Life & Culture

Money maven: We need furniture – how can we afford it?

Our personal finance expert has advice on the best way to fund big purchases for a couple short on ready cash


Q: We are in the process of moving home and need to buy quite a lot of furniture as we are moving from a one-bed flat to a three-bedroom house. The move itself is using up all our savings, is there any way we can buy the new items we need without having to pay too much interest on anything we borrow to buy them?

A: Congratulations on your move. Yes, there are a number of ways you can borrow interest-free – the main three being interest-free credit cards, in-store interest-free credit and online services offering interest-free payments over a fixed period of time.

Interest-free credit cards have the advantage of letting you use them anywhere. As this article went to print, the M&S Bank Shopping Plus Offer had 24 months’ interest-free credit on all new spending and any balances transferred from existing cards. You also get M&S points to spend in store. After the interest-free period the interest rate increases to 21.9 per cent APR so make sure you have paid off the spending in the two-year period if you don’t want to be charged.

Sainsbury’s Bank also offers 24 months’ interest-free credit on both new spending and balance transfers and its rate rises to 21.9 per cent APR after the period ends. You get Nectar points on all spending but not everyone will be offered the 24 months interest-free. Applicants not meeting its criteria may be offered a shorter interest-free period.

The Barclaycard Platinum Visa also offers 24 months’ interest-free credit but only 22 months on balance transfers and again its rate rises to 21.9 per cent after the fixed period. Cardholders are offered up to five months’ free subscription to a range of Apple services such as Apple TV. Again the deal is not guaranteed to all applicants.

An alternative is to take out finance directly with the retailer you purchase from. This has the advantage that payments are taken monthly to pay off the debt at the end, rather than relying on you to make big enough payments as with a credit card. The offers are also often longer than the credit card ones. For example, Furniture Village is offering up to three years’ interest-free credit on purchases over £375, while DFS is offering up to four years’ interest-free credit and the option to delay payments for up to a year on spending of £300 and above. Online furniture store Wayfair also has a £300 minimum spend to qualify for its up to 12 months’ interest-free credit.

Another option is to sign up with online app-based services such as Klarna and Clearpay. Klarna allows you to buy goods and spread paying them off interest-free over three monthly payments. Clearpay offers a four-payment option, the first when the item is bought and the other three over a six-week period. You can use the services only with retailers that are signed up with them. Happy shopping!

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