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.

If you've decided that 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.

Credit card 0% period on balance transfers (months) Balance transfer fee Cost of transferring £1,000 balance Representative APR after 0% period ends
Sainsbury's Bank Balance Transfer Mastercard 29 3% £30 19.90%
Halifax Balance Transfer Mastercard 29 3% £30 19.90%
HSBC Balance Transfer Visa 28 1.40% £14 21.90%
Virgin Money Balance Transfer Mastercard 28 1.75% £17.50 20.90%
Barclaycard Platinum  Balance Transfer Visa 28 1.75% £17.50 19.90%
MBNA Transfer and Purchase Mastercard 28 2.72% £27.20 19.90%

Sainsbury's table-topping 29-month balance transfer card also earns 2 Nectar points per £1 spend at Sainsbury's. You'll also earn a bonus 750 points each time you spend £35+ in-store, up to a maximum of 7,500.

However, by sacrificing just one month you could more than half the fee you pay, with HSBC's 28-month card

If you can make the repayments the more-reasonably priced 28-month cards should be your go-to option.

Cheaper and free balance transfer cards

Now, if you’re willing to sacrifice a big chunk 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 (months)

Balance transfer fee

Fee paid on £1,000 transfer

Representative APR after 0% period ends

Santander All in One Mastercard

26

0%*

£0*

21.70%

Sainsbury's Bank No Balance Transfer Fee Mastercard 22 0% £0 20.95%

Santander Everyday Mastercard

18

0%

£0

18.9%

*Santander's All in One card has a £3 monthly fee: over 26 months that would add up to £78.

Santander's All in One Card isn't truly fee-free, given its £3 monthly fee. However, if you're transferring a very large amoung - £3000+ - it could work out cheaper than some of the cards mentioned above.

Sainsbury's No Balance Transfer Fee card isn't just free, it has the same Nectar points bonus at the 29-month card discussed above. However, Sainsbury's No-Fee and Santander's Everyday card have interest-free periods that are much shorter than the cards above.

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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