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Credit Card Balance Transfers

Credit card balance transfer deals

There are more credit cards than people in the UK according to personal finance information provider Moneyfacts, with an average of four per person, and in September 2006 credit card debt stood at a total of £55.4bn.

With 75% of cardholders currently paying interest on their balances, having it on a credit card that charges the lowest amount of interest possible could save you a significant amount of money. However, while there are a number of attractive balance transfer deals available, itís essential you read the small print before taking one out.

In recent years there have been a growing number of credit card deals on balance transfers as credit card companies try to attract new customers. These charge you no interest on any outstanding balance you transfer from other cards for a period of usually 6 to 12 months or even more.

This means that if you make sure you pay the minimum amount each month and repeatedly transfer your balance to another 0% deal before the end of your existing interest-free period, you can avoid paying any interest on your credit card debt.

Winter pressure on UK savings

Savings account balances have suffered this winter due to a combination of unexpectedly high bills and shopping splurges, new research from Birmingham Midshires claims.

It seems that the winter weather has acted as a catalyst for many people to break into their nest egg in order to treat themselves, with 12 per cent of people questioned by the bank admitting to this.

Women were the worst for splashing the cash, with 14 per cent saying that they have raided their savings to buy luxuries, gifts and impulse purchases.

Expensive bills also proved detrimental to savings, with one in ten saying that they have had to take money from their accounts to cope with higher than expected charges, such as utility bills and home maintenance costs after the winter weather. Among men, this figure rose to 11 per cent.

"Utility bills can soar as we crank up the heating and we also use retail treats to ward off the winter blues," commented director of savings operations for Birmingham Midshires Jason Robinson.

"Setting aside a smaller amount of money each month and leaving it untouched is much better than saving more than what is practical and being forced to raid."

Most Britons 'behind chip and pin'

A year on from the introduction of chip and pin for debit and credit card payments, a new survey reveals that the majority of Britons are behind it.

Around 68 per cent of the consumers polled by credit reference service Equifax said that they believed chip and pin was a secure way to pay.

However, some cardholders still had a few reservations about the system, designed to reduce credit card fraud, with almost 50 per cent of respondents saying that they would like to sign as well as using pin, for extra security.

The introduction of chip and pin has had another, perhaps unexpected effect in causing a quarter of consumers to cut the number of cards they use due to difficulty remembering the individual pin numbers, the survey revealed.

Equifax recommends cardholders have individual pins for each card, which are not their date of birth, and that they don't give pins to anyone, unlike 20 per cent of respondents who said their partner knew their pin.

Neil Munroe, external affairs director of Equifax, warned: "If things turn bitter there is a risk that a scorned lover could exact their revenge using pin information given to them by their ex-partner, so people should think twice before giving anyone their pin."

Brits fail to capitalise on plastic rewards

New research reveals that credit card holders in the UK are failing to take advantage of the associated perks on offer, with more than half having credit cards with no benefits at all.

Research carried out by Goldfish has found that 52 per cent of Brits have credit cards that offer no perks whatsoever, prompting concerns that many consumers are not capitalising on available benefits. In total, this represents somewhere in the region of 20 million cards.

However, 49 per cent of card holders do have a reward-based credit card while 30 per cent have a retail reward card. It was also found that younger consumers are more likely to use credit cards with benefits.

Charlotte Hogg of Goldfish asserted that cardholders need to do more to take advantage of benefits.

"Credit card holders need to demand more from their plastic," she stated.

"If customers hold a card that doesn't reward their spending then they should investigate what other cards might be better suited to their spending patterns."

Concerns have surfaced that credit card providers are introducing new measures designed to maintain revenue income, following industry regulations on high default fees.

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