Money Insider: Change now for a 0% balance transfer credit card

 

I was surprised just how competitive and congested the long-term 0 per cent credit card balance transfer market had become, when I took a closer look this week.

With MBNA's longest ever 0 per cent card at 32 months, with a BT fee of 2.69 per cent, it means there are now six different credit cards offering 0 per cent for 32 months with balance transfer fees all within a whisker of each other – ranging from 2.65 per cent to 2.9 per cent.

It seems that providers are reluctant to match the 33-month offer from Barclaycard but instead are battling it out for the best table position they can achieve at 32 months.

Margins are now extremely tight – with most best buy tables based on length of term and then the size of the balance transfer fee; tweaking the balance transfer fee by 0.01 per cent or 0.02 per cent can improve the ranking and more importantly the volume of new business from comparison websites.

For consumers with healthy credit records it's good news. However the key is not to choose your card based on the length of the deal as there is good money to be saved if you're in a position to repay more quickly.

Switching £6,000 to the Barclaycard 33-month card (2.99 per cent fee) will set you back £179.40 whereas 21 months with the Everyday Card from MBNA (1.5 per cent fee) will cost you just £90 and 17 months interest free from Santander (0.9 per cent fee) is cheaper still at £54.

This credit card war won't last for ever and once interest rates start to rise I think we'll see lenders tightening their credit scoring and being less generous. So now may be a good time to switch.

New mortgage deals from First Direct and HSBC

The date when the base rate will increase from its current level of 0.5 per cent is still not clear; however many experts are predicting a move within the first half of 2015.

The cost of fixed rate mortgages has already started to edge upwards, so if you're thinking of remortgaging and want to fix monthly repayments, don't leave it too long. There are still some excellent deals, including new "best buys" launched this week.

There is a five-year fixed rate from First Direct at 2.89 per cent, with a £1,450 product fee for borrowers with a deposit of 35 per cent or more. There was good news for those with smaller deposits, too, with First Direct offering a five-year fix at 4.29 per cent with a £950 fee.

HSBC has a new range of remortgage offers with no fees from Monday 1 September.There are fixed rate options at various loan to values across two, three and five-year terms. The pick of the deals are the five-year fixed rates of 3.49 per cent and 3.89 per cent for 70 per cent LTV and 80 per cent LTV mortgages respectively.

There is no booking fee, standard valuation fee or completion fee. HSBC will also pay standard legal fees for customers who are transferring their mortgage.

Andrew Hagger is an independent personal finance analyst at moneycomms.co.uk

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