The best 0% balance transfer credit cards

Get out of debt this year by using a balance transfer card.

Getting a credit card to deal with your credit card debt sounds counterintuitive.

But that's exactly what a balance transfer is for: it gives you a set period - often more than two years - in which you don't get charged interest on your existing debt.

That means your debt isn't getting more expensive and, crucially, your repayments become more affordable.

A lot of cards offer balance transfers, but the specialised cards in this article have longer interest-free offers and lower fees. Plus, some come with cashback offers - meaning that you could EARN money for getting rid of debt.

Whether you overspent in the run-up to Christmas or decided 2019 will be the year you go debt-free, a balance transfer card could be right for you.

If you've got overdraft debt, you'll need a money transfer card instead

Consider the costs

The problem with 0% balance transfer cards is you'll have to pay a balance transfer fee upfront (unless you go down the fee-free route). This is a percentage of the debt you’re transferring to your new balance transfer card.

This varies from one provider to the next but could cost up to 3% of the total debt you're switching.

It's vital you factor this in when deciding which is the right balance transfer credit card for you.

Compare the credit cards with the longest 0% period

0% balance transfer cards with long interest-free periods

This table is arranged by length of interest-free period, then balance transfer fee. Please note that HSBC and Barclaycard are offering limited-time cashback offers.

Credit card

0% period on balance transfers

Balance transfer fee

Cost of transferring £1,000 balance

Representative APR after 0% period ends

HSBC Balance Transfer Visa

32 months

1.40%

£14 (before cashback*)

21.9%

Post Office Money Online Balance Transfer Mastercard 32 months 2.00% £20 19.9%
Santander All in One Mastercard 30 months  0%** £0** 21.7%
MBNA Platinum 30 Month Balance Transfer Visa 30 months 1.10% £11 19.9%
Sainsbury's Bank 30 Month Balance Transfer Mastercard  30 months 3% £30 19.9%

Virgin Money 29 Month Balance Transfer Mastercard

29 months

1.75%

£17.50

20.9%

Barclaycard Platinum 29 Month Balance Transfer Visa 29 months 2.5% £25*** 19.9%

*HSBC is offering £25 cashback for balance transfers of above £300 until 2 March, meaning you'd actually earn £9.

**Santander's All in One card has a £3 monthly fee: over 30 months that would add up to £90.

***Barclaycard is offering £20 cashback for balance transfers of above £2,000 until 4 February.

Cheaper and free balance transfer cards

Now, if you’re willing to sacrifice just a few months of your interest-free period, you could slash the fees you'll have to pay - or even pay no fee at all.

Take a look a the table below, which has some of the best balance transfer cards with fees under 1%:

Credit card

0% period on balance transfers

Balance transfer fee

Fee paid on £1,000 transfer

Representative APR after 0% period ends

M&S Bank Transfer Plus Mastercard

28 months

0.99%*

£9.99

19.9%

Santander Everyday Mastercard

27 months

0%

£0

18.9%

*Minimum £5

By opting for a 27-month 0% card over a 32-month one, your fee could plummet from 1.40% to zero. In cash terms, that means your bill for switching £2,000 debt would be zero instead of £28.

If you aren't able to clear your debt in that time, make sure you remember to switch again to another 0% card.

Compare and apply for M&S and Santander's cards here

Average credit rating

Sadly, some people won’t be able to get any of the cards we’ve highlighted in this article. That’s because the credit card companies are only willing to give these cards to people with good credit ratings.

For this reason, it's vital you do a soft search for any card you're interested in to see your chance of getting it without damaging your credit rating.

If you want to improve your credit rating, follow the tips in How to build an excellent credit history.

If you need to borrow right now, have a look at our round-up of the best credit cards for people with a poor credit history.

If you can't manage your debts, it's time to get help: find out how here.

Other options

If you want even longer to get back into the black, you could apply for a personal loan and use the money you’ve borrowed to pay off your credit card debt. Right now, the top personal loans are charging as little as 2.7% in interest.

However, you should be wary of getting yourself further into debt. Read our guide on getting out of debt for more tips.

0% is best

But if you can get one of the top 0% cards, go for one of them. Just make sure you pay off your minimum monthly repayment promptly every time. Otherwise, your credit card provider will use your late payment as an excuse to withdraw your 0% deal.

Compare balance transfer credit cards

This article is regularly updated as credit cards are launched and withdrawn

More on credit cards:

The best 0% money transfer credit cards

The best credit cards to use on your travels

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