Credit Cards Providers Fresh Battle for Balance Transfer CustomersPersonal_Finance / Credit Cards & Scoring Jan 12, 2016 - 12:09 PM GMT
The start of 2016 has initiated a fresh rate war between credit card providers, who have become embroiled in an intense battle to attract new customers.
Research from Moneyfacts.co.uk reveals that Bank of Scotland, Halifax, Lloyds Bank, TSB, Barclaycard and Tesco Bank have all scrambled to make changes to their balance transfer credit cards since the turn of the year by extending the interest-free terms or reducing the introductory balance transfer fee. Virgin Money also launched a 38-month 0% interest balance transfer deal (with a 2.79% fee) last week.
As a result, the average interest-free balance transfer term has risen year-on-year to the highest on record* at 590 days, up from 468 a year ago. Balance transfer fees have also fallen, with the average now sitting at 2.21%, down from 2.52% last year.
Rachel Springall, Finance Expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, said:
“As spenders recover from the excesses of the festive season, the start of a new year can trigger the desire to tackle outstanding debts. Heightened rivalry in the balance transfer market will therefore come as welcome news to borrowers, particularly those who want to avoid large fees - many of the latest deals now charge very low balance transfer fees, which makes moving credit card balances far more cost-effective.
“However, while these cards do give borrowers longer to repay debt without interest adding to the bill, they must ensure they pay more than the minimum monthly repayment and clear the balance before the deal ends. Interest that averages around 20.09% per annum will be charged once the initial offer expires, which could then outweigh the advantages of taking out one of these deals.
“In addition to the lucrative 0% interest balance transfer deals, providers are keen to promote money transfers, but these kinds of transfers may be more unfamiliar to borrowers. As a result, providers appear to be concentrating on pushing their balance transfer cards into the Best Buys and offering money transfers on the side, which may aid their appeal to those who are sinking into their overdraft.”
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