A balance transfer is when all or part of a balance owing on one credit card is transferred to another card (or cards), usually to save money on interest costs. Balance transfers to other bank accounts, for example, to pay-off overdrafts, may also be possible.
You should be aware that most credit card companies charge a balance transfer fee (of maybe 2% - 3% of the amount transferred), so the interest rate may not be the only cost to consider. Be sure to find out all the costs before requesting a balance transfer and bear in mind the standard interest rate that will be applied once any introductory period has ended.
If the fee for making a balance transfer is 2% and you transfer £500, then you will be charged a fee of £10, which will appear on your monthly statement. You should also check whether the promotional rate applies to new purchases – if it doesn’t, then you will be charged interest on any spending unless you pay-off your balance in full.
Many lenders offer low or 0% interest for a period of time on balance transfers. Generally, these offers will apply for a fixed period (e.g. 12 months) or until a given date, after which the rate will generally be increased to the standard rate for that card. If you tend to carry a balance on a credit card then these offers may save you money. Do your homework to ensure that you have all the information you need to make an informed choice and check the details in the Summary Box to make sure you understand all the Terms & Conditions, including
- when the introductory period ends;
- what the interest rate will be after the introductory period ends;
- whether the introductory rate will end if you make a late payment or go over your credit limit; and,
- if any other fees or conditions apply.