Balance transfer cards offer interest-free breathing room, and with spending season in full swing they could be a life-saver, but how do you know which one to go for? We compare the best balance transfer cards – including a limited offer – to see who comes out on top.
A credit builder card can help you improve your credit rating. There is no single best credit builder card, so make sure to pick a card that’s right for your needs.
Credit building credit cards, sometimes known as credit cards for ‘bad credit’, are more likely to approve your application if you have a low credit score or have a missed payment or two in your credit history.
By creating a history of financial repayments with credit building credit card, your credit score is likely to improve making it easier to apply for new credit cards in future.
But you should choose carefully, there is no such thing as a best credit builder card and different cards are suitable for different people. You could have a credit builder card that offers:
- 0% purchase period – get a short period of interest free spending
- Soft credit checks – Check if you can get this card before you apply, leaving your credit score intact
- 0% balance transfer period – get a reprieve on paying interest on your existing card debts
- More relaxed eligibility criteria – Cards that are more likely to accept applicants with bad credit
But this list doesn’t cover everything so be sure to shop around and look at all the available credit builder or bad-credit cards.
There are not many credit builder cards available that include this perk – it is usually a benefit only available to those with good credit.
Having a 0% interest purchase period with a credit card is a good way to give yourself some breathing space, as you can effectively borrow for free within the 0% period, provided you meet the minimum monthly repayments.
However, you need to be careful – if you can’t pay off your full balance when the 0% period expires you will be charged interest which can soon build up. So make sure to use any 0% period responsibly and spend wisely.
This card from Captial One gives you 3 months 0% interest on purchases. They’ll give you a credit limit between £200 and £1,500 to start out.
Capital One say they’re more likely to accept applicants “over 18, with some history of managing your credit even if you have had CCJs or defaults in the past”.
However if you’ve never had credit in the UK before, have been declared bankrupt in the last 12 months, or had any CCJs or defaults in the last 12 months, this may not be the card for you.
This Aqua credit building card gives you 0% on purchases for the first 6 months.
It also gives you free access to your credit report (access to your full credit report and score can set you back up to £15 a month), so you can manage your credit score. You will have to start off with a low credit limit of £250-£1,200, but you can increase this later.
The card is available to those who are 18 or older, have a permanent UK address, a UK current bank or building society account, haven’t been registered as bankrupt in past 18 months or have proceedings, and have no Country Court Judgements (CCJs) in the past 12 months.
Every time you apply for any form of credit, be it credit card, loan, mortgage, or even household goods like furniture on store credit, it will leave a mark on your credit score. Too many applications in a row, especially unsuccessful ones, will damage your credit score.
This is where a ‘soft check’ can come in useful. A soft check will determine whether you’re likely to successfully apply for a credit card without leaving a mark on your credit file, so if you’re unsuccessful, your credit score will remain intact.
This card from Marbles, offers a “FastCheck” soft credit test, so you can check your eligibility before you apply. This should give you an instant response on whether you’re likely to be successful.
You can get a credit limit of anywhere between £250 and £1,200.
To get this card you must at least be over 18, have a permanent UK address and bank, no bankruptcy in the past 18 months and no CCJs in past 12 months.
Having a 0% balance transfer period can give you some relief from paying interest on your existing credit card debts.
Like a 0% purchase card they can be hard to obtain if you don’t have a good credit score, but there are some available on the market for those with a less than perfect score.
Giving you 18 months 0% interest on a balance transfers as well as 3 months 0% interest on purchases, this card from Barclaycard is a respectable contender in terms of interest-free borrowing.
However, with its relatively tough minimum criteria, this may not be a card for those with poor credit, and is more suitable for those trying to improve their credit rating. To be considered you need to:
- be a permanent UK resident
- be 21 or older
- have a good credit rating
- have no history of bankruptcy
- have no CCJs (past 5 years)
- have an income of £20,000 or more
If your credit score is at the bottom end of the scale you’ll struggle to apply successfully for credit.
So you may want to look for cards that have less strict eligibility criteria: lower income requirements, don’t explicitly state no CCJs allowed and say they are aimed at applicants with “bad credit”.
The minimum eligibility criteria for this card from Ocean Finance are relatively basic, they will consider your application provided you are over 18, are on the electoral roll and have some history managing credit.
However, they do state “meeting these criteria does not guarantee acceptance”, so if you’re worried it may be worth checking your credit file and taking some steps to improving your score before applying.
What if I’m rejected for a ‘bad-credit’ credit card?
If this is the case, you should stop applying for credit and take stock of finances and try to clean up your credit score. Our credit report guides can help you find out what steps you should take to improve your score.
- Longest 0% balance transfer cards – which is best? – There are plenty of 0% balance transfer cards offering interest free periods as long as three years, so how are you supposed to choose between them?
- How to correctly use credit cards – Knowing how to use a credit card correctly is very important: using a credit well can earn great rewards, but if used badly it can leave you badly in debt.
- Guaranteed no credit check credit cards – It’s impossible to get a credit card without some form of credit history assessment – find out more about credit checks and why they matter