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Competition in the 0% purchase credit card sector has been fierce recently, particularly over the last three months, which has seen the average introductory term rise by an unprecedented amount to hit a record high.
That's according to figures contained in our latest Treasury Report, due to be published tomorrow, which reveal that the average interest-free term for purchases rose by 65 days between April and May – the largest increase on record – to hit 381 days, comfortably the highest purchase term on Moneyfacts' records. It then fell back by a single day in June, but at 380 days, it ends the quarter on a fantastic high.
Not only that, but the increase in introductory term came despite the fact that the number of cards offering 0% purchase deals remained unchanged over the three-month period, with 102 such cards available. This suggests that the boost in average term isn't the result of new entrants to the market, but instead highlights growing competition between those already active in the sector, all keen to attract new borrowers.
You only need to keep an eye on the 0% purchase Best Buys to see how true this statement is. Those in the top spots are in a continual battle to keep their crowns, often increasing their terms in order to leapfrog the competition, which means there's never been a better time for borrowers!
The average term of 380 days is low by comparison to the best 0% deals in the market, too. Indeed, you can get a whopping 31 months of interest-free purchases from Sainsbury's Bank, while Halifax, Post Office Money, The AA, Tesco Bank
and Santander all have interest-free terms of 30 months. You're spoilt for choice!
The balance transfer sector still offers borrowers plenty of choice, too, as although competition has edged down over the last three months – the average 0% balance transfer term has risen by just three days quarter-on-quarter to end at 660, well below the increases seen in recent years – there are still plenty of deals to be found.
It's worth pointing out that the level of competition in the interest-free sector appears to have had a knock-on effect on the rest of the market, with the average APR having returned to its record high of 22.8%, while the number of cards offering a reward scheme has fallen by seven on a quarterly basis.
This could indicate that the market is attempting to compensate for offering such long 0% purchase terms by increasing the interest rates on established cards, and likewise by removing reward schemes, in order to maintain profitability and reduce the impact of interest-free deals, but that just makes it more important than ever to choose your deals wisely. Compare the best credit cards to find the deal that works for you, and see if you can take advantage of the interest-free competition.
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