28 November 2023
0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards
Tuesday 28th November 2023
As we approach the festive period which typically sees consumers spend £740 (or 29%) more on average in December1, with over a third using credit or finance options2, new analysis by Fairer Finance has found that 0% APR purchase credit cards are less competitive today than this time last year.
In December 2022, there were seven credit cards that offered a 0% APR introductory period for purchases for 20+ months, with four (NatWest/RBS/Ulster and Barclaycard) offering 24 months. Today, there is just one card that offers 0% for 20+ months (Barclaycard for 21 months). On average, these cards offer just six months at 0% for purchases.
Furthermore, the standard APRs on these credit cards have been creeping up over the last year. The standard APR in December 2022 was 22.9% compared to 24.4% today, but rates can be as high as 34.9% today.
James Daley, managing director of Fairer Finance, the consumer group and ratings provider, said: “In the run-up to Christmas it’s likely we’ll see more people looking to apply for 0% credit cards to help cover the cost of the festive season. Unfortunately, these cards offer less value to consumers than they did a year ago as the number of interest free months has been falling – as a result of rising interest rates and a continued squeeze on household budgets.
“What’s key is that consumers take note of when the 0% period on their card ends - as these cards start to charge very hefty interest rates once the introductory period is over. Standard APRs on 0% purchase cards have been rising steadily for over a decade. The average APR is now 24.4%, with some cards charging as much as 34.9%. At this point, if the balance can’t be paid off in full, transferring it to a 0% balance transfer card will be far less costly, at least in the short to medium term.
“High, and rising, standard APRs on these cards may soon face scrutiny by the regulator as all firms are now obliged to prove they are offering fair value to their customers. While those who play the game and move their balances from offer to offer can get excellent value for money – credit cards are a very expensive way to borrow if you’re not benefiting from a promotional rate. It’s these – often more vulnerable customers – who contribute the greatest amount to card company profits. This is an inconvenient truth which firms are likely to struggle to justify in the face of the FCA’s new Consumer Duty.”
Notes to editors:
1Source: Bank of England - https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/explainers/how-much-do-we-spend-at-christmas
2 Source: John Lewis - https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/personal-finance/top-christmas-credit-card-purchases-31523176
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About Fairer Finance
Fairer Finance is an independent consumer group and ratings provider whose mission is to help create a financial services market which is fair for consumers as well as the companies that serve them.
With a heritage spanning almost a decade, Fairer Finance’s unique and impartial Product Ratings are simply designed to help consumers make sense of the complex world of financial products. It rates over 6,000 products spanning over 20 sectors, ranging from bank accounts, credit cards, car insurance and travel insurance. In addition, its Customer Experience Ratings are designed to help consumers make more informed decisions based on quality and service and not just price.