Last Updated on 20 December 2021 by Dan
Hello everyone! Today we continue our recent series of articles on the best credit cards available by looking at 0% interest cards, alongside cards which combine this feature with 0% interest balance transfers.
A 0% interest credit card is one of a number of options for different types of credit cards, and the answer on what card is best for you depends on your personal financial situation. We’ve written a guide here which explores a few scenarios and what type of card might be best for your circumstances here.
We’ve stressed before that we’re not about racking up debt here at the Financial Wilderness, but we think that use of a 0% interest credit card can be an excellent part of a good debt management strategy. You can read here for our earlier article on how you can use 0% interest credit cards to help get you out of card debt for advice on doing just that.
How 0% interest credit cards work
The way these work is very simple – we simply want to keep the cost of the interest that we’re carrying around as debt on the card as low as possible. When we do this, it gives us more breathing space to sort out and pay off our debts.
That last bit is really important – these cards do not charge you a 0% interest rate forever, they’re at an 0% interest rate for an introductory period.
We don’t want that debt to stick around to suddenly become expensive, and when taking out any of these it’s important to make yourself a note of the date you will start paying that higher rate of interest so you can take action (or better yet, give yourself a pat on the back that you’ve paid the card off in full).
For avoidance of doubt – 0% interest credit cards do assume that you pay at least the minimum payment each month, you can’t just pay nothing.
If you know you are paying for a single large item or two which you are absolutely 100% certain you can clear in time as well, these cards can be a great source of temporary cash management as they’re effectively cheaper than a loan – but you need to plan that sort of usage carefully!
Considering balance transfers to 0% interest credit cards
It’s likely that if you’re looking at these cards you may have some debt already. One other factor we’ll consider with these cards is if they allow free balance transfers. These simply allow you to transfer debt from an old card (which presumably you’re paying interest on) to the new card, which is obviously an advantage.
Let me stress – because you can transfer money from one card to another it’s really important not to think “well I can just do that again at the end of the card” – lenders take note of this and it’s a game that always eventually catches up with you.
Remember to do a credit check
The credit checks on these cards aren’t generally as strict as on the reward credit cards or cashback credit cards we’ve covered elsewhere but they are a lot more variable by lender. Being rejected for a credit card application can hurt your credit score, so you should always run the eligibility checker that each provider runs and should give you an idea of if you’ll be accepted or not before you apply.
You can find out the factors that influence credit score at this article, and how to improve your credit score within this one.
What is the best 0% interest Credits Card in the UK?
If your credit score allows it, I believe the Marks and Spencer Credit Card “Shopping Plus” offer (the first card below) presently offers the best mix of all round advantages as it combined reward features with a generous 0% interest period.
The purpose of this guide is to pick a card best for you though, so I’ve tried to bring out where some cards are weaker or better than others – for instance than M&S one isn’t so hot if doing a balance transfer.
Our pick of the 0% interest credit cards:
All information is correct as of our last update on 10.08.2021. We’ll do our best to keep our information up to date, but details and best deals can change all the time (especially in this category) so you should make sure you double check this yourself.
The Financial Wilderness may also receive a small payout if you make a purchase through a link on this site. It won’t affect the service you receive and we recommend only what we honestly believe to be the best available, not what gives us commission. You can read more about our affiliate policy on our disclaimers page.
Best for long term 0% interest rate and bonus rewards:
Marks and Spencer Credit Card “Shopping Plus” Offer:
Interest Free Period: 23 months.
Representative APR: 21.9% APR Variable (After the 20 months)
Annual Fee: Free
Balance Transfers: Allowed, but will cost you 2.9% of transferred in value or a minimum of £5 fee. The balance transfer is also eligible for 0% interest once in if transferred in 90 days.
Welcome bonus: No
Other Notes: This card will reward you with 1 point (worth 1p) when spending in M&S and 1 point per £5 spending in other store.
Marks and Spencer Credit Card “Shopping Plus” Offer Review:
This is a really good card all round – not only does it offer the longer interest-free period on the market right now, it also offers a few extra benefits you wouldn’t expect to find in this category despite not falling within being a reward card.
There is a charge on balance transfers, so if you’re looking to do this in any significant value it may not be the best choice.
If you do any kind of shopping at M&S, it’s a particularly good choice. Even if not, the little bit of extra rewards sets it apart from other cards that match it’s interest free period, which is already amongst the best in market. The exception may be for those who shop more at Sainsbury’s than M&S, who should look at the Dual Offer credit card below as they’ll get more benefit out of the rewards there.
You can find further details of the card and apply on the M and S Bank Website here.
Good option for longer term 0% interest rate:
TSB Bank Platinum Purchase Card:
Interest Free Period: 15 months. (See caveat on this below)
Representative APR: 21.9% APR Variable (After the 15 months)
Annual Fee: Free
Balance Transfers: Allowed, but will cost you 1.45% of transferred in value.
Welcome bonus: None.
Other Notes: The 15 months interest free isn’t guaranteed and you may be offered a shorter period in practice. You also cannot apply if you already have a new TSB Credit Card.
The Wilderness Verdict:
In terms of our ability to use this to debt manage this card is near identical to the M and S card above but doesn’t have the added rewards element, hence being our second choice to that one.
Nevertheless, we think this is an excellent alternative and may have slightly looser credit requirements than the M&S card so is a good alternative to look at applying for.
As with the M&S card, there is a charge on balance transfers, so if you’re looking to do this in any significant value it may not be the best choice.
You can find further details of this card and apply on the TSB Bank Website here
An alternative for best 0% interest rate period, and best for Sainsbury’s Shoppers (also includes rewards!):
Sainsbury’s Bank Dual Offer Credit Card:
Interest Free Period: 22 months. (See caveat on this below)
Representative APR: 20.9% APR Variable (After the 22 months)
Annual Fee: Free
Balance Transfers: Allowed, but will cost you 3% of transferred in value.
Welcome bonus: On each £35 at Sainsbury’s in your first 2 months of card ownership you’ll get 500 bonus Nectar points (worth a minimum of £2.50), up to a maximum of 5,000 Nectar Points (worth a minimum of £25.00).
Other Notes: The 22 months interest free isn’t guaranteed and you may be offered a shorter period in practice. You need to have been a Nectar card customer for 6 months to apply for this card. On the plus side, you’ll get 2 Nectar points for every £1 you spend at Sainsbury’s and 1 point for every £5 you spend elsewhere.
The Wilderness Verdict: It’s another good card with a very long interest free period but has a very weird requirement to have a Nectar card for 6 months – now whilst a lot of people may have one in some form, it’s a bit of an annoying quirk for those who don’t.
Nectar points aren’t my favourite reward point element as their value is pretty low, but it’s a nice little extra to get some if you collect them anyhow and especially if a Sainsbury’s shopper. Be aware the signup bonus for most people will not be as good as it sounds – hitting ten £35 shops in eight weeks is something not everyone will do so your payout from this may be lower.
From a debt management perspective I mark this card as very fractionally worse than the two above, simply because the interest rate and balance transfer costs are a little higher, although this is admittedly fractional (and definitely not enough to put you off if you’re a regular shopper at Sainsbury’s anyhow so maximising the reward benefits as part of your day to day).
You can find further details of this card and apply at the Sainsbury’s Bank website here.
Best for poor credit scorers:
Interest Free Period: 3 months
Representative APR: 33.9% APR Variable (After the 3 months)
Annual Fee: Free
Balance Transfers: No introductory rate – do not use this card for this.
Welcome bonus: None
Other notes: The credit limit will be a maximum of £1,200.
The Wilderness Verdict: There’s relatively slim pickings at this bit of the market for those with poor credit scores – this Barclaycard is one of the few options out there that provides a little breathing space, and three months is useful.
As the card is specifically designed for those with poor scores, the credit limit also remains low. The rate jumps up quite a bit at the end of the three months, so you need to ideally form a plan to use this card only for the short term, or as a very useful plank in a wider credit repair strategy.
You can find further details of this card and apply at the Barclaycard website here.
Best 0% card for those who need to balance transfer:
Natwest/RBS/Ulster Bank Balance Transfer Credit Card
Interest Free Period: 3 months
Representative APR: 21.9% APR Variable (After the 3 months)
Annual Fee: Free
Balance Transfers: No fee to transfer in and 0% on the transfer for 20 months
Welcome bonus: None
Other notes: You must be a customer in some form of one of Natwest, RBS or Ulster Bank.
The Wilderness Verdict: An excellent card for balance transfers owing to the generous 20 months to pay off said balance transfers that also has the added bonus of a short 0% period on spending – this provides a long period to get any existing debts down.
Unlike the 0% on new spending cards above, this card doesn’t charge you a fee to transfer in which can make a good difference if transferring in anything reasonably sizable. Just try to avoid new spending on it after that first three months.
The wrinkle is having to be a customer of one of the above banks, which is slightly limiting.
Now your eye may be drawn Natwest also offer a “longer balance transfer card” – this one is effectively the same but charges a 2.75% fee on transferring the balance. Unless you absolutely, desperately need that 5 extra months, you can save a lot by taking the basic card and forming a plan to eliminate your balance transfer in 18 months.
You can find further details of this card and if a Natwest customer apply at the their website here, or if you’re a RBS Customer go here and if an Ulster Bank customer then here.
There’s lots to consider with these cards, and there’s often no true best option as it depends how you’ll use the card. If you have any further questions (or think you’ve spotted a better card than the options here) please just leave a comment below.
Other articles in the Credit Card series:
- What type of credit card is best for you?
- The best reward credit cards in the UK
- The best cashback credit cards in the UK
- The best credit cards for low scorers in the UK
And that’s it?
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