What is a Balance Transfer?

A simple guide to balance transfers

How do balance transfers work?

A balance transfer is when you move money you owe from one credit card to another. It could help you take control of your debt and take a break from paying a higher interest rate. As balance transfer credit cards usually come with a 0% interest offer for a limited time, you could save money on interest and use this to pay off your debt quicker. You’ll often be charged a fee on the amount you’re transferring, and this will be added to your balance.

Balance transfer customers share why they chose Barclaycard.

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Here’s an example of how a transfer works

This example shows how much you could save in interest payments if you transferred £3,500 from a card that’s charging you 21.9% interest, to a 28 month 0% balance transfer card. Remember: the promotional 0% offer is for a limited time, so if you don’t clear your balance within the offer period, you’ll be charged interest on the remaining balance.


£3,500 from another credit card to a 28 month balance transfer card for a one-off transfer fee


£95 each month – this will cover both your balance and the transfer fee


£1,299 in interest payments

Things to consider before you apply

When choosing a balance transfer, make sure you think about:

  • How long the offer is – remember that the 0% promotional rate is only available for a set amount of time. So consider whether you can repay the balance during this time. Things like missing a payment or going over your credit limit, will mean you’ll have to pay interest.
  • Any fees you have to pay – most balance transfers come with a transfer fee. So think about whether it would be cheaper to pay the fee, or to leave your balance where it is and pay the existing card’s interest rate.
  • If you need to buy things with your card – if your card comes with a purchase offer, check how long the 0% purchase offer is, as it’s not always the same length as your balance transfer offer. Once your purchase offer ends, you’ll pay a higher interest rate on everything you buy.
  • If you need access to extra cash – make sure you know the fees and interest charges for withdrawing cash.
  • The credit limit – you can only transfer up to 90% of your available credit limit. So if your credit limit is £1,000, the maximum balance you can transfer is £900.
  • You can make a balance transfer from – other credit card companies, but not from another Barclaycard or any of our partner-branded cards.

Choose the right balance transfer for you

It can be tricky choosing the right balance transfer deal – because what’s right for you all depends on your circumstances and priorities.

Here are the different types you can choose from:

Long 0% balance transfers

You get 0% interest for longer, giving you more time to clear your debt – great if you need to pay it off slowly. Just bear in mind that these offers tend to come with a higher transfer fee.

Short 0% balance transfers

This could be the best option if you have a smaller balance or want to clear your debt quickly by making higher monthly repayments. The transfer fee may be smaller, but you’ll have less time to pay off the balance. So think carefully about how much you can afford to pay each month.

Combo cards

Looking for the best of both worlds? A two-in-one card gives you a combination of a long 0% purchase offer and a balance transfer.

For average credit history

If you have average credit history and you want to make a balance transfer, there are some credit cards that might be suitable for you. These cards tend to come with a higher interest rate once the promotional period ends.

How to make a balance transfer

1. Choose the balance transfer card that’s right for you – compare our balance transfer offers for help in finding the best deal.

2. Apply for a Barclaycard online – you can use our free eligibility checker before you apply, to see if you’re likely to be approved. It’s quick, it’s easy and it won’t affect your ability to apply elsewhere.

3. Request the balance transfer – you can do this during your application or after you’ve been accepted. You’ll have 60 days to transfer your old balance to your new account. If you don’t complete the balance transfer, your promotional offer will expire.

Once you’ve got your card, go online to activate it (you’ll need your account details to hand).

Ways to get the most out of your balance transfer credit card

  • Always pay on time and stay within your credit limit.
  • Aim to pay off your balance before the 0% interest offer runs out.
  • Request a money transfer if you need access to cash (it’s less expensive than withdrawing cash on your balance transfer card).
  • If your card comes with a purchase offer, be careful of new spending once your 0% promotional purchase offer ends.
  • Try not to use the card you transferred your balance from, as it’s best to avoid rebuilding the debt on your old card.