If you’re looking to continue paying down your debt gradually, you’ll need another interest-free deal on your balance, as this will give you space to breathe.
However, the trap many people fall into is applying for a credit card that is operated by the same provider as their current card. As a borrower, you need to be aware that card providers won’t accept balances transferred from their own plastic. This is because competitive offers such as 0% on balance transfers are there to attract new customers to the group.
So if your current card provider is top-of-the-tables, the key is to find the next best deal available. Here we look at the options for those coming to the end of their current deal.
‘I’ve got a Virgin credit card’
If you took out a Virgin credit card when it offered 16 months on balance transfers, but that time is now up, you will not be able to transfer your balance to any other card supplied by MBNA, as MBNA supplies Virgin cards.
It’s not always obvious that two cards are issued by the same provider, so you’ll need to read the small print. In fact, if the plastic in your pocket is branded with Virgin Money, Manchester United or even Amazon, all of these are operated by MBNA.
The good news is, the top-paying balance transfer card currently on offer is Barclaycard's Platinum Extended Balance Transfer offering a new and improved 0% for a huge 23 months.
This is the longest balance transfer card available to the open market, and comes with a relatively low balance transfer fee of 2.8%. (HSBC also offers 23 months at 0% on balance transfers – but this is only for existing customers and the fee is higher at 3.3%.)
Alternatively, Tesco is offering 22 months with its Clubcard credit card for balance transfers, for a fee of 2.9%.
As a borrower with a Virgin credit card, you will have no problems transferring your balance to either of these cards - so long as your credit score and application is up to scratch.
‘I’ve got a Barclaycard’
If you have a Barclaycard when it offered 17 months on balance transfers for example, and this period is now coming to an end, you will not be able to transfer your balance to another card supplied by Barclaycard.
This means you will not be able to switch to the top balance transfer deal currently available, which is is Barclaycard's 23 month 0% card with a 2.8% balance transfer fee - see above.
However, you could move your balance to the next best card which is the Tesco Clubcard credit card for balance transfers. This offers an also recently-improved 22 months at 0% for a fee of 2.9%.
Alternatively, NatWest's Platinum Credit Card MasterCard is offering 0% on balance transfers for 22 months, but the card comes with a slightly higher balance transfer fee of 3.2%.
NatWest cards are supplied by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group which means that no transfers from RBS Group cards are permitted – so you’ll need to bear this in mind once the 22 months interest-free deal on this card comes to an end.
Alternatively, you could transfer the balance from your Barclaycard to Halifax's Balance Transfer Credit Card Mastercard which is also offering 0% on balance transfers for 22 months. However, with this card, you need to be aware the balance transfer fee is slightly higher again at 3.5%.
Once again, there won’t be an issue transferring from Barclaycard to Halifax, as Halifax credit cards are supplied by HBOS.
Looking ahead, if you took out one of Barclaycard’s 20-month 0% balance transfer deals in April 2011 which is due to expire this Christmas, remember that you will not be able to move your balance to another Barclaycard. Instead, you will have to shop around for a best buy deal from another supplier.
‘I’ve got a Nationwide card’
If you have a Nationwide 17-month balance transfer card, launched in February 2011 and due to end next month, now is the time to look for a new deal.
As Nationwide cards are supplied by Nationwide, there is no issue with you switching your balance to the top-rated balance transfer deal from Barclaycard, offering 0% for 23 months with a balance transfer fee of 2.8%.
And remember, Tesco has also upped its 0% offer on its Clubcard Credit Card for Balance Transfers to 22 months in return for a 2.9% fee.
What you are unable to do, is to transfer your balance to Nationwide’s card offering 0% for 20 months with a balance transfer 3.1%, which also features in the ‘best buy tables’ – albeit a little lower down. This is because you cannot balance transfer between Nationwide’s own cards.
‘I’ve got an MBNA card’
If you took out an 18-month balance transfer card with MBNA in late 2010 this may be due to expire next month. But if you’re looking for a new deal, you will not be able to take out another MBNA card. As mentioned above, there are a lot of brands in the MBNA group, including the AA and Virgin, as well as Amazon and West Ham United FC.
This means you cannot transfer your balance to the MBNA card offering 0% for 20 months with a low 2.5% balance transfer fee which also currently features in the ‘best buy’ tables.
That said, you will be able to take out the table-topping Barclaycard 23-month interest-free balance transfer deal for a fee of 2.8%, as this card is provided by Barclaycard, a totally separate supplier.
You will also be at liberty to apply for the Tesco Clubcard Credit Card for Balance Transfers which offers 22 months 0% on balances transferred for a slightly higher fee of 2.9%.
'I’ve got a NatWest card’
Customers with a balance on a NatWest card will not be able to transfer that balance to any other NatWest or RBS card once their deal expires, as all these cards are provided by the same supplier – the RBS Group.
'I’ve got a Halifax card’
If you have a balance on a card with the Halifax, balance transfers can be made from most credit cards, with the exception of other Bank of Scotland or Halifax products, as these are all supplied by the same supplier: HBOS.
‘I’ve got a Tesco card’
When your deal on a Tesco card comes to an end, you won't be able to transfer your balance to any card supplied by Tesco. Unfortunately this will discount the new and improved offer on the supermarket bank's Clubcard Credit Card for Balance Transfers which - as previously mentioned - provides 22 months at 0% on balances transferred for a fee of 2.9%.
'I've got an M&S Card'
Similarly, customers with an M&S card will have to look to another supplier once their current deal expires, as M&S won't accept balances transferred from its own plastic.
‘I’m looking for a new credit card on which to make a large purchase’
If you are planning on making a purchase and are looking to spread the cost (as well as benefit from the protection) that putting it on a credit card affords, top of the tables is currently the Tesco Clubcard credit card, which offers a whopping 16 months on purchases.
It also doubles as a Tesco Clubcard which could be handy for regular shoppers in the store.
And so long as you are not planning to also transfer an existing balance (the card also offers a nine-month 0% deal on this), it won’t matter what existing credit cards are currently sitting in your wallet.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. 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 2011.