Moving money to a credit card with low or 0% interest can help pay off the balance faster. Slash those interest payments, see the debts disappear, and make serious savings.
Credit rating looking a bit ropey? Check out simple ways to improve that score and see it soar.
How long it’ll take: 25 mins
What should you do with your extra money? Now that you’ve saved a few quid, we’ve a few ideas that will get you saving. Try them out here
- Computer or smartphone, for internet access
- Details of balances to be transferred, including the card numbers and companies
- Previous addresses, including the month you moved, for the last 5 years
What you need to do
1. Get cracking with your credit report
Companies will cast an eye over your credit record when deciding whether to offer you a card. Avoid nasty surprises by checking your own credit report first.
Spot any mistakes? Contact the companies to get them put right. Every application for a credit card leaves a footprint on your credit report, so it’s not a good idea to get turned down too many times.
2. Track down the best deals
Use a price comparison website like Which? to track down the best deals. Weigh up the length of the deal, fees and customer service. Some companies offer 0% interest deals for more than three years.
MoneySavingExpert.com, Credit Karma and Clearscore will also offer a credit card eligibility checker based on your credit file which will provide an indication of a successful credit card application from a specific provider.
The best thing about interest-free cards? Once you’ve paid any fee for the balance transfer, every penny you pay will go directly to reducing your debt during the promotional period.
3. Ace that application
Once you’ve zoned in on a particular card, whack in the application. Tick the box about transferring balances, and put down the card details and amounts of anything to be transferred.
The card company will then sort it all out for you.
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Factor in fees – Even if you move to a 0% card, you will probably have to pay for the privilege.
Expect to pay a fee of 2% to 3% of the balance transferred. So if you’re transferring £1,000 to a card which charges a 3% fee, you’ll fork out £30.
It’s usually added to your balance, and could still be money well spent to avoid paying way more in extra interest.
Keen to clear an expensive overdraft with a low or no interest credit card? Look out for a money transfer card.
If your application is accepted, you can ask for the agreed credit limit to be paid straight into your bank account as cash. You could also use any extra cash to pay down other cards.
But beware: fees may be higher than on balance transfer cards, and if you spend the money all over again, you’ll be stuck with double the debt.
Got your eye on a particular card? Check if you could get some free money, just by clicking through a cashback website before you apply.
But don’t be swayed by cashback. Applying for a more expensive card could end up costing much more than the £10 to £30 you could claim.
Now your balance is on low or no interest – you can get cracking on clearing as much as possible before the clock stops.
If you keep your payments at the same amount as before the transfer, you’ll pay off the balance much quicker than if they slump to the minimum.
If possible always aim to pay off any outstanding balance before the promotional period ends and the debt reverts to standard rates of interest on your credit card.
If you sign up for an interest-free deal – move hell and high water so you don’t miss a payment.
Set up a direct debit or standing order pronto. Otherwise, you risk having the offer whisked away, and get stuck paying more interest than ever before.
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.