The best 0% balance transfer credit cards

Get out of debt this year by using a 0% balance transfer credit card. Here's a round-up of the best interest-free deals on the market.

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

But that's exactly what a 0% balance transfer card 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 2020 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 issue 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 lender 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 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

MBNA Long 0% Balance Transfer Credit Card

29

2.75%

£27.50

20.90%

Virgin Money 29 Month Balance Transfer Credit Card

29

3%

£30

21.90%

Sainsbury's Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card

Up to 29

2.74%*

£27.40*

19.90%

Halifax Balance Transfer Credit Card

Up to 29

3%

£30

19.90%

M&S Bank Transfer Plus Credit Card

28

2.85%

£28.50

19.90%

Barclaycard Platinum Balance Transfer Credit Card

Up to 28

1.75%

£17.50

21.90%

*The balance transfer fee is initially 3% but this is effectively reduced to 2.74% within two months as Sainsbury's will give you a partial refund. So in our example above, although the balance transfer fee is £27.40 (after refund), you will pay £30 upfront.

MBNA and Virgin Money both offer the longest 0% balance transfer period at 29 months, but MBNA has a slightly lower fee at 2.75%.

Sainsbury's balance transfer card, which offers up to 29 months with a 2.74% fee, also lets you earn Nectar points when you spend. However, as you're really just looking for a card to clear existing debt, this isn't worth factoring in when shopping around for a balance transfer card.

Elsewhere, the Barclaycard Platinum Balance Transfer Credit Card has a slightly shorter 0% window at 28 months, but the fact it comes with a far lower fee of 1.75% makes it another attractive option.

Unfortunately, you might not get the full 28 months on offer as the lender says this depends on your credit history.

Free balance transfer cards

Now, if you’re willing to sacrifice a big chunk of your interest-free period, you could avoid paying any fees at all.

Take a look at the table below, which has some of the best truly free balance transfer cards:

Credit card

0% period on balance transfers (months)

Balance transfer fee

Fee paid on £1,000 transfer

Representative APR after 0% period ends

NatWest/RBS Balance Transfer Credit Card*

20

0%

£0

19.90%

Santander Everyday Mastercard

18

0%

£0

18.90%

Barclaycard Platinum 18 Month Balance Transfer Credit Card

Up to 18

0%

£0

21.90%

Sainsbury's Bank No Balance Transfer Fee Mastercard

Up to 16

0%

£0

20.90%

**Available to existing customers only

NatWest and RBS offer the longest 0% balance transfer period and no fees, but unfortunately, these cards are only available to existing customers.

MoneySavingExpert claims you can get around this by opening a Cash ISA with £1. Of course, you should make sure this product is right for you first.

Both the Santander and Barclaycard options listed above have a slightly shorter 0% window of 18 months, but they are at least open to anyone.

Factor in your 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 2.8% 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, you should definitely 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

More on credit cards:

The best 0% money transfer credit cards

The best credit cards to use on your travels

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