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Long balance transfer credit card deals return

Written by: Emma Lunn
Credit card users can pay zero interest on their debt for the longest time period since the pandemic began.

According to Defaqto, the longest interest-free balance transfer deal is from Virgin Money and stands at 35 months. However, the card comes with a 2.94% balance transfer fee.

The best credit card without a balance transfer fee is from Sainsbury’s Bank and offers 21 months at 0% interest. 

How do balance transfer credit cards work?

The latest data from The Money Charity shows that the average household in the UK now has £2,085 credit card debt. 

For anyone with credit card debt, moving their balance to an interest-free deal can be a great way of managing debt. With this type of credit card, the new credit card takes on existing debt from other credit cards and does not charge interest on it. 

The interest-free period will usually be limited to a set timeframe after which the debt will accrue interest. These deals can be ideal for those who are paying interest on an existing credit card or cards and need more time to repay it.

Which balance transfer deal is best for you?

But although interest free periods are getting longer again, the number of credit cards offering these deals is falling. There are just 70 available today, down from 81 at the start of 2020.

Those who owe a larger balance may wish to opt for a deal that offers a longer repayment period, however most of these cards charge a fee. The average fee for transferring a balance to a fee-charging card is 2.45%, which can add substantially to outstanding debt and is only really worth considering should you need a longer repayment period.  

Katie Brain, consumer banking expert at Defaqto, said: “This time last year it looked like we’d seen the end of the 30-months-plus deals and it is encouraging to see some of these returning to the market. Transferring outstanding debt to a 0% balance transfer credit card can be an effective way of getting your finances back on track for anyone with credit card debt.

“The longest deals come with a fee and so it is important to weigh this up before transferring. Borrowers should also make a note of when the offer period comes to an end as these 0% rates are only introductory. Those who don’t manage to clear their balances in this time could be in for a nasty shock when their 0% rate reverts to a costly AER, which could be as high as 34.94% (average 22.96%).

“Where there is the option to check your eligibility before applying, this is worth doing as the best deals on the market tend to only be available to those with an excellent credit rating. It is also important to check if there is a fee with the card as that could eat into any introductory offer. Start by looking at the bank you have a current account with as sometimes there are lower fees for balance transfer cards with your existing bank.”

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