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Getting a 0% APR credit card can be a good way to temporarily stop paying interest on your purchases or balance transfers — sometimes both.
Our pick for an intro APR
HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit cardRead more
Compare 0% intro APR cards
Best interest-free credit cards with 0% intro APR
Compare your options with this list of stellar cards.
Best for longest 0% intro APR period for purchases and balance transfers: U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Credit Card
If you’re after the longest intro APR on purchases and balance transfers, the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Credit Card is the right pick.
Best for longest 0% intro APR for balance transfers: Citi Simplicity® Card
If you want to squeeze the most out of your 0% intro balance transfer APR period, try the Citi Simplicity® Card. It edges out the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Credit Card here by a month. Though the intro APR on purchases isn’t nearly as impressive, it’s still solid.
Best for cashback rewards: Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
If you want rewards along with an attractive intro APR, try the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. On top of getting 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers, you’ll receive a solid 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Best for travel rewards: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card offers an excellent accelerated rewards rate on flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals and other categories. You’ll also like the strong welcome offer and solid intro APR on purchases and balance transfers.
Best for no balance transfer fee: Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card offers an attractive promotion: No fees on balance transfers you make within the first 60 days following your account opening. Very few cards offer this benefit.
The card surpasses its competitors — such as the Chase Slate® credit card — because of its elevated rewards for US supermarket spending.
Best for signup bonus: Chase Freedom Unlimited®
With its revamped signup bonus, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® has become a very strong choice if you spend close to $20,000 a year. You’ll also find a good intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers.
How we selected our top cards
We compared these 0% intro APR cards based on a few factors, including balance transfer and annual fees, rewards programs, points or cash back earned per dollar, welcome offers, and other factors consumers might consider when looking for a 0% intro APR credit card. Cards with standout performance in one or several of these areas were chosen as our top pick in a category.
What’s changed in 2019
The strong performance of these 0% APR cards ensured that our list remained relatively similar this year. However, Wells Fargo earned a spot thanks to a 0% APR card that also happens to be surprisingly generous with its travel rewards.
What is a 0% APR credit card?
A 0% APR credit card offers no interest on certain balances for a period of time. This can apply to purchases, balance transfers or both. Of course, the 0% intro APR doesn’t last forever: After it expires, your remaining balance will accrue interest at a higher, normal APR.
Here are a few things you should know about 0% APR credit cards
- Typically, 0% intro APR periods last between 12 and 15 months. Intro rates must last at least six months by law, and they’ll top out at around 20 months.
- You’ll rarely get a 0% intro APR on cash advances. As a double whammy, these transactions almost always start accruing interest at a high rate right after you make them.
- You still need to make at least the minimum payment during your 0% intro APR period. Failing to do this may land you with a late fee. It may also cause you to lose your intro APR, meaning you’ll be stuck paying the regular APR on your remaining balances.
Types of 0% APR credit cards and when you should use them
When you evaluate a 0% APR card, check which balance the special interest rate applies to: purchases or balance transfers. The card might even offer 0% intro APR for both balances.
Purchase 0% APR cards
When you buy something with your card during the intro APR period, it won’t accrue interest until your promotional interest rate expires. This is like getting a no-interest loan — one that you have the luxury of paying off over an extended period of time.
A 0% purchase APR card is great for large, one-time purchases like furniture, a vacation, holiday shopping or emergency expenses.
Balance transfer 0% APR cards
You’ll get a 0% intro APR for a limited period on debt that you transfer to your card. Consider a 0% APR balance transfer card if you’re paying a high interest rate on existing debt.
For example, you might have a $2,000 balance on your current credit card with a high 25% APR. By transferring the balance to a 0% APR card, you can hit pause on snowballing interest while you pay off your debt.
What is credit card interest?
Interest is the price you pay for borrowing money — for example, by making purchases with your credit card.
Interest is charged based on your APR, or annual percentage rate, and your credit card balance. The higher these two figures, the more interest you pay.
How much can I save on interest with a 0% APR card?
Many people don’t realize how much money they spend on credit card interest. The following table shows the interest you can save on a $2,500 balance with a 0% APR product.
|Credit Card A||Credit Card B||Credit Card C|
|Repayment period||15 months||15 months||15 months|
How to choose a 0% APR card
- Think about why you need a 0% APR card.
If you’re making a large purchase to pay off over time, look for a 0% intro APR on purchases. If you want a lower interest rate on your debt, look for a 0% intro APR on balance transfers.
- Decide whether you want a 0% intro APR on purchases, balance transfers or both. Also, consider how long you want your intro period to be.
When a card has a 0% intro APR on purchases, it may also have one for balance transfers. Usually, you’ll get the special interest rate for 12 to 15 months. If you want a market-leading balance transfer intro APR period — 18 months or longer — you might need to settle for a shorter intro APR period on purchases. Many cards have 0% intro APRs only for balance transfers.
- Calculate fees you’ll pay.
Check each card’s annual fee. Ideally, your 0% APR card won’t charge one. If it does, it should have something to offer beyond a 0% intro APR — for example, strong rewards or valuable perks. If you’re making a balance transfer, check your card’s terms for the transfer fee.
- Consider other factors before making your final decision.
The card provider might be a factor in your decision. For example, you generally can’t transfer balances between accounts issued by the same provider. Take a look at each card’s rewards and perks. Your 0% intro APR will end at some point, and these benefits help keep your card valuable after that time.
How to get the most out of your 0% intro APR
So, you’ve been approved for your 0% APR card and you can’t wait to use it. If you use your promotional interest rate wisely, you could squeeze a lot of value from it. Here’s what to do next:
- Decide what you’re going to use your 0% intro APR for.
It’s easy to let a 0% intro APR lure you into a false sense of security. When the rate expires, you’ll start accruing interest at your card’s normal rate. Check with your issuer to see your normal purchase and balance transfer APR.Before taking advantage of your 0% intro APR, be clear on what you need it for. Are you looking to make a big, one-time purchase and pay it off in full before your promotional interest rate expires? Do you need to make a balance transfer to get away from high interest rates? Consider putting only your planned balance on your new card, to avoid snowballing debt.
- Make a plan to pay off your balance.
Ideally, you want to pay off your balance before your 0% intro APR expires. Make a plan of how much you’ll spend and the monthly payments you must make to reach this goal.If you don’t think you’ll pay off your balance before your intro APR expires, check the range of normal APRs you might receive.
- Make payments on time.
Though you have a 0% intro APR, you still need to make at least the minimum payment on your card bill.If you’re more than 60 days late on your card payment, you might lose your intro APR. Your provider may list additional ways you could lose your promotional rate. Read your card’s fine print or call your provider if you’re in doubt.
Be careful with balance transfers
With most cards, your balance transfers only qualify for the intro APR if you make them within a certain time. Transfers you make after that will accrue interest at the normal APR.
What do I do when my 0% intro period ends?
If you still have a balance on your card and your intro APR will expire soon, you have a few options. For more information, read more about what happens at the end of your card’s intro APR period.
- Try to pay off the balance as soon as possible. If you tighten the belt for a while, you might be able to accomplish this before your balance starts accumulating interest.
- Let your balance start accruing interest at the normal rate. If your balance isn’t too high, you might not mind your intro APR expiring before you’ve paid off your debt. Consider making a solid plan to pay off your balance so you don’t pay too much interest.
- Make a balance transfer. You may be able to get a 0% intro APR balance transfer card, which could help you pay off your balance with lower interest. If you do this, however, consider whether you’re making progress toward paying off your debt — or if you’re just shuffling it around.
Card providers are unlikely to approve you for a balance transfer card if your credit utilization ratio is very high. They’ll be wary of taking you on as a customer if they think you’re drowning in debt.
- Take out a personal loan. If you don’t want to deal with another card but you want a lower interest rate on your balance, consider a personal loan. You could get an APR that’s substantially better than your credit card’s normal APR.
Getting a 0% APR credit card can be a smart move for certain purchases, and it can be helpful if you need a lower interest rate on existing debt. However, be careful with it — your card provider is hoping you won’t pay off your balance by the time your 0% intro APR ends.
To avoid this, know precisely what you’ll use your card for. Then make a plan to pay off your debt before your 0% intro APR expires.
If you think you’ll carry a balance for a long time, you might like a credit card with a low-interest rate.
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