Credit card customers hit with high rates after 0% deal

10 June 2008 / by Daniela Gieseler
Credit card customers whose zero per cent balance transfer deals have come to an end should watch their interest payments which might have been upped considerably, analysis from financial services website MoneyExpert.com shows.

Since earlier this year, the average standard APR on balance transfers has risen 0.75 per cent, from 15.35 per cent to the current 16.1 per cent. Some 23 credit cards charge 18.9 per cent, and Northern Bank's Platinum Credit Card charges as much as 39.6 per cent once the zero per cent balance transfer deal has ended.

According to the research, the market currently offers 180 zero per cent balance transfer credit card deals, with an average special introductory period of 10 months.

MoneyExpert.com advises consumers to keep an eye on their credit card deals and to pay off the outstanding balances before the deal expires, as credit card providers aim to increase the charges on those balances at the end of the introductory period.

"Credit card companies continue to offer good, lengthy 0 per cent card deals on balance transfers, and customers should continue to take advantage of them," Sean Gardner, director of MoneyExpert.com, said.

"However part of the consideration process should be the go-to rate, particularly as more and more people will not be in a position to clear their balance in full once their deal expires," Mr Gardner added.

"As money is tight, paying off the credit cardis more difficult and that means you'll have to rely on the standard APR of your credit card provider, or of course switch again."

MoneyExpert.com also found that around 1.8 million credit card holders have had their credit limit reduced by their banks in the past year, the average reduction being £1,600.

While MoneyExpert recommends regularly reviewing and comparing providers for their services as good practice, the company warns consumers that it does not always make financial sense to switch.

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