What is a Balance Transfer?

What is a balance transfer?

How do balance transfers work?

A balance transfer is when you move money you owe from one credit card to another that charges less in interest. Used wisely, a balance transfer could help you take control of your debt. That’s because these credit cards usually come with a 0% interest offer for a limited time.

That way, you can save money and use it to pay off your debt quicker. Just remember – these reduced interest rates only last for a limited time, after which normal interest rates apply. In many cases, you’ll also have to pay a fee on the amount you’re transferring, which will be added to your balance.

Balance transfer customers share why they chose Barclaycard

Viewing time 1.17

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 19.9% interest, to a 28 month 0% balance transfer card. Remember that 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. When the expiry date of your promotional offer is getting close, we’ll try to get in touch by email, text or letter to remind you.

Representative example

Representative APR
24.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate
24.9% p.a. (variable)
Based on a
credit limit
Annual fee
No annual fee

The approval of your application depends on financial circumstances and borrowing history, so do the terms you may be offered. The balance transfer period and interest rates, may differ from those shown.


£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

The benefits of a balance transfer

If you’re trying to save on the interest payments from your existing credit cards, a balance transfer credit card could be a great way to pay down more of what you owe. That’s because many of the balance transfer cards come with interest-free periods – which can help give you enough time to make a dent in your total credit card debt.

Consolidating several credit card balances onto a single credit card can also help make it easier to keep on top of payments. But it’s important to pick the card that’s right for you. Here’s how to find out more about these cards, along with tips on how to improve your chances of getting a 0% balance transfer card.

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 amount you can transfer can vary, depending on your individual credit limit and the existing balance on your Barclaycard. 
  • We’ll let you know the maximum amount you can transfer if your application is successful. You’ll need credit left over to allow for fees, interest and future transactions.
  • Finally, you can’t make a transfer from an existing Barclaycard or any of our partner-branded cards. You can only transfer balances from cards issued by other banks.
  • Balance transfer cards can be a great way to pay off credit card balances, but it really does pay to understand how they work. So check our guides to balance transfers to learn more.

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

You can either set up the balance transfer when you apply for the card, or can make the transfer later – once you’ve been accepted. You have up to 60 days after being accepted to transfer funds onto the new card. Here’s how it works:

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.