Focus on: NatWest ups 0% balance transfer offer to 27 months

Credit card providers are continuing to fight to offer the lengthiest interest-free balance transfer deals on the market. And now NatWest has turned up the heat after increasing the 0% window on its Platinum card to 27 months for new customers.

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Here, we take a look at whether it's the right card for you.

What's the deal?

NatWest and its sister bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, have increased the 0% balance transfer period on their Platinum credit cards from 26 to 27 months.

The move means they now offer the same market leading interest-free shelter as the Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card with Extended Balance Transfer and the Tesco Bank Clubcard Credit Card for balance transfers.

But where they differ is with the fees. The NatWest/RBS cards have balance transfer fee of 3.1%, but Barclaycard's offering is slightly cheaper with a 2.99% fee. Tesco's card comes with a 3.15% fee.

The NatWest/RBS cards also offer 0% on purchases for the first six months.

Who's it good for?

The new-improved credit cards from NatWest and RBS are ideal for anyone looking for a cheaper home for their existing card debt, providing it's not already sitting on a NatWest or RBS card. This is because you can't transfer debt between cards from the same provider or group of providers.

However, this also makes the card a perfect choice for those who have debt sitting on a Barclaycard and therefore can't shift it to Barclaycard's leading 27-month deal.

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Any catches?

One of the main catches with the NatWest/RBS cards is the 3.1% fee. Although most balance transfer credit cards charge a transfer fee, Barclaycard's deal is cheaper at 2.99%. On a debt of £5,000, this is a difference between paying £155 with NatWest or £149.50 with Barclaycard.
  
Remember too that the NatWest/RBS 27-month deal is only for new customers, so if you already have the Platinum card with a 26-month balance transfer window, you won't be able to take advantage of this improved deal.

And, as with all balance transfer cards, if you don't clear your balance before the 0% deal is up, you'll be hit with a representative annual percentage rate (APR) of 18.9% (variable).

You'll also be charged this rate on new purchases made on the card after the initial six-month 0% window expires. However, it's best not to use a balance transfer card for spending purposes and instead, choose a card that is specifically designed for purchases – you can compare this type of credit card here.

What's the verdict?

The NatWest/RBS Platinum credit cards are a great offering for anyone looking to shelter their existing card debt from interest for more than two years.

Although Barclaycard's 27-month balance transfer deal has a slightly lower fee, remember that it will be off-limits to borrowers who already have a Barclaycard. The NatWest and RBS cards provide a competitive alternative, and their 3.1% fee still beats the 3.15% offered by Tesco – though only marginally.

However, if you can pay off your balance in less than 27 months, there are even cheaper options available. For example, Barclaycard's Platinum Credit Card with Balance Transfer has a 2.5% fee and offers 26 months 0% on balance transfers. And Lloyds TSB offers a 1.5% fee and 21 months at 0% with its Platinum 21 Month Balance Transfer card.

Top tip!

If you don't think you'll be able to pay off your balance within the interest free window, an alternative is to opt for a low APR credit card. Although they charge interest, the rate is low and will often be charged for the life of the debt – in other words, there is no deadline by which you need to have cleared your debt.

The icing on the cake with these cards is that they often don't have a transfer fee. 

For example, both the Sainsbury's Nectar Low Rate Credit Card and the Sainsbury's Cashback Low Rate Credit Card have a representative APR of 7.8% (variable) and no transfer fee. Alternatively, the Barclaycard Platinum Simplicity card has an APR of 7.9% (variable) and again, there is no transfer fee.

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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