Compare balance transfer credit cards

  • Find the right zero % balance transfer credit card for your needs without harming your credit score
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To find the right deal for you, we compare credit cards from 19 providers[1], including:

[1] Correct as of January 2023.

What are 0% balance transfer credit cards?

0% balance transfer credit cards can help you pay off credit card debt by moving your balance from a card that’s incurring interest to another with a 0% interest rate. This reduces the interest you have to pay, allowing you to pay off the outstanding balance more quickly.

You’ll still need to make your minimum repayments 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 deal you choose. Typically, 0% interest-free periods range from six months to two years or more. The longer the interest-free period, the more time you’ll have to clear your balance without paying interest.

The idea behind 0% balance transfer credit cards is that you pay off the full balance before the interest-free period ends. So 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 card with a 0% introductory period of at least 20 months.

You may also need to factor in a one-off transfer fee. This is usually a percentage of the balance you’re transferring – sometimes up to 3%.

What happens when the 0% interest-free period ends?

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 give yourself time to find a new card before the higher interest rate kicks in. 

How to find the right balance transfer credit cards for you

When looking for a balance transfer credit card, consider: 

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

Balance transfer cards with longer 0% periods 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 cards you’re likely to be accepted for, without affecting your credit score. 

How do you do a credit card balance transfer? 

  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
  3. Apply for a 0% balance transfer card 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.
  4. Pay off your debt Try to pay off the balance before the 0% introductory period ends. 

When should I use a balance transfer credit card?

The main reason to use a balance transfer credit card is to pay less interest and therefore pay off debt faster. Some people also find it easier to consolidate their credit card debt so there’s only one monthly payment to make. Consider these advantages and disadvantages before applying:

Pros of a 0% balance transfer credit card

  • Transfer your balance from a high-interest credit card to one with 0% interest.
  • Easily keep track of payments, with just one credit card to manage.
  • Potentially clear your debt faster.

Cons of a 0% balance transfer credit card

  • There may be a fee for transferring your balance.
  • If you don’t make your monthly payments on time, you could lose the interest-free terms. Failing to make the minimum repayments could also have a negative impact on your credit score.
  • 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.

Frequently asked questions

How much can you balance transfer on a credit card?

Most balance transfer cards will let you transfer around 90% of your total credit limit.

What’s the balance transfer fee?

You’re 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.

Balance transfer fees typically range from 1% to 3%, although some cards have no fee at all. If you’re transferring a small balance, some providers may charge a set fee rather than a percentage.

What will my credit limit be?

How much credit you’re offered will depend on your financial situation, including your:

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

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

If you pay off your balance on time, your provider might automatically raise your credit limit. They could also lower it if you miss a repayment, go over your limit or don’t use your card.

Be aware that if you go over your credit limit, you may be charged a penalty fee and might lose the 0% introductory offer.

Why is it important to check the APR?

The APR, or annual percentage rate, is 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 also want to use your card for spending, look for cards that offer 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?

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, if you’re trying to consolidate your debt, you can usually transfer more than one balance, from different providers – provided this doesn’t take you over your limit.

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 when the introductory 0% period ends, you’ll likely to be charged an extremely high interest rate if you haven’t cleared your balance.

Do credit card balance transfers affect your credit score?

If your application for a balance transfer 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.

Where 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 0% balance transfer 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 Comparethemarket?

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 December, 2022.

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Author image Alex Hasty

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 and finance expert

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