Borrowers can now get 18 months interest-free spending for a year and a half, plus up to 3% cashback with Santander's new 123 credit card deal.

The banking giant's 123 card was already a cashback best-buy as it pays 3% on petrol, rail travel and London Oyster top-ups up to a maximum of £9/month; 2% in department stores; and 1% in supermarkets (see our Top 0% Borrowing Cards guide for the best buys).

But now accepted new cardholders get 18 months 0% spending too.

Existing cardholders won't automatically be given the 18 months 0% spending, but Santander says it will contact current users to offer it to them. Cardholders can also contact Santander to get the deal.

However there is a £24 annual fee – unless you're a Santander 123 current account customer where the fee is refunded for the first year – so its new deal is only for big petrol and rail spenders where the cashback earned will wipe out the annual fee.

Here's how it compares:

Top 0% spending credit cards
Card Spending deal Spending perks Fee Rep APR after
Tesco* 18mths 0% 1 Clubcard pt per £4 spent - 18.9%
New. Santander 123* 18mths 0% Up to 3% cashback on spending £24/yr (1) 12.7% (16.5% incl fee)
Santander* 18mths 0% - - 18.9%
Sainsbury's* 16mths 0% 1 Nectar pt per £5 spent - 16.9%
M&S* 15mths 0% 0.5% back in M&S points - 16.9%
Sainsbury's* 6.9% APR long-term (2) 1 Nectar pt per £5 spent - 6.9%
(1) Refunded in year 1 for existing 123 bank account customers. (2) While the rate isn't fixed, in practice card regulations mean you can usually reject rate rises. (3) Full info in 0% Cards and APR Examples.

Will I be accepted?

The only way to find out is to apply, and each credit check can have a minor impact on your credit file. So first use our 0% Spending Eligibility Checker, which shows the cards you're most likely to get.

The eligibility checker 'soft searches' your file, meaning you'll be able to see the search but lenders won't, so there's no negative impact on other applications.

Always obey the 0% golden rules

Credit cards are the cheapest way to borrow when it's done right, but also the costliest done wrong. So never use them as a willy-nilly way to fill income gaps.

If planned and budgeted for the Top 0% Borrowing cards are interest-free and give perks on top. If you're getting a 0% card, always follow our golden rules:

  • Pay at least the monthly min or you may lose your 0% deal.
  • Always aim to clear the card or Balance Transfer before the 0% ends or the rate jumps.
  • These rates are only cheap for spending, not shifted debts.
  • Don't withdraw cash - it's costly and hits credit scores. See APR Examples.
Martin Lewis
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