What is a balance transfer?
A balance transfer is a method you can use to pay off existing credit card debt and repay it at a cheaper or interest-free rate.
Most providers will allow you to do a balance transfer from another card for a one-off balance transfer fee so long as you have a big enough credit limit to cover it.
But there are a range of 0% balance transfer credit cards that offer a better deal if you have some serious debt to shift.
How do 0% balance transfers work?
With a new 0% balance transfer credit card you can shift debt from expensive credit and store cards and freeze the interest for a set period – with some deals lasting 39 months or over three years.
This gives you the chance to pay the debt down faster and save money, as all your payments will go towards the debt rather than the debt and interest.
For example, a £2,000 debt on a card charging 18.9% APR that you pay £60 a month towards will take 46 months and cost you £2,755 to clear.
In contrast, a £2,000 debt moved onto a 0% balance transfer card, with the same repayments of £60 a month will take 34 months to clear and cost £2,000 – saving you £755.
How do I find the best 0% balance transfer credit card?
When shopping for a 0% balance transfer credit card you should consider the length of the 0% period and the size of the balance transfer fee.
Some cards don’t charge a balance transfer fee but others charge up to 4% for each balance transfer you do, so if you’ve got multiple cards you want to clear, the costs can add up.
In general, the longer the deal lasts, the higher the fee will be. This means it can be worth avoiding the longest deals if you feel confident that you'll be able to repay the balance within a shorter time frame.
A simple way to find the best deal for you is to take the total amount you have on your credit cards and store cards and divide this by what you can afford to repay each month.
The answer will give you your ideal 0% period, which you can use to help you shop for a card on Which? Money Compare with the smallest balance transfer fee.
So if you had £4,000 worth of debts and could afford to repay £150 a month, you would need a card with a 0% period lasting at least 27 months.
Use the calculator below to quickly find the best 0% balance transfer term for you.
What are the best 0% balance transfer deals?
Here are our picks of the best balance transfer deals available whether you’re after the longest, lasting, most affordable or cheapest.
Who's the best balance transfer credit card provider?
As well as the length of a 0% balance transfer deal and the fee you should also look into how good a provider is, which is pretty hard to do until you become a customer.
Luckily, Which? has rated 29 of the biggest credit card providers to help you understand what they’re like for customer service, charges and benefits, before you apply.
0% balance transfer golden rules to follow
Once you have a 0% balance transfer credit card there are few things to bear in mind to stay on the right track. We've set out the golden rules for you to follow below.
#1 Pay at least the minimum repayment, if not more
It’s important to pay at least the minimum repayment on your balance transfer credit card but you should aim to pay back more than this to help clear what you owe.
Most credit card companies reserve the right to withdraw a deal at any time if you miss a payment, meaning you'll be charged interest at their standard rate.
To make sure you stay on target and never miss a payment set up a direct debit to repay the minimum amount or more.
#2 Don’t spend on the card
Beware of spending on a balance transfer card, as this can be costly.
There are some balance transfer cards that offer 0% interest on purchases for a limited time, but the deal periods on these cards tend to be shorter than standalone deals.
Just remember your main aim when taking out a balance transfer is to clear your debt, rather than get into any more.
#3 Set a reminder for the 0% end date
To avoid reverting to the standard interest rate, it's important to repay your balance in full before the 0% introductory balance transfer offer comes to an end.
So, it's worth setting up a direct debit based on the monthly amount needed to repay the debt within the 0% and set a reminder of when the deal ends to give yourself enough time to make other arrangements if you don’t manage it.
#4 Shift your debt again
If you do still have outstanding debt at the end of the 0% period, you should consider switching the remainder to a new 0% balance transfer card. Failing that, you should transfer the debt to a card with a lower APR.
Balance transfers FAQ
Got a burning balance transfer question? Check out if we've covered it in the Q&A below.