Two million credit card users ready to switch in pursuit of zero per cent

Nearly two million UK credit card customers plan to switch providers over the next 12 months because the interest-free period on their balance transfers is coming to an end, according to research from Sainsbury's bank. Nearly 900,000 other customers are planning to switch because a similar 0 per cent deal on purchases has come to an end.

Consumers' desire to shop around at the end of an interest-free deal is unsurprising as Sainsbury's research found that once a 0 per cent balance transfer period ends, the average annual percentage rate charge rises to a whopping 18.2 per cent. Likewise, the APR on new purchases rises on average to 18 per cent. Both these interest rates are well above the best-buy rates available for standard credit cards.

According to financial information service Moneyfacts, Sainsbury's card at 6.9 per cent and Barclaycard at 7.9 per cent are the two cheapest credit cards at the moment.

Stuart McKeggie, the head of Sainsbury's credit card, said: "In total 7.9 million people told us they plan to take out a new credit card over the next 12 months, and 32 per cent of these said it is because of their interest free periods ending on their existing cards.

"This is still clearly the main reason for taking out a new card, and for those who want to spread their costs, it can be a sensible financial planning option."

According to Sainsbury's bank, the region with the highest proportion of those switching to a new provider at the end of an interest-free period, is the North-East (49 per cent). In the East Midlands it is 35 per cent and in the South-East 40 per cent.

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