Barclaycard offers extra time for balance transfers

  • Barclaycard

The high street banks continue to battle for the lucrative credit card market, with Barclaycard determined to see off an impertinent challenge from the Royal Bank of Scotland group. RBS, which also controls NatWest, increased the interest-free period on its platinum balance transfer cards to 26 months. Barclaycard, determined to top the charts on the comparison sites, responded by increasing its own grace period to 27 months.

On the surface it looks like the cutthroat competition is good news for consumers looking for a longer period in which to pay off their credit card debt. Experience tells us though that banks tend to prefer to lend money to those who aren't desperate for it. The platinum card offers are no exception, although users with large sums in the red may be attracted by the interest-free respite of more than two years.

"Balance transfer cards can provide one of the cheapest escape routes for those looking to clear debt," Sarah Robb, of uSwitch.com told the Mail. "This latest offering is great news for consumers who need a little extra time to pay back what they owe without accruing extra interest."

The provison is that, to qualify for a platinum card, consumers will need to have a healthy credit rating and steady income, not usually the defining characteristics of those with pressing debt problems. Robb admitted that those without pristine ratings may need to look at shorter interest-free terms. "You may actually only need a card with a 16 or 18-month interest-free period," she suggested. "If this is the case, not only could you have a better chance of being accepted, but you'll save some money on the balance transfer fee too."

For those with serious debt problems of course, platinum credit card juggling is no longer an option. For them, often the only solution is the strictly short-term option of payday loans, an avenue that will only exacerbate their debt worries.

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