Best 0% balance transfer credit card deals – September 2021

9 min Read Published: 01 Sep 2021

best 0% balance transfer credit cards

What is a balance-transfer credit card?

A balance-transfer credit card allow you to move existing debt from a credit or store card on to an interest-free introductory offer. This takes the pressure off having to make the interest payments on the debt and allows you to budget to clear the debt over the interest-free period. Moving your existing debts to a 0% deal will reduce the cost of your debts and help clear them for good.

When you take out a balance-transfer credit card you will still need to make a monthly repayment and, if you are late making this payment, you can risk losing the introductory offer and being moved on to the standard APR. You therefore need to be responsible with managing the card.

It is best to opt for the longest possible interest-free period to give you the maximum amount of time to clear your debt. Most cards have a balance-transfer fee and you will typically have to transfer the money within 30-90 days of taking out the card.

Which are the best balance-transfer credit cards in the UK?

Name of card Representative APR Interest-free period Perks  Best for...

HSBC Balance Transfer 

21.9% variable 29 months £25 cashback if you spend £100 in first 60 days A market-leading guaranteed interest-free period
Santander Everyday 20.9% variable 18 months Up to 15% cashback on purchases with selected retailers No transfer fee
MBNA 21.9% Up to 26 months Up to 15% cahsback with some retailers A low transfer fee and good length interest-free period
M&S Bank Transfer Plus Offer  21.9% 29 months 1 M&S point for every £1 spent at M&S and every £5 spent elsewhere. Bonus 500 points (worth £5) when you take out the card Those looking for one of the longest interest-free periods, plus rewards

Best balance-transfer credit card with long interest-free period

HSBC Balance transfer HSBC Balance Transfer 

  • Best for: Those looking for the longest possible interest-free period
  • Representative APR: 21.9% variable
  • Interest-free period: 29 months
  • Transfer fee: 2.75% (minimum £5)
  • Perks: £25 cashback if you spend £100 or more in the first 60 days
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Why we like it: It has the longest interest-free period on the market and, if you are accepted for the card, you are guaranteed to get the full 29 months

Best balance-transfer credit card with no transfer fee

Santander Santander Everyday

  • Best for: Those with a larger balance to transfer who don't want to be hit with a large transfer fee
  • Representative APR:  20.9% variable
  • Interest-free period: 18 months
  • Transfer fee: No transfer fee
  • Perks: Join the Retailers Offers scheme to earn up to 15% cashback
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Why we like it: It combines no transfer fees with the potential to earn cashback

Best balance-transfer credit card with low transfer fee

MBNA 0% Transfer and Purchase credit card review MBNA

  • Best for: Those wanting a long interest-free period and a relatively low transfer fee
  • Representative APR:  21.9% variable
  • Interest-free period: Up to 26 months (subject to status)
  • Transfer fee: 1% (3.49% for those with poorer credit scores)
  • Perks: Up to 15% cashback with retailers in the MBNA Smart Rewards scheme
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Why we like it: If you have a good credit score, you will qualify for a low transfer fee

Best balance-transfer credit card for rewards

M&S Bank Transfer Plus Offer 

  • Best for: A long guaranteed interest-free period and rewards points
  • Representative APR: 21.9% variable
  • Interest-free period: 29 months
  • Transfer fee: 2.75%
  • Perks: Earn one M&S point for every £1 you spend in M&S and every £5 you spend elsewhere. Bonus 500 points (worth £5) when you take out the card
  • Annual fee: No annual fee
  • Why we like it: It's a good option for those who regularly shop at M&S

What to check to get the best 0% balance transfer credit card for you

Balance-transfer fee

When you move your money onto a new card with a 0% balance transfer offer there will typically be a handling fee of around 1-3% of the balance transferred, although some card companies now offer a 0% handling fee in exchange for a shorter interest-free period. So check exactly what you will have to pay.

While a lot of credit card companies will simply add this to the balance transferred, remember that as soon as your 0% promotional period is up you will pay the standard interest rate on this fee, as per the rest of your credit card balance, assuming of course you haven’t cleared your debt. But watch out as some providers apply the standard interest rate to the handling fee from the day the handling fee is applied to the account. Consequently your handling fee can work out more expensive than you first thought.

Alternatively, you could opt for a 'no-fee' balance transfer credit card. There are fewer 'no-fee' balance transfer offers available and the interest-free period will typically be less, however, you may consider that to be a good trade-off when it comes to not having to pay a fee.

The 0% cut-off period

In order to secure a 0% balance transfer offer you will usually need to transfer any existing balances across to the new card within a certain period of time, i.e. 60 days. If you miss the boat then you will have to try and secure another 0%, which will likely prove more difficult.

Interest on new purchases

Usually when you spend on a credit card you won’t be charged interest on the value of the purchases if you clear your balance by the end of the month. But some credit cards will only do this if you clear your entire balance, including any transferred balances. So check the small print and if in doubt don’t spend on a credit card where you’ve taken advantage of a 0% balance transfer deal.

Typical APR

Although you will want to move any unpaid balance away once the introductory 0% offer expires, keep an eye on the cards standard APR especially if you decide to move to a low interest rate card rather than a new 0% deal. Remember that the APR you see quoted in offers will be the’ typical APR’ which is only offered to those with impeccable credit records. EU rules state that the advertised APR only has to be given to 51% of applicants.

What to do if you are struggling with debt

If you are struggling with debt, first of all read my article "5 simple steps to clear your credit card debt". There are also a host of charities and organisations offering free debt advice. But be careful of companies pretending to offer free debt advice or passing themselves off as other legitimate debt charities. Full details of the legitimate organisations that offer debt advice and counselling can be found in my article "Where to get free debt advice".