Get a (non-Virgin) balance transfer credit card!
Don't sweat if you can't get your hands on the market-leading Virgin Credit Card - there are a whole host of cracking balance transfer credit card alternatives!
If you have been reading lovemoney.com for a while, you will know that we're big fans of the Virgin Credit Card - for the simple reason that it's the best bit of plastic in the market when it comes to performing a balance transfer.
This fabulous little card offers 0% interest on all balance transfers for 16 months - which is pretty mammoth in anyone's book.
However, it's not perfect.
The card is provided by MBNA, and should you be coming to the end of the interest-free period with a bulk of debt still to pay off, you won't be able to transfer it to another credit card issued by MBNA.
That also means that if you already have debt on a different MBNA credit card, there is little point applying for the Virgin card.
So if you are faced with the choice of non-market leading deals, where should you start?
Santander Credit Card MasterCard/Visa
Your best bet is the Santander Credit Card MasterCard/Visa.
This credit card offers 0% on balance transfers for a whopping 15 months - so it's still a fantastic option, although the fee you pay to transfer that balance is marginally more than the Virgin offering (3% compared to 2.98%).
What's more, if you make a purchase overseas, you will also pay a bit more - 2.95% instead of 2.75% with the Virgin card. That said, it's generally best not to use plastic abroad anyway.
In addition, the minimum monthly payment of 2.25% is much higher than the 1% minimum that Virgin charges. But frankly, that's no bad thing in my view.
Overall I think this credit card is ace!
Nationwide Classic Visa
Next on the list is the Classic Visa from Nationwide Building Society.
This credit card offers 0% on balance transfers for a marvellous 13 months, so you'll still have plenty of time to clear that remaining debt.
Again, you will be faced with a 3% fee for moving your money over, as well as a minimum repayment of 3%. But what makes this card absolutely brilliant - and disgracefully rare - is that it operates a positive payment hierarchy!
A hierarchy of payments
Most credit cards operate a very sneaky trick called negative payment hierarchy, which is essentially a way of milking you for more money. Basically, it means that you pay off your cheapest debts first and your most expensive debts last.
So say you get the Santander card I've already mentioned, which offers 0% for 15 months on balance transfers, as well as three months 0% interest on purchases. Four months in, having moved over a £3,000 balance from an old card, you buy a telly for £1,000.
When the credit card bill comes in, you pay £1,000, thinking that will wipe out the debt for the television.
But because the card operates negative payment hierarchy, that money goes towards the cheapest debt - the balance transfer debt, with its 0% interest - ahead of the expensive debt - the TV bought outside of the promotional purchase period.
As a result, you will get whacked with a whopping interest rate of 15.9% APR on that purchase, and will continue to do so until the debt from the balance transfer is cleared.
Fortunately, the Nationwide credit card works in the opposite way, so the £1,000 you pay in would wipe out the purchase debt. It's a much fairer and open way of doing things in my opinion, and is a major bonus in getting this credit card!
Halifax Plus Mastercard
The final credit card you should consider is the Halifax Plus Mastercard. This card offers 0% interest on balance transfers for 13 months.
Once again, you will pay a fee of 3% when you move a balance over to the credit card. Just make sure you pay well above the minimum payment of 1%, or otherwise you'll be paying off this card for a lifetime!
And as with the Santander credit card, this bit of plastic operates a negative payment hierarchy, so don't even think about making purchases on it, otherwise you'll be hit with a lot of interest.