0% balance transfer & spending

0% balance transfer & purchase cards

Get up to 24 months 0% on both 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

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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.

Watch out for cards with two different 0% lengths

Certain cards have, for example, 20 months 0% on spending and 16 months 0% on transfers. In this case, after 16 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.

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.

  • 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 20%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 0% balance transfer & spending cards for new cardholders

LENDER  0% LENGTHS + FEE (i)  APPLY


 

M&S Bank

The longest definite 0% spending period – plus earn M&S points. All accepted get the full 24 months at 0% for both purchases and transfers. It also gives ongoing M&S points – one point (worth 1p) per £1 spent at M&S and one point per £5 spent elsewhere, which convert to M&S vouchers every three months. Full card spec

- 24mths 0%
2.9% fee (min £5)

- 21.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*


Sainsbury's Bank 
Long 0% periods, plus bonus Nectar points worth up to £25 –though it's an 'up to' so some accepted will get 16mths at 0%. It gives a bonus 500 Nectar points for each £35+ spend at Sainsbury's (not fuel) in the first two months (max 5,000 points, worth £25), plus 2 points per £1 spent at Sainsbury's and 1 point per £5 spent elsewhere. Full card spec
Up to 24mths 0%
2.88% fee (min £3)
- 21.9% rep APR
Check eligibility
Apply*

 

MBNA 

Long 0% periods, though only on spends/transfers made in the first 60 days. It's an 'up to' card so, unless showing as 'pre-approved' in our eligibility calculator, you could get just 12 months at 0% and/or the higher transfer fee. Any purchases or transfers made after the first 60 days will attract interest and a higher 5% fee, so diarise the cut off carefully.  Full card spec
- Up to 24mths 0%
- 2.89% or 3.49% fee
- 21.9% rep APR
Check eligibility
Apply*
MoneySavingExpert's 0% Spending Card Eligibility Calculator, with the up to 25-month Barclaycard selected

Barclaycard 

Longest 0% period for spending, plus £20 cashback. However, as it's an 'up to' card, some may get 12 months at 0% for spending and 11 months for transfers. Also, be mindful of the different 0% lengths.

 

New. Newbies who apply by Fri 9 Sep and spend £250+ in the first 90 days get £20 cashback (paid within five working days of hitting the spending trigger). You can't have had a Barclaycard in the last year.

Up to 25mths 0% (spending)
- Up to 22mths 0% (transfers)

2.9% fee

- New. £20 cashback when spending £250+ in first 90 days

- 22.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*


Santander 

Longest 0% period for transfers, plus 0.5% cashback on spending. However, be mindful of the different 0% lengths and fixed monthly fee (it can be more expensive than other cards in this table for transfers under £2,700). Full card spec

23mths 0% (spending)
- 26mths 0% (transfers)
- £3/mth fee

- 24.7% rep APR, incl. the fee

Check eligibility
Apply*
The next best 0% all-rounder cards. Here are quick details of decent alternatives.

NatWest (ii)

Existing customers only

23mths 0%
- 2.49% fee
- 21.9% rep APR
Check eligibility
Apply*
The card above is also available for existing RBS (check eligibilityapply*) and Ulster Bank (apply) customers. 
Tesco Bank - Up to 20mths 0% 
- 1.99% fee
- 20.9% rep APR
Check eligibility
Apply*
Virgin Money - 19mths 0%
- 2.9% fee

- 21.9% rep APR
Check eligibility
Apply*

Important: (i) Fee as a percentage of debt shifted. To get the 0% and fee, you must usually do the balance transfer within 60/90 days of opening. You can't transfer a balance between cards from the same bank/group. (ii) You'll need an existing savings, credit card, mortgage or current account to apply.|Representative APR (variable) after the 0% period is stated above – your balance transfer interest may be different.|See all official APR examples

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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

  • 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.

  • 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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