0% balance transfer & purchase cards

Get up to 21 months 0% on purchases and balance transfers + £20 cashback with one card

Most credit cards are good for new spending OR cutting the cost of existing debt, but some offer cheap intro rates on both. We've full info and our top picks, plus our Balance Transfer & Spending Eligibility Calculator will show the cards you have the best odds of getting before you apply.

Who's this guide for? Anyone with existing card debt, who wants to transfer a balance and spend at 0% on the same card.

Not what you want? Other related best-buy guides... 
0% money transfer cards | 0% spending credit cards | Balance transfer cards | Debt help | Credit cards explained

What is a 0% all-rounder credit card?

Most 0% credit cards are good for new spending OR cutting the cost of existing debt, but an all-rounder card offers 0% intro rates for a number of months on both.

You can usually get a longer 0% period with a dedicated balance transfer card, though if you have a need to borrow further (eg, a planned, affordable, one-off purchase, such as replacing a broken fridge) then an all-rounder card offers one fewer application hitting your credit file, protecting your creditworthiness.

Should I use these cards for spending, balance transfers or both?

As we say above, you can usually get a 'better' balance-transfer only 0% card, so these are best used either only for new spending (a lot of the cards in this guide also feature in the top 0% spending cards top picks), or if you need to both transfer a balance and spread the cost of new borrowing.

If you do need to borrow, ensure it's planned, budgeted for and affordable. If so, a card with a 0% spending period on new borrowing is one of the cheapest ways to borrow.

Watch out for cards with two different 0% lengths

Certain cards have, for example, 21 months 0% on spending and 20 months 0% on transfers. In this case, after 20 months you'd start paying interest on any amount left that you'd transferred. It's therefore best to clear the card by the shortest 0% period, so you don't get caught out.

However, if you can't, any repayments you make has to go towards paying off the most expensive debt first, so this will at least clear first.

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The five golden rules

Before applying for a 0% balance transfer & spending card, ensure you read the five golden rules.

  • Set up a direct debit for at least the minimum repayment as soon as you're accepted. Even though it's at 0%, or a low rate, you still need to make repayments. If you miss one, you'll usually lose your cheap deal – the rate will jump to the APR and you'll get a £12ish charge.

    Your aim should be to pay more than the minimum – unless you've pricey debts elsewhere, in which case focus max repayments on them. Minimum payments are designed to make debts last as long as possible, which you should try to avoid – see tips to beat this in Danger: Minimum Repayments.

    Credit card firms have to put your repayments towards the most expensive debt first. So say you have a credit card with a £500 debt from purchases at 0% APR, and a £500 debt from a balance transfer at 24.9% APR - if you paid back £600 at the end of the month, £500 would be allocated to the balance transfer debt, with the remaining £100 going towards the debt from purchases.

    But with all-rounder credit cards, where borrowing via a balance transfer or spending is at the same 0% interest, it’s up to the credit card provider as to how they allocate repayments. While most will put repayments towards overdue payments and late fees first, each operates slightly differently.

    For example, some will prioritise the oldest debt, some the largest debt, and some the debt with the soonest ending 0% period. Others may go in a set order such as money transfers, then balance transfers, then card purchases. The exact breakdown can be found on your statement or the card's summary box.

    Of course, it doesn't matter which order debts are addressed if you can afford to pay off your card in full each month, or if you have an all-rounder card with equal 0% periods.

  • These cards are designed to make lenders money when you fail to pay them off within the 0% period. At that point, the interest rate jumps massively, to a standard 22%ish APR.

    Your aim should always be to clear the amount you transferred during the 0% period, minimising interest. If that's not possible, your next best bet is to shift again before the intro deal ends – or even back to the original card you shifted the debt from, if that's cheaper than the go-to rate on the 0% balance transfer & spending card.

  • While balance transfers and purchases on these cards are interest-free for a number of months, cash withdrawals are not, and you usually pay interest from the date of making the cash withdrawal until it's paid off.

    This means you'll most probably see an interest charge on the first statement after the cash withdrawal, which is the interest charged from the date you made the cash withdrawal until the date the statement was issued.

    But you may also see interest charged on the following statement. There'll be a delay between your statement being drawn up, and you paying it. It may be a couple of days, it may be a couple of weeks. But you'll be charged interest on the cash withdrawal until you pay it off.

  • For most cards, the 0% period is only reserved for balance transfers that are made within the first 60 or 90 days – though always check your card for its time limit, as it does vary. After this has passed, any transfers would incur expensive interest at the card's normal rate, unless it's paid off in full.

    This can sometimes apply to the one-off transfer fee too, so it's likely you'd incur a higher fee on later transfers, in addition to interest.

    There are some notable exceptions to this though, with certain cards requiring the balance transfer to be requested at the point of applying and other cards allowing transfers at any point during the 0% period. Though as the 0% period usually starts on the day the account is opened, you'd have less interest-free time if you waited.

  • For balance transfers, one rule is pretty clear – you can't transfer a balance from a card issued by the same bank (ie, from one Barclaycard to another).

    However for some cards it's a bit more complicated, as certain providers extend this to prevent transfers between cards from the same banking group:

    Banking group Credit cards you can't transfer a balance between
    Capital One Capital One, Littlewoods, Luma, Ocean, Post Office (cards issued after November 2019), Thinkmoney and Very
    HSBC First Direct, HSBC, John Lewis Finance and M&S Bank
    NatWest NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Ulster Bank
    NewDay Amazon, Argos, Aqua, Fluid, Marbles and Opus. You're also unable to transfer a balance from a store card or American Express
    Santander Cahoot and Santander
    Virgin Money B, Clydesdale Bank, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Money and Yorkshire Bank

Top 0% 'all-rounder' cards

You'll pay a one-off fee for transferring a balance, so it's best to go for the card with the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay it. If unsure, play safe and go long. 

Important. These include 'up to' cards, so poorer credit scorers may get a shorter deal than advertised – unless you're showing as pre-approved in our eligibility calculator. This is the best route as it shows which cards you're most likely to be accepted for. 

Top-pick 0% spending & balance transfer cards for new cardholders



Barclaycard
New. Joint-longest all-rounder card on the market – ‘up to’ 21mths at 0% on spending & ‘up to’ 20mths at 0% on transfers + £20 cashback – though some could get less time at 0%.  Apply via our links by Tues 23 April to get the cashback, which is added within 28 working days of hitting the £250 spending trigger. Though it's an 'up to', so some accepted could get just 10 months at 0% unless pre-approved – use our eligibility calculator to check.

- Up to 21mths 0% on spending (some get 10mths)
- Up to 20mths 0% on transfers (some get 10mths)

- 3.45% transfer fee 

- 24.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*

 

MBNA

 

Only purchases made in the first 60 days are interest-free.

Joint-longest card on the market – 'up to' 21mths at 0% on both spending & transfers, though only purchases made in the first 60 days are interest-free. If you’re pre-approved in our eligibility calculator you’ll definitely get the full 0% periods, otherwise you could get just 12mths at 0% for both spending and transfers.

- Up to 21mths 0% on spending & transfers (some get 12mths)

- 3.49% transfer fee
24.9% rep APR

Check eligibility (1)


NatWest

Longest definite all-rounder card on the market – 19mths at 0% on both spending & transfers. Shorter 0% periods than the above cards, but all accepted get the full 19mths at 0%, even if not pre-approved. Also offered by sister banks RBS* and Ulster Bank, though these are not in our calculator.
19mths 0% on spending & transfers
2.99% transfer fee
- 24.9% rep APR
Check eligibility

Apply*

The next best 0% all-rounder cards. Here are quick details of decent alternatives.
Lloyds

- Up to 20mths 0% on spending (some get 12mths)
- Up to 18mths 0% on transfers (some get 12mths)

- 2.99% transfer fee (some get 3.49%)

- 24.9% rep APR

Check eligibility (1)
HSBC

- Up to 18mths 0% on spending (some get 15mths)
- Up to 16mths 0% on transfers (some get 15mths)

- 3.49% transfer fee (min £5)

- 24.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*

Important: Balance transfer fees are a percentage of debt shifted. To get the 0% and fee, you must usually do the balance transfer within 60 or 90 days of opening. You can't balance-transfer between cards from the same bank/group.|Representative APR (variable) after the 0% period is stated above – your interest may be different. | See all official APR examples. | (1) MBNA and Lloyds have asked us to link only to our eligibility calculator – as they don't have these cards available to apply for directly.

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Cashback sites may pay you for signing up

As an extra boon, members of specialist cashback websites can be paid when they sign up to some financial products. Do check it's exactly the same deal though, as terms can be different. And remember that cashback is never 100% guaranteed until it's in your account. 

There's full help to take advantage of this and pros and cons in our Top Cashback Sites guide.

0% 'all-rounder' cards Q&A

  • How do I compare 0% all-rounder cards to work out which is best for me?

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    There are a number of factors to consider if you are thinking of applying for one of these credit cards. When comparing, we tend to think about the following features: 

    • 0% purchase period: the number of months you'll get interest-free spending on the card, up to your credit limit. 

    • 0% balance transfer period: the number of months you'll get at 0% for any debt transferred over from other credit cards.

    • The balance transfer fee: the amount you'll have to pay to transfer over existing credit card debt, usually between 0% and 4% of the amount you're transferring.

    • The rep APR: APR stands for annual percentage rate and is the interest rate you'll pay on any remaining debts after the 0% promotional periods end. A representative APR means at least 51% of customers will get that rate or lower. The rate you actually get depends on your credit history, so you could get a different interest rate to the one advertised.

    Try to pick a card with an interest-free period long enough to pay off your debts, or you'll be stuck paying expensive interest. Standard interest rates after the offer periods end tend to be around 23% to 25%.

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

    Lenders have a wish list and want profitable customers – it's not all about your credit score. If they determine you can't afford the card or you're simply not profitable to them, they may reject you.

    Of course, you should check for errors on your credit file, but hard and fast reasons for rejection are difficult to come by. It may be as bizarre as a lender choosing to give credit cards to customers it's more likely to be able to flog a mortgage to. For a better understanding, visit our Credit Club to see your unique MSE Affordability Score and Experian Credit Score for free.

  • Will using a 0% balance transfer and purchase credit card hurt my credit score?

    This all depends on how you use the card. If you never miss a repayment and stay within your credit limit, you should avoid negatively impacting your credit rating. You could even improve it by demonstrating your creditworthiness to lenders.

    Fail to do so, however, and it could be both expensive and very damaging to your credit score. 

    When you apply for a credit card, you will have to pass a credit check. If you are rejected, this will leave a mark on your credit history, which may hurt your chances of successfully applying for credit in future.

    Our eligibility calculator does a 'soft' credit check, which will give you your odds of approval for a variety of money transfer credit cards without impacting your credit rating.

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

    No. These are totally separate things. Unlike loans, with credit cards you choose how much you repay each month, though every card has a set minimum monthly repayment. The interest rate is the cost of the debt. For example, a rate of 20% on £1,000 means it costs you £200 a year assuming a constant balance (see our Interest Rates guide for more).

    Always check a card's minimum repayment before switching – as you could end up paying more each month than you do now.

    Also bear in mind that the more you repay, the faster the debt disappears. Especially important is that you try to pay more than the set minimum. For more on that and tips on how to do it, read our Minimum Repayments: Danger! guide.

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

    If it's not high enough to buy what you want, or transfer other debts to the card, just use as much of the limit of the card you've just got as you can. You could always try to get another purchases or balance transfer card, or look for another way to get the cash.

  • I already have a lot of debt. Will this help me?

    It could, but you'll need to be disciplined. These 'all-rounder' 0% cards can be used to balance-transfer existing card debts, giving you time to pay off the debt more slowly, and at 0%. But as there's a 0% spending period too, it could actually tempt you in to further debt – so it might be better not to take the risk.

    It may be better to look at more serious ways to cut costs and sort out your debts. See our Money Makeover guide for how to cut costs on everyday expenses, or Debt Help for where to find help and advice.

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