Money Transfers

Shift cash from a card to your bank account at 0% interest

money transfer credit cards

A 0% money transfer allows you to shift cash from a card to your bank account to clear your overdraft or give yourself a 0% cash loan for up to 18 months. This guide shows how it works and all the best deals, plus what to do if you can't pay your credit card due to coronavirus.

What is a money transfer card?

A money transfer card is a type of credit card that pays cash straight into your bank account. They allow you to borrow at 0% interest for a set amount of time, but charge a fee to do so.

how money transfer cards work

When applying, make sure you ask the lender to transfer the money into your account – DON'T withdraw it as cash. Be aware too that when the 0% period ends, interest kicks in – so to avoid paying this, aim to clear the card before then. Read on for our five golden rules.

Quick question
  • You can use a money transfer card to...

    • Undercut high-street loan rates for big purchases. Even the cheapest high-street loan to borrow £2,000 is about 12% APR. But if you can pay it off in a year and a half, using a money transfer card will cost you just a 2.99% fee. That works out at an APR of around 2.5%.

      And like a loan, a money transfer is a good way of paying for something where credit cards won't usually be accepted, such as buying a car.

    • Pay off expensive overdrafts. Here you effectively shift your overdraft to the card (alternatively, see other ways to cut overdraft costs). When doing this, it's important you're disciplined and don't just drift back into the red, leaving yourself in even more debt. Do a budget so you're in control of your spending.

    • Pay off nasty payday or other high-interest loans. You could use the money transfer cash to pay off your payday loan. But make sure you then pay off the card – and DON'T take out any more loans. Read our Payday Loans guide for alternatives.

The five golden rules

A money transfer can be one of the cheapest ways to borrow up to around £5,000 (though more's possible if you're lucky enough to get a higher credit limit. But, make sure you know what you're doing...

  • Money transfers usually mean new borrowing – which can be dangerous. So ensure it's planned, budgeted for and affordable. The best way to handle these debts is to treat them like a loan.

    Once you've done the transfer divide the debt by the number of 0% months and pay that amount each month so you clear the card before interest kicks in. It's best to set up a direct debit or standing order to do it.

    What can I do if I can't pay off my debt within the 0% period?

    Your aim should always be to clear the amount you transferred over during the cheap period, minimising interest.

    If that's not possible, your next best bet is to shift the debt to a 0% balance transfer card.

  • Set up a direct debit for at least the minimum repayment as soon as you're accepted. Even though you pay 0% interest, you still need to make repayments each month. If you miss one, you may lose your 0% deal, get a £12 charge and a missed payment marked on your credit report, which may make it difficult to get other credit.

    Aim 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 – try to avoid this. See tips to beat this in Danger: Minimum Repayments.

  • Avoid using your money transfer card to make a purchase or to withdraw cash – you'll likely be charged interest for doing this and taking money out will be recorded on your credit report.

    Quick Questions

    • Withdrawing cash on your credit card isn't usually a good idea. Each time you do it, it's recorded on your credit report – and lenders may see it as a sign that you can't manage your finances.

      They often think you've withdrawn cash that way because you had no choice as you were in financial dire straits because your bank account was empty.

      However, withdrawing cash on your credit card isn't the end for your credit score. If all other accounts are up to date, and you're not maxed out on your cards, then – in isolation – credit card cash withdrawals aren't likely to affect the success of future credit applications. But if you don't need to withdraw cash on your credit cards, it's best not to take the risk.

      For more on this, read our mini-guide to withdrawing cash on a credit card, and how it affects your credit record.

    • If you need to spend on a card, it's best to get a separate 0% credit card for purchases or try an all-rounder card, which usually has the same 0% length for balance transfers and spending, and means you only need to apply for one card. Check our 0% Balance Transfer & Spending guide.

    • Unlike purchases, you normally don't get any interest-free period on cash withdrawals – even if you pay it off in full at your next statement date. You usually pay interest from the date of making the cash withdrawal until it's paid off.

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

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

  • Usually, the only way to know if you'll be accepted for a card is to apply, but each application leaves a 'hard' search on your credit report. Too many searches in a short space of time can make it hard for you to get credit in future.

    However, our Money Transfer Eligibility Calculator quickly shows your odds without adding a 'hard' search to your credit report. This lets you find the cards most likely to accept you, minimising the number of times you may have to apply.

    How does the eligibility calculator work?

    It makes what's called a 'soft search' of your credit file. This is one you'll see there, but crucially lenders usually won't (and where they can, they can't use the info). The soft search give us an indication of your credit score – we then match this against lenders' criteria for acceptance, so we can show you the odds of getting each card.

    This knowledge will allow you to make a smarter application. Say you have a much better chance of getting a card that's just one month shorter at 0%, you may want to go for that. Therefore, you're less likely to be rejected and less likely to need to apply elsewhere, which would add another mark on your credit file.

    Quick Questions

    • When you apply for any credit card, the lender checks you to match you up against its wish list for what a profitable customer is (for full info on this and how to boost your chances, see our Credit Scoring guide). Yet this doesn't just dictate what products you'll be accepted for, but also how good the ones you actually get are. With money transfers it has three main impacts:

      • Some cards vary the 0% length according to credit score. With some, but not all cards, while you might be accepted you may not get the 0% length advertised, eg, you might get 9 months instead of 12. We note in our need-to-knows for each card which cards this may happen with.

      • They always give a variable APR depending on credit score. Every credit card APR (the annual interest rate your card jumps to after the promotional period) is a 'representative' rate. This term 'representative' is defined in the rules as meaning they only need to give the advertised rate to 51% of accepted applicants; the rest can be, and sometimes are, charged more.

        Having said that, the aim is to clear the card or shift the debt before the 0% deal ends, so if you clear it in time, this is less of an issue as you'll never be charged the APR.

      • Lower credit scores tend to mean you get a smaller credit limit. If this happens, don't automatically jump to get another card instead – at least use what they've given you. See our Credit Limit Too Low? guide.

    Or join our Credit Club for a full credit health check

    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 free Experian Credit Report and Credit Score, your Affordability Score, your Credit Hit Rate and much more.

  • There's a catch to watch out for. Some card firms give those with lesser credit histories fewer months at 0% than advertised. You could, say, apply for a 24-month 0% deal, be accepted... but be given 16 months at 0% – sometimes with a higher fee or APR.

    We highlight cards that do this by putting 'up to' before their headline offers below.

    Quick Questions

Best 0% money transfer credit cards

It's best to go for the card with lowest fee in the time you're sure you can repay it. If unsure, play safe and go long.

Longest 0% money transfer period with the lowest fee, but you could get fewer months at 0%

This MBNA card (apply, sadly not in our eligibility calc) offers the longest 0% period on money transfers at up to 18 months 0%. It also has a lower fee than the other cards in the guide. Some poorer credit scorers might be accepted for the card but offered 14 months at 0% and/or a slightly higher fee, though that still just about beats the deals below.

MBNA has its own eligibility check on its site which will tell you if you're eligible for this card before you submit the application. 

Money transfer length & fee: up to 18 months 0%, 2.99% or 3.49% fee
To get the 0%, must transfer within: 60 days
Important: Clear card in full by end of 0% period to avoid interest (always pay at least the monthly minimum repayment) & don't spend/withdraw cash on this card
Money transfer interest after the 0%: 22.93% or 27.93%
Minimum repayment: Greater of 2.5% of balance plus interest or £25
Minimum annual income: N/A
Representative APR (variable): 22.9% (see Official APR Examples)

Relatively short 0% money transfer card, but you'll get the full time at 0% if accepted

This Tesco Bank card (apply, sadly not in our eligibility calc) offers 12 months at 0% on any money transfers. If you're accepted, you'll get the full 12 months at 0%.

Money transfer length & fee: 12 months 0%, 3.94% fee
To get the 0%, must transfer within: 90 days
Important: Clear card in full by end of 0% period to avoid interest (always pay at least the monthly minimum repayment) & don't spend/withdraw cash on this card
Money transfer interest after the 0%: 21.81% (some will pay up to 30.47%)
Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £25
Minimum annual income: £5,000
Representative APR (variable): 19.9% (see Official APR Examples)

Another shorter 0% period, but if accepted you'll get the full 0% period

This Virgin Money card (check eligibility / apply*) offers a shortish 12-month 0% money transfer period. You'll definitely get the full 0% period if you're accepted for the card - our eligibility calculator can tell you if you're pre-approved.

Money transfer length & fee: 12 months 0%, 4% fee
To get the 0%, must transfer within: 60 days
Important: Clear card in full by end of 0% period to avoid interest (always pay at least the monthly minimum repayment) & don't spend/withdraw cash on this card
Money transfer interest after the 0%: 23.9%
Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £25
Minimum annual income: £7,000 (or household income of £15,000)
Representative APR (variable): 21.9% (see Official APR Examples)

See how likely it is you'll get this card:

MSE's Eligibility Calculator

Or just go straight to the lender:

Apply*

Coronavirus help if you're struggling

If you're struggling to pay an existing credit card due to coronavirus, your provider should give you a payment holiday of up to three months, or offer an alternative way to help. 

DON'T just stop paying – you must arrange a break with your lender first (you've until 31 October to request it). Provided you've agreed it with your lender, these payment holidays then can't hurt your creditworthiness and won't come with any penalties or charges.

You'll still be charged interest during the payment holiday though, so will likely pay more overall. It's therefore best to only do this if you need to – if you can afford to pay, it's better to keep doing so. 

See our full lender-by-lender credit card help for the latest updates, full information and how to apply.

Money transfers Q&A

  • It could, but you'll need to be disciplined. Money transfers can be used to pay off expensive overdrafts or payday loans, giving you time to pay off the debt more slowly, and at 0%.

    However, your debts may mean that you won't be able to get other cards. To find out, first try our eligibility calculator, which will tell you your chances.

    If your odds of getting one of these cards are low, it's likely you need to look at more serious ways to cut costs and sort out your debts. See Money Makeover for how to cut costs on everyday expenses, or Debt Help for where to find help and advice.

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

    Of course, you should check for errors on your credit report, but hard and fast reasons are difficult to come by. It may be as bizarre as a lender choosing to give credit cards to customers it's more likely to be able to flog a mortgage to.

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

    This does mean in some circumstances you may shift debt to a new, cheaper card, but if it has a higher minimum payment, you'll need to pay more each month. Because you might not be able to afford that, ensure you check the minimum repayments before switching.

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

  • If it's not high enough to buy what you wanted, or pay your other debt off, just use as much of the limit of the card you've just got as you can. You could always try to get another money transfer card, or look for another way to get the cash.

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