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Balance transfer and purchase credit cards

Compare cards with great rates for transfers and spending too

  • Compare a wide range of providers
  • Doesn't harm your credit score
  • Free and easy to use

What is a balance transfer and purchase credit card?

A balance transfer and purchase credit card is a flexible hybrid product, which lets you transfer balances from other credit cards AND spend money at the same time.

These two features usually appear on separate credit card products – making them useful for one or other but not both. But because so many borrowers need to use both functions, some providers have decided to combine them into a single handy package, but with so many options it can be difficult to know which deals are right for you.

MoneySuperMarket helps save you time – and, in the long run, money – by comparing deals from a wide range of providers without harming your credit score when you search.

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How do balance transfer and purchase cards work?

Transferring balances and making purchases on credit cards are fairly different functions, but if you need both of them there’s no point in getting two separate cards to do both jobs. Here’s how they work:

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    Transfer debt

    Move the balance from any credit cards you already own to a new card with a much lower rate of interest

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    Zero interest

    These cards have low or 0% interest periods of up to three years, so you pay off your debts more easily

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    Save money

    The 0% interest period effectively works as a free loan, making it a great way to save money while you repay

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    Transfer fees

    Providers charge a small transfer fee at the start, usually up to about 4% of the total balance you transfer

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    0% interest spending

    Purchase cards usually have a three-month window where you can buy things without interest

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    Higher interest

    Once the 0% interest period is over, you’ll be charged a much higher APR on any balance that’s left over

Balance transfer fees explained

Most balance transfer credit cards charge a fee to move a debt to the card. This is normally expressed as a percentage of the amount being transferred. For example, if the fee is 4% and you transfer a debt of £1,000, you’ll pay £40 and owe a total of £1,040.

When should you transfer your balance?

There are several good reasons to use a balance transfer credit card:

  • You’re on a high interest rate: If your current credit card charges a higher APR on your balance than you need

  • Your existing card has high fees: Certain types of credit card charge monthly or annual fees just to use them

  • You have more than one card: Transferring several balances onto one credit card can simplify monthly repayments
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Compare balance transfer and purchase cards with MoneySupermarket

If you feel that a balance transfer and purchase credit card could be right for you, the next step is to use the MoneySuperMarket Eligibility Checker to see what cards are available – and which are most likely to approve you.

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Apply with confidence

When you’re pre-approved, the interest rate, interest-free period and fee (if there is one) are all confirmed – the only thing not guaranteed is your credit limit

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Tailored to you

You’ll see your personalised chance of approval for all credit cards, so you can easily compare your options

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You’re in safe hands

This helps protect your credit score as you’re less likely to be rejected when you apply

Which credit card providers do we work with?

MoneySuperMarket works with a range of household-name credit card providers, including

company logo for Amexcompany logo for Capital Onecompany logo for Santandercompany logo for barclayscompany logo for Sainsbury's bankcompany logo for Tesco bankcompany logo for Virgin money

With a pre-approved credit card, the deal you see is what you get

When you apply for a credit card, it’s not always clear what deal you’ll be offered or whether you’ll be accepted. But when you’re pre-approved for a credit card, you know the deal you see is the deal you’ll get – you’ll know where you stand, with information that will help you make the right choice.

question set image

Apply with confidence

When you’re pre-approved, the interest rate, interest-free period and fee (if there is one) are all confirmed – the only thing not guaranteed is your credit limit

chance of approval image

Tailored to you

You’ll see your personalised chance of approval for all credit cards, so you can easily compare your options

Credit Monitor image

You’re in safe hands

This helps protect your credit score as you’re less likely to be rejected when you apply

 

A balance transfer is when you move debts you’ve accrued on one or more other credit cards onto a single new card, in order to earn a cheap or zero rate of interest and pay the debt off faster.

There’s usually a small fee of between 1% and 4% of the total you transfer, but given that normal credit cards have quite high APRs, you’re almost certain to save money if you pay the debt off during the low-interest period on the new card.

 

A balance transfer can be a great way to manage a moderate amount of credit card debt – provided you’re disciplined about paying the debt off in time. Every balance transfer card has a time limit on the low-interest period it offers; if the balance isn’t cleared when that period runs out, you’ll end up paying quite a high rate of interest on what remains – potentially wiping out the savings you’d made.

You can, but most normal balance transfer cards don’t have terms that are particularly good for spending. If you want a card that lets you transfer balances and spend money, a balance transfer and purchase credit card is a better idea.

Divide the amount you transfer by the number of months your interest-free deal lasts for. The result is the amount you need to pay each month to clear the debt.

If you do not clear the balance by the end of the 0% period, you will be charged interest on what you owe.

You will have to make at least a minimum payment each month.

If you know you’re not going to clear the balance within the 0% period, you could consider transferring to another card with an interest-free period.

Always pay the minimum monthly payment on time to avoid penalties and interest charges.

Avoid exceeding your credit limit or you’ll face penalties such as losing your interest-free deal.

Make the necessary payments to the card or cards you move the balance from, especially if you do not clear the balance completely.

If you do not clear the balance by the end of the interest-free period, transfer that sum to another 0% balance transfer card.

Can't find what you're looking for? Try looking at our news, views and in-depth credit cards guides

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Credit card companies

American Express - Aqua - Asda - Bank of Scotland - Barclaycard - Capital One - Fluid - Halifax - HSBC - John Lewis - Lloyds Bank - M&S - MasterCard - MBNA - Nationwide - Ocean Finance - Post Office - Sainsbury's - Santander - Tandem - Tesco - TSB - Vanquis - Virgin - Visa - 118 118 Money

MoneySuperMarket gives you lots of clever ways to save a lot, by doing very little.

  • Take control of your credit score by checking and improving it for free with Credit Monitor 
  • Never overpay again with Energy Monitor, our energy monitoring service 
  • Over 50 ways to Get Money Calm

So how do we make our money? In a nutshell, when you use us to buy a product, we get a reward from the company you’re buying from.

But you might have other questions. Do we provide access to all the companies operating in a given market? Do we have commercial relationships or ownership ties that might make us feature one company above another?

We commit to providing you with clear and informative answers on all points such as this, so we have gathered the relevant information on this page.