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Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Up to 36mths 0%, 1.99% fee

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Martin

Updated Daily

Top Balance Transfers 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 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 38-month 0% balance transfer deal, be accepted but given a fewer 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.

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.

Balance transfer length & fee: Up to 36 months, 1.99% fee

Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £25

Balance transfer interest after 0%: 21.9% | Min balance transfer amount: £25

Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Visa | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 60 days

Representative APR (variable): 19.9% (Official APR Examples)

See how likely it is you'll get this card MSE's Eligibility Calculator
Or go straight to the lender Go to site*

This Barclaycard* offers has a lower fee to shift your debt than the card above, so is likely a winner unless you need an extra 0% month. You could be offered fewer 0% months, though if you're pre-approved through our eligibility calculator, you'll definitely get the full 35 months.

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 1.35%.

Balance transfer length & fee: Up to 35 months, 1.35% fee

Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% or £5

Balance transfer interest after 0%: 19.9% | Min balance transfer amount: £250

Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Visa | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 60 days

Representative APR (variable): 19.9% (Official APR Examples)

See how likely it is you'll get this card MSE's Eligibility Calculator
Or go straight to the lender Go to site*

This Virgin Money* credit card offers one fewer 0% month than the longest card above. It has a higher fee, but if accepted you'll definitely get 35 months at 0%, which could make it better.

If you transfer a balance after 60 days, you'll pay 20.9% interest and a 5% fee.

Balance transfer length & fee: 35 months, 2.8% fee

Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25

Balance transfer interest after 0%: 20.9% | Min balance transfer amount: £1

Min income: £7,000 | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: 60 days

Representative APR (variable):20.9% (Official APR Examples)

See how likely it is you'll get this card MSE's Eligibility Calculator
Or go straight to the lender Go to site*

More cards to consider

If you didn't find a card above to suit you, here are details of the next best cards.

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.

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.

Balance transfer length & fee: up to 32 months 0%, 1.15% fee

Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25

Balance transfer interest after 0%: 21.9% (some will pay more) | Min balance transfer amount: N/A

Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Visa | 0% balance transfer time limit: 60 days

Cashback paid: Within 60 days of the transfer being processed

Representative APR (variable): 19.9% (Official APR Examples)

See how likely it is you'll get this card MSE's Eligibility Calculator
Or go straight to the lender Go to site*

More cards to consider

If you didn't find a card above to suit you, here are 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?
Barclaycard* Barclaycard Up to 30 mths 0.55% 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
  • (1) £25 cashback if you apply by Wed 28 Mar and transfer £100+ within 60 days

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.

This Santander* card is a good no-fee option, and if you're accepted you'll definitely get the full 0% period. 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.

Balance transfer length & fee: 27 months 0%, no fee

Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £5

Balance transfer interest after 0%: 18.9% | Min balance transfer amount: £100

Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard | Balance transfer time limit: N/A

Representative APR (variable): 18.9% (Official APR Examples)

See how likely it is you'll get this card MSE's Eligibility Calculator
Or go straight to the lender Go to site*

More cards to consider

If you didn't find a card above to suit you, here are 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* Barclaycard 25mths None

18.9%

You can use our eligibility calculator for this card – are you pre-approved?
Barclaycard* Barclaycard Up to 25mths None

19.9%

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

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. After your low rate ends, you'll pay 8.9% interest a year on any debt leftover, so aim to clear it within four years.

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, which wouldn't be as good a deal.

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.

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 APR (variable): 8.9% (Official APR Examples)

See how likely it is you'll get this card MSE's Eligibility Calculator
Or go straight to the lender Go to site*

Best Buys Cards for poorer credit scorers

To be accepted for most of the 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 cards in this section are aimed at different people. The Barclaycard is for those with only a short credit history, while the others are designed for people with a history of defaults and county court judgments (CCJs) who are trying to rebuild their credit history.

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.

It's easier to qualify for than other cards in this guide and used well can be a route out of debt. It's NOT for those with serious credit problems, such as recent CCJs or defaults.

Balance transfer length & fee: 18 months 0%, 2.99% fee

Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25%, or £5

Balance transfer interest after 0%: 24.9% (some will pay 29.9%) | Min balance transfer amount: £250

Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Visa | 0% balance transfer time limit: First 60 days

Representative APR (variable): 24.9% (Official APR Examples)

See how likely it is you'll get this card MSE's Eligibility Calculator
Go straight to the lender Go to site*

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

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, then jumps to a massive 34.9%, 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.

Credit limits are low, starting between £200 and £1,500. You still have to pass a credit check and CCJs or defaults must be more than a year old.

Balance transfer length & fee: 6 months 0%, 3% fee

Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5

Balance transfer interest after 0%: 34.9% | Min balance transfer amount: £50

Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: N/A

Representative APR (variable): 34.9% (Official APR Examples)

See how likely it is you'll get this card MSE's Eligibility Calculator
Or go straight to the lender Go to site*

Like the Capital One card above, this Aqua* card is also designed for those with a poor credit history. It offers the same six month 0% period on balance transfers, which then jumps to a massive 34.9% (or up to 59.9% for poorer credit scorers) 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.

Credit limits are low, starting between £250 and £1,200. You still have to pass a credit check, any 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 69.9% APR after) – just one month less than this Aqua card. You can't get either if you've had an Aqua or Marbles card within the last year.

Balance transfer length & fee: 6 months 0%, 3% fee (min £3)

Min payment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5

Balance transfer interest after 0%: 34.9% (some will pay up to 59.9%) | Min balance transfer amount: £100

Min income: N/A | Card issuer: Mastercard | 0% balance transfer time limit: N/A

Representative APR (variable): 34.9% (Official APR Examples)

See how likely it is you'll get this card MSE's Eligibility Calculator
Or go straight to the lender Go to site*

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

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