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How to find the best balance transfer deal

Balance transfer credit cards are an excellent option for customers aiming to transfer debt from high interest cards to one with a 0% interest rate for a set period.

This introductory rate allows customers to better manage their finances by moving balances to a credit card that won't accrue interest until the 0% period is over.

On this page, you can compare balance transfer credit cards using our free and simple comparison tool. It shows all the balance transfer offers from the wider UK market in one place.

You can filter the balance transfer deals by calculated costs, although it's important to remember that these are for comparison purposes only and are not an accurate representation of what you will have to pay. You can also filter by bank or building society.

Choose aim to cover the wider UK market wherever we can, bringing all the best balance transfer deals together in one place. To provide 0% balance transfers relevant to more customers, we don't list student deals, affinity cards or any of the premium accounts which require incomes greater than £50,000.

We frequently update our balance transfer offers, so you can be sure you're getting the best introductory offers whenever you search.

It's worth noting that all the balance transfer credit cards you'll find using our comparison tool are ordered by price or feature and never by any referral revenue that we may receive when you click through to an offer.

While we may receive a small referral fee on some of the listed products, this doesn't impact how our balance transfer deals are ranked. Our goal is to be as transparent as possible to allow you to compare balance transfer credit cards easily and without bias.

Another reason to search via Choose is that we give 5% of our profits to charity, so you can support a good cause while searching. Learn more about our current charity partnerships here.

How do I choose the best balance transfer deal?

Balance transfer deals work by your new credit card provider transferring your debt to them and paying off the original balance for a fee. The 0% interest rate of the new card lasts for a set period and gives customers time to repay the debt with no interest being accrued.

When you compare balance transfer credit cards, it's important to consider how much debt you need to clear and how long it will take to feasibly pay the balance. Underestimating the time period could be costly.

If you have a comparatively small debt that you will be able to repay quickly, choosing one of the balance transfer deals with a cheaper transfer fee and shorter 0% interest rate could be the best option.

For larger debts, a longer period with a 0% interest rate can give you more chance to repay the debt before the interest rate kicks in.

Bear in mind that, once the interest free period runs out, the interest rate on these balance transfer credit cards can be quite high, so repaying the debt before this rate comes into force is important to avoid further debt.

The transfer fees associated with balance transfer deals are calculated as a percentage of the total amount being transferred. So, a lower transfer fee is better, but this can be at the expense of a long period at a 0% interest rate.

How much can I transfer?

The amount you can transfer using balance transfer deals depends on the credit limit set by the new card provider, and it also takes into account any fees that will need to be added on top of the balance.

Any balance transfer must be a minimum of £100 and some balance transfer offers are only available to customers willing to transfer a higher amount. Conversely, some other balance transfer deals.

The maximum you can transfer is worked out as a percentage of your credit limit and this varies from provider to provider. Somewhere in the range of 90% to 95% is common, allowing for transfer fees to be added along with allowing credit for transactions that might not have reached your account yet.

Remember that the fee is calculated as a percentage of the amount you transfer, so larger amounts will incur a larger fee. For instance, on a balance of £1,000 at a rate of 3%, the fee would be £30. However, on a balance of £10,000 at the same rate, the fee would increase to £300.

It's up to you to check whether this transfer represents a saving on the interest rate you're already on with your existing debt.

One positive, though, is that increased competition amongst providers for 0% balance transfers has resulted in more choice for consumers with low transfer rates and lengthy interest free periods on offer.

Which credit card provider should I choose?

The key point to remember is that you should find a balance transfer deals from a bank or providers within a different family as your existing account. This is because banks in the same banking group won't want to offer 0% rates to debts already owed to them.

So, it's important to compare balance transfer credit cards outside the banking family you have other accounts with.

This isn't always as simple as avoiding balance transfer deals from a specific provider as some banks share a single banking license such as Bank of Scotland, Halifax and Saga.

Equally, however, there are some banks you might expect to share licenses who don't. While the Royal Bank of Scotland is part of the same group as NatWest, they have individual banking licenses. However you should still check their terms allow promotional transfers from NatWest accounts.

Read more about banking families and which banks are linked in our dedicated guide.

How do I pay back the balance transfer amount?

Before you take any of the balance transfer deals available, you should work out how you will repay the debt before the high interest rate is triggered and you begin paying interest on the debt again.

So, the first thing to do is work out how much you need to pay each month to clear the debt while the 0% interest rate is active. If possible, aim to pay more than you strictly need to every month to give yourself a buffer towards the end of the 0% rate.

Once you've budgeted how much you can afford to pay each month, set up a direct debit to avoid missing payments. Remember, balance transfer deals are just like normal credit cards in that they require a minimum monthly payment.

If you aim to repay the full amount of the debt within the 0% interest rate period, you'll be making the most of the balance transfer. If you don't clear the debt before the 0% rate runs out, you risk incurring further debt.

The interest rate of balance transfer cards after the initial 0% period has expired is often quite high in comparison to general credit card interest rates. So, allowing your debt to begin incurring interest could prove costly.

Remember that you can sign up for further balance transfer offers when your current deal is coming to an end, but that will cost more in fees.

What are the terms of the balance transfer offers?

The terms of balance transfer deals are often strict and must be adhered to for the 0% introductory rate to be maintained. Providers can withdraw the rate if conditions are breached.

You'll be required to transfer your balance to the new card within a set period or you won't qualify for the 0% interest rate. These vary between providers, so be sure to check how long you've got to make the transfer.

As mentioned above, you'll need to ensure that you make the minimum monthly payment to remain within the terms of your deal. If any payments are missed, your card provider has the right to withdraw the 0% offer.

It's worth being aware of "payment allocation" when you sign up to any balance transfer deal. This means that the most expensive debts are paid off first - that is, the ones that are causing interest to be accrued.

This isn't necessarily the good thing it sounds like it might be as other debts being paid off first means you might not clear the original date before the 0% interest rate expires.

For this reason, it's unwise to use a card obtained specifically for a balance transfer for purchases or cash withdrawals. These will incur interest as normal transactions and might damage your budgeted repayment plan.

It's important to remember that the 0% interest rate will revert to a standard rate at the end of the deal and that a transfer fee will be added to the total balance on the card.

How do I apply online for a credit card?

To apply online for any of the balance transfer deals you see listed on the Choose site, simply click through to the provider's website and follow their online application process.

At this point, it's worthwhile to check all the eligibility criteria and confirm that you meet their requirements before going through any of the application itself.

Applying for balance transfer credit cards is just like applying for any other type of credit card in that it requires security and credit checks. Remember, each time a credit check is unsuccessful it leaves a footprint on your credit history for three months, so don't apply for cards you're ineligible for.

Many providers now offer pre-application checks for credit cards, allowing customers to see whether they're likely to be accepted prior to making an official application. This doesn't show on your credit record.

If you're successful with your application, it can be up to 14 days before you receive your new card. This might be reduced to 10 days if your provider uses more automated checks than manual ones, but 14 days is typical.

As we've already mentioned, be mindful that balance transfer deals will generally come with an obligation to transfer the balance within a set period and so check how soon it needs to be transferred at the application stage.

Do I need a good credit history to be accepted?

One issue with balance transfer deals is that they sometimes aren't open to the very people they would most benefit. As they are designed to help people get away from high interest debt, you might think they're available to most people, but this isn't the case.

Remember that credit card providers are investing money in your ability to pay them back by clearing the debt with your original card provider. It stands to reason that they want you to be able to repay the debt.

This means that balance transfer offers often require applicants to have a credit score of good to excellent, though this isn't always the case.

It might be that some balance transfer offers with higher transfer fees and shorter interest free rates are open to those with poorer credit histories.

To stand a good chance of being accepted for a balance transfer, it's important to apply strategically and only for cards which are suitable for you. So, check the application criteria on all cards, including any specific advice on past debt problems in the small print.

There are also options for what might be called "unofficial transfers", where your current card provider will help you reduce the interest rate of the debt if it suits them to do so.

For customers with poor credit, Choose also have a specific section that is separate to our balance transfer deals and often have higher interest rates. This makes them unsuitable for balance transfers, but useful for building up a better credit history.

Compare 0% balance transfers