The balance transfer segment of the credit card market continues to get the most high profile coverage which sadly means good value long-term cards are often overlooked.
If you're looking for a new credit card, all the adverts and price comparison best buys will do their utmost to point you towards the longest 0 per cent deals. But some people might not want this, and may prefer a standard low rate credit card, with no introductory gimmicks. In short, plastic they can they can stick with for years.
Cards such as the Lloyds Bank Platinum at 6.4 per cent APR, MBNA Low Rate card at 6.6 per cent APR or Tesco Clubcard charging 7.8 per cent APR could fit the bill.
While interest-free plastic can reduce interest costs if used wisely, there are also some solid multi-purpose credit cards that rarely get a mention.
You can easily get 35 or 36 months free credit-on-balance-transfers, but the longer the deal the higher the balance transfer fee – hitting almost 3.5 per cent in some cases. Another issue often overlooked is the "go to" rates when the introductory deal finishes. In some cases these are touching 20 per cent APR, far higher than the all-rounder cards mentioned below.
If you like to take advantage of the 0 per cent period and then move on to another card and repeat the process, then that makes financial sense. But if you're looking for a card to remain in your wallet for the longer term, there are some alternatives with a wider range of benefits and a more favourable interest rate.
The cards from Halifax (Clarity) 12.9 per cent APR and Nationwide Building Society (Select) 15.9 per cent APR won't appear at the top of the best buys, but when you weigh up the sum of the component parts, these credit cards offer a range of different attributes and excellent long-term value.
They offer a long-term interest rate at well below the market average of 18 per cent APR, as well as additional benefits that you won't find on a specialist 0 per cent card; but if you were to rely on the information in many of the best buy tables, you wouldn't even realise these value added cards existed.
Good news for borrowers
While savers are still scrabbling around to find a half decent return on their cash, mortgage customers have never had it so good, with providers launching some of the most competitive deals ever seen.
Lenders are still tripping over themselves to secure a place in the best buy tables, with competitive rates available across the deposit spectrum, so whether you've got a 35 per cent or 10 per cent stake, banks and building societies are fighting to win your business. For example, at 65 per cent loan-to-value Coventry Building Society is offering a five-year fix at 2.65 per cent with no product fee, while for a shorter term 65 per cent LTV deal, Yorkshire Building Society is offering three years at 1.99 per cent with a £475 fee.
If you're looking for a 90 per cent mortgage, the numbers still look attractive, with Tesco Bank hitting the best buys this week with a two-year fixed rate of 3.09 per cent or a five-year fix at 3.89 per cent, both with a £195 product fee.
If you're coming to the end of your current mortgage deal these rates are a fraction of what you'd pay on your lender's standard variable rate; speak to an independent mortgage broker to find the best interest rate and fee combination for your circumstances.
Andrew Hagger is an independent personal finance analyst from www.moneycomms.co.uk
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