Marks & Spencer Money: Switch cards, then clear debt

09 January 2007
The majority of British credit card users move debts from one card to another, for a cheaper rate, with more than half of all card holders having switched at least once, according to research by Marks & Spencer Money.

Although this is good use of introductory offers, the study highlighted that most are using the practice, known as ‘transferring a balance’ as a delaying tactic rather than an opportunity to clear debt more quickly.

Only 36% of borrowers who transfer a balance clear their debts by the time their new credit card reverts to its standard rate.

But, because it tends to be people with smaller debts that clear them within introductory periods, less than a quarter of actual transferred balances are repaid in this time. And of those who still owe money on their card at the end of their introductory period, 64% of them never ‘transfer’ the debt again, and simply continue borrowing at their card’s higher standard APR.

Eddie Nott, deputy chief executive of Marks & Spencer Money said, ”Britain’s borrowers have caught the balance transfer bug, however the majority are not making the most of their low interest deals and clearing their debt. We urge borrowers to opt for lifetime balance transfer offers unless they are confident they will repay their borrowings while it’s cheaper to do so.”

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