The battle of the balance transfer cards continues as NatWest and RBS launch new 26-month interest-free credit cards to replace Barclaycard at the top of the best-buy table.
NatWest Platinum and RBS Platinum credit cards now offer borrowers 26-months 0 per cent on balance transfers, for a 2.65 per cent handling fee.
This means borrowers can now transfer their existing credit card debt to another card and not pay any interest for 26 months.
Previously, NatWest and RBS Platinum credit cards both offered 24-months interest free with a 2.9 per cent fee.
The improved deals replace Barclaycard’s Platinum 26-month balance transfer credit card – which has a higher 3.5 per cent transfer fee - at the top of the balance transfer credit card best-buy table.
Top 10 0% balance transfer cards
Credit card price wars
The move by NatWest and RBS follows a string of recent activity in the balance transfer credit card market.
Card companies are striving to outdo each other when it comes to offering longer 0 per cent deals and lower transfer fees.
In March Tesco increased the 0 per cent period on its Clubcard credit card to 25 months.
This move saw the retailer top the balance transfer credit card best-buy chart along with the existing 25-month Barclaycard deal.
However, Barclaycard responded within a matter of hours by introducing its 26-month card, helping it regain its position at the top of the best-buy tables.
A few weeks earlier Halifax sparked a similar credit card price war when it raised the interest-free period on its balance transfer card from 24 to 25 months, rivaling Barclaycard’s then 25-month deal.
Barclaycard reacted by slashing balance transfer fees on its card, which helped it regain the top spot.
Balance transfer credit cards can be a good way for people with existing credit card debt to save money on interest payments, says Nerys Lewis, head of credit cards at Confused.com.
"If you have a balance of £3,000 accumulating interest at the average rate of 17.9 per cent APR and move your balance to one of the market-leading cards, you could save £864.15 in interest charges over 26 months.
"That’s after paying the balance transfer fee of 2.65 per cent and assuming you pay off 1 per cent of your balance plus any charges or fees, on time each month," she says.
Do your sums first
However, Lewis is urging borrowers not to automatically go for the longest 0 per cent period possible without doing their sums first.
She adds: "You should start by looking at how big the balance you want to move is, and then work out how long it will take you to pay this off.
"If you can pay off your debt in less than 26 months you may benefit from a credit card with a shorter interest-free period as it could have a lower handling fee.
"For example, Barclaycard’s 25-month balance-transfer card has a handling fee of only 2.8 per cent compared with the 3.5 per cent fee on its 26-month card."
Before you apply for a credit card, it’s important to remember that the best balance transfer deals are generally reserved for people with a good credit profile.
With this in mind, Confused.com offers a Card Matcher service that can help you to judge whether your application for a credit card will be successful before you apply.