The new year is a common time for many people to look for a 0% balance transfer deal.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, more than one in five of us spent more than we planned to in the run up to Christmas, according to research by Confused.com.
What’s more, an overdose of merriment has led to many of us racking up debt on our credit cards.
More than a quarter of people say they spent more money on their credit cards during December than any other month of the year.
On average, Brits overspent on their plastic by an average of £543 during the festive season, while more than one in 10 cardholders believed they overspent by more than £1,000.
Balance transfer Tuesday
With many people now paying interest on their new, or larger, credit card balances, the new year is a common time for many people to look for a 0% balance transfer deal.
This type of credit card allows you to move money from one credit card to another, potentially avoiding costly interest payments.
We’ve crunched the numbers and worked out the exact date and time when a surge in the number of credit card balance transfers is expected.
This happens to be this Tuesday (12 January) between 8pm and 9pm.
This is a day we’ve labelled with the not-so-catchy-title “balance transfer Tuesday”.
Avoid paying interest
Our research shows nearly one in 10 card holders think they’ll take between six months to a year to pay off the credit card debts they’ve built up in the run-up to Christmas.
To show you how much you could save by switching your balance to a credit card offering 0% interest, take the following example:
If you’ve currently got £1,000 on your credit card and you’re being charged 17.9% interest per year - a fairly typical rate - you’ll have paid £155.41 in interest in 12 months’ time.
If you have a balance of £2,000 you’ll pay £310.82 unless you switch cards.
Some things to know before you apply
So there you go, it may well be worth considering switching cards. But before you apply there are a few things worth knowing:
Work out which 0% deal suits you best - You can find the best card for you by working out how long you need to pay off your existing credit card balance – this will give you an idea of the length of the 0% period you’ll need. If you don’t need a long time to pay off your debt, you may want to look at cards with shorter 0% periods as they may have lower transfer fees.
Check your likelihood of acceptance - Interest-free balance transfer cards are generally aimed at customers with a good credit rating. If you're worried about your credit rating, you can use this tool to check your likelihood of acceptance for a credit card before you apply.
Check card providers carefully - Some credit card providers won’t let you transfer your debt to them if you already own a card with that same provider. For example, if you own an AA credit card you won’t be able to switch to, say, a Post Office credit card as both are run by the Bank of Ireland.
Don't miss repayments - If you fail to make at least the minimum payment every month you may lose your 0% introductory deal, so you’ll need to be confident you can keep up the minimum payments at the very least.
Aim to repay your debt before the 0% period ends - After an introductory 0% period runs out you’ll start to be charged interest at the normal rate on any balance left on your credit card. So you should ideally aim to pay off your debt by then, or switch to another card.