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Competition has been heating up in the interest-free credit card sector of late, with providers continually looking to leapfrog each other to get to the top of the charts. Indeed, in the last few weeks we've seen the launch of the longest ever 0% purchase term on record, clocking in at an impressive 31 months, so is it time to get in on the interest-free action?
Currently, the best interest-free purchase credit card is available from Sainsbury's Bank, with its Purchase Credit Card MasterCard easily beating the competition – it boasts 31 months of interest-free purchases as well as a three-month interest-free period for balance transfers, together with a bonus Nectar points offer, provided you open an account by Sunday.
Halifax could be another great option, with its 30-month interest-free purchase term
together with six months of 0% balance transfers. Or, if you want the best of both worlds, Santander's Everyday Credit Card MasterCard offers a 30-month interest-free term for both purchases and balance transfers, while if you're purely looking to make balance transfers, you can get a 43-month 0% term from both MBNA and nuba. You're certainly not short of options!
Interest-free purchase cards can be particularly beneficial at this time of year, with many people using such deals to pay for their summer getaways and spread the cost, without needing to worry that interest payments will make their bargain break anything but.
After all, as long as you do your sums properly, you can make small monthly repayments and still be debt-free at the end of the interest-free term! Provided you don't make any more purchases, of course, and you stick to your repayment plan to the letter.
Let's say you put a £3,000 holiday on Sainsbury's Bank's top interest-free purchase credit card. You'd have to pay just £96.77 a month, or the minimum payment – whichever is higher – and would pay off your holiday before you even need to think about interest payments.
If you can afford to pay more off each month you can be debt-free even sooner, and as long as you absolutely never miss a monthly payment and pay at least the minimum amount each month, you needn't worry about losing your introductory deal, either.
However, the key is to be sensible with your borrowing, and unfortunately, concerns have been mounting that record interest-free deals are encouraging people to take on too much debt that they can't afford to repay in later years.
Credit card debt is rising at its fastest rate in 11 years, according to figures from the Bank of England, with many people failing to think about the consequences of long-term debt. Record low interest rates mean this trend could continue for the foreseeable future, which is why it's vital to be sure you can comfortably afford to take on any borrowing, and that you've got a plan to pay it back.
After all, you may have the best intentions when it comes to borrowing, but what if you got to the end of an interest-free term and still hadn't paid everything back? You may be in for a shock, as you could be hit with a typical interest rate of 22.9% APR when your deal ends, which could quickly add to your debt. Instead, consider setting up a direct debit to repay the necessary monthly sum, and make sure you truly can benefit from interest-free deals.
Compare the best interest-free credit cards to see if you can benefit.
Seen a deal you like? Make sure your credit score is up to scratch to improve your chances of being accepted.
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