Balance Transfer Credit Cards

The following balance transfer credit card offers from our partners are designed to help people consolidate their credit card debt onto one card, thus saving money on interest charges. Some of the credit card offers below even feature a low introductory 0% APR interest rate on credit card balance transfers.

 APPLY ONLINE

Credit Needed
Good
  • 0% on balance transfers for 41 months from account opening on balance transfers made within the first 90 days - 3.44% fee (3.5% is initially applied, then 0.06% is refunded)
  • Manage your card online using online banking & mobile banking
  • Free cover against online fraud with Halifax Secure
  • Apple Pay enabled payments
  • APR & promotional offer length are dependent on your circumstances
  • Must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, have a regular income, not subject to an IVA or currently bankrupt
  • Balance Transfer
    Rate & Duration
    0%
    41 Months
    Balance Transfer
    Fee
    3.44%
    Purchases
    Intro
    0%
    6 Months
    Annual Fee
    £0
    Representative APR (variable)
    18.9%
    APR

Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable).

  • 0% interest for up to 41 months on balance transfers, 3.45% fee for the first 60 days (20.9% APR and 5% fee thereafter)
  • 0% interest for up to 20 months on money transfers, 4% fee for the first 60 days (22.9% APR and 5% fee thereafter)
  • Find out if you are eligible before applying for this card
  • Must be aged 18 or over, hold a UK bank account and must have been a permanent UK resident for at least 3 years
  • Balance Transfer
    Rate & Duration
    0%
    41 Months
    Balance Transfer
    Fee
    3.45%
    Purchases
    Intro
    n/a
    Annual Fee
    £0
    Representative APR (variable)
    18.9%
    APR

Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable)

 APPLY ONLINE

Credit Needed
Excellent
  • 0% for 40 months on balance transfers - (2.40% fee)
  • Choose from a range of exciting Virgin card designs
  • Enjoy a fantastic range of offers with your Virgin card including 5% off Virgin holidays, 5% off Virgin holiday cruises, and 10% off Virgin trains
  • Must be aged 18 or over, UK resident with a bank account, and have a good credit rating
  • Balance Transfer
    Rate & Duration
    0%
    40 Months
    Balance Transfer
    Fee
    2.4%
    Purchases
    Intro
    0%
    3 Months
    Annual Fee
    £0
    Representative APR (variable)
    20.9%
    APR

Representative Example: 20.9% p.a. (variable) on card purchases. This is equivalent to 20.9% APR representative (variable) based on a credit limit of £1,200.

 APPLY ONLINE

Credit Needed
Good
  • Up to 40 Months 0% Balance Transfer (2.41% Fee - Initial fee of 3.00% is applied, then 0.59% is refunded) on balances transferred within the first 90 days of opening the account
  • 6 months 0% on purchases
  • Contactless payment enabled
  • Apple Pay enabled payments
  • APR & promotional offer length are dependent on your circumstances
  • You must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, have a regular income, not have any CCJs, not currently bankrupt, and not subject to an IVA
  • Balance Transfer
    Rate & Duration
    0%
    40 Months
    Balance Transfer
    Fee
    2.41%
    Purchases
    Intro
    0%
    6 Months
    Annual Fee
    £0
    Representative APR (variable)
    18.9%
    APR

Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.94% p.a. (variable)

 APPLY ONLINE

Credit Needed
Good
  • Up to 40 Months 0% Balance Transfers (2.41% Fee - Inital fee of 3.00% is applied, then 0.59% is refunded)
  • 0% purchase for 6 months
  • Accepted wherever you see the MasterCard sign at over 33 million locations worldwide
  • Apple Pay enabled payments
  • APR & promotional offer length are dependent on your circumstances
  • Minimum £100 balance transfer
  • You must be a UK resident, aged 18 years, in receipt of a regular income, not currently declared bankrupt, have no CCJs and are not subject to an IVA
  • Balance Transfer
    Rate & Duration
    0%
    40 Months
    Balance Transfer
    Fee
    2.41%
    Purchases
    Intro
    0%
    6 Months
    Annual Fee
    £0
    Representative APR (variable)
    18.9%
    APR

Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable).

 APPLY ONLINE

Credit Needed
Excellent
  • 0% interest on balance transfers for 40 months. Once the 0% deal ends the balance transfer rate will be 18.95%
  • Nectar card holder exclusive: Reduced balance transfer fee of 2.42% (refunded from 2.89% fee charged) when you enter your Nectar card number during your application. Applies on transfers made within your first 3 months, 3% afterwards (min £3 at all times)
  • Only available to Nectar card holders
  • Must be a UK resident and aged 18 years or over
  • Balance Transfer
    Rate & Duration
    0%
    40 Months
    Balance Transfer
    Fee
    2.42%
    Purchases
    Intro
    0%
    3 Months
    Annual Fee
    £0
    Representative APR (variable)
    18.9%
    APR

Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable)

 APPLY ONLINE

Credit Needed
Good
  • 0% on balance transfers for 40 months from account opening
  • 2.69% balance transfer fee applies
  • The 0% offer is applied to any balances or money transferred within the first 90 days of opening your account
  • You must not have applied for a Tesco Bank Credit Card in the last month or have an application currently in progress
  • You must be a UK resident, have a good credit history, and an annual income of at least £5,000
  • Balance Transfer
    Rate & Duration
    0%
    40 Months
    Balance Transfer
    Fee
    2.69%
    Purchases
    Intro
    0%
    3 Months
    Annual Fee
    £0
    Representative APR (variable)
    18.9%
    APR

Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200* and a purchase rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable). *Your credit limit may vary depending upon your circumstances.

 APPLY ONLINE

Credit Needed
Excellent
  • 0% interest on balance transfers for 40 months. Once the 0% deal ends the balance transfer rate will be 18.95%
  • 2.89% balance transfer fee applies on transfers made within your first 3 months, 3% afterwards (min £3 at all times)
  • Must be a UK resident and aged 18 years or over
  • Balance Transfer
    Rate & Duration
    0%
    40 Months
    Balance Transfer
    Fee
    2.89%
    Purchases
    Intro
    0%
    3 Months
    Annual Fee
    £0
    Representative APR (variable)
    18.9%
    APR

Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable)

 APPLY ONLINE

Credit Needed
Good
  • 0% on balance transfers for 38 months from account opening
  • 2.69% balance transfer fee applies
  • The 0% offer is applied to any balances or money transferred within the first 90 days of opening your account
  • You must not have applied for a Tesco Bank Credit Card in the last month or have an application currently in progress
  • You must be a UK resident, have a good credit history, and an annual income of at least £5,000
  • Balance Transfer
    Rate & Duration
    0%
    38 Months
    Balance Transfer
    Fee
    2.49%
    Purchases
    Intro
    0%
    3 Months
    Annual Fee
    £0
    Representative APR (variable)
    18.9%
    APR

Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200* and a purchase rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable). *Your credit limit may vary depending upon your circumstances.

 APPLY ONLINE

Credit Needed
Good
  • 0% on balance transfers for 37 months on balances transferred within the first 60 days from account opening, 2.45% fee applies - 3.5% fee is applied, then reduced to 2.45% by automatic refund (T&C's Apply)
  • Pay for items up to £30 with payWave™ Contactless
  • Apple Pay enabled
  • Must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, with a regular income and a good credit rating
  • Balance Transfer
    Rate & Duration
    0%
    37 Months
    Balance Transfer
    Fee
    2.45%
    Purchases
    Intro
    n/a
    Annual Fee
    £0
    Representative APR (variable)
    18.9%
    APR

Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable).

 APPLY ONLINE

Credit Needed
Good
  • 0% for 36 months on Balance Transfers (1.99% fee, min £3) & Money Transfers (4% fee, min £3)
  • An initial fee of 3.5% will be applied, then 1.51% will be refunded
  • 0% for 3 months on purchases
  • Choose your card design - including Quest and iconic Sex Pistols designs
  • Enjoy a fantastic range of offers with your Virgin card including 5% off Virgin holidays, 5% off Virgin holiday cruises, and 10% off Virgin trains
  • Must be aged 18 or over, UK resident with a bank account, and have a good credit rating
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      36 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      1.99%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      3 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      20.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 20.9% p.a. (variable) on card purchases. This is equivalent to 20.9% APR representative (variable) based on a credit limit of £1,200.

     APPLY ONLINE

    Credit Needed
    Good
    • 0% for 34 months on Balance Transfers (1.49% fee, min £3) & Money Transfers (4% fee, min £3)
    • An initial fee of 3% will be applied, then 1.51% will be refunded
    • 0% for 3 months on purchases
    • Choose your card design - including Quest and iconic Sex Pistols designs
    • Enjoy a fantastic range of offers with your Virgin card including 5% off Virgin holidays, 5% off Virgin holiday cruises, and 10% off Virgin trains
  • Must be aged 18 or over, UK resident with a bank account, and have a good credit rating
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      34 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      1.49%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      3 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      19.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 19.9% p.a. (variable) on card purchases. This is equivalent to 19.9% APR representative (variable) based on a credit limit of £1,200.

    • A fee of 3.5% will be applied, then reduced to 0.68% by a refund (T&C's Apply)
    • Emergency help when you are travelling abroad
    • 0% interest on purchases for 6 months from account opening
    • Pay for items up to £30 with payWave™ Contactless
    • Apple Pay enabled
    • Must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, with a regular income and a good credit rating
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      32 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      0.68%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      6 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      18.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable).

     APPLY ONLINE

    Credit Needed
    Good
    • 32 Months 0% balance transfer with low fee (0.7% fee in the first 90 days - 3% fee thereafter)
    • 0% for 12 months from account opening on purchases.
    • Free cover against online fraud with Halifax Secure
    • Accepted in over 33 million locations worldwide
    • Apple Pay enabled payments
    • APR & promotional offer length are dependent on your circumstances
    • You must be a UK resident, aged 18 or over, have a regular income, not have any CCJs, not declared bankrupt and not subject to an IVA
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      32 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      0.7%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      12 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      18.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 18.95% p.a. (variable) on card purchases. This is equivalent to 18.9% APR representative (variable) based on a credit limit of £1,200

     APPLY ONLINE

    Credit Needed
    Good
    • 0% for 32 Months on Balance Transfers (0.8% fee in the first 90 days - 3% fee thereafter)
    • 0% on purchases for 12 months from account opening
    • Contactless payment enabled
    • Apple Pay enabled payments
    • Minimum £100 balance transfer
    • APR is dependent on your circumstances
    • You must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, with a regular income, and be free from CCJs, not be currently bankrupt, or subject to an IVA
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      32 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      0.8%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      12 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      18.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.94% p.a. (variable).

     APPLY ONLINE

    Credit Needed
    Good
    • 0% for 32 Months on Balance Transfers (0.8% fee in the first 90 days - 3% fee thereafter)
    • 0% on purchases for 12 months from account opening
    • Accepted wherever you see the MasterCard sign at over 33 million locations worldwide
    • Apple Pay enabled payments
    • Minimum £100 balance transfer
    • APR dependent on circumstances
    • Must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, have a regular income, not be declared bankrupt, have any CCJs, and not be subject to an IVA
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      32 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      0.8%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      12 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      18.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable).

     APPLY ONLINE

    Credit Needed
    Good
    • 0% for 32 months on balance transfers (0.99% fee applies), and 0% for 3 months on purchases
    • An initial fee of 3% will be applied, then 2.01% will be refunded
    • Choose your card design - including Quest and iconic Sex Pistols
    • Enjoy a fantastic range of offers with your Virgin card including 5% off Virgin holidays, 5% off Virgin holiday cruises, and 10% off Virgin trains
    • Must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, with a good credit rating
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      32 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      0.99%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      3 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      19.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 19.9% p.a. (variable) on card purchases. This is equivalent to 19.9% APR representative (variable) based on a credit limit of £1,200.

     APPLY ONLINE

    Credit Needed
    Good
    • 0% for 30 months on Balance Transfers (0.59% fee, min £3) & Money Transfers (4% fee, min £3)
    • An initial fee of 3% will be applied, then 2.41% will be refunded
    • 0% for 3 months on purchases
    • Choose your card design - including Quest and iconic Sex Pistols designs
    • Enjoy a fantastic range of offers with your Virgin card including 5% off Virgin holidays, 5% off Virgin holiday cruises, and 10% off Virgin trains
  • Must be aged 18 or over, UK resident with a bank account, and have a good credit rating
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      30 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      0.59%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      3 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      19.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 19.9% p.a. (variable) on card purchases. This is equivalent to 19.9% APR representative (variable) based on a credit limit of £1,200.

     APPLY ONLINE

    Credit Needed
    Good
    • A bonus points voucher for 500 M&S points worth £5 when you spend in food, clothing or home at M&S
    • 0% on balance transfers and purchases for 25 months
    • Use your credit card when you buy your travel money and you will not have to pay the standard 2% fee
    • M&S rewards - earn M&S points every time you shop with your card
    • To apply for an M&S Credit Card you have to be a UK resident aged 18 or over
    • A new M&S Credit Card account cannot be opened if you have held a credit card with us within the previous 12 months
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      25 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      2.9%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      25 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      18.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 18.9% p.a. (variable) on card purchases. This is equivalent to 18.9% APR representative (variable) based on a credit limit of £1200.

     APPLY ONLINE

    Credit Needed
    Good
    • 0% interest for the first 24 months on balance transfers (2.5% fee applies for the first 90 days, then 3% applies thereafter)
    • 0% interest on purchases for the first 24 months
    • Cover against online fraud with Halifax Secure
    • Easy to manage your card online
    • Apple Pay enabled payments
    • APR & promotional offer length are dependent on your circumstances
    • You must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, have a regular income, not be subject to an IVA, not be currently bankrupt, or have any outstanding CCJs
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      24 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      2.5%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      24 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      18.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable)

     APPLY ONLINE

    Credit Needed
    Good
    • 0% interest for the first 24 months on balance transfers (2.5% fee applies in the first 90 days - 3% fee thereafter)
    • 0% interest on purchases for the first 24 months
    • Free access to Money Manager the easy way to keep track of your spending
    • Quicker payments with contactless technology
    • Apple Pay enabled payments
    • APR & promotional offer length are dependent on your circumstances
    • You must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, have a regular income, and not have any CCJs, not be currently bankrupt, and not be subject to an IVA
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      24 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      2.5%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      24 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      18.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.94% p.a. (variable)

     APPLY ONLINE

    Credit Needed
    Good
    • 0% interest for the first 24 months on balance transfers (2.5% fee applies in the first 90 days, 3% thereafter)
    • 0% interest for the first 24 months on purchases
    • Manage your card online using Internet Banking and Mobile Banking
    • Accepted wherever you see the MasterCard sign at over 33 million locations worldwide
    • Apple Pay enabled payments
    • APR & promotional offer length are dependent on your circumstances
    • You must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, have a regular income, not be currently declared bankrupt, not have any CCJs and not be subject to an IVA
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      24 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      2.5%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      24 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      18.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable)

     APPLY ONLINE

    Credit Needed
    Good
    • Double Choice points on eligible spend for first 6 months on your American Express card
    • Collect 10 Choice points for every £1 of eligible spend on the Choice Rewards American Express card and 10 Choice points for every £5 of eligible spend on the Choice Rewards MasterCard
    • Quicker payments with contactless technology
    • Apple Pay enabled payments
    • You must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, have a regular income, be free from CCJs, bankruptcy, and not be subject to an IVA
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      24 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      3%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      24 Months
      Annual Fee
      £24
      Representative APR (variable)
      23.7%
      APR

    Representative Example: 23.70% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200* and a purchase rate of 18.95% p.a. (variable) *Your credit limit may vary depending upon your circumstances

    • 0% interest on balance transfers for 23 months from account opening (0% fee)
    • 0% interest on purchases for 6 months from account opening (0% fee)
    • Pay for items up to £30 with payWave™ Contactless Payment
    • Apple Pay enabled payments
    • A fee of 3.50% will be applied, then reduced to 0% by a refund
    • You must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, with a good credit rating
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      23 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      0%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      6 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      18.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable)

     APPLY ONLINE

    Credit Needed
    Fair
    • 0% for 18 months from account opening on balance transfers made within the first 90 days (3% balance transfer fee)
    • 0% for 9 months from account opening on purchases
    • Accepted wherever you see the MasterCard sign at over 33 million locations worldwide
    • Apple Pay enabled payments
    • APR dependent on circumstances
    • Must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, have a regular income, not be declared bankrupt, have any CCJs, and not be subject to an IVA
    • Minimum £100 balance transfer
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      18 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      3%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      9 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      25.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 18.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 25.95% p.a. (variable).

     APPLY ONLINE

    Credit Needed
    Fair
    • Great for people with some credit history looking to access 0% deals
    • Emergency help when you are travelling abroad
    • Suitable for rebuilding credit
    • Apple Pay enabled
    • Must be a UK resident, aged 18 years or over, with a regular income and an average credit rating
    • Balance Transfer
      Rate & Duration
      0%
      18 Months
      Balance Transfer
      Fee
      2.99%
      Purchases
      Intro
      0%
      3 Months
      Annual Fee
      £0
      Representative APR (variable)
      24.9%
      APR

    Representative Example: 24.9% APR representative (variable). Based on a credit limit of £1,200 and a purchase rate of 24.9% p.a. (variable).

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    Balance transfer credit cards explained

    Balance transfer credit cards were first introduced to the UK in the early 1990's by US issuers keen to gain foothold in the UK market. The cards were instantly popular as they had been in America, where smaller US issuers had developed the format to incentivise switching and help challenge the traditional banking establishment.

    Given the popularity of balance transfer products, UK credit card issuers quickly adopted the product format themselves, enabling them to compete directly with the new US entrants.

    Balance transfer cards have remained amongst the most popular types of UK credit cards ever since. And although the balance transfer format has developed, such that some are now available with a host of other features, customers remain drawn to them for their perceived primary benefit - their ability to save people money.

    How do balance transfers work?

    Balance transfer products are available from numerous UK banks and issuers and, although there are differences between specific products and their mechanics, they all broadly work in the same manner and offer the same primary benefit. They help people save money by reducing the interest they are required to pay on their debts.

    People who have accumulated debts on their credit card(s) are offered the ability to transfer their balances (debt) from an existing credit card to a balance transfer card at a reduced introductory interest rate. In the vast majority of cases the interest rate charged is 0% for the introductory period (after which the interest rate reverts back to the product's standard APR).

    By reducing the monthly interest payable on their balance (which many issuers require to be paid as part of the minimum monthly repayment), balance transfer customers are often able to reduce the cost of their monthly repayments. Additionally, those minimum monthly repayments they do make are directly used to reduce the principle amount that they have borrowed, rather than being used to service interest payments, and the interest-on-interest effect that compounding has. This means customers who balance transfer can pay off their credit cards debt considerably quicker than they might have done had they remained with their original card issuer.

    What to consider before applying for a balance transfer product

    Although every card is different and each has its own unique small print (which should also be examined to ensure suitability), there are six important elements that consumers should consider before applying for a balance transfer product.

    Product Eligibility

    Most credit card issuers are explicit about the eligibility for their products, and although each issuer and product will have specific criteria, they tend to be focused on the following elements:

    • Age
    • Income & Employment
    • Nationality & UK Residency Rights
    • Past Credit Experience
    • UK Bank Account

    Where an applicant does not meet these criteria, an application for a product (which they cannot get) can only be detrimental to their overall credit score.

    Balance Transfer Period

    The introductory period is the period of time for which the balance transfer rate applies. They vary widely from issuer to issuer and their individual credit card products, but are usually measured in terms of a set number of months (although deals are occasionally available that are fixed to a particular end date). Applicants should be aware that the balance transfer period is typically started at the point they are accepted for a product, rather than the point at which a balance is transferred.

    Traditionally, the introductory period was considered the most important element when comparing balance transfer credit cards, but increased competition around other elements of products have made impartial comparison a more difficult process. The balance transfer period remains an important consideration, but it should now be assessed as part of the overall product, rather than the as determining factor behind products desirability.

    Balance Transfer Fees

    Although balance transfer cards typically incur no interest on balances transferred to them, most require customers to pay a fee (balance transfer fee) for them to undertake the transfer. These fees are charged at the time consumers undertake a transfer, and tend to be added to the overall account balance. This gives customers the advantage of not needing to find additional money to undertake a transfer, but it can be disadvantageous to customers who miss minimum repayments and are returned to their card's standard APR, as they then pay interest on fees for a service they may have gained very little benefit from.

    Transfer fees can vary considerably between different issuers and products, and given that they are typically the only charges associated with transferring balances (assuming you make your minimum payments on time and your card is not one of the few UK credit cards which charges consumers an annual fee), it is worth understanding what you'll pay and how many months at a given interest rate a particular fee will enable you to access.

    It should be remembered that the balance transfer fees consumers see advertised are usually only applicable for an introductory period (normally around 90 days). Thereafter, they revert to a different (often considerably higher) rate.

    Balance Transfer Rate

    Although many people associate balance transfers exclusively with 0% introductory periods, other low interest rates (sometimes marketed as 'life of balance' rates, although they are still theoretically 'variable') are available and can be better suited than 0% deals, depending on individual circumstance.

    These rates are often particularly interesting to individuals who are less organised, and are therefore keen to get a card with a low ongoing rate rather than remembering to switch their credit card (and transfer their balance) every few years.

    Representative APR

    Although many people overlook the standard representative APR for a given product, choosing purely on the introductory offer, the APR is something that should be seriously considered amongst the mix of other attributes.

    It should be noted that up to half of consumers do not pay off their balance during the introductory period and are therefore (unless they are careful to switch again) subject to their cards 'go-to' rate of interest (a rate that many will have overlooked at the point they applied for the card).

    Credit Score

    An individual's credit score is increasingly important for accessing the best credit cards. Changes (detailed below) which have come into effect in the past few years have magnified the importance of a good credit score, and the repercussions for those who do not have one.

    Getting the best balance transfer deal

    Getting the best balance transfer offer was once a relatively easy process. Card issuers competed aggressively for business on the basis of balance transfer duration, but the transfer fee was broadly the same regardless of product. Customers looking for the 'best' deal could simply navigate to the top of balance transfer comparison tables and select the highest ranked product (or highest ranked product they were permitted to apply for).

    However, as balance transfer durations have ballooned over the past few years, issuers have sought to foster increased interest in their products by competing directly on the fees required to transfer. Initially, this saw issuers reduce transfer fees by modest amounts, but as savvier and more financially literate consumers quickly realised that they could make a valuable trade-off between the 0% duration and the transfer fees payable to reduce the overall cost of their transfer, the popularity of the products grew. These inspired the launch of numerous products competing primarily on balance transfer fee, to the point that we now see a number of balance transfer cards offering 0% transfer fees.

    This fragmentation of the market has meant that getting the best transfer deal is not the simple and exact science it once was. Customers must consider, amongst other things, how long they need to clear their balance, which issuer their existing balance is held with and how good their credit score is.

    An individual's credit score has become an increasingly important consideration since the Consumer Credit Directive 2010 harmonised EU credit legislation and changed the way products could be promoted in the UK. Prior to the CCD UK, issuers operated within the framework provided by the Consumer Credit Act 1974, which stipulated that the products they advertise had to be 'typical' of the contracts they entered into with consumers. Typical was defined as been 66% of contracts (whilst 34% could be offered a different product).

    After the UK implemented the CCD (Consumer Credit Directive) on 1st February 2011, the threshold for the contracts changed to being simply 'representative'. On this basis issuers legally had to offer only the advertised rate of 51% to the individuals they entered into contracts with. In effect, credit card issuers could be far more selective regarding the customers they accepted. It also meant that since 49% needn't be offered the headline rate, they could place increased emphasis on their 'down-sell' propositions - those products that offered a lower introductory period and a higher rate of interest to those applicants who were not deemed to be creditworthy enough to be accepted for the advertised rate. In reality, not all UK issuers offer down-sell products, but the fact that they are available, and issuers can use them to increase the profitability of products, means that all headline pricing reflects their existence and the increases acceptance threshold (or credit score requirement) for all applicants.

    How do balance transfers affect your credit rating?

    Balance transfer cards often have both a positive and negative effect on an individual's credit rating, depending on their particular circumstances. Often accepted applicants notice that their credit score initially declines as they have taken out additional credit, which is equally true of other credit products. However, depending on how the card is used, credit scores can quickly regain lost ground and, in many instances, settle at a higher credit than the individual originally had. This is partly because balance transfer cards enable people to more quickly clear their balances, which is a good sign in and of itself. But it is also due to one ratio that helps inform an individual's credit score.

    The ratio of available credit to total balance (or utilisation rate) is an important marker for credit reference agencies. Where this ratio is low is it considered to be a sign of responsible credit management and rewarded accordingly (with an improved credit score).

    Assuming an individual does not increase their overall debt burden after obtaining a balance transfer card, their total available credit will increase and therefore the ratio between their balance and available credit will reduce.

    Existing Customer Balance Transfers

    Most credit card issuers will not accept transfers to another of their products. This is principally because a 0% proposition that lasted indefinitely would be unsustainable - it would cost the issuer more to borrow the money than the return they would see on it.

    This does not mean that issuers do not offer their existing customers attractive deals to encourage them not to switch, but they are unlikely to be the highline grabbing deals available at the top of balance transfer tables.

    Although many people understand that they cannot switch one card with "Brand X" to another "Brand Z" card, what is perhaps least well understood is that issuers also prohibit transfers within their wider group of brands. For example, the Halifax and Bank of Scotland brands are both owned by Lloyds Banking Group, therefore one could not transfer a balance from a Halifax credit card to a Bank of Scotland card. Equally, one could not transfer a balance from the Hilton HHonors™ card to a Barclaycard branded card, as they are both issued by Barclaycard.


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