How to Move Credit Cards
The UK is a competitive market for credit card products and if you aren’t getting what you want out of your existing provider look around and see what’s out there. If you do decide to move there are several ways to do this and providers are keen to make the process as easy as possible.
More from Choosing a Credit Card
6 January 2009
How To Move Credit Cards
Before moving, speak to your existing provider to see if they can match the best deals.
Make your move
If you pay your balance off in full each month but don't get anything back for doing so, you should consider changing. Many credit cards now offer cash back and rewards. These work especially well if you do pay back your balance as you don’t accrue any monthly interest and instead receive money based on your spending and/or rewards.
Cashback cards. The way to make this really work is to put as many of your allocated monthly purchases as possible on the card and repay the balance in full every month. The more you spend, the bigger your reward. You effectively make money by spending it. But if you can’t make the payments, it is better to look at another option.
Reward cards. The majority of credit card companies offer cards with loyalty or reward schemes such as AirMiles or travel points. If you collect enough you can get a free flight or cruise. Although these cards don’t earn you cash, they can save you the money you would have spent on travel. Pay your card off in full to really make the rewards schemes work for you.
The second big reason to move is to take advantage of a balance transfer. If your current rate of interest or annual percentage rate (APR) is fairly high, look around to see who might be offering a more competitive rate, or better still, a 0% interest rate for a limited period.
- 0% balance transfer offers. One of the biggest credit card trends in the past few years has been the use of 0% cards for balance transfers. If you have a balance - or several – sitting on other cards at any rate of interest it can be a money-saver to transfer the amount onto a 0% card. You then concentrate on paying off as much as possible, with the knowledge that all your repayments are paying the debt alone, without having to service the added burden of interest.
Another reason to move is if you want to make a large purchase and can budget to pay it off within a set period. If you use a credit card that offers a period of 0% interest on purchases this can be a very good way to use a credit card.
- 0% on purchases card. The cost effective way to use this type of card is to ensure you pay for the purchase within the 0% offer period, otherwise it will cost more than you originally paid, due to subsequent interest. For instance, if you buy something costing £1,200 and the offer period is ten months you will need to pay back £120 to the card every month. One of the best ways to ensure you do this is to set up a direct debit and then factor it into your monthly budget.
Do you need to break away?
There are several ways to move from your existing provider to another. If you are balance free, simply shop around the market and identify who is giving the best deals.
Before moving, speak to your existing provider to see if they can match this or move you to a credit card that has the perks you want. If they can, you might save yourself the bother of moving at all.
This can apply to any situation. For instance, if you want a 0% balance transfer period, your existing provider might be able to match this or switch you onto another card within their group.
You won’t know unless you ask!
Before you move
When looking at a new provider consider this:
How long does the introductory rate last?
What is the interest rate after the special rate expires?
What are the other terms and conditions of the card? Ask about credit limits, interest calculation, fees, charges and so on and compare this to your current card.
How are payments applied to any purchases? What is the rate of interest for a cash withdrawal and a balance transfer? This is important to explore, as it will give you a better understanding of the cost of your card.
One disadvantage to changing credit card provider is how it might affect your credit rating. Credit Reference Agencies monitor the number of cards you have and look at how you deal with them in terms of repayments for instance. You may not be able to switch cards with a weak credit rating.
If you can move, cancel any existing credit cards that you don’t use as the overall amount of credit that is available to you counts towards your credit rating, even if you aren’t using it all.
How you can move
Whatever situation you are in there are a few ways in which you can make the move:
Online. Some online applications give you an instant decision.
Through a paper-based application.
By telephone. Call the provider and go through the process with them then and there, if you have got the time. It is always good to call the provider because they can answer any questions you might have as you go along.