What does 0% APR mean?

Save money on interest with the right credit card.

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When looking for a new credit card, keep an eye out for a 0% intro APR offer. This may not seem as enticing as earning rewards on your purchases, but with the right card in the right situation, this can be a valuable perk to have.

How does 0% APR work?

A credit card with a 0% intro APR period lets you carry an unpaid balance without paying interest for a specific amount of time — often between 6 and 9 months (sometimes longer) from account opening. Once the intro period ends, the standard interest rate will apply.

Note: Even though you can carry your balance without interest, you still have to make at least the minimum payment before the due date.

Types of 0% APR offers

There are two types of 0% APR offers: 0% APR on purchases and 0% APR on balance transfers. You’ll often find credit cards that offer both, but some credit cards may offer only one of the two.

0% APR on purchases

A 0% APR on purchases means you won’t be charged interest when you carry a credit card balance during a promotional period. Consider this an interest-free loan that can last anywhere between 6 and 9 months (sometimes longer) from the day you open your account.

Cards with a 0% APR on purchases are ideal for anyone looking to make a large purchase, say buy expensive electronics or some minor home renovations. That way you can make the purchase now and pay it off without interest for close to a year.

0% APR on balance transfers

A 0% APR on balance transfers is a credit card perk that lets you move debt from another account and pay it off without interest for a promotional period. You’ll often find 0% APR balance transfer offers that last between 6 and 9 months, but some cards offer up to 18 months.

This is almost a year long interest-free loan to help you pay off your existing debt. Because of that, a 0% APR balance transfer credit card can be an excellent choice for anyone trying to get out of debt.

Compare credit cards with low interest on purchases and balance transfers

While there are credit cards that offer a 0% APR period on purchases and balance transfers, below are products available through our site. These include cards with low interest rates and balance transfer offers.

Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Reward
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
12.99%
12.99%
$20
$15,000
Take advantage of an introductory balance transfer offer, annual fee waiver in the first year, and low purchase and cash advance interest rates.
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
11.9%
11.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
N/A
Earn 2 Points for every $1 spent on eligible dining or entertainment purchases.
Earn 20,000 Points ($100 travel value) plus a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($25 value). Apply by December 28, 2020. Conditions Apply. This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec. (Quebec residents eligible for separate offer).
BMO Rewards Business Mastercard
14.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
N/A
Earn 3 BMO Rewards points for every $1 you spend on gas, office supplies, cell phone bills and internet bills, and earn 1.5 BMO Rewards points for every $1 you spend elsewhere.
Get up to $470 in value in your first year. Get 50,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months. Plus, the primary cardholder will get the first year $120 annual fee waived.
Business Platinum Card from American Express
N/A
N/A
$499
N/A
Earn 1.25 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 35,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $7,000 in purchases to your card in your first three months of Cardmembership.
American Express Business Gold Rewards Card
N/A
N/A
$250
N/A
Earn 2 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases at select American Express merchant suppliers in Canada (choose 3 suppliers), and earn 1 Membership Reward point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend at least $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months
Scotiabank Value Visa Card
12.99%
12.99%
$29
$12,000
Save on interest for 6 months by consolidating your higher-rate balances with the balance transfer offer, and get an on-going 12.99% interest rate on purchases, cash advances and balance transfers.
Get a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
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Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Balance Transfer Rate Balance Transfer Fee Annual Fee Minimum Income Reward Description
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
12.99%
3.99% for the first 9 months (then 12.99%)
1%
$20
$15,000
Take advantage of an introductory balance transfer offer, annual fee waiver in the first year, and low purchase and cash advance interest rates.
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
1.95% intro APR for the first , 19.95% thereafter
1.95% for the first 6 months (then 19.95%)
3%
$0
$12,000
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
No-Fee Scotiabank Value Visa Card
16.99%
3.99% for the first 6 months (then 16.99%)
N/A
$0
$12,000
Save with a low interest rate, no annual fee and a balance transfer offer.
Get a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% balance transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
BMO Rewards Mastercard
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Get 1 BMO Reward point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases, and get 2 BMO Rewards points for every $1 spent at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations.
Get a bonus of 15,000 BMO Rewards points. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Get 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent elsewhere. Get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020.
Get 950 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $100 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Plus, get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020. Get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.
Get 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to a maximum spend of $2,000, and earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases thereafter). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Earn 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and earn 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent elsewhere. Get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020.
Get 950 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $100 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash). Plus, get 5x the Miles at Shell until December 31, 2020. Get a 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to balance amounts transferred.
BMO CashBack Mastercard For Students
19.99%
1.99% for the first 9 months (then 22.99%)
1%
$0
$15,000
Earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.
Get up to 5% cash back in the first three months (up to a maximum spend of $2,000, and earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases thereafter). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months, with a 1% fee for every transferred balance.
Scotiabank Value Visa Card
12.99%
0.99% for the first 6 months (then 12.99%)
N/A
$29
$12,000
Save on interest for 6 months by consolidating your higher-rate balances with the balance transfer offer, and get an on-going 12.99% interest rate on purchases, cash advances and balance transfers.
Get a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
Scotia Momentum Visa Card
19.99%
2.99% for the first 6 months (then 22.99%)
N/A
$39
$12,000
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store and drug store purchases and on recurring bill payments (up to a $25,000 annual spend), and earn 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases (and on all eligible purchases once the $25,000 annual spend is reached).
Get a 2.99% introductory rate on balance transfers and a 0% balance transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
Tangerine World Mastercard
19.95%
1.95% for the first 6 months (then 19.95%)
3%
$0
$60,000
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
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Can I earn rewards with 0% APR credit cards?

It depends on the card. However, most credit cards that offer either a 0% or low intro APR period on purchases, balance transfers or both, typically come with a rewards program.

0% APR is not deferred interest

You’ve probably seen 0% deferred interest offers with many store credit cards. This may sound the same as a 0% intro APR period, but it’s not. With deferred interest, you must pay off your full balance before the promotional period ends.

If you have any unpaid balance after that, you’ll pay interest accrued from the day you made the purchase. This is not the case with a 0% intro APR card as you’ll start to accrue interest only on your unpaid balance.

What happens when the 0% APR period ends?

After the 0% APR period ends, the standard interest rate of your card starts to apply. If you have any unpaid balance that you made during the 0% APR period, it will now start to accrue interest based on that rate.

Bottom line

If you’re looking to make a large purchase or pay off your existing debt without paying interest, consider a 0% APR credit card. A variety of cards offer this perk, so make sure you compare all low APR credit cards until you find the right fit for your situation.

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