Compare balance transfer credit cards

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Compare credit cards from 20 providers[1], including:

[1] Correct as of June 2023.

Barclaycard Platinum 0% Interest Credit Card Exclusive**

0% interest on purchases for 23 months and 19 months for balance transfers. Representative 24.9% APR (variable)[2]

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[2] Representative example: Assumed borrowing of £1,200 for 1 year, at a Purchase Rate of 24.9% (variable).

Transfer fee of 2.99%. Transfers must be made within 60 days to benefit from the 0% interest. Credit limits and APR % may differ and are subject to personal circumstances and lender assessment.

Offer available to new Barclaycard customers only, excludes foreign currency and some cash-like transactions. Offer ends 28/09/23.

Compare the Market acts as a credit broker, not a lender. To apply for credit products you must be a UK resident and aged 18 or over.

What is a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer credit card is a special type of card that’s set up to take outstanding balances from one or more credit cards. Because they typically have a low or 0% interest rate for a fixed period, balance transfer credit cards can help you pay off credit card debt more quickly.

You’ll need to make the minimum repayment each month. If you miss a payment, you may have to pay a penalty fee and could lose your 0% rate, as well as any other promotional deals. 

How long is the interest-free period on 0% balance transfer credit cards?

How long your interest-free period lasts will depend on the 0% balance transfer card you choose. Interest-free periods range from six months to two years, with a few providers offering up to 36 months. The longer the interest-free period, the more time you’ll have to clear your balance without paying interest.

The idea behind a 0% balance transfer credit card is that you pay off the full balance before the interest-free period ends. If you have £1,000 on your current credit card and can afford to pay back £50 a month, you’ll need to find a balance transfer credit card with a 0% introductory period of at least 20 months.

What is a balance transfer fee?

You may be charged a fee for making the balance transfer – it’s usually a percentage of the amount you’re transferring. For example, if the card has a 3% balance transfer fee and you transfer £1,000, your balance transfer fee will be £30. This is added to your balance, so instead of owing £1,000 you’ll owe £1,030 on the new card.

Although you’ll be charged a balance transfer fee, this may be less than the amount you would’ve paid in interest clearing the balance on your old card.

Balance transfer fees typically range from 1% to 3%, although you may find a few balance transfer credit cards with no fee at all. These fee-free cards will usually have a shorter low interest or 0% interest period. If you’re transferring a small balance, some providers may charge a set fee or a minimum fee rather than a percentage.

What happens at the end of an interest-free balance transfer period?

Once your interest-free period ends, you’re likely to have to pay a high interest rate on any outstanding balance.

If you can’t pay off the full balance within the 0% period, you could switch to another balance transfer card. But always give yourself time to compare credit card balance transfer deals before the higher interest rate kicks in.

If you pay off the balance and you want to use your credit card for spending, to earn rewards or for overseas travel, you may want to consider a different kind of credit card.

How to transfer a credit card balance   

  1. Check your credit card debt. Work out which cards you’re paying the most interest on and how long you need to pay off the debt.
  2. Compare balance transfer credit cards. You can do this with Compare the Market. Simply tell us a few details about you and your finances to see the credit cards you’re likely to be accepted for. It’s a soft credit search so it won’t leave a mark on your credit history. Be aware that you can’t transfer a balance between credit cards from the same provider.
  3. Apply for a 0% balance transfer card. The card provider will then carry out a credit check. If you’re accepted, you’ll need to give the provider details of the balance you want to transfer. They’ll do the legwork for you, but you’ll need to keep up repayments on your old card until the transfer is complete.

Managing your balance transfer credit card

Follow these golden rules when managing a 0% balance transfer credit card:

Transfer the debt as soon as you can

You usually need to request a transfer in the first two months of getting the card to qualify for the 0% rate. Typically, the 0% period starts when the card is issued, so if you wait to transfer you’ll have fewer interest-free months.

Make at least the minimum repayment

You’ll need to make your minimum repayments each month on time. If possible, try to pay more than the minimum as this will help clear your debt faster. If you miss a payment or pay late, you may have to pay a penalty fee and you could lose your 0% rate, meaning you’ll be charged at the provider’s standard rate of interest.

Don’t spend on the card

Avoid spending or withdrawing cash on a balance transfer card as this will incur charges and interest – as well as adding to the debt you already have. If you think you’ll need to spend on the card, you might be better off applying for a 0% balance transfer and purchase credit card.

Pay off your debt before the 0% end date

It’s important to repay your balance in full before the 0% introductory balance transfer period comes to an end, otherwise you’ll be moved onto the provider’s standard rate of interest.

Ideally, set up a direct debit for the amount you’ll need to repay each month to clear the debt before the introductory rate ends. And set a reminder of the 0% end date to give yourself enough time to shift your debt in case you don’t manage to clear the balance.

What are the pros and cons of balance transfer cards?

Consider these advantages and disadvantages before you transfer your credit card balance:

Pros of a 0% balance transfer credit card

  • Payments clear the balance faster as you’re not being charged interest.
  • You potentially pay less overall as the balance transfer fee may be lower than the interest you’ll pay on your current card.
  • You can easily keep track of payments, as there’s just one credit card to manage.
  • Gives you a timeframe to clear your debts.

Cons of a 0% balance transfer credit card

  • There may be a credit card transfer fee for shifting your balance.
  • If you don’t make your monthly payments on time, you could lose the interest-free terms.
  • You may be charged high interest rates if you don’t clear your debt within the interest-free period.
  • You’ll be charged interest if you use the card to make purchases.
  • You risk building up more debt, especially if you continue to spend on your old cards.

How to find the right balance transfer credit card

When looking for balance transfer cards, consider:

  • How long the 0% period lasts
  • Transfer fees
  • The interest rate once the 0% introductory period ends
  • Monthly or annual fees
  • Your credit rating – some providers may require a high credit score.

A balance transfer card with a longer 0% period will often have higher transfer fees. If you think you can pay off your balance quickly, you might be better off choosing a card with a shorter 0% period and a lower transfer fee.

Our credit card eligibility checker lets you see which balance transfer credit cards you’re likely to be accepted for without affecting your credit score.

Frequently asked questions

How much can you balance transfer on a credit card?

Most balance transfer cards will let you transfer around 90% or 95% of your total credit limit. Different providers will offer different deals depending on your credit score and balance, so be sure to shop around for a balance transfer credit card that suit your needs.

What will my credit limit be on a balance transfer credit card?

It depends on what your provider is prepared to offer you, based on your financial situation. They’ll look at your:

  • Credit history
  • Income
  • Debt as a proportion of your income
  • Repayment history.

Your provider should tell you how much of your available credit limit you can transfer – it’s typically around 90-95%.

Once your card is active, you can find your credit limit by logging into your online account or an app, by calling your provider or checking a statement.

If you pay off your balance on time, your provider might automatically raise your credit limit.

What if the balance transfer limit I get offered isn’t enough?

If the balance transfer limit isn’t high enough, you have two options:

  • Move what you can onto the new card, and pay off that and any remaining balance on your old card.
  • Apply for another card from a different provider in the hope that you’re offered a higher limit. However, you run the risk that multiple credit checks by card providers over a short period of time signal to other lenders that you’re having difficulties managing your finances. This can have a negative effect on your credit score. Spread your applications out over time.

Why is it important to check the APR?

The APR, or annual percentage rate, shows you the total cost of borrowing money over a year. It’s a good way to see how much a credit card will cost you in the long term, once your interest-free period ends. The APR is calculated by taking into account the rate of interest, along with any other standard charges like an annual fee.

Read our guide to credit card APR for more information.

What does the 0% rate cover?

The 0% introductory rate is typically for balance transfers only, not purchases.

If you want to use your card for spending, look for a 0% balance transfer card that offers an interest-free period for both balance transfers and purchases. Just be aware that these combined cards usually charge a higher transfer fee, and the 0% period isn’t always the same for balance transfers and purchases.

How long will a balance transfer take?

It can take the card provider a week to process and accept your card application. Then, thanks to faster electronic payment processes, an online balance transfer usually takes a couple of days.

But some can take two weeks or more, depending on the bank.

Can I transfer a balance from a different provider?

Yes, you can usually transfer more than one balance, from different providers – provided this doesn’t take you over the transfer limit set by your new card provider.

You can’t usually transfer a balance between two cards issued by the same provider or from another provider in the same banking group.

Can I get a balance transfer credit card with bad credit?

There are balance transfer cards aimed at those with less than perfect credit scores. But remember that when the introductory 0% period ends, you’ll likely be charged a very high interest rate if you haven’t cleared your balance.

Do credit card balance transfers hurt your credit score?

If your application for a balance transfer credit card is approved, your credit score might initially go down because you’re taking on more credit. But it should improve if you make your repayments on time.

How many times can I transfer a card balance?

In theory, you can transfer a credit card balance between lenders as many times as you like. But consider the impact this will have on your credit score. Too many applications for credit over a short period could hurt your credit rating and reduce your chances of getting the best balance transfer deals.

How can I compare 0% balance transfer credit cards?

Use our credit card eligibility checker. That way you can see if you’ll be accepted for a card without it affecting your credit score.

What do I need to compare credit cards?

When you compare balance transfer credit cards with us, keep the following in mind:

  • How much you want to transfer 
  • Your ideal monthly repayment 
  • The transfer fee you’re prepared to pay 
  • Whether you’ll accept an annual fee.

Why use Compare the Market?

We compare credit cards from leading providers

Find out what credit cards you could be eligible for in under 3 minutes[1]

[1] Correct as of June 2023.

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What our expert says...

“A balance transfer credit card can be an effective way to reduce your debt. By using our credit card eligibility checker, you can find out which cards you’re likely to be accepted for before you make your application – and it won’t harm your credit score.”

- Alex Hasty, Insurance comparison and finance expert

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Page last reviewed on 31 AUGUST 2023
by Alex Hasty