The best 0% balance transfer credit cards

You could often end up wasting money if you opt for the longest 0% balance transfer credit card offer. Here's why.

How much is a month worth to you?

Whilst it's still possible to get a 36-month balance transfer card, the fees for the longest offers have been rising.

If you've got £2,000 of debt, you'll now pay almost £50 to transfer it onto the cheapest 36-month card.

Yet if you're prepared to forego just one month and get a 35-month card instead, that fee goes down to £37. And if you're able to pay off your debt in 27 months, you could pay nothing at all.

Just be completely sure you can pay off your debt within the interest-free period, otherwise you could end up paying full-whack interest of 19.99% or more.

Whereas in the past people with the best credit rating would simply apply for the longest offer on the market, nowadays you'll usually be better off looking on page two of the best buy tables.

Here are the longest balance transfer cards, and the cheapest.

Consider the costs

The problem with these 0% 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 in excess of 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.

As you can see from the table below, the longest cards tend to charge between 2% to 3%.

Compare the credit cards with the longest 0% period

0% balance transfer cards with long interest-free periods

Credit card

0% period on balance transfers

Balance transfer fee

Cost of transferring £1,000 balance

Representative APR after 0% period ends

MBNA Platinum 36 Month Balance Transfer Credit Card Visa

36 months

2.49%

£24.99

19.9%

Halifax Online 36 Month Balance Transfer Credit Card 36 months 2.68% £26.80 19/9%

Tesco Bank Clubcard Credit Card for Balance Transfers

36 months

2.69%

£26.90

18.9%

Virgin Money 36 Month Balance Transfer Credit Card  36 months 2.8% £28 20.9%

Barclaycard Platinum 35 Month Balance Transfer Visa

35 months 1.85% £18.50 19.9%

Post Office Money Balance Transfer Credit Card

35 months

2.85%

£28.50

18.9%

Lloyds Bank Online Platinum 35 Month Balance Transfer Mastercard

35 months 3% £30 19.94%

What's available beyond the headline offers?

Now, if you’re willing to sacrifice a few months of your interest-free period, you could slash the fees you'll have to pay.

Take a look a the table below, which looks at some of the best low transfer fee cards on the market.

Credit card

0% period on balance transfers

Balance transfer fee

Fee paid on £1,000 transfer*

Representative APR after 0% period ends

Virgin Money 32-Month Balance Transfer Credit Card

32 months

0.6%

£6

20.9%

M&S Bank Transfer Pus Mastercard

32 months

0.99%*

£9.90

18.9%

Tesco Bank Clubcard 32 Month Balance Transfer 32 months 0.99% £9.90 19.9%

Barclaycard 30 Month Balance Transfer

30 months

0.55%*

£5.50

19.9%

*min £5

By opting for a 32-month 0% card over a 36-month one, your fee could plummet from 2.49% to just 0.6%. In cash terms, that means your bill for switching £2,000 debt would be £12 instead of £49.80 – a saving of £37.80.

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

And as we mentioned earlier, don't forget to look at fee-free options as well. 

Santander's Everyday credit card will give you 27 months to clear your debt, for no fee at all.

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.

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 2.8% in interest.

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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