PURCHASE credit cards can be a great way of spreading the cost of expensive items over a long period of time.
They work by allowing you to purchase a big-ticket item – such as a new kitchen or holiday – without racking up hefty interest charges.
But they need to be used responsibly, otherwise you'll start paying interest on your balance outside of your 0% period.
Plan carefully by working out what you need to pay back each month before your 0% timeframe ends.
If you can't clear your card each month, you should try and pay more back than the minimum monthly payments, otherwise your debt will take longer to clear.
And never use cards to regularly cover gaps in your monthly income either, as doing this will make your balance soar too.
Purchase credit cards: What you need to know
PURCHASE cards can be a great way of spreading the cost of expensive items. But you’ve got to use them properly otherwise it could cost you.
Here are some tips from MoneySavingExpert on what you need to know:
Never miss a payment – Being in a 0% period doesn't mean you don't have to make your monthly repayments. If you miss just one payment you'll lose your 0% period alltogether and start being charged interest on your balance.
Clear your balance – If you don't clear your balance within the 0% period, you'll start being charged interest. Work out how much you need to pay each month by dividing your balance by the number of months your 0% period is and set up a direct debit for that amount.
You might not get the headline 0% period – Only those with the very best credit histories will get accepted for the cards that have lengthy 0% periods, and some providers could offer you a deal with a shorter period instead. Check the details of the card you're looking at to see what you might be offered below the headline offer.
In short, always make sure you can afford to pay back what you borrow.
Much like the best balance transfer cards, only people with the best credit scores will be accepting for the top deals.
And even if you do get accepted, you may be offered a smaller 0% period.
Use the MoneySavingExpert eligibility calculator to give you an idea of what deals you will likely qualify for.
The Sun has taken a look at some of the best 0% purchase cards currently on the market.
The credit cards with the longest 0% period
- Sainsbury's Bank dual offer credit card – Apply here
This card from Sainsbury's Bank comes with a 0% of up to 20 months.
You also don't have to pay interest for 20 months on balance transfers, although a 3% fee applies.
If you don't clear your balance by the end of the 20 months, you 'll be charged 20.95% in interest.
- TSB platinum purchase card – Apply here
This card from TSB also offers a 0% period on purchases for 20 months.
After the interest-free period ends, you'll pay an interest rate of 19.9%.
TSB customers also don't pay interest for 20 months on balance transfers, but a 2.95% transfer fee applies.
- M&S Bank purchase credit card – Apply here
You'll also get 20 months to pay off a big purchase if you get accepted for this M&S credit card.
The 0% rate also applies to balance transfers over the first 20 months, although there is a 2.9% fee when you make a transfer.
After the 20 months periods, you'll pay an interest rate of 19.9% on purchases.
- Barclaycard platinum purchase card – Apply here
Barclaycard customers get 0% on purchases for 18 months with this card.
After the promotional period comes to an end, the card will revert to an APR of 21.9% on purchases.
You also get 0% on balance transfers for 18 months, although there is a fee of 2.9%.
- HSBC purchase credit card – Apply here
This card from HSBC comes with a 0% deal on purchases of up to 18 months.
You also don't have to pay interest for 18 months on balance transfers, although a 2.9% fee applies.
If you don't clear your balance by the end of the 20 months, you 'll be charged 22.9% in interest.
How to cut the cost of your debt
BEING in large amounts of debts can be really worrying. Here are some tips from Citizens Advice on how you can take action.
Check your bank balance on a regular basis – knowing your spending patterns is the first step to managing your money.
Work out your budget – by writing down your income and taking away your essential bills such as food and transport.
If you have money left over, plan in advance what else you’ll spend or save. If you don’t, look at ways to cut your costs.
Pay off more than the minimum – If you’ve got credit card debts aim to pay off more than the minimum amount on your credit card each month to bring down your bill quicker
Pay your most expensive credit card sooner – If you have more than one credit card and can’t to pay them off in full each month, prioritise the most expensive card (the one with the highest interest rate).
Prioritise your debts – If you’ve got several debts and you can’t afford to pay them all it’s important to prioritise them.
Your rent, mortgage, council tax and energy bills should be paid first because the consequences can be more serious if you don't pay.
Get a payment holiday – The majority of major credit card companies are offering three-month payment holidays if you're struggling to meet your repayments. You should always keep paying until you've come to an agreement with your provider. Most lenders will also still charge interest during this time, so be aware that these costs will keep building up.
Get advice – If you’re struggling to pay your debts month after month it’s important you get advice as soon as possible, before they build up even further.
Groups like Citizens Advice and National Debtline can help you prioritise and negotiate with your creditors to offer you more affordable repayment plans.
The Sun has rounded up eight ways to help you get out of debt.
Plus, here are the best websites to look for a new job – and how to make sure you get a pay rise.
One in five Brits have no idea how much debt they’re in – how to get help.
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