Play your cards right

Not many of us can claim to share the glamorous lifestyle of Cameron Diaz. But it seems the spending habits of the Hollywood starlet may not be all that alien.

She claims to not be very extravagant although sometimes spends up to her limits at Versace and Armani. Swap Versace for Asda and Armani for Top Shop and the story may sound all too familiar.

But if you’re finding your credit cards just can’t bear the brunt of summer spending has got some advice for you.

Shop around

If you’ve built up a serious debt, switching to a card offering zero per cent on balance transfers can seem like the ideal solution. But be sure to check what’s on the market. research shows 149 zero per cent cards on the market, and they can vary hugely when the zero per cent offers expire.

If you don’t repay your debt in the offer period you’ll be stung as soon as the deal runs out – and the chances are your minimum repayments will take off as well.

You can run but…

Jumping from one zero per cent deal to another can be expensive to maintain. Very few credit cards – only around one in eight according to analysis – cap the fees they charge customers for transferring a balance

This means that instead of being charged a maximum fee of £50 for example, card companies can charge you a percentage of your balance. Maximum fees now go as high as 3%. For people with heavy debts an uncapped £10,000 transfer could sting you for £300.

Stick with it

Not all cards offer zero per cent deals followed by jacked up rates when the deal expires. Life of balance transfers offer a single, low interest rate until the balance is clear.

This rate is far lower than other cards’ standard variable rates and offers range from around 4 to 6 per cent on balance transfers. Companies such as M&S, Citibank, Sainsbury’s Bank and Intelligent Finance offer the lifetime deals.

Though zero per cent deals may be tempting, life of balance rates encourage you to actually pay off the debt rather than simply moving it around.

Know your requirements

When thinking about applying for a new card you need to remember how huge the market is. Barclaycard has a low rate card with an APR of 8.8% while with i24 Card it’s 57.8%!

That may sound pretty enormous but the card obviously offers something to someone. It’s important to have a spending and/or repayment plan in mind so that you know what you need before you can try and get it.

Compare credit cards today

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