Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards: Comparing APR, Fees, Rewards & More

All you need to know about balance transfer credit cards.

Updated: May 23, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

|
Rebecca Goodman

Edited By

Rebecca Goodman

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Best 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards: Comparing APR, Fees, Rewards & More

Are you looking to reduce your credit card debt and pay a lower rate of interest? A balance transfer credit card may be the right solution for you.

You may be thinking, surely getting further into debt will only cause more issues, and yes, that's sometimes right. However, a balance transfer credit card allows you to transfer the balance from one card to another, enabling you to pay back the debt on another card at a lower interest rate.

This means you can focus on clearing the debt (as you won't be paying interest on it) and this can help you to become debt-free at a faster rate.

In this article, we cover all the details you need to know about the best balance transfer credit cards.

Card NameScoreDetails
1. NatWest Longer Balance Transfer Card★★★★★Click Here
2. Sainsbury's Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card★★★★★Click Here
3. MBNA No-fee Balance Transfer Card★★★★★Click Here
4. Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card★★★★★Click Here
5. HSBC Balance Transfer Credit Card★★★★Click Here
6. Tesco Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card★★★★Click Here

What is a balance transfer credit card?

A balance transfer card allows you to transfer the credit balance of one credit card to another card. Its purpose is to help you move debt and consolidate as much of it as possible onto one card so you're only making one monthly payment instead of multiple.

If you've got credit card debt with a high APR, you can use a balance transfer credit card to pay off the balance, and then you'll be able to pay back the money during the zero-interest period.

Most cards come with a balance transfer fee, so watch for this. This is usually a percentage of the debt you are transferring over.

As seen from our top six balance transfer credit cards above, there are quite a few options to choose from and many cards offer extra perks, such as 0% purchase periods too. However, it's important to take note of when a 0% balance transfer period ends. When this happens you will start paying interest on anything outstanding on the card.

How does a balance transfer card work?

A balance transfer card is one way to pay off credit card debt. You select the card you would like, if you're accepted for it, you can then transfer a balance from an existing credit card onto it. The balance transfer card will have 0% interest for a set period of time, of around 24 months usually. In this time you won't pay interest on the money you owe, so you can just focus on clearing the debt.

You will usually pay a fee for transferring a balance over, of around 3% of the amount you're transferring. When the 0% period ends, you will also start paying interest on anything left on the card.

Balance transfer card eligibility

While a balance transfer card can be a useful tool to reducing debt, most of the market-leading cards are only available to those with a good or excellent credit score.

To find out how likely it is to be accepted for a balance transfer card, you can use a free eligiblity checker. These run a soft search on your credit score and they do not leave a permanent mark on your credit score (unlike when you make an application for credit).

How long does a balance transfer take from one credit card to another?

How long it takes for money to be transferred between credit cards depends on the provider. However, it should usually be within a days of you requesting the transfer.

You'll also need to factor in the time it takes to apply for a card, and for a credit card provider to check your credit score. It will usually ask you for details including your income, address, and profession before it makes a decision.

The Best 0% interest rate balance transfer cards reviewed

1. NatWest Longer Balance Transfer Card

NatWest Longer Balance Transfer Card

NatWest Longer Balance Transfer Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £250
Representative % APR (variable)
23.9% APR
  • 0% interest for 30 months on balance transfers.
  • 0% interest for the first 3 months on purchases.
  • 2.99% balance transfer fee applies. No annual fee.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 23.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 23.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

From our top picks, this has the longest interest-free period. So, if you need more time to pay back your debt, this is the ideal card for you.

The NatWest Longer, Balance Transfer Card, provides a 30-month interest-free period allowing you plenty of time to transfer balances and pay back your debt. A longer interest-free period means you save money and gives you more time to pay back the balance. Once the promotional period ends, a representative 23.9% APR (variable) will be applied to the account.

This balance transfer card has no annual fees and a 2.99% balance transfer fee. All transfers must be at least £100, and you can transfer up to 95% of the available credit limit. It's important to note that you won't be allowed to transfer balances.

To be eligible for a NatWest Balance transfer card, you must be over 18, a UK resident, and have an annual income of over £10,000. Credit limits are subject to individual financial circumstances.

On top of all the above great features, you can also take advantage of three months of 0% interest on purchases!

2. Sainsbury's Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card

Sainsbury's Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card

Sainsbury's Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card
Credit Limit
Subject to status
Representative % APR (variable)
22.9% APR
  • 0% interest on balance transfers for up to 26 months.
  • Balance transfer fee 3% (£3 minimum).
  • No annual fee.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 22.95% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 22.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

If you want to make the most of your balance transfer card, the Sainsbury's Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card allows you to collect nectar points if you use your card in Sainsbury's, Argos, and Habitat & Tu clothing. You can earn up to three points for every £2 spent at the selected stores.

With up to 26 months free interest period, you can tackle your debt with balance transfers that come with a 3% fee — this fee can change depending on an offer available at the time of application. This credit card has no annual fees, and you can take advantage of 0% interest on any purchases made within the first three months of opening the account.

Interest rate, promotional period, and credit limit vary depending on your circumstances

3. MBNA No-fee Balance Transfer Card

MBNA No-fee Balance Transfer Card

MBNA No-fee Balance Transfer Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £100
Representative % APR (variable)
22.9% APR
  • 0% interest up to 15 months.
  • No balance transfer fee.
  • Make repayments through your bank, using your debit card, or set up a regular Direct Debit.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 22.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 22.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

If you want to make balance transfers with no fees, then the MBNA balance transfer credit card may be right for you. The interest-free period may be up to 15 months (one of the shortest on our list); however, it does offer one of the lowest APR rates at 22.9%. So, when the promotional period ends, you'll pay a lower interest rate on the remaining balance.

You can manage this credit card online, allowing you to control your finances from your computer, smartphone or tablet. You can choose how you make your repayments, use your debit card or set up a regular direct debit so you can make repayments without worrying about forgetting when payments are due.

To be eligible for this account, you must be a UK resident over 18 and have a regular annual income. Additionally, you'll not be accepted if you've got County Court Judgements, Individual Agreements, or bankruptcies on your credit report.

4. Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card

Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card

Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £50
Representative % APR (variable)
24.9% APR
  • 56 days interest free period.
  • 0% interest up to 12 months.
  • No balance transfer fee.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 24.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 24.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

Transferring your credit card balance has never been easier with the Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card, and they offer you 0% interest for up to 12 months on all balance transfers, 0% transfer fees, and 0% interest on purchases for up to 3 months from the opening date of your account.

Once the interest-free balance transfer period is over, a 24.9% representative APR rate will apply to the account if you still need to pay back the balance.

The approval of your application will depend on your financial circumstances and credit history and will determine interest-free periods, and rates may change. However, whatever rates you're offered, you can still take advantage of the introductory offer of up to five months free of Apple services such as Apple TV+, Apple Music, Apple Arcade, and more!

5. HSBC Balance Transfer Credit Card

HSBC Balance Transfer Credit Card

HSBC Balance Transfer Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £500
Representative % APR (variable)
23.9% APR
  • 0% interest up to 27 months.
  • Balance transfer fee 2.99% (£5 minimum).
  • No annual fee.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 23.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 23.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

With a 27-month interest-free balance transfer period, the HSBC Balance Transfer Credit Card allows you to consolidate debt on cards outside the HSBC network (including M&S Bank, First Direct and John Lewis).

As an HSBC cardholder, you'll benefit from regular discounts and offers via HSBC home & Away. This may be ideal if you're looking for a card with perks.

With this balance transfer credit card, you can use online access to your accounts to make online balance transfers with the HSBC Mobile Banking app. Additionally, you can use this credit card abroad if you plan to travel soon!

To be accepted for this card, you must be over 18, a UK resident and have an annual income or pension of £6,800 or more. You won't be accepted if you have an HSBC basic bank account or any other account from the same banking group.

6. Tesco Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card

Tesco Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card

Tesco Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card
Credit Limit
Subject to status
Representative % APR (variable)
22.9% APR
  • 0% interest period on balance transfers for up to 30 months (3.49% fee).
  • 0% interest on money transfers for the first 9 months (3.99% fee).
  • Collect Clubcard points almost every time you shop.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 22.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 22.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

You can take advantage of up to 30 months of free interest with the Tesco Balance Transfer Credit Card. Although this credit card has the highest balance transfer fee (3.49%), you can use this credit card to collect Clubcard points every time you shop.

You can also use 0% interest on money transfers for the first nine months but with a 3.99% fee. Once the 0% interest-free balance transfer period ends, a 22.9% representative APR period is added to the account if you have an outstanding balance to pay back.

Interest-free period, APR, and credit limit may vary depending on your financial circumstances.

Comparing top balance transfer cards, APR, fees, rewards, and introductory periods

There are lots of 0% balance transfer cards to choose from and it's important to shop around before you apply for a card. The best card for you will depend on lots of things including your credit score and the amount of debt you want to transfer over to a new 0% card.

The following features are all important to look at when looking for a new 0% balance transfer card:

  • APR: The APR will tell you how much interest a card charges. Take note of when the 0% period ends as from this point you will pay interest on anything left on the card.
  • Fees: There is usually a fee for transferring a balance over to a 0% balance transfer card. There may also be fees if you're late with repayments.
  • Rewards: Some cards include extra rewards. These can be things like cashback on anything you spend on the card, or points or discounts for things like travel and hotels. Just remember that the main reason for taking out a 0% balance transfer card is to reduce debt, not to spend more on the card.
  • Introductory period: The introductory period is the time when the card has a 0% period on it. After this you will pay interest on anything you owe on the card and the interest rate is likely to be high. at this point you could transfer your balance to a new 0% card but there are no guarantees you'll be accepted for it.

The top 0% balance transfer card for bad credit

If you have a bad credit score, you may not be accepted for a 0% balance transfer card. You can check your credit score for free at any of the three main credit reference agencies – Experian, Equifax, or Transunion.

You can also use a free eligiblity tool to find out if you may get accepted for a new 0% balance transfer card. These tools will look at your credit score and tell you how likely you are to be accepted for a new card. They run soft credit searches so no mark is left on your credit score.

If you apply for a new 0% balance credit card with a provider, a hard credit search will be made on your credit file. This will be visible to other lenders, even if you aren't accepted for a new card. If you make too many of these applications it can have a negative impact on your credit score.

How to do a credit card balance transfer: a step-by-step guide

How a balance transfer works will depend on the credit card provider but the following steps are common with most transfers:

  1. Check your credit card debt: calculate everything you currently owe on a credit card, or cards, and work out what interest rate you're paying on the debt. Then calculate how much (if not all) of this debt you would like to transfer over to a 0% card.
  2. Compare balance transfer deals: there are lots of 0% balance transfer cards to choose from so you'll want to shop around and compare providers and cards.
  3. Apply for a 0% balance transfer card: after you've checked your eligiblity with a free eligibility tool, you can then apply for your new 0% balance transfer card. You will usually need to give details about your income, expenses, and profession along with giving the amount of money you would like to transfer over.
  4. Wait for the balance to transfer: it will usually take between five days and a week for a balance to be transferred over but it may be quicker than this. You should be told how long it will take when you apply for the 0% balance transfer card.
  5. Manage your new card responsibly: this card is primarily being used to pay off debt, so you will need to focus on making your monthly repayments and clearing this existing debt. You can set up a direct debit for the monthly payments so you never forget to pay.

What happens to an old credit card after a balance transfer?

Your old credit card won't automatically be shut down after you transfer a balance to a 0% card. In fact the balance of your old card will go down to zero (if you've transferred the whole amount onto the new card). This can be the perfect time to close the card, especially if it's not providing any other benefits – such as cash back or a low interest rate.

It might be tempting to spend on the card now the balance is zero, but you must remember that the entire aim of a balance transfer is to reduce your overall debt. If you start spending on this card again, your overall debt levels are going to rise further.

Does a balance transfer affect my credit score?

On one hand, a balance transfer will help you to reduce your overall debt levels as you're paying less interest and therefore you should be able to clear your debt at a faster rate.

But there are circumstances where it can harm your credit score. If you apply for lots of new 0% balance transfer cards in a short space of time, for example, this will have a negative impact on your credit score. If you spend on your older card and increase your overall debt levels, this will also harm your credit score.

Therefore if you're choosing to open and use a 0% balance transfer card, you'll need to be strict and carefully monitor your repayments to avoid it causing harm to your credit score.

The pros and cons of a balance transfer card

Here are some of the main pros and cons of 0% balance transfer cards.

Pros

✔️ Introductory offers: usually, when you apply for a balance transfer credit card, introductory offers are 0% interest rate over a set period. If your current credit card has high APR rates, you can use the 0% interest period on the balance transfer card to allow you to pay the credit back during this time to avoid paying any more interest.

✔️ Debt consolidation: if you've got debt across multiple cards, with a balance transfer credit card, you can put it all onto one card. This means your monthly payments will be lower, and you'll only have to pay back one balance instead of multiple.

✔️ Increase credit score: using a balance transfer card to consolidate debt and pay it back with less interest will help build your credit rating.

Cons

❌️ Credit limits: depending on how high your current credit card debts are, you may need help finding a balance transfer credit card that can cover all the balances.

❌️ Eligibility: the cards with the longest 0% periods will only be available to people with good or excellent credit scores.

❌️ Balance transfer fees: most card providers charge a transfer fee varying from 0% to 5% of the transferred balances.

What are the different types of balance transfer cards?

There are lots of 0% balance transfer cards to choose from, and the best for you will depend on the levels of debt you're looking to pay off and things like your income and how you use credit cards. Here are a few of the different types of balance transfer cards:

  • Rewards cards: there may be rewards attached to a balance transfer card, such as points to collect which can be redeemed for days out or money-off at specific shops.
  • Cashback cards: some cards pay cashback whenever you spend on them, usually up to a monthly limit.
  • 0% purchase cards: you may be given a 0% purchase period on a 0% balance transfer card. This means you won't be charged interest on any new purchases during the 0% period.
  • Cards for bad credit: there aren't many 0% balance transfer cards for those with bad credit, but a credit builder card which can help you to rebuild your credit score could be an alternative option.

Alternative ways to lower debts

On top of consolidating your debt with a balance transfer card, there are other strategies you can do to help reduce your existing debt. We've compiled a list of helpful tips to help you reduce debt and create a more positive credit file.

  • Debt repayment strategy: a repayment plan you and your creditor(s) agree to.
  • A debt consolidation loan: you can merge multiple credit commitments into one loan.
  • Debt snowball method: you start repaying debt with the smallest amount first and work through your debts until each is paid off.
  • Debt avalanche method: you start paying off the debt with the highest interest rate first and continue to pay off your debts from highest to lowest.
  • Individual Voluntary Arrangement: if you're struggling to pay back debt, you can sign up for an IVA, a legally binding agreement to pay your debts back over an agreed period. An IVA must be court approved and will impact your credit file.
  • Independent debt charity: there are several free and independent debt charities in the UK including StepChange. They can give you advice and help you to reduce your debts.

The best debt solution for you will depend on how much debt you have. It could be the case that a 0% balance transfer card can help you to lower your debts, and clear an outstanding credit card debt. But if you're in unmanageable debt, you're unlikely to be approved for a 0% balance transfer card. In this case a credit builder credit card could be an option but if you aren't sure it's worth speaking to a free debt charity for advice first.

How CompareBanks analyzed the best 0% balance transfer cards

To compile our list of the best balance transfer cards, we looked at all of the cards on the market to pick out what we think are the best right now. We focussed on things like the APR, the length of the 0% period, and any other perks included with the card.

However, while our list is a good place to start, your best option will depend on your own financial circumstances.

Related guides:

FAQs

What is a balance transfer fee?

Can you do a balance transfer from an Amex card?

What if my credit limits are not enough?

Can you balance transfer someone else's credit card?

Can I do a balance transfer between the same provider or bank?

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About HSBC Bank HSBC is a British banking and financial services company. It is the largest bank in Europe and the seventh largest bank in the world. The bank originated in Hong Kong...
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NatWest, or National Westminster, is a retail and commercial bank based in the United Kingdom. It is one of the ‘Big Four’ UK clearing banks and has more than 7.5million personal banking...
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Part of one of the world’s biggest supermarket chains, Tesco Finance was launched back in 1997. The Head Office is based in Edinburgh, and although there were bricks and mortar branches...
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About First Direct First Direct is a retail bank based in the United Kingdom, headquartered in Leeds. It is a telephone and internet-based bank, with no physical branches, and...
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