides a rare lifeline – even if you’ve had past defaults or CCJs. The 0% on balance transfers only lasts for six months, so treat it as an opportunity to shift debt short-term, giving you a respite from interest which you should use to clear the card, if you can.

Need to Knows
  • After the 0%, the rate jumps to a huge 34.9% interest so clear it or transfer again by then.
  • Credit limits are low, ranging from £200 to £1,500.
  • You still have to pass a credit check and CCJs or defaults must be more than a year old.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE’s free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: six months, 3% fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5
  • Min income: n/a | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: n/a
  • Rate: 34.9% representative APR (see Official APR Example)
Key Questions

How do I use this card best? In a perfect world, you'd shift all debts to it, repay by June and be debt-free. Yet if your debts are too big, that may not be possible. So, here's the best way to use it:

  • Shift as much debt as possible from the card(s) you have with the highest APR.
  • Use the 0% period on this card to pay as much off as possible, so that when it hits 34.9% you’ve little debt left.
  • After the 0% ends, if you shifted it from a card with a lower APR than this 34.9%, try to shift the remainder back on to the original card. There should be room if you’ve not spent on it – see the Credit Card Shuffle. If you can't shift back, then try to pay this card off as quickly as possible.

What happens when the deal ends?
This is only a short-term deal so ensure you diarise the end date and check to see if you can transfer the balance to another card then, if you still owe cash.

This will be easier if you make sure you always make the minimum repayments – if you don’t, you may lose the deal anyway and have little chance of a new deal if your credit rating takes another hit.

Can I spend on the card?
All spending is at the huge 34.9% representative APR from day one – AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE.

Capital One* - 0% until April 2015, 3% fee

Decent alternative to Capital One, and there's respite on spending too

Lloyds* 0% for six months, 3% fee

If your finances need a temporary reprieve rather than a long-term fix, this Lloyds* card could help you get back in black fast. It has six months 0% on balance transfers, although oddly this isn't mentioned on the landing page for the card – you'll need to look at the summary box to see the offer. There's also three months 0% on spending, but make sure you don't use this unless you also pay off any balance transfer within the same time. While the card's not designed for poor credit scorers, it is a decent bet if you've a short credit history.

Need to Knows
  • After the 0% period, the rate jumps to 25.9% interest so clear it or transfer again by then.
  • If accepted you'll get at least a £500 credit limit.
  • The card also has 3 months 0% on spending, but don't use this if you're transferring a balance (see Key Questions below for why this is dangerous).
  • You have to pass a credit check and CCJs or defaults must be more than five years old.
  • If you've been bankrupt in the past you won't be accepted.
  • You can’t transfer a balance from another Lloyds card.
  • You must transfer within 90 days – though an early transfer will maximise the time at 0%.
Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: six months, 3% fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5
  • Min income: n/a | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: 90 days
  • Rate: 25.9% representative APR (see Official APR Example)
Key Questions

How do I use this card best? In a perfect world, you'd shift all debts to it, repay within six months and be debt-free. Yet if your debts are too big, that may not be possible. So, here's the best way to use it:

  • Shift as much debt as possible from the card(s) you have with the highest APR.
  • Use the 0% period on this card to pay as much off as possible, so that when it hits 25.9% you’ve little debt left.
  • After the 0% ends, if you shifted it from a card with a lower APR than this one's 25.9%, try to shift the remainder back on to the original card. There should be room if you’ve not spent on it – see the Credit Card Shuffle. If you can't shift back, then try to pay this card off as quickly as possible.

What happens when the deal ends?
This is only a short-term deal so ensure you diarise the end date and check to see if you can transfer the balance to another card then if you still owe cash.

This will be easier if you make sure you always make the minimum repayments – if you don’t, you may lose the deal anyway and have little chance of a new deal if your credit rating takes another hit.

Can I spend on the card?
We normally say don't spend on a balance transfer card, but this card is an exception as you'll also get three months 0% spending on the card. But, this card's tricky as the spending and balance transfer 0% periods are different lengths. If you're using both, aim to clear the card fully in three months so you're not in danger of being caught out paying interest on your purchases while you're still paying off the balance transfer.

If you'll find it hard to pay off within three months, then avoid spending like the plague and just use this card for balance transfers. Read the 0% Balance Transfers And Spending guide for full information on using these cards.

Get Martin's Free
Money Tips Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - get our FREE tips email. Don't miss out.

Calculator Which balance transfer card is cheapest?

Choosing your balance transfer weapon's more complicated than it used to be.

The aim should still always be to repay within the interest-free time, or switch after that to another 0% deal if you haven't repaid. However, if you can't, don't automatically jump for a long-term deal, as it may not be cheapest.

This calculator reveals the cheapest of our top picks, based on your debt and likely repayments.

What's the cheapest card? Quick tool compares cost and length of using top deals

(Please tap the slider rather than drag it. Rest assured, we are working to make it easier to use.)

£1500
£0 £10,000
£100
£0 £1,000

Be careful, this is just an ESTIMATE.

The calculator estimates total costs and interest, yet it makes some assumptions.

  • It assumes repayments are fixed: If not, be safe and pick the min you'll repay in a month.
  • It assumes you won't spend on the card: As this isn't usually at the 0% rate, so avoid.
  • It assumes you won't pay the representative APR: The assumption is you'll have paid off the debt or shifted it again when the cheap deal ends.
  • Not all cards are included

Caution, this is an ESTIMATE. See assumptions.


Last Updated: November 2014

Simple reminders for card tarts.

Enter the date your 0% (or other intro rate) expires in the Tart Alert Tool and you'll be sent a text or e-mail reminder to ditch and switch. Of course, like everything else on this site, it's completely free.Try it now →

Balance transfers Q&A

  • How do I actually do a balance transfer?

  • Does a lower interest rate mean I pay less each month?

  • How much should I pay off each month?

  • If a lower interest rate doesn't mean I pay less, why bother?

  • What if the credit limit I get isn't high enough?

  • Should I cancel old cards?

  • How many times can I balance transfer?

  • At what point during tarting should I apply for a new card?

  • Will card tarting hurt my credit score?

  • What if my card's got a 0% spending deal?

  • Is the balance transfer fee interest-free as well?

  • Which cards give the best limits?

  • Why did it reject me? I've got a great credit score!

  • Why did it give me a different card to the one I applied for?

  • Any other things I should look for when picking a 0% card?

  • My question hasn't been answered yet, what should I do?

Glossary