Focus on: Credit score under par? You can still get a great credit card!

Published:
17 January 2013
Topic:
News,Money,Credit Cards,Product review

Having a credit rating that isn't quite up to scratch is likely to prevent you from getting access to the very best credit card deals on the market - such as those offering lengthy 0% periods on balance transfers. But on the other side of the coin, you might not need a 'bad credit' credit card either.

Capital One has come to the aid of anyone who falls between this gap with its Balance Plus credit card. So what's it all about?

What's the deal?

TheĀ Capital One Balance Plus card offers six months interest-free on debt transferred to the card up until your July statement.

As well as balance transfers from another credit card provider, the card also permits money transfers which are paid into current account by Capital One. You can then use these funds to pay off more expensive debt such as loans or overdrafts.

You can apply for the Balance Plus card even if you've had problems managing your credit in the past. This includes if you've previously had a County Court Judgment (CCJ) or have defaulted on your payments - though not in the last 12 months.

Any catches?

One of the main catches is the card's high representative annual percentage rate (APR) of 34.9% (variable) that kicks in after July. If you haven't managed to clear your debt before the interest-free period is up, this will give you quite a sting.

It's therefore good practice to pay off more than the minimum payment each month in order to ensure you've cleared as much as you can afford to before the high APR comes into effect.

You'll also need to watch out for the 3% fee that's applied to all balance transfers and money transfers. On a debt of £1,500, a 3% fee would come to £45.

And while Capital One is more lenient about who it will accept for the card, there are, of course, still some restrictions. For a start, you'll need to be at least 18 years old and you are less likely to be accepted for the card if you have been declared bankrupt in the past 12 months or if you have never had credit in the past.

The card is also no good if you have a large sum of debt to clear as the maximum credit limit on offer is £1,500. The minimum is £200.

What's the verdict?

It makes a refreshing change to see a credit card provider offering an interest-free deal to those individuals who don't have a sparkling credit rating. After all, 0% balance transfer credit cards are a useful tool for helping borrowers to tackle their debt without having to worry about forking out vast sums of interest. Those who are likely to need this help most are those with tarnished credit ratings who are usually shut out of this type of deal.

On that basis, if you've got some debt hanging over from Christmas, for example, and you're struggling to clear it, grabbing the Capital One Balance Plus card could make perfect sense.

Of course, if you've got a squeaky clean credit rating, there are far longer 0% balance transfer deals available. The Barclaycard Platinum Balance Transfer card, for example, offers 24 months interest-free on balance transfers, easily dwarfing Capital One's six months.

Top tip!

There are a number of credit cards on the market specifically designed for borrowers hoping to rebuild their credit rating.

Providing you make your payments on time each month, using one of these cards will enable to you to prove to your lender that you're a responsible borrower. This will help you to build up your credit history and ultimately give you access to more competitive deals.

The major downside is that these cards come with high APRs of around 30% to 35%. To avoid this, be sure to clear your balance in full every single month.

The Aqua Classic card, for example, offers a credit limit of between £250 and £1,600 and has a representative APR of 32.9% (variable). And the Aquis Visa card offers credit of up to £1,000 at an APR of 29.8% (variable), with further credit increases every four months up to £3,000.

Before applying for credit, it's a good idea to get hold of your credit report which you can do through the MoneySupermarket credit reporting channel.

If you're looking for further tips on how to improve your credit rating, take a look at Jessica Bown's article Five ways to boost your credit score.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

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