Credit cards Updated:
The UK public's love affair with credit cards is well documented, but is your plastic friend the right companion for you?
Following the troubles of the credit crunch, the UK credit card market is enjoying a period of relative prosperity at present, with lenders regularly launching new, competitive deals.
Such is the choice, that there is probably a credit card that suits your specific needs.
However, much too often, consumers carry around credit cards they've had for years, and no longer fit their requirements.
More often than not, the problem will be that the holder has amassed a sizeable deficit and ends up paying a fair chunk of interest of as part of their monthly payments.
In such scenarios, a balance transfer card could be the answer.
Rather than paying part debt, part interest, the holder is allowed a period where they can concentrate on clearing just their debt.
Credit cards of this type are available offering periods of up to 16 months at 0%.
So, for example, if you have debts of £3,000, you could pay back £187.50 in the 16 months, fully clearing your balance and avoiding interest.
The card for you: NatWest Platinum 0% on balance transfers for 16 months.
If the thought of stopping all spending on your credit card is too much to bear, but you would like to benefit from a 0% balance transfer period, there are other options.
Such a card allows holders 0% interest on both purchases and balance transfers, meaning you get the best of both worlds.
It is important, however, that you do try and pay off a good amount of your balance each month, as spending while only making minimum payments will mean a world of pain at the end of the term.
The card for you: Virgin Money's 12/12 0% purchase and balance transfer card.
If you're in the enviable position of always being able to pay off your full balance at the end of each month, then you probably have lenders banging down your door anyway.
An option that might appeal, above others, could be to earn while you spend.
Cash back cards now offer good returns to savvy borrowers who always pay back their balance.
The card for you: American Express Platinum cashback card (also offers 0% on purchases for six months).
There are people that are too busy to constantly compare rates, or simply don't have the inclination to do so.
Luckily, there are credit cards that offer low rates for the lifetime of the card, so you don't have to worry about sudden increased payments or offers expiring.
The card for you: Barclaycard Platinum Simplicity charging 6.8%
Lastly, if you're off on holiday and don't particularly fancy being stung with sky high charges for spending on your card, then it might be worth checking the terms and conditions on your current card.
If it adds additional loading for foreign spending, then you should consider leaving it at home.
There are a number of credit cards that allow spending abroad, without charge.
The card for you: Post Office Platinum MasterCard.
Card Tip: If you do not make your monthly minimum repayment you risk losing the introductory 0% offer. Pay your credit card statement on time by direct debit.
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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