Tis the season to be thrifty

Interest-free credit cards can cope with Christmas, as long as you pay them off

Close up of a young woman buying presents online

Christmas is a great time. But also a time of great spending. So why not borrow the money to pay for it and pay no interest on the loan?

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Warning: you must be disciplined about these rules or you will end up paying more.

My golden rule for credit cards is: pay them off in full each month. That is fine if you can afford it.

But spending comes in lumps – holiday, start of term and, of course, Christmas.

You can sneak  round my rule by taking out a credit card that charges 0% interest on spending, only using it for Christmas and paying it off by the time that the 0% offer ends.

There are dozens of credit cards that do offer a 0% interest rate on spending (not cash) for a fixed period – sometimes for as long as two years or more.

Find them online and pick one in the middle that lasts maybe 12 months.

If you have a good credit record there should be no problem. If you have a poor record you may only get one with a short interest-free period. If you want to check what you can get, use the eligibility checker at moneysavingexpert. com. It leaves no trace on your credit record.

The 0% period will start from the day the card is issued. Initially, set up a direct debit to pay the minimum amount. Even though it
is charging zero per cent you still have to make a minimum payment each month or you will get a missed payment on your credit record and
lose the 0% deal.

Spend over Christmas. Then on 2 January, stop.

Cut the card up and never use it again. Decide when you want to pay it off.

This should be before you have another big expense like a holiday or a new sofa. Six months is ideal.

Divide what you have spent by that number of months and change your direct debit from the minimum to that amount. It must let you do that. Check all is well online or when your statements arrive. When the card is paid off, cancel it.

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Christmas paid for on an interest-free loan!