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Free loans vs. traditional loans

Free loans vs. traditional loans

Category: Loans

Updated: 14/12/2012
First Published: 01/09/2010

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Time was when you needed a bit of extra money, the only real option was to borrow some from a provider and hope that the interest charged wasn't too hefty.

The expansion of different credit cards for different purposes has afforded spenders another option in recent times, however, with those looking to borrow money over a shorter period now offered the tantalising prospect of an interest free loan of sorts.

This is because there is nothing to stop consumers taking out a 0% purchase card, spending on it – whether that be to cover the cost of a new car, a holiday, or perhaps a wedding – and paying the balance off before interest kicks in.

So, for example, if the honeymoon of your dreams comes at a cost of £5,000, a sure fire way to pay back the amount without accruing any interest whatsoever would be to set up a direct debit of £420 a month.

After a year, the balance would be paid off in full – no interest, no fuss.

If this neat trick sounds appealing, then the Best Buy tables detail the most competitive 0% purchase credit cards on the market.

They include the leader of the pack, the Tesco Bank Clubcard Credit card MasterCard, which offers customers 0% for a whopping 13 months.

Just behind follow the Virgin Money 12/12 Credit Card MasterCard and the AA Credit card Visa, both of which offer a 0% purchase rate for a full year.

If you're confident you can pay off your balance in a slightly shorter time, then the Halifax All in One MasterCard, offering 10 months at 0%, may appeal.

There is, of course, nothing to stop somebody switching their balance onto a 0% balance transfer card at the end of the term and continuing to pay down their debt in this way, but it is a riskier strategy as there are no guarantees your application will be accepted.

A wrong move could see an eye-watering interest rate introduced.

For slightly more cautious borrowers, or those that want to spread their payment over a longer period of time, a traditional loan is probably the better route to take.

The good news is that in today's competitive market, there are a number of providers that offer reasonable rates of interest on repayments.

The market leader as of now for those wanting to borrow between £7,500 and £14,999 for up to five years is Nationwide, which is offering a typical APR of 7.7% to its FlexAccount customers.

If you are reluctant to change your main provider, but would still like a low rate, then Sainsbury's Finance Loans is currently offering shoppers with a Nectar card a typical APR of 7.8% on loans from £7,500 to £14,999.

Consumers looking to borrow slightly less may want to look to AA Personal Loans. With amounts starting from £2,000, the APR on your loan will be from 8.9% to 19.9%.

Before choosing your preferred borrowing method, it is worth making the time to fully research the market, finding the right product to suit you and your financial needs.

A good place to begin is to compare loans using the Moneyfacts Best Buy tables. Aternatively use our loans calculator to find the cheapest loan for your circumstances.

To find the best credit card rates click here to compare credit cards

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.