uSwitch: Amex decision could end rate tart phenomenon

The consumer finance website claims that by stopping interest free introductory offers, the credit card provider could set a precedent which will stop people switching debts to other credit cards when the offer runs out – known as rate tarts.

Nick White, head of personal finance at website,, said: “American Express’ decision to stop offering balance transfers to new customers is a major development which could signal the beginning of the end of the rate tart phenomenon that has dominated the credit card landscape for the last two years.”

Although 40 credit card providers still offer interest free deals, the numbers are declining, at the same time introducing tighter lending criteria and fees.

With the Office of Fair Trading’s decision to make providers lower charges for bad debt, Mr White said he expects lenders’ margins to narrow, which is likely to lead to more ending their zero percent offers.

If this does happen on a large-scale, then people will have to start facing up to and paying off their credit card debt or else be hit by the high rates that providers charge for borrowing.


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