Focus on: Nationwide ups the ante on balance transfers

Nationwide has served up a double whammy for anyone looking to shift credit card debt – by increasing the interest-free period on balance transfers AND lowering the fees on two of its credit cards.

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Both the Nationwide Credit Card and Nationwide Select Credit Card, now give you more than two years to pay down your balance without charging a penny in interest - and all for a new, lower fee.

Here’s a look at the finer details and how you can take advantage.

What’s the deal?

Nationwide has increased the 0% balance transfer period on the above cards from 20 months to a generous 26 months. It’s also reduced the balance transfer fee on both cards to 2.4%, down from 3.1%.

You won’t find these cards at the top of the balance transfer tables, though. That spot is occupied by the Barclaycard Credit Card with Extended Balance Transfer which now offers a whopping 28 months at 0% – an all-time record in the balance transfer stakes.

However, the Nationwide deals come with other perks that you could find more valuable.

For a start, Nationwide’s fee is considerably lower than Barclaycard’s. The British Bankers’ Association says the average balance transferred is £2,143. This means you would pay £51 with the Nationwide cards and £75 with Barclaycard’s new 28-month deal.

Also, as well as the extended 0% balance transfer window, new Select Credit Card customers won’t charge any interest on new purchases for the first 12 months (compared to Barclaycard’s six months). New Nationwide Credit Card customers will get three months interest-free purchases.

What's more, with the Nationwide Credit Card, you can build up commission-free allowances on overseas purchases as you spend. For example, if you spend £100 in pounds sterling using the card, you’ll get a £20 commission-free allowance to use abroad.

However, the Nationwide Select Credit Card offers unlimited commission-free purchases overseas as standard anyway – plus you can earn 0.5% cashback on all purchases you make in sterling. At the same time you’ll earn savings at family restaurants and leisure facilities through the Nationwide Simply Rewards scheme.

Who’s it good for?

First off, both Nationwide cards will appeal most to consumers who are totally new to Nationwide. But even existing customers won’t be able to transfer debt from a credit card that’s already with the provider – this is the case with all credit card companies.

Regular travellers may be particularly interested as the Select Credit Card won’t charge commission on overseas purchases anywhere in the world.

Finally, both cards are good for anyone who needs more than two years’ breathing space to pay down existing credit card debt – and is looking to pay a low fee for the privilege.

While the Nationwide cards also offer 0% purchases, it’s best not to spend on a balance transfer card at all.

Any catches?

But there are some hurdles to watch out for. With the Select Credit Card for example, you can only apply if you:

  • Hold a FlexAccount with Nationwide and have been paying in £750 + a month for the last three months or…
  • …complete an account transfer to Nationwide using its Account Transfer Service (or have done so in the last four months) or…
  • …hold a FlexDirect or FlexPlus account with the building society.

The Nationwide Credit Card is only available to new customers (or those who haven’t held a Nationwide credit card in the past year.) If you currently have a Nationwide credit card or you’ve closed one in the last 12 months, you can’t get this deal.

And with either card, you must make your balance transfer within three months of opening the account. The minimum transfer fee is £5, so even if you only transferred £100, you’d still pay a fiver on the transfer, not £2.40.

Also watch out for the APR you’ll revert to once the promotional 0% balance transfer period ends. The representative Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on the Nationwide Credit Card rockets to 17.9% (variable) after 26 months – just above the UK average of 17.31% - while the APR on the Nationwide Select Credit Card rises to 15.9% (variable).

Remember if you’re accepted for either card it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the rates or promotional periods advertised. This is because they’re representative which means they only have to be offered to 51% of successful applicants. The rate and promotional period you actually get will depend on your own personal circumstances and your credit score.

What’s the verdict?

A credit card provider upping its 0% balance transfer period and cutting its fee is never a bad thing, and these cards could be great if you need that little bit longer to pay down a balance from another, non-Nationwide card.

That said, there are a lot of other competitive balance transfer deals on the market right now that might suit you better. For more information, read my article: Take advantage of the best 0% balance transfer offers.

Competition in the balance transfer credit card market is fierce at the moment, so use this to your advantage.

Top tip!

As the best promotional deals go to those with the best credit scores, it’s probably worth giving your credit report a clean-up before applying for any of them.

Head over to our credit monitoring channel to see how to get a copy of your report, which you can check for any errors and correct, if necessary.

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