0% balance transfer cards give you the opportunity to move your credit card debt that you currently have onto a new credit card which has 0% interest for an introductory period as long as 12 months. For example if you had built up £800 of debt on one credit card which had an interest rate of 15% and racked up £200 worth of debt on another card with an interest rate of 18%, it would be to your advantage to move the full £1000 worth of debt onto a 0% balance transfer credit card so that you could avoid paying interest on your debt for the 12 month introductory period.
Although initially there will be no interest payments on your debt, balance transfer credit cards will often have a small fee that you will have to pay in order to transfer the balance of your other credit cards over. This fee will be in the region of two to three percent of the amount which you transfer over. For example if you were to transfer over £1000 of credit you would likely pay roughly £20 to £30 as a fee for making the transfer. This however should not dissuade you for using a balance transfer credit card, as you will more than likely make this amount back and more by not having to pay interest on your debt for the first 12 months or so.
Balance transfer credit cards will have 0% on the credit which you owe for up to 12 months, however they may not have 0% on purchases for the same amount of time. For this reason it is advisable that you make sure to be aware of interest on the purchases if you are planning on using your new card for spending. Balance transfer cards are generally not intended to be used for things like shopping, so often the interest on purchases will only be 0% for up to three months. If you feel that you are going to need a credit card which has the benefits of 0% interest on purchase, then you will likely be interested in getting a 0% purchase credit card for your purchases and then using a 0% balance transfer credit card purely for holding your current debt until it is paid off.
It’s important to pay off the debt on your balance transfer card within the 12 month introductory period before the interest increases from 0%. This way you will not have to pay any interest on your debt and will therefore make a significant saving. You should avoid falling into the trap of feeling safe in the knowledge that for the near future you will not be paying any interest, as this is only temporary. A good thing to do is to cut up your old credit card to take away the temptation to use it and rack up more debt; also it is advisable to set up a direct debit from your bank account to pay off the debt on your transfer credit card to make sure that you do not forget to cover your monthly payments.
The disadvantages of using a balance transfer credit card are that there will be a transfer fee, and that the 0% interest on the credit you owe will only last for 12 months. This means that if you want to make a significant saving it is preferable that you to pay off your credit within the 12 month period before the interest payments begin. Therefore for those who are not able to cover their debt in that span of time, transfer cards are much less of an advantage for them. You should also watch out for penalty charges which you may have to pay in the event that you miss a payment or go over your credit limit. This can make using a balance transfer card risky if you don’t feel that you can be reliable with your payments and your spending habits.
Last reviewed: 1 June 2023
Next review: 1 July 2023