By: Peter Stephens | Updated: 21st November, 2018.
Post Office Balance Transfer Card
Good for: Really long balance transfer period
Our Bottom Line
The Post Office Balance Transfer Card is one of the options that gives you a massive amount of time to pay down those balance transfers: 32 months! Consider whether you need quite that much time though, since long durations like this normally come with a balance transfer fee. In this case 2% on whatever you transfer. With this card you also get 0% on purchases over the first three months and fee-free travel money if you go to the Post Office or pay online.
Representative APR (variable):
Balance transfer fee:
Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent
What I like about the Post Office Balance Transfer Card
While the main attraction of the Post Office Balance Transfer Card is its balance transfer offer, it includes a range of benefits which could help to make it more appealing to a variety of consumers.
- 0% balance-transfer offer – Balances transferred from existing cards within the first three months of obtaining the card will not incur any interest charges for the first 32 months. This is one of the longest 0% interest periods available on the market, and could provide customers with breathing space that allows them more time to clear their existing debts.
- Interest reduction – Over the course of a 32-month time period, the reduction in interest costs could be significant for a consumer with existing debts. For example, take an individual with £3,000 in credit card debt with an APR of 17.9% and payments of £118 per month. They would clear the debt after 32 months and pay £721 in interest costs while doing so. Transferring that debt onto the Post Office Balance Transfer Card would save them £661 in interest costs (including transfer fee), and even allow them to be debt-free six months earlier if they maintain a repayment of £118 per month.
- 0% interest on purchases – Interest-free purchases are also offered for the first three months. This provides consumers with greater flexibility if they have upcoming purchases that will need to be paid for via a credit card. However, the main focus of a balance transfer card should clearly be on reducing debt, rather than adding to it.
- Ease of use – The card offers contactless payments, as well as easy account management via mobile app, online or by phone. Mastercard is accepted in over 35 million places worldwide, while there is no fee for Travel Money when the card is used in a Post Office branch or online. With most credit cards, a fee is applicable since the purchase of Travel Money is considered a cash withdrawal.
- No annual fee – The card does not charge an annual fee. While that is perhaps to be expected given its relative lack of cashback rewards, it should help to further keep an individual’s costs down during the 32-month, 0% balance-transfer period.
Why you can trust me
I have been writing for The Motley Fool since 2013, and have experienced the booms and busts of the UK economy for a number of decades both as an investor and a consumer. I have held various senior management positions during my career, while also setting up my own manufacturing company in 1996. It was subsequently sold in 2007. I have a keen interest in consumer finance, as well as in the stock market.
What could be improved
While the Post Office Balance Transfer Card offers a range of benefits to its customers, no card is perfect. Here are some of the drawbacks to using the card.
- Transfer fee – Any balances that are transferred to the card will incur a 2% transfer fee. This reduces the benefit of the 0% interest period to some degree, although a one-off 2% fee is still likely to be significantly lower than the interest that most consumers pay on their existing balances. In the previous example, a £3,000 debt transferred to the Post Office Balance Transfer Card would incur a transfer fee of £60, which is relatively low in comparison to paying, for example, a 17.9% APR on the debt.
- Transfer period – Balance transfers must be made within the first three months of account opening. While this is likely to provide sufficient opportunity for most people to transfer their existing debts, it means that any new debt built up on other cards after that initial three-month period cannot be subsequently transferred in order to take advantage of the 0% offer.
- Using the card abroad – A 2.99% non-sterling transaction fee applies when the card is used abroad. Therefore, consumers may be better off with a credit card that charges no fees when used abroad for holidays or business travel.
While a transfer fee, limited period to transfer existing debts and a fee for using the card abroad are negatives, ultimately the card is effective at providing a reduction in interest costs over an extended time period for consumers who have existing credit card balances elsewhere.
How does Post Office’s balance transfer offer stack up?
A 32-month 0% interest period is among the longest currently on offer across the industry. Although there is a transfer fee, this is relatively common among cards which offer the longest balance transfer periods. Its APR after the 32-month balance transfer period is pretty standard for a credit card without an annual fee.
It is possible to obtain 0% balance transfer cards which have no transfer fee. However, their balance transfer periods are usually shorter. Other cards may also offer lower transfer charges, or even cashback. Therefore, savvy consumers may be able to find a better deal depending on their own circumstances and requirements.
The Post Office Balance Transfer Card credit score
Although the card advertises a 32-month interest-free period, that is not available to everyone that applies. Likewise, the representative APR after the 0% period ends is only offered to the majority of consumers, with the remainder potentially having a different rate.
The Post Office offers a service called ‘Fast Checker’ which provides guidance on how likely it is that an individual will be approved for a card. It does not involve a full credit check, so does not show up on an individual’s credit file. It is free to use and only takes a few minutes. As a result, the card may be of interest to consumers with a variety of credit scores.
How to apply
Basic information such as name, address and date of birth is required in order to apply for the card. Other details such as proof of identity and proof of address may also be required, as well as information on employment status, salary and outgoings. Applications can be made online, by phone or in Post Office locations.
Is the Post Office Balance Transfer Card right for you?
The card seems to offer a number of benefits, and may be suited to those individuals who are seeking to reduce the interest they pay on existing credit card balances. As mentioned in the earlier example, balance transfer cards can save an individual a significant sum of interest – even with a transfer fee included. With one of the longest interest-free periods around, the card could offer the opportunity for consumers to more easily clear their existing debts over the next couple of years.