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Balance Transfer Credit Cards

3yrs 0%, 2.99% fee

A balance transfer can cut £100s or £1,000s off the cost of existing borrowing. It's where you get a new credit card to pay off 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 five 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% cards

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 36mths 0%, 2.99% fee (18.9% rep APR after)

Barclaycard has become the first to smash through the three-year 0% balance transfer barrier. Though as many people already have one of its card and it doesn't allow you to shift debt from one of its own, not everyone can use this deal.

The one-off fee is 2.99% of the amount shifted. If you don't need the full three years to repay, you'd be better off with a shorter card with a lower fee.

How to find your odds of getting it

Barclaycard has decided to only make the 36mth 0% card available direct from its site, not via comparison sites, so you may not see it listed elsewhere.

Therefore, our eligibility calculator, which shows which top cards you're most likely to get, doesn't have a score for it. However, we do an eligibility check for its 35mth 0% card* (identical other than being a month shorter). It tells us the 36mth card has the same profile as the 35mth one. Barclaycard has an eligibility tool of its own, but it's just for its own cards.

Need to knows
  • You must transfer existing debt in the first 60 days to get the 0%.
  • The fee is 3.5% of the amount shifted, but you get 0.51% back in two days.
  • If you’ve a poor credit rating you may get fewer months than advertised.
  • 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 dependent on credit score.
  • You can only use our tool to get an eligibility score for the 35mth card, not the 36mth card.
Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 36 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 36mths 0%? This is one of a group of cards which may accept you, but choose to give a shorter 0% period - in this case, 18 months 0%, which isn't a competitive deal. Most accepted applicants will get the full 36 months (depending on which they choose), 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't currently check your eligibility on the 36 month card.

But you can use this eligibility link to check your chances of getting the 35mth Barclaycard. 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.

Halifax* - 32 MONTHS, 2.65% FEE

Longest 0% if you already have a Barclaycard

Halifax* 34 mths, 2.8% fee (18.9% rep APR after)

The Halifax* balance transfer credit card offers a little less time at 0% than the card above but the fee is slightly less. But, 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 26 or 18 months.
  • You can't transfer from a Halifax card but you can from its sister firm, Bank of Scotland.
  • After 34 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: 34 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)
MBNA Balance Transfer Credit Card 32 months

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

MBNA* 32mths 0%, 1.94% fee (18.9% rep APR)

This MBNA* card is a couple of months shorter than the longest 0%, but it also allows you to transfer money from it to your current account at 0% for 24 months, making it a powerful tool to cut overdraft costs too. This card's low 1.94% fee makes it a decent deal for both balance transfers and money transfers, although be aware that you get a shorter 0% period on money transfers than you do on balance transfers.

There is another card with a longer 0% money transfer offer at 36 months; 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 cheapest 0% money transfer card.
  • If you've already got an MBNA, Fluid or Virgin card, you can't balance transfer to this one.
  • If transferring to your overdraft, don't withdraw the cash, tell MBNA to do it.
  • After 32 months, you'll pay 20.9% interest on any balance transfer debt left over.
  • Similarly, you'll pay 22.9% on any money transfer debt left over after 24 months.
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: 32 months, 1.94% fee (min £3)
  • Money transfer length & fee: 24 months, 1.94% 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 cheapest money transfer fee, but there is a card which has a longer 0% money transfer offer at 36 months, albeit for a higher fee. 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
Virgin Money Virgin Money 36 mths 3.49% 18.9% -
Barclaycard* Lloyds 34 mths 2.74% 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Tesco* Tesco Credit Card 34 mths 2.9% 18.9% -
MBNA Platinum* MBNA Platinum 33 mths 2.79% (min £3) 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Fluid* Fluid 33 mths 2.88% (min £3) 18.9% -
Sainsbury's* Sainsburys 33 mths 2.89% (min £3) 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 Long low-fee 0% cards

If you can clear your debts more quickly 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 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 starting with the longest 0% and getting shorter, but if you can't pay it off as quickly as you'd need to with these low fee cards, check the longer options above.

Our Which card is cheapest? tool is a ready reckoner if you're not sure.

Lloyds Balance Transfer Credit Card 28 months

Best of both worlds, long 0% with low fee

Lloyds* – 28 mths 0%, 1.5% fee (18.9% rep APR after)

If you need longer than two years to clear your debt, but don't want to pay the higher fees the longest 0% deals are offering, then this Lloyds card provides the perfect mix. It lets you shift debt on to it for a decent 1.5% fee and you get a lengthy interest-free period of 28 months to clear it.

Need to knows
  • You can’t transfer a balance from another Lloyds card. But you can shift to Bank of Scotland* or Halifax*, which are also offering the same deal.
  • After the 0% deal ends, you'll pay 18.9% interest on your balance transfer, though poorer credit scorers may pay a higher 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 your chances of getting the card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 28 months, 1.5% fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5
  • Min income: n/a | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 90 days
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (See Official APR Examples)
Virgin Money Balance Transfer Credit Card 26 months

Good low fee card, but you can't check your chances of getting it

Virgin Money – 26 mths 0%, 1.25% fee (18.9% rep APR after)

If you need just over two years to pay off your debts, you can shift balances to this new Virgin Money card for a low one-off 1.25% fee. But, unfortunately, we can't check your eligibility for this card - you'll just need to apply and see if you're accepted. If you think your chances aren't particularly high, you may be better off looking at the Barclaycard 25mth card below which only charges a smidgen higher fee but you can check your chances of getting it before you apply.

Need to knows
  • If you've already got an MBNA, Fluid or Virgin card, you can't balance transfer to this one.
  • You can do a money transfer for 26 months 0% for a 4% fee. Though this can be beaten by special money transfer cards.
  • After the 0% deal ends, you're charged 18.9% interest on any balances transferred.
  • Our Which card is cheapest? tool explains if this is best for you.
Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 26 months, 1.25% fee
  • Minimum payment:Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £25
  • Min income: n/a | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 60 days
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (See Official APR Examples)
Barclaycard Balance Transfer Credit Card 25 months

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

Barclaycard* – 24 mths 0%, 1.25% fee (18.9% rep APR after)

This card from Barclaycard* is a good option if you only need 2 years 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)
Santander Credit Card

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

Santander* – 23 mths 0%, NO fee (16.5% rep APR)

This new Santander* 123 credit card 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 those with 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 above, 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.

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
Post Office* Post Office 18 mths 0.79% 17.8% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Nationwide* Nationwide 15mths 0.35% (min £5) 17.9% -
TSB* TSB 12 mths 0.25% 18.9% -
Sainsbury's* Sainsbury's 12 mths 0.5% (min £3) 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 No fee 0% cards

If you can clear your debts in just over a year, it's possible to slash the fee you pay to nothing meaning that you could - with discipline - clear your debts for free.

We've ordered these cards from the longest fee free card on the market down to the shortest. As it's not costing you any extra, the best card is the longest no fee card, but use the Eligibility Calculator first to see if you'll get it. We've listed two other options in case you can't get the Santander card (the top card), or you're transferring debt from an existing Santander card.

These cards are all short-ish lengths, so only go for these if you know you can pay off in time, or that you'll definitely switch again once the 0% period ends. If you know you'll need longer, it's almost always better to pay a (higher) fee than it is to pay interest. Our Which card is cheapest? tool is a ready reckoner if you're not sure if these cards are for you.

Santander Credit Card

Longest no fee card on the market

Santander* – 15 mths 0%, NO fee (18.9% rep APR after)

If you think you can clear your debt within 15 months or that you know you'll switch your debt again once it ends, then this card is brilliant. Santander* charges no fee to transfer your balance so if you can pay your debt off in time, 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)
Halifax 13 months 0%, no fee

NO fee to transfer debt, but 0% period not a sure thing

Halifax* 13 mths 0%, no fee (18.9% rep APR after)

It's only a couple of months shy of the best fee-free deal on the market, but the Halifax* credit card is much more of a gamble. Only 51% of applicants will get the full 13-month deal – poorer credit scorers could get just 9 months, which wouldn't make the card a good deal. However, if you already have a Santander card and are confident you've a good enough credit rating to stack the odds in your favour, it could be the next best option.

Need to Knows
  • Depending on your credit score, you may get 9 months 0% instead of the full 13 months.
  • You can't transfer from a Halifax card but you can from its sister firm, Bank of Scotland.
  • After the 0%, it’s 18.9% interest on any remaining transferred debt, 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: 13 months, 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: 18.9% representative APR (see Official APR Example)

If either of the cards above don't suit, there's also the Tesco* card, which gives you a year's balance transfer at 0%, and is also fee free. But watch out. Although it has a representative APR of 18.9%, the card charges a higher rate of interest on any balance transferred debt left over at the end of the 12 months, from 20.6% to 26.7%, so it's even more important that you clear the card before the 0% ends, or switch again.

Best buys Long-term, low-rate 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% rep 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 | 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 (6.6% rep APR)

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.

If you can't get, or don't want either of the cards above, then Sainsbury's also has a long-term low-rate card at 6.9% representative APR, which is another decent option. There's no fee to transfer a balance with this card, plus you get Nectar points if you're also spending on the card (spending's charged at 6.9% rep APR too).

Best buys 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 three cards in this section are aimed at different people. The Barclaycard and the Lloyds card are for those with only a 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* 18mths 0%, 2.9% fee (18.9% rep APR after)

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%. If you've debts on high-interest cards, but maybe have only had one card in the past, then this is aimed at you. It's a mid-range 0% offer, but with a higher fee. But, use this card well, and it's a route out of debt.

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

Decent respite card if you've a limited credit history

Lloyds* 0% for 6mths, 3% fee (25.9% rep APR after)

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: 6 months 0%, 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.

Unlike the other two cards above, this Capital One card is specifically designed for people who have had past credit problems.

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 6mths, 3% fee (34.9% rep APR after)

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 by then or transfer again.
  • 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: 6 months 0%, 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.

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Calculator Which card is cheapest for you?

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 gives you an indication of which card might be cheapest, based on your debt and likely repayments. However, do note that not every card above is included within the tool.

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

£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 pay the representative APR when the 0% ends: If your input monthly payment won't clear the debt before the end of the 0%, the tool adds interest for the remaining time.
  • Not all cards are included

Caution, this is an ESTIMATE. See assumptions.


Last Updated: January 2015

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