The AA has launched a credit card deal offering a bumper 32 months of 0 per cent interest on spending – longer than any other card on the market, or on record.
The bank has added two months to its previous 30-month term to skip ahead of Sainsbury’s Bank’s previous top-spot position at 31 months.
The new Dual Credit Card also offers 16 months interest-free balance transfers, with a 2.89 per cent handling fee when you move over your existing credit card debt.
Statement sofa: A 0% purchase deal can be a cheap way to borrow for big ticket items if you are sensible about repayments
The AA deal is now the most attractive card on the market for anyone looking to make a large purchase and spread the cost over as long a period as possible. A 0 per cent purchase deal can be a cheap way to borrow for big ticket items if you are sensible about repayments.
Remember after the first 32 months, standard interest kicks in and any remaining debt will begin to clock up interest of 18.9 per cent. So make sure you clear it on time – and don’t take the card if you can’t.
Only those with spotless credit ratings are likely to qualify for the card, and get the advertised deal though. The lender only needs to offer the advertised 0 per cent deals and interest rate to 51 per cent of successful customers.
Instead you could be given a shorter 24 months of 0 per cent interest on purchases and 14 months on balance transfers.
What’s good about interest-free purchase credit cards?
This type of deal can be a useful tool to help pay for large expenses such as home improvements or for spreading the cost of a holiday.
But they are only worth considering if you are sure to steer clear of the traps (see box below) and they’ve recently come under scrutiny for encouraging consumers to spend without proper consideration of whether they can repay.
Would you be better off with any other card?
Sainsbury’s Bank offers the next best deal in the tables with 31 months 0 per cent interest on spending.
It also offers a shorter term to repay balance transfers than the AA at just 3 months and you will pay more in handling fees at 3 per cent of any debt you move over from an existing credit card.
The deal does however also come with Nectar loyalty points for spending plus a 5,000 point bonus if you spend £250 in stores or on fuel within the first month.
Alternatively there are handful of lenders offering 30 month-deals including Santander, The Post Office, Tesco Bank, and Halifax.
If you are after a dual purpose card, Santander’s Everyday option gives the longest balance transfer term at an equal 30 months with a 2.75 per cent fee.
You can read more about the top-purchase card deals in our regularly updated round-up here.
Want to sidestep interest-free terms altogether?
Another credit card option for anyone wanting to take the pressure off paying within a set time period is a permanent low-interest card.
These give the flexibility of knowing that you have a card to hand to spread big purchases out, without worrying about falling foul of any small print or failing to repay in time.
Missing payments, paying late or spending beyond your limit risk losing an interest-free term which can quickly land you in hot water when standard interest at 18 or 19 per cent is slapped on your remaining balance.
The best deal currently available also comes from the AA at 5.85 per cent.
Sainsbury’s Bank and Tesco Bank offer a marginally higher rate of 5.9 per cent however and also come with rewards points for spending through their respective Nectar and Clubcard loyalty schemes.
Read more about low rate credit cards and the best deals around here.
THE TRICKS TO AVOID THE 0 PER CENT INTEREST TRAP
The key to success is to make sure you are disciplined about your debt.
If you do this, you can make a 0 per cent interest card can work for you, rather than to the benefit of the credit card company.
That means if you have a 0 per cent interest deal, making sure you have repaid it before they whip away the promotional deal.
Whether you have a balance transfer card or a purchase deal, the best way to do this is to sit down and work out how much this means you will need to repay each month.
Then make sure you set up a direct debit from your account for that amount.
This will also make sure you never rack up late or missed payment fees.
The safest way to use balance transfer cards is to keep them for the purpose of repaying the debt. To avoid temptation to run up a bigger bill by spending on the card, it is best to ditch the card from your wallet, or cut it up completely.
If you can’t spend more on the card, you will also avoid any penalties for spending beyond your limit. This usually means a £12 fee and a mark on your credit score.
Read more about the credit card trap and how to avoid it here.
THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST CREDIT CARDS