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

Up to 36mths 0%, 1.99% fee

Get Our Free Money Tips Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 12m who get it. Don't miss out

Martin

Updated Daily

Balance transfer credit cards 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. However, the top deals are getting shorter and could get even worse, so best act now if you want to shift debt.

This guide takes you through how to safely transfer your balance, 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.

How does a balance transfer work?

A balance transfer is where you get a new card that pays off existing debt on other credit and store cards, so you owe it instead, but at 0%. This means more of your repayments go to reducing the debt, rather than paying interest, so you clear it quicker.

Most balance transfer cards will charge a small fee when you make the transfer, though there are some which charge nothing at all. Before getting a card with a fee, think carefully whether you could clear the debt quicker to avoid it. Calculate the repayment you'd need by dividing the debt by the 0% months. If you're not sure then go long for peace of mind, even if it means a higher fee.

Good / Evil Credit Card

Rather watch than read? This helpful little video gives you the balance transfer lowdown...

The seven golden rules

Before you do a balance transfer there are seven 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 15-25% 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?

  • Use our eligibility calculator before applying for a speedy check of which cards you're most likely to get – and protect your credit score

    Usually, the only way to know if you'll be accepted is to apply, but each application marks your credit file. But our Balance Transfer Eligibility Calculator quickly shows your odds of getting almost every top balance transfer card so you can find the ones most likely to accept you, thus minimising applications.

    Quick questions

    How does the eligibility calculator work?

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

  • Or join our Credit Club for a full credit health check, including your free Experian Credit Report, Affordability Score and Credit Hit Rate

    The MSE Credit Club is a game-changer. For years the credit market has been shrouded in mystery but our revolutionary tool brings together the key components to give you the full picture, and crucially, what it means for your acceptance chances and how to boost your creditworthiness.

    A credit score alone isn't enough to borrow, as there are other factors at play (it's why many with perfect scores still get rejected). Credit Club shows your...

    1. Free Experian Credit Report – your credit accounts and how you've managed them.
    2. Free Experian Credit Score – how lenders rate your past credit behaviour.
    3. MSE Affordability Score – how lenders assess if you can afford a product.
    4. Your Credit Hit Rate –
    how likely you actually are to be accepted when you apply.
    5. Credit Card & Loan Eligibility Calcs
    – what your odds are of getting specific top deals.
    6. How to improve your credit profile – we show where your profile's strong and weak, and how to improve it.

  • Know 'up to' deals mean you might not get the headline deal you apply for

    There's a catch to watch out for. Some card firms give those with lesser credit histories fewer months at 0% than they advertise. You could, say, apply for a 36-month 0% balance transfer deal, be accepted but given 20 months at 0% – sometimes with a higher fee too.

    We highlight cards that do this by putting 'up to' before their headline offer, and tell you the other 0% lengths they may offer in the write-ups of the products below.

    Quick question

    Is there any way to know what deal I will get before I apply?

    Why do lenders give some applicants worse deals?

  • You may be able to cut your interest WITHOUT new cards – the credit card shuffle

    Most cards in this guide are 0% deals, but usually require a good credit score and are for new customers only. If your score is patchy, you may still be able to slash the interest you're paying by doing a credit card shuffle.

    It isn't the latest poker trick but our technique using existing-customer balance transfer deals to allow you to shift debt around cards you already have (if you're not maxed out). It's complex, but it's saved people £100s, without new cards.

    Quick questions

    How do I do the credit card shuffle?

    What if I've debts at different rates on one card?

    How much could I save doing the credit card shuffle?

Best Buys Longest 0% cards

The longest credit card deals offer more than three years at 0%, 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.

Before getting a card with a fee, think carefully whether you could clear the debt quicker to avoid it. However, 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, while 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 38 months

Longest 0%, but you could get fewer months

MBNA* up to 36 mths, 1.99% fee (21.9% interest after)

This MBNA* card offers the longest 0% period. You could be offered fewer 0% months which won't make it as good, but if you're pre-approved through our eligibility calculator, you'll definitely get the full 36 months.

Need-to-knows
  • You must transfer your balance within the first 60 days to get the 0% deal.
  • You can't transfer a balance from another MBNA or Nuba card.
  • After the 0%, it's 21.9% interest per year on any remaining transferred debt.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
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: Up to 36 months, 1.99% fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25 | Min balance transfer amount: N/A
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Visa | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 60 days
  • Rate: 19.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Virgin Money 35 months

High fee but get the full 0% period if accepted

Virgin Money* 36 mths 0%, 2.8% fee (20.9% interest after)

This Virgin Money* credit card offers the same 0% period as the MBNA card above, though the fee to transfer your debt is quite a bit higher.

This card may have an advantage, though, in that everyone who's accepted for it will definitely get 36 months at 0%, whereas some accepted for the MBNA card could be offered fewer months at 0%.

Need-to-knows
  • You must transfer your balance in the first 60 days to get the 0% deal. Transfers made after this time will pay 20.9% APR and a 5% fee.
  • You can't transfer a balance from another Virgin Money card.
  • After the 0%, it's 20.9% APR on any remaining transferred debt.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
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: 36 months, 2.8% fee
  • Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25 | Min balance transfer amount: £1
  • Min income: £7,000 | Card issuer: Mastercard | Balance transfer time limit: 60 days
  • Rate: 20.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Barclaycard 38 months

Decent 0% + £20 cashback if you transfer £1,000+

Barclaycard* up to 35 mths, 1.85% fee (19.9% interest after)

This Barclaycard* offers a slightly shorter 0% period than the cards above but has a lower fee to shift your debt. Plus, apply by 14 May and transfer £1,000+ within 60 days and you'll also get £20 cashback. So unless you need the extra month, this card is likely to be a winner.

You could be offered fewer 0% months which won't make it as good, though if you're pre-approved through our eligibility calculator, you'll definitely get the full 35 months.

Need-to-knows
  • Cashback will be applied to your acount within two working days of the transfer.
  • You'll be charged a fee of 3.5% of the amount transferred, then Barclaycard will credit back the difference within 28 working days, so the effective fee is 1.85%.
  • You need to transfer a balance in the first 60 days to get the 0% interest period.
  • You can't transfer a balance from another Barclaycard.
  • After the 0%, it's 19.9% interest per year on any remaining transferred debt.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
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: Up to 35 months, 1.85% fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% or £5 | Min balance transfer amount: £250
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Visa | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 60 days
  • Rate: 19.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)

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
Nuba*
Up to 36 mths 2.5% 19.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card – are you pre-approved?
  • †Representative variable APR, your balance transfer interest may be different | See all Official APR Examples

Best Buys Long 0% cards with a sub 1.5% fee

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. All the cards in this section have a fee of 1.5% or less.

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.

M&S Bank

Long 0% period plus £25 cashback

M&S Bank* – 32 months 0%, 0.99% fee (18.9% rep APR after)

This M&S credit card* offers a decent 0% period, and if you're accepted you'll definitely get the full 32 months. Plus, apply via our link by Wed 9 May and transfer at least £100 by 30 Jun 2018 and you'll also get £25 cashback, meaning if you transfer less than £2,525 you'll effectively pay no fee.

Need-to-knows
  • The cashback will be credited to your account no later than 31 Jul 2018.
  • You won't be eligible for the voucher if you already hold an M&S credit card or have done within the last year.
  • After your 0% deal ends, you'll pay 18.9% interest a year on any balance transfer debt left over.
  • You need to transfer the balance within 90 days, or you won't get the 0% period.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
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 0%, 0.99% fee (min £5)
  • Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.5% or £5 | Min balance transfer amount: £100
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard | Balance transfer time limit: First 90 days
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
HSBC

Long 0% period plus £25 cashback if you transfer £1,000+

MBNA* – up to 32 months 0%, 1.15% fee (21.9% interest after)

This MBNA* credit card offers a decent 0% period and comes with £25 cashback if you apply via our link and transfer at least £1,000 within 60 days. You could be offered fewer 0% months which won't make it as good, but if you're pre-approved through our eligibility calculator, you'll definitely get the full 32 months.

Need-to-knows
  • The £25 will be credited to your card account within 60 days of the balance transfer.
  • You need to transfer a balance in the first 60 days to get the 0% interest period.
  • You can't transfer a balance from another MBNA or Nuba card.
  • After the 0%, it's 21.9% interest per year on any remaining transferred debt.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: up to 32 months, 1.15% fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25 | Min balance transfer amount: N/A
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Visa | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 60 days
  • Rate: 19.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Barclaycard 38 months

Decent 0% + £20 cashback if you transfer £1,000+

Barclaycard* up to 30 mths, 0.55% fee (19.9% interest after)

This Barclaycard* offers a shorter 0% period than the card above but has a lower fee to shift your debt. Apply by 14 May and transfer £1,000+ within 60 days and you'll also get £20 cashback.

You could be offered fewer 0% months which won't make it as good, though if you're pre-approved through our eligibility calculator, you'll definitely get the full 35 months.

Need-to-knows
  • Cashback will be applied to your acount within two working days of the transfer.
  • You'll be charged a fee of 3.5% of the amount transferred, then Barclaycard will credit back the difference within two working days, so the effective fee is 0.55%.
  • You need to transfer a balance in the first 60 days to get the 0% interest period.
  • You can't transfer a balance from another Barclaycard.
  • After the 0%, it's 19.9% interest per year on any remaining transferred debt.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
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: Up to 30 months, 0.55% fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% or £5 | Min balance transfer amount: £250
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Visa | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 60 days
  • Rate: 19.9% 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
Nuba* Virgin Money card Up to 32 mths 0.56% 19.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card – are you pre-approved?
Virgin Money* Virgin Money card 32 mths 0.6% 20.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card – are you pre-approved?
Virgin Money* Virgin Money card 30 mths 0.55% 20.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card – are you pre-approved?
  • †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 28 months, it's possible to pay NO fee at all so you could – with discipline – clear your debts for free. We've ordered our top picks from longest to shortest 0% period, but don't forget to use the eligibility calculator first to see which cards you've the best chance of getting.

These cards now look more competitive than they used to, as the difference between their 0% periods and those of the longest cards with higher fees has got a lot smaller - so for most the gain from extra length hardly justifies the fee. They're a good option if you can DEFINITELY pay it off within the 0% period, or if you'll switch again when it 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

Longest no-fee 0% card and you'll get the headline deal if accepted

Santander* 27mths 0%, no fee (18.9% interest after)

This Santander* card is a good no-fee option, and if you're accepted you'll definitely get the full 0% period - which isn't always guaranteed on other cards. Unusually, you'll pay no fee if you transfer at any point within the 27mths, though you'd have less interest-free time if you waited.

Need-to-knows
  • After the 0% period ends, it's 18.9% interest.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
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: 27 months 0%, no fee
  • Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £5 | Min balance transfer amount: £100
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard | Balance transfer time limit: N/A
  • Rate: 18.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Barclaycard 38 months

Decent 0% plus £20 cashback if you shift £1,000+

Barclaycard* up to 25 mths, no fee (19.9% interest after)

This Barclaycard* offers a slightly shorter 0% period than the card above but also gives £20 cashback if you apply by 14 May and shift at least £1,000 within 60 days. So unless you need the extra months, this card is likely to be a winner.

You could be offered fewer 0% months which won't make it as good, though if you're pre-approved through our eligibility calculator, you'll definitely get the full 25 months.

Need-to-knows
  • Cashback will be applied to your acount within two working days of the transfer.
  • You'll be charged a fee of 2% of the amount transferred, then Barclaycard will credit back the full amount within 28 working days, so the effective fee is zero.
  • You need to transfer a balance in the first 60 days to get the 0% interest period.
  • You can't transfer a balance from another Barclaycard.
  • After the 0%, it's 19.9% interest per year on any remaining transferred debt.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
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: Up to 25 months, no fee
  • Minimum payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% or £5 | Min balance transfer amount: £250
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Visa | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 60 days
  • Rate: 19.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)

Got those above? More no-fee 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
MBNA* MBNA Up to 26mths None

19.9%

You can use our eligibility calculator for this card – are you pre-approved?
Sainsbury's Bank* Halifax 25mths None

18.9%

You can use our eligibility calculator for this card - are you pre-approved?
Halifax* Halifax Up to 25mths None (1)

19.9%

You can use our eligibility calculator for this card - are you pre-approved?
Bank of Scotland* Bank of Scotland Up to 24mths None (1) 19.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card – are you pre-approved?
Lloyds* Lloyds card Up to 24mths None (1) 19.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card – are you pre-approved?
  • †Representative variable APR, your balance transfer interest may be different
  • (1) You may be offered a card with fewer 0% months and a hefty 3% fee
  • See all Official APR Examples

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

MBNA Low Rate

Low interest rate for four years with a small fee

MBNA* – 4.9% for 48 months, 0.5% fee

The MBNA* Low Rate card offers a low interest rate of 4.9% for four years, with a one-off fee of 0.5%, as long as you make your transfer within 60 days of account opening (0.99% fee otherwise).

We've put this card above the life-of-balance cards below because after crunching the numbers on balances up to £7,500 (as larger limits are rarer), we found it's cheaper, even with the fee, as long as you budget to pay off your debt within four years. Any longer, and the cards below win.

Need-to-knows
  • After your low rate ends, you'll pay 8.9% interest a year on any debt leftover.
  • Some poorer credit scorers getting this card may be given initial interest rates of 9.9%, jumping to 11.9% at the 48 months' end.
  • You can't transfer a balance from another MBNA card.
  • This card accepts transfers from non-MBNA issued Amex cards.
  • This card also offers money transfers at 4.9% interest for four years, with a 0.5% fee.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the low-rate deal.
  • Don't withdraw cash on it; it's not at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer rate & fee: 4.9% for 48mths then 8.9%, 0.5% fee
  • Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £25 | Min balance transfer amount: £25
  • Min income: £20,000 | Card issuer: Mastercard | Time limit: 60 days
  • Representative variable APR on spending: 8.9% (Official APR Examples)
Tesco Low Rate

Cheapest low rate card, with one interest-free month

Tesco 6.05% rep APR, no balance transfer fee

This Tesco credit card lets you balance-transfer at 6.05% interest rate for the life of the balance, with no fee as long as you transfer within one month. As a bonus, there's 0% interest for the first month.

If you know you'll be able to clear your debt within four years, the MBNA card above will probably be cheaper due to the lower rate, in spite of its 0.5% fee. But if you need longer, this is best.

Need-to-knows
  • You must balance-transfer within the first month; transfers after this attract a 3% fee.
  • You can't transfer a balance from another Tesco credit card, or apply if you hold more than one Tesco credit card already.
  • Some poorer credit scorers accepted for the card will be charged up to 12.5% on balance transfers, which isn't such a good deal.
  • This card accepts transfers from Amex cards, though you'll need to phone up to get it processed.
  • This card also has a low rate on spending, charging 5.9% rep APR – though again, you get the first month at 0%. Poorer credit scorers could be accepted for the card but charged a higher APR, up to 11.9%.
  • Always pay the monthly minimum payment or you'll get a penalty for late payment and a mark on your credit file.
  • Don't withdraw cash on this card. It isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
ELIGIBILITY CHECK NOT AVAILABLE
APPLY
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Balance transfer length & fee: 6.05%, no fee
  • Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £25 | Min balance transfer amount: £1
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard | Time limit: One month
  • Rate: 5.9% 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 our Rate Jacking guide for the full rules.

Is there a time limit to transfer balances? Yes. You must transfer balances within one month to avoid a fee. After one month, the fee is 3%.

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

Barclaycard Platinum card

Best if you haven't had much credit before

Barclaycard* 18mths 0%, 2.99% fee (24.9% interest after)

If you've debts on high-interest cards, but maybe have only had one card in the past, the Barclaycard Platinum* is aimed at you. It gives 18 months 0% as long as you transfer within 60 days – and if you're accepted you'll definitely get the full 0% period.

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 (ie, it doesn't offer fewer months to poorer credit scorers).
  • 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.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
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, 2.99% fee
  • Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25%, or £5 | Min balance transfer amount: £250
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Visa | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 60 days
  • Rate: 24.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Key questions

Will I definitely get 24.9% APR?
Although you won't be offered fewer months on this card, 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-month 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.

Unlike the Barclaycard above, these cards are specifically designed for people who have had past credit problems.

Capital One

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

Capital One* 0% for 6mths, 3% fee (34.9% interest 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 in the 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.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
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
  • Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5 | Min balance transfer amount: £50
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: N/A
  • Rate: 34.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Key questions

How do I use this card best? In a perfect world, you'd shift all your debts to it, repay in 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 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

Another option if you've a poor credit history

Aqua* 0% for 6mths, 3% fee (34.9% interest after)

Like the Capital One card above, this Aqua* card is also designed for those with a poor credit history, accepting those with past defaults, CCJs or bankruptcies. It offers the same six month 0% period on balance transfers, giving you a short-term break 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% APR so clear it by then or transfer again. If you have a poor credit score it can jump even higher – up to a max to 59.9%.
  • Credit limits are low, starting between £250 and £1,200.
  • You still have to pass a credit check. CCJs must be more than a year old, and you must not have been registered bankrupt in the past 18mths or have bankruptcy proceedings against you.
  • Marbles (eligibility calc / apply*), issued by the same provider as Aqua, offers a card with 0% for five months for a 3% fee (up to 69.95%% APR after) – just one month less than this Aqua card.
  • You won't be eligible for the card if you've had an Aqua or Marbles card within the last year.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Don't spend/withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
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 (min £3)
  • Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5 | Min balance transfer amount: £100
  • Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: N/A
  • Rate: 34.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Key questions

How do I use this card best? In a perfect world, you'd shift all your debts to it, repay in 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 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.

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 that it's exactly the same deal though, as terms can be different. And remember the cashback is never 100% guaranteed until it's in your account. 

Full help to take advantage of this and pros and cons in our Top Cashback Sites guide.

Balance transfer 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: March 2018

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 email 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?

  • Will transferring a balance close my old card for me?

  • Should I cancel my old card?

  • How many times can I balance-transfer?

  • Can I balance-transfer from multiple cards to one card?

  • Can I transfer my partner's debt onto my 0% card?

  • Can I do a balance transfer from an Amex card?

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

  • Will card tarting hurt my credit score?

  • What sort of balance transfer offer could I get on my existing cards?

  • 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?

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

Glossary

Get Our Free Money Tips Email!

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes - join the 12m who get it. Don't miss out