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What is a balance transfer credit card? Best interest free offers from Virgin Money, HSBC, Santander and more

The cost of living crisis means we all have to get our finances in order - so we’ve looked at which credit cards could help you the most with credit card debt

<p>Balance transfer credit cards can help you manage your credit card debt (image: Adobe)</p>

Balance transfer credit cards can help you manage your credit card debt (image: Adobe)

The cost of living crisis means we’re all having to look more closely at our finances than ever before.

With energy bills, the cost of a tank of fuel and food prices all rocketing - and set to go higher still, according to the Bank of England - every single penny counts.

While they should always be used with the utmost caution, credit cards can help to structure your finances and build your credit score.

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But what are balance transfers - and which 0% balance transfer cards offer the best value for money?

Here’s what you need to know.

The cost of living crisis means it’s more crucial than ever to be on top of your finances (image: Adobe)

What is a balance transfer?

A balance transfer is a way of managing credit card debt.

Essentially, it involves paying off one credit card by using a different one.

Doing this is only usually a good idea if you’re paying expensive interest on the debt repayments for the original card and the new card offers you a cheaper interest rate or no interest at all.

If this is the case, you will ultimately save money on debt repayments and will be able to cut down your debt quicker.

But if you have a major wodge of debt to pay off, 0% balance transfer cards offer the best deal and could save you hundreds of pounds.

0% balance transfer credit cards can help to pay off credit card debt quicker and more cheaply (image: Adobe)

Most high street banks will let you balance transfer from one card to another for a one-off fee - although you will not be able to do this with a card from your existing bank or is wider group (in most cases).

So, for example, if you have a Natwest credit card you want to pay off, you won’t be able to go to the Royal Bank of Scotland for a balance transfer card.

How do 0% balance transfer credit cards work?

0% balance transfer cards tend to offer 0% interest rates for a specific amount of time - but most will charge you a small fee for any balance transfers you make.

As a rule of thumb, the longer the 0% rate is locked in for, the higher the balance transfer fee will be.

0% balance transfer credit cards often charge a small fee for balance transfers (image: Adobe)

To decide which credit card is right for you, consumer group Which? recommends taking the amount you owe and dividing it by the amount you can afford to repay per month.

This calculation will leave you with the number of months it will take you to repay your debt.

It’s worth noting that it’s crucial you pay the minimum repayment amount required by the card each month.

If the debt will take longer to pay off than 34 months - the maximum time period currently on offer to maintain a 0% interest rate  - you might have to do another balance transfer at the end of your 0% interest deal.

What are the best 0% balance transfer cards?

NationalWorld has looked at the leading consumer sites to find out which 0% balance transfer cards currently offer the best bang for your buck.

Your personal circumstances (e.g. your credit score) will affect which cards you can get, so it’s worth checking your eligibility with the bank or lender.

You should also check the terms and conditions of credit cards before you sign up for them.

Longest 0% interest rates

  • Virgin Money Balance Transfer Credit Card - 0% for 34 months (2.7% fee on balance transfers), 21.9% APR
  • Tesco Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card - 0% for 33 months (2.59% fee on balance transfers), 21.9% APR
  • Santander Everyday Long Term Balance Transfer Credit Card - 0% for 33 months (2.65% fee on balance transfers), 21.9% APR
  • HSBC Balance Transfer Credit Card Visa - 0% for 33 months (2.7% fee on balance transfers), 21.9% APR
  • Sainsbury’s Bank 33 Month Balance Transfer Credit Card - 0% for 33 months (2.89% fee on balance transfers), 21.9% APR
  • M&S Bank Transfer Plus Credit Card - 0% for 32 months (1.99% fee on balance transfers), 21.9% APR

Cheapest zero-fee balance transfer cards

  • Santander All in One Credit Card - 0% for 26 months (no balance transfer fee), 23.7% APR
  • Sainsbury’s Bank No Fee 21-Month Balance Transfer Credit Card - 0% for 21 months (no balance transfer fee), 20.9% APR
  • Santander Everyday No Balance Transfer Fee Credit Card - 0% for 18 months (no balance transfer fee), 20.9% APR
  • Barclaycard Platinum Balance Transfer - 0% for 15 months (no balance transfer fee), 21.9% APR
  • Virgin Money Balance Transfer Credit Card - 0% for 15 months (no balance transfer fee), 23.9% APR