Balance transfer credit cards

Shift existing card debt to 0% interest for up to 29 months

Paying credit card interest? STOP. A balance transfer credit card can save you £1,000s by slashing the interest you pay. Our guide has full info and top picks, plus our Balance Transfer Eligibility Calculator will reveal the cards you've the best odds of getting.

What is a balance transfer card?

With a 0% balance transfer you get a new card to pay off debt on old credit and store cards, so you owe it instead, but at 0% interest. A card will have a 0% period, during which you pay no interest – for example, 28 months – and sometimes you'll pay a small fee. It means you become debt-free quicker, as more of your repayments reduce the debt, rather than pay interest. 

Which balance transfer card is best for me?

First up, you can't transfer a balance between cards from the same bank/group. So where you're transferring debt from will narrow down the choice. Of those left, which to go for will largely be determined by which cards you're eligible for, as you'll need to pass a credit check as part of any application.

Our eligibility calculator will show your chances of acceptance for most of the top interest-free balance transfer cards in this guide, with no impact on your credit score. If it shows you're eligible for many cards but you're unsure which to pick, follow this rule...

Go for the card with the lowest fee in the 0% period you're sure you can repay it in. If unsure, play safe and go long.

The five golden rules

Get this wrong and it can cost you large, so please read the following.

  • Cheap balance transfer deals are designed to make lenders money when the 0% period ends, as interest rates jump massively (typically to between 18% and 40%). Yet this can be avoided...

    • Aim to clear the balance before the 0% period ends. Quite simply,  divide the amount you owe by the number of months at 0%, then pay at least this every month to pay it off in time.

    • If you can't clear it in time, balance-transfer again to another 0% offer. If you can't afford to repay in time, the next best bet is to shift the debt again, before your 0% period ends. If you're not eligible for any cards, you could consider transferring back to the original card you shifted the debt from, if it's still open and cheaper than the interest rate on your current card.
  • Just because you grabbed a 0% deal DOESN'T mean you can get away with paying nothing – you must pay at least the minimum monthly payments, preferably more. Otherwise you will be hit with penalties and some card providers will withdraw the deal, leaving you on an expensive rate.

    How much should I aim to pay?

    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 our Credit Card Minimum Repayment Calculator for tips to beat this.

  • While balance transfers made to the cards in this guide are interest-free for a number of months, other uses such as spending and cash withdrawals are usually not – and will incur charges and interest. 

    For cash, you'll usually pay interest from the date of the withdrawal until it's paid off.

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

    There are special cards if you need to shift debt AND spend

    If you also need to spend on the card, it's best to get an all-rounder card, which has a 0% length for balance transfers AND spending, and means you only need to apply for one card. Check our 0% balance transfer & spending guide for full info, or alternatively you could try a separate 0% credit card for purchases.

  • 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 pay a higher fee on later transfers, in addition to interest.

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

    How to request a balance transfer

    When you apply for the new card, it will usually include a 'Do you want to transfer debts from other cards?' section. Here, put in the details of the other card(s). If you're successful in getting the new card, it will pay the other one(s) off. 

    If you don't do it at the initial application, you can usually submit the request via your card's online banking or by calling the lender. 

  • For balance transfers, one rule is clear – you can't transfer a balance between two cards issued by the same bank (for example, 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 and M&S Bank. John Lewis cards applied for before 21 September 2022 are with HSBC group too. 
    NatWest NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland and Ulster Bank
    NewDay Amazon, Argos, Aqua, Fluid, John Lewis (if you applied for a card on or after 21 Sep 2022), 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. You're also unable to transfer a balance from a non-UK issued American Express (for example, British Airways Amex)

Best 0% balance transfer cards

We've highlighted the standout cards here, yet our eligibility calculator has many more, so it's best to use that to get your personalised best-buy table. The calculator also shows if you're 'pre-approved' for any cards, and for a few can even show a guaranteed credit limit.

If you need help to choose between cards, go for the lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay in. If unsure, play safe and go long.

Top-pick 0% balance transfer cards for new cardholders

 

Tesco Bank

Longest 0% period, which all accepted will get. You'll get the full 29 months at 0% if you're accepted for this card, and if you're pre-approved in our eligibility calculator you can be certain you'll be accepted (provided you pass Tesco Bank's ID & fraud checks).

- 29 months 0%

- 3.49% fee

- 24.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*


Barclaycard 
Long 0% period, but some could get less time at 0% unless pre-approved in our eligibility calculator. If you're pre-approved you'll definitely get the full 28 months at 0% (as long as you pass Barclaycard's ID & fraud checks), otherwise you could be accepted and get just 14 interest-free months.

- Up to 28 months 0%

- 3.45% fee

- 24.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*


Santander
Lower fee, long 0% card – all accepted get the full 26 months 0%. If you can clear your debt in this time it'll beat the above cards due to the lower fee. All accepted will get the full 26 months at 0%.

- 26 months 0%

- 3% fee (min £5)

- 23.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*


NatWest

Longest 0% period with NO FEE – a winner if you can repay before the 0% ends. If you repay in full within 13 months, this transfer will cost you absolutely nothing. Plus, our eligibility calculator will now tell you if you're pre-approved for a guaranteed minimum limit on this card.
13 months 0%
NO FEE
- 24.9% rep APR
Check eligibility (i)
The next best 0% balance transfer cards. Here are quick details of decent alternatives.
HSBC

- Up to 27 months 0%

- 3.49% fee (min £5)

- 24.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*
Virgin Money

- 26mths 0%

- 3.25% fee

- 24.9% rep APR

Check eligibility (i)
Virgin Money

- 20mths 0%

- 2% fee

- 24.9% rep APR

Check eligibility (i)
Barclaycard

- Up to 12mths 0%

- NO FEE

- 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 balance transfer interest may be different. (i) These providers have asked us to only link to our eligibility calculator.|See all official APR examples.

Top-pick  0% balance transfer cards for new cardholders
Longest 0% period of 29 months, plus £25 cashback if transferring over £2,500 – but if you're not pre-approved in our eligibility calculator you could get just 14 months at 0%.
Apply via our links by Thurs 8 Feb and transfer £2,500+ within 60 days and you'll get £25 cashback. You won't qualify for the cashback if you've had a Barclaycard within the last six months.
0% period
Up to 29 months (some could get 14 months)
Fee
3.45%
Rep APR
24.9%
Another long 0% period of 28 months, though, again, if you're not pre-approved you could get just 20 months at 0%.
This could be a good option if you're not pre-approved for the Barclaycard above, as although the fee is a smidge higher, the worst-case acceptance scenario is better.
0% period
Up to 28 months (some could get 20 months)
Fee
3.49% (min £5)
Rep APR
24.9%
Longest definite 0% period – all accepted get the full 26 months at 0%.
Slightly shorter interest-free period than the above cards, but you'll definitely get the full 26 months if accepted. This could be a good option if you're not pre-approved for the above cards and you don't want to risk being offered fewer interest-free months
0% period
26 months
Fee
3% (min £5)
Rep APR
23.9%
Longest 0% period with NO FEE – all accepted get the full 13 months at 0%. A winner if you can repay before the 0% ends, as this transfer will cost you absolutely nothing.
Plus, our eligibility calculator will tell you if you're pre-approved for a guaranteed minimum limit. This card is also offered by sister banks RBS and Ulster Bank, though these do not feature in our eligibility calculator.
0% period
13 months
Fee
NO FEE
Rep APR
24.9%

The next best 0% balance transfer cards

A good option if you've poor acceptance odds for the above cards. A slightly shorter 27 months at 0%, though if you're not pre-approved you could get just 20 or 14 months.
0% period
Up to 27 months (some could get 20 or 14 months)
Fee
3.49% fee (min £5)
Rep APR
24.9%
A shorter 0% period than the above cards – 20 months at 0% – but a lower 2% fee. All accepted get the full 20 interest-free months.
0% period
20 months
Fee
2%
Rep APR
24.9%
0% period
Up to 12 months
Fee
NO FEE
Rep APR
24.9%

Important: The fee is 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 balance transfer interest may be different. See all official APR examples.

Best balance transfer cards for bad credit

To be accepted for most of the deals above, you need a decent credit score. If that's not you, there's still hope, as a few providers offer cards for those with a patchy credit past – though the 0% periods are usually much shorter. Some will accept you even with past defaults or county court judgments (CCJs). For more info on cards for those with bad credit, see our full guide.

The cards below are all included in our eligibility calculator, but they're worth highlighting because of one big difference...

The interest rates after the 0% periods end are VERY expensive, so plan how much to shift. All the cards below charge up to 34.9% rep APR after the 0% periods end, so compare that against your current card's interest rate. If your current card's rate is higher, then shift as much debt as possible. If it's lower, then only shift the amount of debt you're sure you can clear within the 0% period.

Top poor credit balance transfer cards for new cardholders

MoneySavingExpert's Balance Transfer Eligibility Calculator, with the 16-month Virgin Money card selected

Virgin Money
Long 0%, accepts some past credit issues. All accepted get the full 16 months at 0%. Even if you've had CCJs or defaults in the past, you may still be accepted if you have a recent history of managing credit, a UK bank account, and a yearly personal income of £7,000 or a household income of £15,000 (including non-salary income such as pensions).

- 16 months 0%
3% fee

- 29.9% rep APR

Check eligibility (i)


Fluid
Shorter 0%, but lower minimum income needed. You can't have been declared bankrupt, had a CCJ, or had an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) in the last three years. You also need a minimum annual income of £5,000, 12 months' UK address history and a UK bank account.

- 9 months 0%

- 3% fee

- 34.9% rep APR

Check eligibility (i)


Capital One
Similar to the above Fluid card (so use our eligibility calculator to see which you're more likely to get). Another that may accept you if you've had CCJs or defaults, but not if you're currently registered as bankrupt.

- 9 months

- 3% fee (min £3)

- 34.9% rep APR

Check eligibility (i)

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. (i) These providers have asked us to link only to our eligibility calculator. | See all official APR examples.

Top  poor credit balance transfer cards for new cardholders (i)
Longest 0% period for poorer credit scorers – 16 months at 0%. All accepted will get the full 16 interest-free months.
You must have a history of managing credit, even if you've had CCJs or defaults in the past, and a yearly £15,000+ personal income (including non-salary income such as pensions).
0% period
16 months
Fee
3%
Rep APR
29.9%
Zopa
Not available direct
Longest 0% period with NO FEE for poorer credit scorers – 6 months at 0%. All accepted will get this deal.
You must have a minimum personal income of £10,000, plus two active lines of credit such as a phone contract or overdraft.
0% period
6 months
Fee
NO FEE
Rep APR
34.9%

The next best poor-credit balance transfer cards

Fluid
Not in our eligibility calculator
A decent 0% period of 9 months, which all accepted will get.
You can't have been declared bankrupt in the last 18 months or have had any CCJs in the past 12 months.
0% period
9 months
Fee
3%
Rep APR
34.9%
Visit provider
Capital One
Not available direct
A good option if you've poor acceptance odds of the above cards – all accepted get six months at 0%.
You must have a recent history of managing credit, even if you've had past CCJs or defaults.
0% period
6 months
Fee
3%
Rep APR
34.9%

Important: Fee is 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 balance transfer interest may be different. See all official APR examples.

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!

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 that the cashback is never 100% guaranteed until it's in your account. 

There is full help to take advantage of this and pros and cons in our Top cashback sites guide.

If you can't get a new 0% card, try the credit card shuffle to cut interest

If you're unable to get any of the cards above (use our eligibility calculator to check), you may still be able to slash the interest by asking for a low-rate or 0% deal on the card you already have.

If you've more than one credit card, you can then shift debt to the card which offers the lowest rate, though you'll need to factor in any one-off transfer fees.

Here's how to do it step by step:

  1. List all your debts. Take stock of your current situation and note down all your existing debts, including an overdraft if you have one. Our credit card shuffle worksheet may help.

  2. Check your account(s) for existing-customer offers. Lenders sometimes offer special deals (either a lower rate or 0% for a set period) for transferring new debt to your existing cards, though usually for a one-off fee. You can usually find these on your online account or by calling your card provider.

    If you're paying debts at 18.9% APR on one credit card, and you can get a low-rate deal for 6.9% APR on another card you have, you could save about £120 interest in a year on a £1,000 debt.

  3. Shift debts to the cheapest card. Do a balance transfer to shift your debt from the card(s) charging the most interest to the one charging the least (or the cheapest ones, if your credit limit isn't big enough to allow you to move it to just one card). You could even consider shifting debt away from any card that will offer you a 0% deal for transferred balances. You can then transfer it back along with debt from other cards to get the 0%. Though be aware of balance transfer fees that could wipe out the gain.

  4. Repay the most expensive debts first – the most crucial part. Once all your debt's as cheap as possible, relist them in the credit card shuffle worksheet. Then, focus as much cash as possible on the most expensive debt first and just pay the minimum repayments on any less expensive debts. Once that's repaid, shift focus to the next highest-rate debt... continue this until you're debt-free.

Quick credit card shuffle questions

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

    If you balance-transfer to a card at a special cheap rate, but already hold debts on it with a higher interest rate, the provider biases your repayments towards the higher rate debts first. This is good, as it means the most expensive balance disappears first (it used to be the other way around).

    However, it means to get the absolute most out of the shuffle, there's an extra step to follow:

    Only focus repayments until the expensive debt's repaid. 
    Once you've done the shuffle, and you know the priority with which you should pay off each lump of debt, make sure you stop once all the expensive layer is gone. For example, if you had

    Card A. £1,000 balance: £700 at 6%, £300 at 25% interest.
    Card B. £400 balance at 18% interest. 


    You'd want to pay enough to clear the high-interest £300 first and then switch to clearing the £400, before finally paying off the £700. Though remember to always pay at least the minimum on the card you're not focusing on. 

  • How much could I save doing the credit card shuffle?

    The credit card shuffle needs careful management but if you follow the steps above, you could cut the total amount you have to repay by thousands.

    Here's an example, showing the interest you'd pay doing a credit card shuffle vs not doing the shuffle:

    £7,000 debts repaying £100/month on each card until repaid in full

    Card & credit limit WITHOUT SHUFFLE
    WITH SHUFFLE
    Interest rate
    Debt Total interest (1)
    Interest rate Debt (2)
    Total interest (3)
    Card A  £3,000
    14.9%
    £1,500
    £141
    14.9% on existing debt,
    6.9% on new debt
    £1,500
    £1,500
    £526

    Card B

    £3,000

    16.9%
    £0
    £0
    0% for four months then 16.9% £3,000 £235
    Card C £2,000
    19.9%
    £500
    £23
    19.9% £0 £0
    Card D £5,000
    17.9%
    £5,000
    £1,784
    17.9% £1,000 £31
    Total Avg rate = 17.4%
    £1,948
    Avg rate = 14.1%
    £792
    (1) £100 monthly repayments on each card until card fully repaid. (2) All debt now balance-transferred; to do this, it was moved off the card and returned. (3) Repaying most expensive debt prioritised while paying minimum on other cards.

    With normal debts of £1,500 on Card A, £500 on Card C and £5,000 on Card D, the average interest rate is 17.4%. Repay £100/month on each card and by the time you've cleared the cards in full, the interest totals £1,948.

    Yet shuffle as much as possible on to Card A's 6.9% existing-customer offer for new debt and the rest to Card B at four months 0% then 16.9%, and then repay the most expensive debts first. This way the average interest rate is reduced to just over 14%, meaning the interest is only £792, less than half the cost – meaning a massive saving of £1,156.

Balance transfer FAQs

  • Should I apply if my eligibility odds are, say, only 20%?

    Don't worry if your eligibility chances don't look great. It can still be worth applying, as Martin explains...

    Remember percentages are a clinical measure. A 50% chance means half those in your situation will be accepted. And while 95% seems almost certain, you can still be the 1 in 20 who doesn't get it.

    My worry is many are wrongly put off by low odds. I often tell a tale of something that happened a few years ago, which may help...  

    I sat with a MoneySaver who had large, costly card debt and a poor credit history. Her eligibility showed zero chance of all balance transfers, except a 20% chance with Halifax. She looked despondent and asked me: "Is there any point?"

    I explained that as it was the only credit she needed - there was no mortgage application or similar due - it didn't overly matter that a rejection would mark her file. The reason to protect your credit history is so you can get maximum use from it when needed. 

    This was her most pressing financial need, so a 20% chance was better than nowt. The worst that could happen was a rejection. She applied and got a 26mth 0% card with a £1,500 limit.

    For more on this, and what you can do to improve things, see my related blog: Why you shouldn't worry too much about your credit score - it's not actually a real thing.

  • What if my credit limit isn't big enough?

    Here's Martin's view...

    The application is now on your credit file anyway, so make use of it. Use the new card to shift as much debt as you can to cut costs.

    Once that's sorted, you can use our 0% Balance Transfer Eligibility Calculator again to see your chances of acceptance for other providers' cards. Though try to spread future applications out, as too many in a short space of time can hurt.

  • Can I shift debt to my existing cards too?

    If you have spare credit limit, this is usually allowed, as Martin explains...

    Yes and it's worth looking at. Some cards will give existing cardholders special offers (eg, 12mths 0% for a 3% fee), not as good as new customer deals, but useful, especially as it won't usually go on your credit file.

    Even if you don't get a special rate, try and move all your debt to where it's cheapest. For example, if one is 18% APR, another 30%, ask the 18% card if you can shift debt from the other to it, it'll help. For a full step-by-step, see the credit card shuffle for how this all works.

  • Should I try and pay off my biggest debts first?

    It's all about interest rates here. Over to Martin...

    The best thing to do is list all of your debts in order of the interest rate (APR) with the highest first.

    Then focus all spare cash on clearing that highest APR debt – as that's growing most quickly – and just pay the minimum on all others. For many people this will be the overdraft at first, as at 40% it's often more than double a high street credit card. So reducing your debt on it is the priority.

    Once you’ve cleared the costliest debt, shift your spare cash to the next highest APR, and so on. This way you’ll pay less interest and more of your money will be clearing the actual debt.

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

    No. When you transfer debt from one card to another the old card stays open, and you're able to use it if you wish – although if you're trying to pay debt off, it's usually not wise to keep spending on credit.

    If you want to close your old card, you will have to let your old card provider know. Just not using the card or cutting it up doesn't close the account. Read full pros and cons of closing old credit card accounts in Should I cancel old cards?

  • Can a balance transfer hurt my credit score?

    Shifting a balance from one card to another isn't recorded on your credit file, so you're free to balance transfer as many times as you like. However, a footprint is added to your file every time you apply for a new credit card. 

    Multiple applications, especially close together, and high outstanding debts, even at 0%, can affect your ability to get further credit. See our Credit scores guide for full information.

    The most important preventative measures are to spread card applications out and use our eligibility calculator to check your chances of acceptance, before applying blind.

    If you've a current 0% deal that's ending and you've a need to transfer the balance again, the best time to apply is roughly six weeks before. Use our eligibility calculator to see which card you've the best chance of getting. This gives you enough time to apply, find out if you've got the card, and shift the debt, while your other card is still at 0%.

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

    Before you think about doing this, be aware that the debt then becomes yours. Even if you have an informal agreement between you that they will make the payments, the credit has been provided to you, so it's your responsibility to pay it off.

    Make sure you think carefully before taking on your partner's debt – especially if you're feeling pressured to do it – as while you may be in a trusted relationship now, there's always a risk things could go wrong in future.

    But if you're sure, some lenders allow you to transfer a balance from a card that's in someone else's name (as long as it's not with the same provider). 

    Here are the policies of several major lenders:

    LENDER CAN YOU TRANSFER DEBT FROM OTHERS' CARDS?
    Bank of Scotland
    Barclaycard ✔️
    First Direct ✔️
    Halifax
    HSBC ✔️
    Lloyds
    MBNA
    NatWest
    New Day
    RBS
    Sainsbury's Bank ✔️
    Santander
    Tesco Bank
    TSB
    Virgin Money
    Last updated: Jan 2024.

    If your lender doesn't allow this, and you can't get a card from one that does, there is a slightly trickier option of taking out a 0% money transfer credit card. These cards give the option of moving money to your current account, which you can use to pay off your partner's card. You'll then owe the amount on the new card.

    You'll pay a one-off fee to do it (often higher than a balance transfer fee) and while it will have a 0% period, these are shorter than the top balance transfer offers. For full help and top picks, see 0% money transfer credit cards.

  • I'm worried about debt. Is a balance transfer card right for me?

    Getting a credit card is not always the right thing to do, and if you have a poor credit history or too much debt already, you might be rejected for one (or more) cards anyway.

    If you're struggling to pay for your outgoings or meet your debt repayments, or are building up more debt just to pay for day-to-day living, getting another credit card could just add to any debt problems in the longer term. Our full debt help guide runs through the practical steps you can take if you're struggling with debt, including specialist resources and charities you can contact for free one-on-one debt counselling and advice. 

  • Can I transfer a balance from an American Express (Amex)?

    Yes, in most cases – though you may have to call the new card provider if it can't process the transfer request online. American Express usually has 15-digit card numbers, rather than the standard 16, so some systems are unable to process the shorter number (for example, Santander, Tesco Bank and TSB have told us this is the case for most requests).

    If this happens, calling the provider is your best bet or you could try adding a '0' to the beginning or end of the card number to 'trick' the system. 

    There are some notable exceptions though, as cards issued by NewDay such as Aqua, Fluid and Marbles above won't accept any transfer from an Amex. Equally, Sainsbury's Bank advises to call to check the Amex card(s) you hold can be accepted in advance and Virgin Money will only accept UK-issued Amex cards.

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!

Spotted out of date info/broken links? Email: brokenlink@moneysavingexpert.com