Playing the 0-per-cent game

Still in debt from Christmas? Switching your debt to a nought per cent card could save up to hundreds of pounds in interest charges
Still in debt from Christmas? Switching your debt to a nought per cent card could save up to hundreds of pounds in interest charges. Zero per cent balance transfers give cardholders an interest-free breathing space of up to a year or more, allowing time to clear debts.

Watch out for fees
The catch with these 0 per cent offers is that they generally levy an upfront fee of three per cent of the transferred sum. Santander, however, is waiving this fee for balance transfers to its Zero card for anyone who is a current account or mortgage customer of the bank - that’s eight million customers. The 0 per cent interest rate lasts for a year.

Who offers the top deals?
For non-customers of Santander it could be worth opening a current account with the bank (formerly Abbey), or its Alliance & Leicester subsidiary, to qualify. Otherwise, non-customers are subject to the three per cent charge upfront. Other cards offer even longer 0 per cent deals: 16 months from Virgin; 15 months from Barclaycard. But both have fees of nearly three per cent.

Warning!
Do not spend on a card that you transfer a balance to. Purchases will generally rack up interest until the 0 per cent debt is cleared.

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