Finance experts TotallyMoney have warned that 27 million UK households are potentially missing out on substantial £300 savings due to price hikes and widespread misconceptions. Research reveals:

  • £300 a year could be saved on average in UK households by switching energy tariff
  • This equates to customers overpaying by £3.8 billion due to not switching energy tariff or supplier
  • 82% of the British public failed to switch energy in 2018
  • Over half (58%) falsely believe they are already on the best tariff

TotallyMoney’s award-winning free credit report has always shown customers how much their money habits affect their credit score. Their brand-new energy switching service helps customers to improve their spending habits, and means they will now see their best money-saving options to ensure they never pay more than they need to.

The launch comes at a pivotal time for customers, many of whom resolve to take control of their finances at the beginning of the year but remain unaware of how significant an impact energy switching has on their financial welfare.

Shockingly, nearly three in five (58%) believe they are already on the best energy tariff. However, many don’t know that some energy suppliers automatically place customers on the most expensive plan once their introductory period ends, which is only capped due to restrictions and regulations mandated by the government.

The lightbulb moment

TotallyMoney customers now get a constantly up-to-date view on how much they can save on their energy bills and can complete a money-saving switch in as little as two minutes. This hassle-free experience will overcome significant barriers for customers, with one in four believing energy switching to be an inconvenience and are left out of pocket as a result.

Customers can also choose how they save based on what matters to them most, whether that’s price alone, well-established energy providers, contract flexibility, or green suppliers.

Alastair Douglas, CEO of TotallyMoney, comments:

“We’re excited to launch energy switching for our customers and are keen to get the word out about how significant the potential savings are. 

“It’s alarming that £3.8 billion of people’s hard-earned money is being lost due to not switching.

“A £300 annual saving is a worthwhile return in exchange for just two minutes of someone’s time — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. For larger households and families, the potential savings could be even greater.

Direct Line Car Insurance is warning consumers not to be scammed into buying worthless fake car insurance policies, after new analysis1 reveals it takes just ten seconds to find an insurance scammer, known as a ghost broker, on social media fraudulently claiming to sell fully comprehensive car insurance from companies such as Admiral, Hastings Direct, AVIVA and Churchill.

The insurer is leading the fight against these fraudsters, who specifically target vulnerable consumers, through major social media sites.  Direct Line reports that by working with these social media platforms to delete accounts that were fraudulently targeting consumers using its brand, it has now assisted in the closure of over 500.  Direct Line continues to work together with social media companies to proactively search and delete these insurance scams.

Steve Barrett, head of motor insurance at Direct Line, commented: “Social media platforms are being targeted by these scam artists, and it is important we continue to work together to protect consumers from being misled into buying a worthless car insurance policy. Fraud adds £50 to the insurance premiums of honest customers, so for every person who mistakenly thinks they save money using a ghost broker;  everyone else pays more.

“Consumers need to be beware when responding to adverts and profiles that appear ‘too good to be true’ on social media, as they could find themselves a victim of fraud, losing money and potentially facing criminal charges. Whilst insurers are doing all they can to spot these fake accounts to protect honest policyholders, drivers may only find out they have been scammed when they come to make a claim or if pulled over for a random police check.”

One ghost broker identified promises that they “100% use a client’s details” to secure fully comprehensive insurance yet are also offering the first five people to contact them a car insurance policy for just £200, which is impossible to guarantee.  Ghost brokers will sell fraudulent insurance policies that never exist, use false information to secure a policy in someone’s name, or even buy a legitimate policy only to then cancel it, pocketing the refund.  Many of these scam artists also promise “£50 to refer a friend” to attract even more victims to their scams.

To try and avoid detection and the tracing of payments ghost brokers are using messaging apps, where messages are encrypted to communicate with vulnerable consumers, and requesting payment in cryptocurrency.

Barrett continues: “We proactively engage with social media owners, identifying ghost brokers and petitioning for the removal of these pages to protect the public.  We also have stringent processes in place to identify potentially fraudulent insurance applications.  Anyone we suspect of operating as a ghost broker will be reported immediately to the authorities.”

It is illegal to drive without valid insurance and drivers caught by the police, whose policy is fraudulent or has been cancelled without their knowledge, risk a fixed penalty of £300 and six penalty points on their licence2.  If the case goes to court a driver can face an unlimited fine and be disqualified from driving.


Advice for consumers:

  • The policy holder is responsible for the information provided in their application, if a the information given is not accurate,  their insurance will be invalid.
  • Only purchase motor insurance from reputable sources, Direct Line doesn’t sell through brokers. Policies can only be purchased direct via the website or telephone
  • Official social media accounts on major platforms have a blue tick, So avoid those accounts that don’t have one
  • Steer clear, if a ‘Broker’ only uses a mobile number or has no business premises or uses personal sounding email address (i.e. no company affiliation)
  • Contact the insurer directly if going through a broker to check if they are authorised to sell policies on the company’s behalf or check them out at or
  • Adverts promising insurance for a fixed price without having any details of your personal situation or the vehicle you are seeking to insure are likely to be fraudulent
  • Reviews – if these feature screengrabs of text messages, they are extremely likely to be fake
  • Check the language – if communications include text such as “you can’t believe how cheap it is bro” and “totally legit not a scam mate” – it probably is fraudulent
  • Intuition – ask yourself if the deal appears ‘too good to be true’, does the website or social media page appear reputable?

How to check you’re not a victim:

  • Check if the Broker is registered with FCA and/or BIBA
  • Check your details with the insurer you have been informed you are insured with
  • Check if your car is insured online via

What a consumer should do if they think it’s a scam:

  • Report to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040
  • Contact Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) Cheatline – 0800 422 0421

Aldermore’s new buy to let research, surveying 1,000 UK-based landlords, highlights the important contribution landlords make to their local economy with eight in ten turning to a local tradesperson when their property requires work or renovation. Landlords spent on average £1,443 in the last 12 months on services such as plumbers, builders, letting agents and other tradespeople, and all hired from the local community for most of their requirements.

Of the total amount paid to local service providers, landlords spent the most on letting agents coming to £879m in the past twelve months, followed by £442m on general handy-workers and £396m on plumbers. Also, landlords spent £375.4m on electricians, £377.3m on builders, and £243.2m on cleaners.

Using local provides peace of mind for landlords

Over a third say trust is the main reason why they turn to someone local, while one quarter (26%) say, due to not living close to their rental property, having local people do maintenance is reassuring to them. Furthermore, one in three (31%) want to support their local economy by using local tradespeople and one in four (24%) say they tend to be cheaper to alternatives which helps keep their business costs down.

The report found that landlords are happy with the services local tradespeople provide and 65%will continue to use them, with a further quarter intending to use them even more in the future. Only 7% of landlords say they haven’t used local services for their properties, mainly due to being able to do the jobs themselves or having a family member who can service the property.

Damian Thompson, Group Managing Director of Retail Finance at Aldermore, said: “Landlords are an integral part of local communities across the UK, providing investment and fulfilling the demand of the expanding Private Rented Sector. Around every landlord is an ecosystem, in which they pay local tradespeople, like plumbers, builders, decorators, for jobs and those companies in turn train up employees and pay their own local suppliers for services also. The contribution landlords make to local communities extends much wider than merely providing rental accommodation.

“Our findings show supporting local economies also brings benefits to landlords own businesses. Local workers bring a lot of value to landlords with respondents to our survey citing in particular the quality work, cost effectiveness and the understanding of local areas as key benefits.”


Table 1: landlord expenditure on local services the past 12 months

Service Percentage of landlords that used service in past 12 months Average amount spent annually on landlords that used service Total UK wide annual spend for service by landlords
Letting agent/ property management 31% £1,135.40 £879.9m
Handy-worker 40% £442.40 £442.4m
Plumbers 51% £310.70 £396.1m
Electricians 47% £319.50 £375.4m
Cleaners 19% £512.10 £243.2m
Builders 26% £580.50 £377.3m
Roofers 16% £537.60 £215.0m
Gardeners 12% £476.50 £143.0m
Carpenters 18% £481.80 £216.8m
Architects 4% £764.10 £76.4m
Structural Engineers 4% £877.20 £87.7m
Interior designers 5% £1,020.00 £127.5m
Other 3% £494.90 £37.1m


The reality of adult life is having to take more responsibility for the state of our finances. Long gone are the days of receiving a little pocket money from mum and dad for doing the chores; instead, we’re faced with the big bad world of credit scores, loans, mortgages, bills and much more.

Unfortunately, these concerns can take their toll and it was recently revealed that 55% of all adults have seen their mental health affected as a result of money issues, while 63% have been concerned about someone they know.

There are some events in life – planned or otherwise – which can necessitate a re-think of our financial strategy. So, what might these events be and how can we assess our monetary situation accordingly?

Having a child

Recent data suggests that the average cost for two parents raising a child until the age of 18, including childcare expenses, is £155,100. Such a staggering figure, as well as the obvious responsibility of bringing another human being into the world, means careful consideration is required before deciding to extend your family.

Dealing with a drop in income

Should you or your partner be unfortunate enough to suffer a reduction in salary – perhaps due to redundancy, illness or because of professional negligence that affects your ability to work – then you may have to cut your cloth accordingly and review how you spend your money.

Buying a house

If you’re seeking to get on the property ladder, it may take a significant financial commitment. As of November 2019, the average price of a house in the UK was £235,298, which means a standard 10% deposit would require a payment in excess of £23,500. Many people would not be in a position to readily come up with such a sum, which is why it could prove prudent to asses your finances and see where you can make savings.

How to evaluate your financial health

The above are just some examples of periods we go through in life where careful planning becomes paramount. The first step is to sit down and assess all your regular incomings and outgoings, perhaps recording them on a spreadsheet for ease of calculation.

By adding up the combined salary of your household, you’ll know how much money you have coming in every month and by totting up all your expenditures – such as rent or mortgage payments, bills, food and fuel, you’ll gain an idea of your living costs.

At that point, you should be able to work out how much expendable income you have and whether that is going to be enough to cover the initial costs of having a baby, saving for a deposit or dealing with a drop in salary.

If it’s not, then it’s time to see where you can make savings – perhaps by changing where you shop for food, altering your TV subscription or making plans to car share more often. If you start doing this, you’ll be taking the first steps towards improving your financial picture.

Research from credit experts TotallyMoney and MoneyComms reveals how just making minimum repayments on credit card balances costs customers thousands in interest and takes over two decades to clear.

  • Only making the minimum repayment each month will take over 26 years to clear a credit card balance
  • Customers expected to lose a staggering £3,775 due to interest
  • Fixing monthly repayments to the first minimum repayment amount will save £2,367 in interest
  • Just a mere 1 in 5 know about the dangers of the minimum repayment trap* 

The shocking figures are based on only making the minimum repayment on a credit card balance of £2,604†, with a fixed interest rate of 19.9%APR‡.

Worryingly, the anticipated interest costs will be even greater for those customers stuck with a higher annual percentage rate.

Furthermore, a staggering 80% of people are unaware of the dangerous trap they could fall into by only making minimum repayments, leaving them with debt that will take over a quarter of a century to clear.

Small change, big win

The credit experts advise that one way to avoid this pitfall is by paying a slightly larger, fixed amount each month.

For example, if the first minimum repayment on a £2,604 credit card balance is £66, setting the monthly repayments at this thereafter, while the outstanding balance continues to decrease, could avoid customers from paying an extra £2,367 in interest.

Moreover, this payment plan means it will take just over five years to pay off the balance — more than five times faster than the 26 years it will take to clear the same balance when only making minimum repayments.

Alastair Douglas, CEO of credit experts TotallyMoney, comments:

“While it’s alarming how much money people can save by making one small change to their repayment habits, especially as figures suggest there’s over £580 million lost in interest charged each month, it’s even more concerning how many people don’t know how making only the minimum repayment impacts them.

“It’s understandable that in certain months customers can only afford the minimum repayments, and sometimes it may be tempting to make a smaller repayment to keep as much cash in the bank as possible. However, the figures show this is an incredibly expensive option.

“And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Many will pay even more interest on their credit card balance if they have a higher annual percentage rate.

“At TotallyMoney, we’re on a mission to improve the UK’s credit score and help people move on up to a better financial future. It’s important people are aware of the small change they could make to their repayment habits, as this will help them clear their debts and become debt-free quicker.

“To help people avoid being stung by interest costs, here are my top three tips.”


1)    Move your debts to a balance transfer card

If you’re currently paying interest on a credit card balance, you could transfer it to a balance transfer card. These cards let you pay off the balance over a certain amount of time, with no interest. There’s often a small transfer fee, which is worked out as a percentage of how much you transfer, but this is usually much less than what you’d pay in interest otherwise.


2)    Use a 0% interest purchase card 

These cards come with a period of interest-free spending. That means you can make a large or unexpected purchase, and clear the balance over a set number of months — without building interest.


3)    Consider getting a personal loan 

The next time you need to borrow money, you may find that a personal loan is a better option for you. With a personal loan, you’re told upfront the fixed amount you’ll have to repay each month, as well as its total cost over the length of the loan. You should avoid payday loans though, as they have very high interest rates, making the total cost of borrowing very expensive.

With any card or loan, it’s always best to check your eligibility on sites such as TotallyMoney before you apply. This lets you see how likely you are to be accepted for what you want, reduces your chances of rejection, and helps protect your credit rating.


* TotallyMoney annual Financial Awareness Survey [conducted by OnePoll. 2,000 UK Adults December 2018]

† Average credit card debt per household: The Money Charity [October 2019]

‡ Average interest rate figure of 19.9%APR: Bank of England [December 2019]

Calculations made using the CardCosts calculator [January 2020]

Credit experts TotallyMoney have advised that those booking holidays could protect themselves under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act by using a credit card, meaning customers could get their money back should something go wrong. The advice comes at a pivotal time for holiday makers with Flybe at risk folding, following the devastating collapse of Thomas Cook and WOW Air last year that left hundreds of thousands massively out of pocket.

  • Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act protects all credit card transactions between £100 and £30,000
  • An estimated 5.2 million* Brits will book holidays this January, yet almost a third (29%) of consumers don’t realise Section 75 covers them at all
  • More than half (55%) aren’t aware they’re protected by Section 75 for the cost of a hotel when booking directly
  • A third (34%) falsely believe that Section 75 covers PayPal transactions over £100

With many people left in the dark last year about if and how they’ll get a refund, customers can live safe in the knowledge that they’ll be able to get a refund under Section 75, providing the Debtor-Creditor-Supplier (DCS) Link isn’t broken.

This means the exchange of money between the customer, the credit card company, and the service provider must be maintained. Section 75 therefore wouldn’t apply when the DCS link is broken, which happens when using third parties, such as a travel agent.

Alarmingly, booking a holiday through a travel agent doesn’t cover customers if the operator folds. Customers should therefore confirm their holiday is ATOL-protected if booking through an agent.

Choose credit, not debit

Those booking their holidays directly, however, should be aware of Section 75 and its benefits before they do, to avoid being left short in worst-case scenarios.

TotallyMoney CEO, Alastair Douglas, comments: “In a world where things can often go wrong, Section 75 is a safety net. The trouble is, many don’t realise it exists.

“With great deals in January and many suffering from post-Christmas blues, it’s easy to see why people are keen to book a holiday. However, having something go wrong while away — during what’s often the highlight of your year — is an awful situation to be in.

“If it so happens you can’t jet off, or worse yet, you’re stuck and can’t get home, you can be left feeling like there’s nothing you can do. Section 75 adds an extra level of security that can really help.

“It was disheartening last year to see so many families stranded and out of pocket when Thomas Cook collapsed. If something like this happens again, being covered by Section 75 means you can contact your credit card provider to claim a refund.

“At TotallyMoney, we’re on a mission to improve the UK’s credit score and help people move on up to a better future. Not only could responsibly using a credit card improve your credit score, but being covered by Section 75 could also improve a situation that might otherwise be financially very stressful.”


Section 75 Top Ten Tips

To make sure you’re never caught out, here are 10 things to know about how Section 75 can help you when booking your next getaway.

  1. Limits on claims

Individual items and purchases costing more than £100 and up to £30,000 are covered under Section 75. So whether it’s a cancelled flight or an all-inclusive family holiday and the company goes bust, as long as you paid on credit card, you could be reimbursed the full amount.

2. We’re talking credit, not debit

Section 75 doesn’t cover anything bought using a debit card. Chargeback protection is as good as you’ll get with debit.

3. They’re bust. You’re not broke

Buying from a company that goes bust before they deliver doesn’t mean your money’s lost. Section 75 requires credit card companies to get your money back.

4. Pay a deposit, get full value cover

When a deposit is needed for a holiday, use a credit card — even when the deposit is less than £100. Should anything prevent you from settling the balance (like the airline collapses), Section 75 lets you claim the full amount. Not just the paid deposit.

5. Pay part credit and part cheque, get full value cover

The same goes if you decide to pay part of the balance by credit card and the rest by cheque. Consumers can reclaim the full value of the qualifying goods and services even if the total balance wasn’t paid using a credit card.

6. Stay protected on closed cards

Say you buy a holiday, close the credit card you bought it with, but something goes wrong that’s not your fault, Section 75 means you can still make a claim.

7. Extra expense cover

If you book a holiday and the flight is cancelled, through Section 75 you could claim back additional accommodation and food expenses, providing those consequential losses were reasonable.

8. The Section 75 loopholes

Buying through a third party (like travel agents), additional cardholder purchases, or cash that’s withdrawn from your credit card won’t offer Section 75 protection. You need to have paid the company directly (so purchases made through PayPal, for example, aren’t covered).

9. Section 75 applies to all credit cards

When it comes to Section 75 there’s isn’t one rule for one credit card company and something different for another. All credit cards come with Section 75 benefits.

10. The claims process

First port of call: the service provider, for example the airline or hotel (depending on the situation). Failing that, go to the credit card company — this might be your bank or building society, not Visa, Mastercard or AMEX. They’ll get you to fill out a claim form and voila! Your money is back where it belongs.

RoosterMoney, the pocket money app, reveals that kids received a new high of £273 pocket money (£5.25 a week) last year, up 7.5% from 2018, and encouragingly they saved 38% of it. This is in stark contrast to the latest statistics showing adults are only managing to save 6.8% of their income.

Children are picking up lasting money habits as young as 7 years old, and RoosterMoney is showing that a strong pocket money routine is a great way to build positive money habits early on…


  • 74% of parents gave regular pocket money last year
  • Average weekly allowance is £5.25 (£273 a year), up 7.5% from £254 in 2018
  • Kids received £49 in cash gifts this Christmas
  • Most lucrative chores are ‘Mowing the lawn’, ‘Washing the car’ & ‘Gardening’
  • Most popular things to save for are Lego Sets, Phones & Nintendo Switch
  • Of all money earned, average saved is 38%


Will Carmichael, RoosterMoney CEO says: “44% of what we do every day is said to be put down to habit – so seeing these savings habits develop so early is extremely encouraging. Starting to engage your kids with money early by creating teachable moments around the home can help cement positive habits that last a lifetime. The New Year is a great time to kick start a pocket money and saving routine to encourage your kids to make considered choices about how they use their money.”

You can read moretop tips on teaching kids about money here:

Open Banking has the potential to improve the way in which consumers manage their finances. However, two years on from its introduction, Which? has found nearly three quarters (73%) of people still haven’t heard of Open Banking.

Of the just over one in four people (27%) who had heard of Open Banking, only 4 per cent have used an Open Banking ‘account aggregator’, allowing them to view multiple financial accounts in one app.

The research also found that nearly seven in 10 people (65%) are unlikely to consider sharing their financial data even if it meant that financial products and services were more tailored to their needs.

The main reasons for being unlikely to share financial data were:

  • ‘I am happy with my current banking arrangements so don’t see a need for an Open Banking product’ (64%)

  • ‘I am concerned about the security of my personal/financial details when shared with a third party’ (41%)

  • ‘I am concerned about data privacy’ (41%)

  • ‘I am not prepared to share my data with third parties’ (40%)

  • ‘I prefer just to deal with my own bank’ (27%)

Which?’s view:

  • Open Banking has the potential to improve the way in which consumers manage their finances, however vital protections over data breaches and scams must be in place.

  • Industry must work to deliver useful and innovative products and services for consumers if Open Banking is to be a success.

  • Banks and regulators must have in place robust measures and provide the necessary assurances for consumers over their data privacy and security.


Jennya spokesman for Which?, said:

“By giving consumers greater control over their finances and more choice over the products and services they use, open banking has the potential to be revolutionary. But two years on, huge numbers of people are still in the dark over what open banking is, or are reluctant to use it.

“If open banking is to ever be a success, regulators and industry must do more to deliver services with clear, tangible benefits for consumers, and demonstrate that customers are properly protected from data breaches and scams in order to boost trust in these services.”

This January will be the most popular month for people to book holidays for the coming year according to new research from Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Insurance. The study indicates that around 6.4 million people across the nation are looking to book getaways then.

More than three quarters (76%) of UK adults will go on holiday in 2020, spending an average of £757 each per getaway. Cruises are the most expensive type of holiday with these holidaymakers planning to spend an average of £1,650 each.

Sun, sea and sand is the biggest draw for UK holidaymakers with 40% choosing an overseas beach holiday this year. The other most popular vacations are overseas city breaks (28%), UK city breaks (24%), UK seaside holidays and UK countryside and walking holidays.

Average cost of the most popular holidays
Holiday type Cost per person (£)
Overseas beach holiday £1,039
Overseas city break £588
UK countryside/walking holiday £380
UK city break £356
UK seaside holiday £347

Although holidaymakers are willing to spend significant sums on heading overseas, a fifth will not be buying travel insurance. A further 22% will only buy their travel insurance in the week before they travel. These statistics are concerning in light of Sainsbury’s Bank insurance claims data which found a typical travel insurance claim was £631 in 2019, nearly the average cost of the holiday people said they were planning.

Sainsbury’s Bank’s travel insurance claims data shows that half of all claims were due to medical expenses, 20% for lost or stolen personal possessions and 15% for cancellation, meaning travelling without insurance is a big risk to take when travelling abroad.

Jason King, Customer Director at Sainsbury’s Bank, said: “Booking a holiday at the start of the year will certainly help chase away those January blues. Taking it easy is one of the biggest draws of a holiday, however unexpected events can happen. Think about what kind of travel insurance policy you need as soon as you’ve booked your holiday.”

Sainsbury’s Bank top tips when buying travel insurance

Single trip vs annual cover. How many holidays do you typically take in a year? Even though you may only have one holiday booked now, if you usually jet off later into the year it may be cheaper to buy annual cover.

Consider any medical conditions. Ensure you declare any medical conditions you may have and whether you may need to add on medical cover for pre-existing conditions.

Get cover for adventures. If you are heading to the ski slopes, make sure you have winter sports cover should you be involved in an incident.

Check for offers and discounts. When shopping around for insurance, make sure to take advantage of offers. Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Insurance offers up to 20% off for Nectar members.

Holidaymakers can find out more online at

Research by credit experts TotallyMoney and MoneyComms warns that lenders are putting the squeeze on introductory 0% interest cards for balance transfers. Consumers looking to take charge of their debt in the new year may struggle to find a deal that lasts long enough to clear their debt interest-free.

The maximum term for interest-free transfers has been slashed 32.6% in just two years, from 43 months (Jan 2017) to just 29 months (Nov 2019).
An average drop from 25 months of 0% interest (Jan 2017) to just 17.9 months (Nov 2019) – down 28.4%.
January is the busiest month for balance transfers. Last January, consumers made 701,000 transfers, worth £1.541 bn.
0% balance transfers continue to outweigh the transfer fee, with the average consumer transferring £2,200.* They would ‘earn back’ a one-off fee of 3% (£66) in just seven weeks† of zero interest rather than paying 19.9% APR.

The research shows lenders are shrinking the balance transfer honeymoon period, after which the enticing 0% interest rate disappears and a much higher rate kicks in.

It suggests lenders are eager to recoup their money in less time, but that leaves consumers at risk. If they don’t pay off their debt by the deadline, they could incur punishing interest rates that trap them in a cycle of debt.

Resolution solution

Customers seeking the best 0% deal to ring in 2020 should move fast — before lenders cut the honeymoon period even further.

Every January, consumers resolve to take control of their finances. In January of the last three years, consumers made over 700,000 balance transfer deals, adding up to over £1.5bn.

Whether they’re tightening their belts after Christmas spending or simply trying to regain control of their finances, 0% offers can help, if used sensibly.

Time is money

Despite one-off fees and fewer months at the 0% rate, balance transfers are still worth considering. The average consumer would save the cost of their transfer fee in just over seven weeks† of not paying 19.9% APR — and still enjoy months of additional savings from zero interest charges.

However, despite today’s average term of 17.9 months with zero interest being tempting, it is significantly lower than before.

Just two years ago, credit card companies granted up to 43 interest-free months, but today’s maximum is just 29 months. That could mean 15 extra months of paying interest, a cost of £621.87†.

Pressure cooker

With fewer months at the 0% rate, consumers now have less time to pay off debt without penalty.

The stress of rising debt is only part of the problem. Many people rely on 0% borrowing just to stay afloat. The reduction in 0% deal terms could be a ticking time bomb for some consumers.

Even though the 0% market is less attractive as interest-free periods shrink, there is no let-up in demand, with over half a million transactions each month, valued around £1.2 billion.*

Alastair Douglas, CEO of credit experts TotallyMoney, comments: “Many consumers act decisively to take control of their finances as the new year begins. Transferring their balance to a 0% card can help them ‘catch up’, giving them time to pay off their balance without spiralling interest charges.

“This year, with lenders squeezing the number of months they offer a 0% introductory rate, customers will be under pressure to pay off their debt more quickly. They need to be even more savvy about finding the right deal, to get the maximum breathing space, free from interest charges.

“Those looking to get a balance transfer card should start by checking their eligibility. They will learn how likely they are to be accepted, and prevent damage to their credit rating as a result of being rejected.

“At TotallyMoney, we’re on a mission to improve the UK’s credit score. Checking your free credit report is the first step towards making sure your score is as good as it can be. With this, you’re much more likely to get better balance transfer offers, helping you get on top of your debt and move on up to a better financial future.”

5 balance transfer tips to save you money

1. Check your eligibility
Get a free credit report and discover your Borrowing Power. You’ll see how likely you are to be accepted for balance transfer cards, saving time and avoiding a knock to your credit score from being turned down.

2. Never miss a payment
Set up a direct debit to avoid negative consequences such as penalty fees or credit score damage. Missed payments could even make your 0% interest rate disappear. You’d have to start paying interest immediately on the remaining balance, probably at an uncompetitive rate.

3. Don’t spend or make cash withdrawals

Don’t be tempted to use this card to buy anything. The 0% deal is only valid on the balance moved. All new purchases will be charged interest — and the rates tend to be quite high.

4. Never outstay your welcome
Clear your debt before the 0% interest deal ends, or move it to new balance transfer card. Otherwise, your remaining balance will start to incur interest charges, often at a high rate.

5. Check transfer limits
You can usually move debts from multiple cards onto a single balance transfer card. The amount you transfer must be within the credit limit on your new card, minus the fee. Typically, you can transfer up to 95% of your credit limit. Weigh up how much debt you need to pay versus the credit limit you are likely to be offered.