Why NOW is the time to switch your card debt

Published:
21 November 2012
Topic:
News,Money,Credit Cards

If you are planning to move your credit card debt to a 0% balance transfer card, don't delay.

You may have been putting it off until after Christmas, but this could mean you miss out on some of the amazing balance transfer deals currently on offer.

Barclaycard, for example, is now offering a whopping 24 months at 0%, and balance transfer fees (usually around 3%) on market-leading deals are also falling thanks to special offers and discounts.

But, as there is no guarantee on how long any of these deals are going to last, if you have credit card debt there is no time to lose in switching.

Here are five reasons why the time to act is now... .

1. Current terms are more attractive

The Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card with Extended Balance Transfer is one of the best balance transfer deals currently available, offering a new, improved 24 month 0% introductory period.

And the Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card with Balance Transfer allows you to escape interest payments for 23 months, rather than the 22 months previously on offer.

Even better, new customers who transfer a balance to either of these cards within the first 60 days of account opening receive a partial refund of the balance transfer fee.

The fee on the 24-month card drops to 2.8% as a result, while the upfront charge on the 23-month card falls to 2.6%.

The offers on these cards, both of which come with a representative APR of 17.9% (variable), are not open to those with balances held on Barclaycards.

However, Barclaycard customers may instead want to take advantage of the Capital One Platinum card's current balance transfer offer of 0% until October 2014, subject to a 2.9% upfront fee.

The card also offers interest-free purchases until March next year, after which the representative APR is 16.8% (variable).

If you are looking to pay off other debt that is not on a credit card, such as store cards, loans or overdrafts, MBNA's new Platinum credit card offers 0% on both balance transfers and money transfers for 22 months, so long as they are made within the first 60 days of opening the account.

The money transfer will be paid straight into your current account and you can choose to pay off what debt you like with it. But, while you will not be charged interest for 22 months you will be charged a 4% fee on money transfers - and a 2.85% handling fee on transfers from another credit card. The APR thereafter is also 16.9% (variable).

The other credit card on the market worth considering if you are looking for a money transfer into your account is the AA's The new Transfer Plus Credit Card which offers a promotional rate of 6.9% (which applies to ALL successful applicants) on both balance and money transfers.

Here, the fee is lower at 2% of the sum being transferred, but you will be charged an albeit low interest rate of 6.9% for as long as it takes to clear the balance. Certainly on small sums the AA card works out cheaper than a personal loan, although if you are looking to borrowing between £7,500 and £15,000, Derbyshire Building Society's Personal Loan offers a better APR of 5.4% on loans repaid between one and five years, while Sainsbury's Personal Shopper Loan offers the same rate between one and three years.

 

2. Special discounts are currently in play

If you qualify for the Barclaycard cards, the good news is that you can reduce the balance transfer fees even further over the next few weeks thanks to a special discount deal.

If you transfer a balance of £2,000 or more between now and December 6, 2012 and you will receive a further refund of £30.
Someone transferring a debt of £2,000 onto the card offering 24 months at 0% could therefore reduce his or her upfront fee from £56 to just £26.

For someone switching the same amount to the 23-month card, meanwhile, the balance transfer fee would drop from £52 to £22.

As with the regular discount, this further £30 off is only available to those who transfer a balance to the card within 60 days of opening an account, so put the date in your diary. 

3. Time is money

Every day that you leave a balance languishing on a standard credit card costs you money.

Most credit cards now have representative APRs of between 17% and 19% (variable), while some even charge interest at 20% or more.

Anyone with debts built up on a card of this kind is therefore paying through the nose for credit and, in effect, funding the fantastic 0% deals available.

The cost of holding a £2,000 debt on a card charging an APR of 18% is £360 a year, so moving that debt on to a Barclaycard charging just £26 for two years is a real no-brainer.

All you need to check is that you will qualify for the deal.

4. Christmas is coming

The most expensive time of the year is just around the corner, meaning that anyone with debts already is likely to be adding to them over the next month or so.

By moving your existing balance on to a 0% balance transfer credit card, you can free up the cash that would have gone towards interest payments on your debts to put towards the cost of Christmas.

Once the New Year arrives, you can also concentrate on clearing any debts built up over the next month or so - safe in the knowledge that the bigger chunk of your debt is accruing no interest in the meantime.

This approach should ensure that any extra borrowing done over Christmas is paid off more quickly and does not add to any future debt woes.

5. There are discounts on fees

If you need 23 or more months to clear your outstanding balance, you would be foolish not to take advantage of the £30 Barclaycard discount while it is available.

However, if you think you can clear your debts in, say, a year -a low rate balance transfer card could still prove a better option.

The market leading Barclaycard Lowest balance Transfer Fee card, for example, offers 12 months at 0% for an upfront fee of just 0.9% (provided you qualify for the reduction by transferring the funds within 60 days).

On a debt of £2,000, this translates to a balance transfer fee of just £18.

For someone with debts of £3,000 to transfer, meanwhile, the fee would be £27.

That's significantly less than the £54 you would pay to switch this amount to the 24-month Barclaycard or the £48 you would pay with the 23-month card (once the £30 rebate had been deducted).

But beware: any benefits will soon be wiped out if you start incurring the Lowest Balance Transfer Fee card's representative APR of 19.9% (variable) because you fail to clear your debts within 12 months.

Other cards offering low fees include NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland's Platinum Low Balance Transfer Fee Credit Cards which both offer an introductory rate of 0% for 13 months, subject to a low 1% transfer fee. After the introductory periods finish, these cards have a representative APR of 17.9% (variable).

NatWest and RBS also each offer the Visa Low Rate Credit Card, which has an introductory rate of 2.9% for 12 months, with no transfer fee. After that the cards charge a low representative APR of 9.9% (variable), making them a good option for people who want a credit card for the long term and don't want to be hit with steep rates of interest once the introductory period finishes.

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. We're free, independent and compare all UK credit cards, as well as offering exclusive deals you can't get anywhere else. Contact: MoneySupermarket.com at Moneysupermarket House, St David's Park, Ewloe, Flintshire, CH5 3UZ. © Moneysupermarket.com Ltd 2012.

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About This Author

Jessica Bown

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Financial journalist

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