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How to pick the right 0% credit card

Here's how to pick the best card depending on how much you can afford to repay each month.

Close-up of a red credit card

Balance transfer credit cards allow you to move money from one credit card to another.

Moving your credit card debt to a 0% balance transfer card could save you hundreds of pounds if you're paying interest on your current card.

But with so many cards to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one to apply for.

Picking the right card

When picking the right card for you, start by looking at how much you want to transfer and work out how much you can afford to pay off each month.

This will tell you how long it'll take to clear your debt and determine the length of the 0% period you need.

'I can only afford to make minimum payments'

Take someone with £3,000 to transfer, who can only afford to make minimum payments of around £30 each month.

It will take 100 months to pay off £3,000. So they should look at the longer 0% deals on the market.

They should also bear in mind that these cards tend to come with a transfer fee.

After the interest-free period ends, they'll need to consider moving their debt to another 0% balance transfer to continue avoiding paying interest.

'I can afford to pay £150 a month'

It will take 20 months to clear £3,000 by paying back £150 a month.

Someone in this situation doesn't need to go for the longest 0% deals on the market.

This is because balance transfer fees - the sum credit card providers charge you for transferring your debt to them - tend to be higher the longer the interest-free period.

A card with a short interest-free period may carry a relatively-low transfer fee. For example, it may be possible to get a card with a 21-month interest-free period, with a fee of 1.5%.

So, the balance transfer fee in this example would cost the cardholder £45.

'I can afford to pay £250 a month'

Someone wishing to transfer £3,000, who can afford to pay off £250 a month, can clear their debt in 12 months.

In this situation they may be able to benefit from the lowest transfer fees on the market. They may be able to find a card with a 1% fee.

Low balance-transfer-fee credit cards

Nerys Lewis, head of credit cards at Confused.com, says: "Many people are naturally drawn towards the market-leading 0% deals which offer more than two years interest-free.

"However, if you think you could pay off your balance within about 15 months or less, then you might benefit from a low fee balance transfer card.

"These tend to have shorter interest-free deals, but also lower transfer fees."

Before you apply

Before you apply for a credit card, Lewis adds a word of caution.

She says: "Typically interest-free balance transfer cards are aimed at customers with a good credit rating.

"If you're worried about your credit rating you can use our free credit card matcher to check your likelihood of acceptance for a credit card before you apply."

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Adam Jolley

Adam Jolley

Adam Jolley is a content producer at Confused.com. He joined us in May 2012 from the world of financial services PR.

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