For when you have existing credit card debt but still need to make purchases.
Compare 0% intro balance transfer and purchase APR cards
How do 0% intro balance transfer and purchase rate credit cards work?
Let’s start by looking at what happens when a 0% interest rate offer applies to a balance transfer only.
Purchases typically accrue interest with a balance transfer offer.
Balance transfer offers can be very tempting and can help you take control of your debt. However, people often fall into the trap of using the balance transfer credit card to make purchases.
Cards that only include a balance transfer offer do not include any interest-free days on purchases. Using such a card for purchases can increase your debt rather than reduce it.
Here’s why: When you make a payment with your card, the debt on your credit card that attracts the highest interest rate will be paid off first. Because there’s a purchase rate but no balance transfer rate, you’ll end up paying off any new purchases before your debt is reduced.
Credit cards with a 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases let you repay your debt and make interest-free purchases.
The combination of a 0% intro balance transfer and purchase rate card solves this consumer pitfall. It eliminates the possibility of you getting hit with interest on purchases as long as the purchases are made during the introductory offer period.Back to top
How to compare credit cards with a 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases
When comparing cards, it’s important to select the type of card that is most suited to your circumstances. We’ll examine what you should be looking for and how certain factors can work against each other.
Types of credit cards with a 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases
- Rewards cards.
Generally, only trimmed-down rewards cards will offer the full 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases. They might come with complimentary insurance and other helpful but low-key privileges.
- Reduced annual fee for the first year.
Even a cursory glance at the above comparison table shows that many of the 0% intro balance transfer and purchase rate offers have a reduced annual fee for the first year. This can be very helpful if you want to keep your upfront costs low while you knuckle down to pay off your debt.
- Platinum cards.
Platinum credit cards are targeted at higher income customers and they often require a shining credit history. In return, you get higher credit limits as well as more valuable extras, which often include complimentary overseas travel insurance.
- Classic cards.
Classic credit cards are a good choice for people with a lower income. They’re usually no-frills products with lower annual fees than platinum cards.
- Low-rate cards.
These are a popular offering in the 0% intro balance transfer and purchase rate scene, as purchases on these cards usually revert to a relatively low interest rate after the introductory offer period is over.
Calculate how much you could save
Your current credit cards:
Card that you are transferring to:
Intro Term (months)
Balance Transfer Fee
Your monthly repayment
At this rate, you will not pay off your debt.
At this rate you will pay off your debt during the card's intro period
At that rate you will not pay off your debt. You will need to make higher repayments.
Months that it will take you to pay off your debt:
With a balance transfer
Without a balance transfer
Money saved transferring debt to a balance transfer card:
Savings = $1,000
The dos and don’ts
A 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases can be a boon during its initial offer period, but only if you make effective use of it. Keep in mind the main dos and don’ts when using this type of card:
- Transfer your balance quickly.
Though the introductory promotional period may last a number of months, your opportunity to actually make a balance transfer at the promotional rate may be limited to a shorter period of time, such as within the first 30 or 60 days.
- Know how to make the transfer.
If you don’t transfer your balance during your application, you can apply online, over the phone or via hard copy once your card arrives.
- Pay off your balance in good time.
If the introductory offer lasts for six months, then make sure you budget to ensure the balance on your 0% balance transfer and 0% purchase rate credit card is paid off in full before the offer period expires. However, if you find that you won’t make it by the cut-off date, it may be worth considering transferring the balance again to a similar card from a different bank.
- Don’t make balance transfers a habit.
Making regular balance transfers can harm your credit. It may drop due to regular credit card applications and the assessors of your credit file may read into your habits and reject your applications for any more credit.
- Don’t make any cash transactions.
Cash transactions aren’t usually included in 0% interest promotional offers — and when they are, they still carry very expensive cash advance fees.
5 factors to watch out
- Revert interest rates.
Be aware of the spike in interest at the end of the promotional offer period. The remaining balance transfer amount will be charged either the higher cash advance interest rate or the purchase rate. If you know the balance won’t be paid in full by that time, consider swapping cards or budgeting for the extra costs. Interest on new purchases will also revert to the purchase interest rate at the end of the introductory period.
- Cash transactions.
It’s never a good idea with any credit card, and it’s typically not included in a 0% intro APR offer. Even if cash transactions are included, there will still be a cash advance fee for every transaction of this type. An extra charge of around 2% to 4% of the transaction amount can easily add more debt, especially if it goes unpaid before the next statement due date.
- Different offer period lengths.
The length of these offers can vary, so it’s worth deciding from the outset what your plans are for when the promotional period ends. Think about whether a longer promotional period would suit you, even if the revert rate is higher than some of the shorter, 0% intro offers.
- Annual fee.
Check that it’s not way higher than average. A little higher than normal may be worth it for the benefits you receive from the offer, but you’ll have to budget it out to tell.
- Minimum monthly repayments.
Pay your credit card balance in full each month whenever possible. If you can’t do that, then make sure you’re at least paying the minimum monthly repayment to help you avoid late fees.Calculating your own minimum monthly balance repayment is as simple as looking at what the minimum repayment percentage is — usually 2% to 3% — and calculating this against your outstanding balance, interest included.
Nabbing a credit card that offers a 0% intro APR on both balance transfers and purchases can help you pay off your debt while also allowing you to make purchases without earning interest. The offer period, annual fee and card perks are all factors to consider when deciding which card is best for your situation.
As always, compare the different balance transfer credit cards out there to find the one that makes the most sense for your finances.