Save money when you make purchases or carry a balance on a low interest rate credit card.
A low rate credit card can help you cut down on costs and pay off your balance faster by charging a lower rate of interest than other credit cards. While low rate credit cards typically offer a competitive, ongoing interest rate for purchases, some also offer an introductory 0% interest rate for purchases or balance transfers that can also help you save on charges during the promotional period.
Use this guide to compare low rate credit cards, including those that offer 0% p.a. interest for an introductory period. You can also find out how much you could save by switching to a lower interest rate credit card and learn about the different features to compare, so that you can choose a credit card that works for you.
What is a low interest rate credit card?
Low rate credit cards give you a way to save on debt from new purchases by offering an ongoing interest rate that is lower than the purchase rates offered by standard credit cards. This means the amount of interest you pay on your balance will also be lower compared to what you’d be charged on a card with a higher rate. While credit cards in Malaysia typically have interest rates of 15% per annum (p.a.), low interest rate cards offer standard variable rates as low as 8% p.a. Some cards even offer introductory 0% interest rates on purchases for a fixed period of time.
If you regularly pay with plastic and carry a balance on your credit card, a low rate credit card can give you the flexibility to pay off your balance over time, without the higher interest charges of some other cards. But if you have a large existing credit card debt and want to pay it off, you may want to consider doing a balance transfer to another card instead. Or, if you always pay your balance in full, a card with a low annual fee or extra benefits such as reward points might make more sense.
How to compare low interest rate credit cards
Here are the key factors you should consider to help you find a low rate credit card that works for you:
Put simply, the lower the rate, the less interest you’ll pay. But when it comes to interest rates, all of the following factors can have an impact on your potential savings and costs:
- Promotional interest rates. Some credit cards give you an introductory low or 0% interest rate for purchases or balance transfers. This is usually the lowest rate you’ll get on a credit card and is only available for a limited time. So this type of rate can be useful if you have planned purchases or existing debt that you want to pay off. But keep in mind that when the introductory period ends, the low or 0% introductory rate will revert to a higher standard variable rate. So always check the standard rate to make sure the card you’re applying for provides an ongoing low interest rate.
- Standard interest rate. This is the interest rate that’s usually applied to your credit card balance. Usually, there are different standard variable interest rates for purchases, cash advances and balance transfers. If you get a card with an introductory 0% interest rate, the “standard” or “revert” rate is also the interest rate that applies to any balance remaining at the end of the introductory period.
- Cash advances. The interest rate for cash advances is usually higher than the rate applied to purchases. This rate is charged for transactions such as ATM cash withdrawals, foreign currency purchases and gambling. Cash advances also aren’t eligible for interest-free days.
- Interest-free days. If there’s an interest-free period for purchases (and you’re eligible for it), interest won’t be calculated for those purchases until after that period ends. However, interest will usually apply in full if you don’t pay off the total owed by the due date on your statement.
How are credit card interest rates calculated?
Credit card interest rates are usually advertised based on the annual rate that applies to the account, shown as “per annum” or p.a. However, interest on your account balance is typically calculated daily and then charged monthly on the statement due date.
Fees and charges
- Annual fee. Annual fees typically range from RM0 for cards with basic features to RM1,000 or more for prestige cards. Try to find a card with a low annual fee, but don’t make this your sole deciding factor. In some cases, a card with a low interest rate could offer you more value than a RM0 annual fee, particularly if you’re carrying a lot of debt.
- Other fees and charges. Fees may apply when you use your card at an ATM, overseas, online with international retailers or even when you apply for a balance transfer. Make sure you’re aware of the relevant charges that apply to your card.
Low interest rate credit cards often have fairly basic features. However, more premium cards could offer some of the following benefits:
- Complimentary extras. Gold, platinum or black low interest rate credit cards may include perks such as travel insurance, purchase-protection insurance or concierge services. If you use these extras, they have the potential to offset costs, such as the card’s annual fee.
- Rewards. Most low interest rate credit cards don’t offer reward points for your spending because these features serve different purposes.
- No international transaction fee. If you plan to use your credit card when you travel overseas or shop online with international retailers, a low rate credit card that waives foreign transaction fees could help you save even more money.
Pros and cons of low interest rate credit cards
- You’ll pay less interest on purchases, which can make it easier to manage your credit card debt.
- Many low interest rate cards also have low annual fees.
- You can often combine low interest rate cards with other features such as balance transfers or zero foreign transaction fees.
- You’re less likely to receive reward points and other perks.
- You may not qualify if you have a poor credit history.
- If you opt for a card with a 0% purchase rate, it will only be available for a promotional period.
If you often carry a balance, a low interest credit card could help you save on charges. Just remember to consider the other features, such as introductory offers, annual fees and complimentary extras, to help you find a card that best suits your needs.
How can I get a low rate credit card?
You can apply for a low rate credit card online in around 10–20 minutes. Get started by comparing cards in the table above (or on individual review pages). When you find a card you like, click the “Go to site” button and you will be taken to the bank’s secure application page.
From there, you’ll need to provide details to prove your identity, employment situation and financial situation. Most online credit card applications give you a response within 60 seconds of submitting the completed form.
FAQs about low interest rate credit cards
If you want to learn more about low rate cards, check out these answers to common questions. If you have a question of your own, you can also get in touch with us using the comment box below.