Barclaycard have responded to the Halifaxís latest 31 month interest free balance transfer card, by releasing their own new offering which comes with a market best period of zero interest of two and half years.
The Platinum Extended Balance Transfer credit card enables users to consolidate their debt for 32 months, and comes with a balance transfer charge of 3.5%. However, this rate can then be lowered to 2.99% if the card holder places their balance into the account within 60 days of opening it, meaning that the cost of placing £5,000 worth of debt into their latest offering is just £149.50.
Other features of the account are that the transferred balance must not exceed 90% of the cards credit limit, and applicants must have a salary that is higher than £20,000 in order to be eligible.
Like all balance transfer cards, once the introductory period expires, the rate on the card soars to a substantially higher 18.9%, reinforcing the importance of clearing the balance during the zero interest periods in order to fully capitalise on the nature of the cards.
Card holders must also make sure that they make at least the minimum payment on the card each month and do not exceed the credit limit on the card, or else they risk losing the zero interest period altogether.
Last week, the Halifax released their own Halifax 31-Month Balance Transfer MasterCard that has enabled users to consolidate their debt for 31 months at a competitive rate of 3%. However, Barclayís swift response with a new card that has an even longer zero interest term, and a lower rate after reduction, clearly indicates their ambition to become the market leader in credit cards.
Things to remember about balance transfer cards
Considering that interest rates are set to rise sooner rather than later, consolidating your debt into a long term, zero interest account could be an excellent measure to take to stabilise your finances until that time that your salary picks up or your immediate expenditure demands are addressed.
The relatively small transferring fee that most cards come across means that acquiring a card to consolidate your debt can be done for cheap, though remember that the headline rate on offer is not always the one that you will get with your card.
Market analysts have argued that due to the high levels of popularity that the card will likely experience that only those with the most credible credit histories will be able to acquire one, as banks pick and choose the most reliable debtors from a plethora of applicants. So if you are aware that you have a poor credit rating, donít simply fall into the cycle of rejections that often arise when an individual applies to too many lenders. This is because a rejection reflects poorly on an applicantís credit history, and the more you apply and get rejected, the lower the chance you have of obtaining a loan in the future.
It should also be remembered that you will have to make at least the minimum payment each month in order to keep the rate you have, and in some cases the bank could rescind the entire offer if persistent late payments are made. You should endeavour to make larger payments than the minimum each month, as this will reflect well on your credit rating and will also mean that you do not fall into the trap that so many people who have balance transfer cards have and simply neglect the debt.
Always remember that 0% cards are a device to address debt, not sweep it under the covers, so ensure that if you do acquire a long term card like Barclays, that you take the opportunity to clear your debt in a less pressurised and burdensome manner.
Moreover, if you believe that you do not need as long as two and half years to clear your unsecured debt off, then finding a shorter term card would be more beneficial to you as you will likely be given a lower transfer fee in return for a lower zero interest term.
In particular, it could be worth looking at Tescoís Clubcard Credit Card which comes with a 1 year zero interest periods and a substantially lower transfer fee of just 0.65%. This means that if someone transferred £2,000 with this account, they would make a saving of nearly £50 compared to Barclayís latest offering.
There are also attractive deals currently being offered by the Bank of Scotland and Lloyds, with their Platinum Balance Transfer Card and Platinum Credit Cardís respectively coming with fees of just 0.7%, and a half year interest free period on purchases as well.
Both have a headline rate of 3% which is then lowered as a refund to 0.7% so long as the customer transfers their balance to the account with 90 days of opening the account.
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