Applying for a balance transfer card is a good way to make your debts less expensive and ultimately pay them off quicker.
There are two main types of balance transfer cards:
1. 0% balance transfer credit cards that offer an interest free home for your credit card debt for a set number of months
2. Lifetime balance transfer cards that apply a low interest rate for the full duration of time you have the debt outstanding.
In general, a 0% balance transfer credit card will be cheaper over the shorter term while lifetime balance transfer cards become cheaper the longer you'll take to repay the debt - (unless you're willing to jump from one 0% balance transfer card to another).
Of course, with 0% balance transfer deals getting longer and longer all the time, you are more likely than ever to be able to find a 0% card that'll cover the life of your repayments.
Step by step guide
To work out which is the cheapest option you need to work out exactly how long you need to repay the credit card borrowing you want to transfer.
Luckily for you the 0% balance transfer credit card price war is in full swing and lenders are trying to outdo one another to offer the longest 0% deal.
Check if the best 0% balance transfer credit cards available at the time offer a long enough interest free period to cover your repayment schedule. If so you should then choose the card with the cheapest handling fee that you meet the eligibility criteria for.
If you find that you'll need several months more than the longest repayment schedule then you'll need to consider whether you're likely to remember to make another 0% balance transfer when the initial deal ends.
If not then you may be better off looking for the lowest interest rate available on a lifetime balance transfer card.
Regardless of which type of card your choose you'll also need to factor in any balance transfer fee into your calculations to double check you're getting the cheapest credit card balance transfer offers.
Whether you're able to complete a balance transfer will also depend on being accepted for a sufficient credit limit on the new card to cover your transfer, which is based upon your credit record and level of income.
If the credit limit you're offered isn't quite big enough you should still transfer as much of your expensive debt as you can. This way you'll at least be cutting the cost of a significant portion of your debt and you can either focus on paying the remainder off as quickly as possible or making alternative arrangements for it.
You can compare the best credit card balance transfer offers side by side using our credit card balance transfer comparison table and use the advanced search to find super balance transfer cards for your circumstances.