Short Review of Best Credit Cards for 0% APR
|Name||Best for||Balance Transfer intro APR period||Rewards Rate||Apply|
|None||This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||Apply now|
On Acceptedplatinum‘s website
Evolve℠ from Sallie Mae Bank
|0% Introductory APR for 15 months from date of account opening for transfers authorized within 60 days from date of account opening.||2% Cash Back on your two highest-spending eligible categories per month.1.5% Cash Back on everything else.||Apply now|
On Sallie Mae Bank‘s site
Freedom Unlimited® from Chase
|Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Daily use||None||5% Cash Back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.3% Cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.3% Cash Back on drugstore purchases.1.5% Cash Back on all other purchases.||Learn more|
Blue Cash Everyday® from American Express
|Cash Back, Gas, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Families, Shopping, Groceries||None||3% Cash Back on groceries, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases.2% Cash Back on gas.2% Cash Back at select department stores.1% Cash Back on other purchases.||Learn more|
Simplicity® from Citi
|0 APR, Single mom||0% Introductory APR for 18 months from date of first transfer when transfers are completed within 4 months from date of account opening.||This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||Learn more|
Platinum Card from Wells Fargo
|0 APR||0% introductory APR for 18 months from date of account opening.||This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||Learn more|
Freedom Flex℠ from Chase
|Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Daily use||None||5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 on combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.5% Cash Back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards.3% Cash Back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services.3% Cash Back on drugstore purchases.1% Cash Back on all other purchases.||Learn more|
Diamond Preferred® from Citi
|0 APR, No Annual Fee||0% Introductory APR for 18 months from date of first transfer when transfers are completed within 4 months from date of account opening.||This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||Learn more|
Visa® Platinum from US bank
|0 APR, No Annual Fee||0% Introductory APR for the first 20 billing cycles for balances transferred within 60 days from account opening.||This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||Learn more|
Cash Magnet® from American Express
|Cash Back, 0 APR||None||1.5% Earn unlimited Cash Back on all purchases.||Learn more|
SavorOne from Capital One
|Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Restaurants, Entertainment, Daily use||None||3% Cash Back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores.1% Cash Back on all other purchases.||Learn more|
Discover it® Cash Back from Discover Bank
|Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Young couples, Daily use||0% Intro APR for 14 months from date of first transfer.||5% Cash Back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.1% Cash Back on all other purchases.||Learn more|
Quicksilver from Capital One
|Cash Back, 0 APR, No Annual Fee, Daily use||None||1.5% Cash Back on every purchase.||Learn more|
Gold Mastercard® from HSBC
|0 APR, Low Interest||0% Introductory APR will apply for the first 18 months from Account opening.||This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.||Learn more|
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
With Chase Freedom Unlimited® you’ll get 15 months to pay off your purchase with 0% APR (14.99% – 23.74% after). This card will also earn you great rewards, including a 5% on travel (only if purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards), 3% in restaurants and drugstores, and 1.5% on everything else. On top of that, there's a $200 sign-up bonus too.
Read more about Chase Freedom Unlimited®
American Express Blue Cash Everyday®
The Blue Cash Everyday® card would be of great use to families with its generous cash back rates on groceries and gas. Not only they’ll earn rewards by going on with their usual everyday purchases, but the 15-months 0% APR offer will also help them with their next big purchase. After the intro period, there’s a 13.99% – 23.99% APR.
Read more about American Express Blue Cash Everyday®
As Citi says, this card is keeping it simple – without an annual fee, penalty fees, and late fees, but with a great 18-month 0% APR offer on purchases and balance transfers. After the introductory period, the APR is 14.74% to 24.74%. The lack of penalty and late fees is a useful feature for anyone paying off a debt, however this card doesn’t offer rewards. So, it doesn’t provide much long-term value and there’s no reason to keep it after the 18-months offer.
Read more about Citi Simplicity®
Wells Fargo Platinum Card
The Wells Fargo Platinum Card is a great choice to finance your next big purchase with it, as well as to transfer a high-interest balance on it. This is due to its lengthy 18-months 0% APR offer on balance transfers and purchases (16.49% to 24.49% afterward). Those looking to improve their budgeting skills will appreciate the My Money Map tool, which will help you manage your spending.
Read more about Wells Fargo Platinum Card
Chase Freedom Flex℠
If you want to earn superb rewards while paying zero interest on purchases, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ will give you exactly that. You’ll get 15 months 0% intro APR for purchases (14.99% – 23.74% after). Each quarter you'll earn 5% in a different bonus category (capped at $1,500 per quarter) and there is also 5% cash back on Lyft and travel booked through Chase Ultimate, 3% on dining out and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases. For the $200 sign-up bonus you'll only need to spend $500 in the first three months.
Read more about Chase Freedom Flex℠
Citi Diamond Preferred®
The Citi Diamond Preferred® credit card’s features are very similar to its sister card, the Citi Simplicity®. Except with this one, it's a bit less simple as it has late and penalty fees. Despite its extensive 0% APR intro period (18-months), if you are careless with your payments, it can cost you up to a $40 late fee every time, and its penalty APR can get as high as 29.99%. The regular APR on this card is 14.74% - 24.74%.
Read more about Citi Diamond Preferred®
US bank Visa® Platinum
The US bank Visa® Platinum is definitely the best card when it comes to intro APR offers for balance transfers and purchases. The 0% APR period is the longest one out there - an unmatched 20 billing cycles (14.49% – 24.49% after). However, only those with excellent credit should apply for it.
Read more about US bank Visa® Platinum
American Express Cash Magnet®
You’ll get three things with the American Express Cash Magnet®: a solid 15-month 0% APR on purchases, a flat 1.5% cash back rate on all purchases, and a nice welcome offer. The regular APR after the intro period is 13.99% to 23.99%. You can put your next large purchase on this card, but be careful because there is also a 29.99% penalty APR if you miss a payment or it’s returned.
Read more about American Express Cash Magnet®
Capital One SavorOne
Earning rewards when dining and having fun, and not having to worry about a high APR? It’s possible with the Capital One SavorOne. This card has a 15-month 0% APR period for purchases, after the APR is 15.49% – 25.49%. It also offers great value as a rewards card, with an unlimited 3% cash back for restaurants and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on everything else.
Read more about Capital One SavorOne
Discover Bank Discover it® Cash Back
This card is for those who prioritize rewards over intro APR offers. With the Discover it® Cash Back you won’t have to pay an APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 14 months after account opening (11.99% – 22.99% after). The highlight of this card is the rewards program, an excellent 5% cash back rate on quarterly rotating categories, and Discover it will match the cash back you earned in the first year. So, this card is a keeper even after the intro APR period ends.
Read more about Discover Bank Discover it® Cash Back
Capital One Quicksilver
If you want a simple, flat-rate rewards card with an intro offer on purchases, the Capital One Quicksilver offers exactly that. You’ll get a 15-month intro APR on purchases (the ongoing rate is 15.49% – 25.49%). The rewards program consists of a 1.5 percent cash back rate on all purchases and a $200 welcome bonus.
Read more about Capital One Quicksilver
HSBC Gold Mastercard®
Do you need a break from APRs and fees? You should go for the HSBC Gold Mastercard® then. Its 18-month APR offer is valid for both balance transfers and purchases and after you'll pay an APR of 13.99% – 23.99%. This card is great for the forgetful, as it will give you a late fee waiver once per calendar year and also promises not to raise your APR if paying late. So, it's great for your debt and balance but won't earn you any rewards.
Read more about HSBC Gold Mastercard®
Understanding interest rates and APRs
You’ve probably noticed that the terms interest rate and APR are used interchangeably when it comes to credit cards. These two are not usually the same, except when we talk about credit cards. We understand it can be confusing, so let’s clear that up. The interest rate is simply the interest charges for your balance. In contrast, the APR is the total cost of borrowing, the interest PLUS all other fees that you'll pay for the loan. For example, mortgage loans have an origination fee, so the lenders have to disclose that fee in the loan's APR. Credit cards are more straightforward with their fees, as all are already separately disclosed (annual fee, cash advance fee, etc.). So in this case, the interest rate is the same as the annual percentage rate (APR).
By far, we’ve only mentioned balance transfer and purchase APRs, but credit cards have other types of APRs too. Generally, you’ll find the following types of APRs:
- Purchase APR – the rate you pay for everyday purchases with your credit card.
- Balance transfer APR – the rate you’ll pay if you transfer a balance from another credit card (8% - 25%).
- Introductory APR – special rate offered to new cardholders, usually for balance transfers, purchases, or both. You’ll pay 0% interest for a set period of time, but remember that once this period ends, the regular APRs kick in.
- Cash advance APR – the rate you’ll pay if you borrow cash with your card from an ATM (around 25%).
- Penalty APR – the rate that’ll be applied if you are late with your payment (up to 29.99%).
As you can see, credit card interest rates can be quite high. So, how do credit card issuers set these rates? You must have noticed that usually the word 'variable' is written next to each card's APR. This means that this card’s APR varies based on the prime rate. The prime rate is the interest rate that banks give to the most creditworthy customers. If this rate goes up, your APR will follow and go up too.
However, the main factor that'll determine what APR you'll get is your credit score. This tells the credit card companies a lot about how you managed money in the past. For example, whether you've paid your bills on time, and the amount of debt you owe. So, if you've been responsible regarding your debt and payments, you can probably expect to get an APR that’s closer to the lower limit. However, if your credit score is less-than-perfect, you might want to hold back from borrowing on your credit card.
Although credit cards with introductory APR offers can be of great value and potentially save you hundreds of dollars, after that period ends, the regular APRs, which are really high, will start applying. Depending on the card, the intro period can also end early if you fail to make the minimum monthly payment even once and can suddenly get very expensive since you’ll have to pay late and penalty fees. The minimum monthly payment is the amount that you have to pay each month so that the credit card company doesn’t mark your account as “past due.”
We do recommend paying an amount that's above your minimum payment, preferably the total amount due. Paying the minimum amount will only save you from paying late fees, but you'll still have to pay interest on the remaining balance. To give you an idea of how costly interest on credit cards can be, consider the following example: You want to purchase a new refrigerator for your home and it costs around $5,000. You can’t pay it upfront, so you decide to put it on your credit card. The interest rate is 16.15% (U.S. average) and you plan to pay it off in total over the course of 12 months, in equal installments. This is how would that look like:
For an appliance that costs $5,000, you’ll have to pay a $413 interest. But if you get a new credit card with a 0% APR on purchases for at least 12 months you can only pay the principal. And the money you'd otherwise pay for interest, you can now use to pay for the refrigerator’s installment.
To sum up, if you want to avoid or reduce the interest cost on credit cards, start with taking advantage of the intro APR offers. As long as you make at least the minimum monthly payments, the 0% rate will keep applying. When the offer ends, be aware of the ongoing APR and try to pay your bill in full, every month. Credit cards will usually give you (at least) 21-day grace period after each statement close date, during which you can pay your balance without interest. Try not to carry a balance from month to month, as that way you can easily accumulate a lot of interest that can potentially cost you hundreds of dollars, as we explained above.
How do 0% APR offers work?
During the introductory APR period, an APR of 0% is applied, which means you won't have to pay interest on new purchases or balance transfers (or both – depends on the card).
What’s the best way to use a 0% APR credit card?
If you have a balance on a high-interest credit card and want to save money by making a balance transfer, a credit card with a 0% APR offer on balance transfers will help. While a credit card with a 0% APR offer on purchases will benefit you if you're planning an expensive purchase and currently either don't have the cash for that or don't want to take from your savings funds. With the right card, you can pay off your purchase interest-free.
Whether you get a 0% APR credit card for a purchase or a balance transfer, the best way to use it is to pay back the amount owed in full before the introductory period ends.
How to choose a 0% APR credit card?
We’ll give you a short guideline that will help you choose the credit card that best suits your needs:
- What’s your need? – A purchase, balance transfer, or both?
- A long enough intro APR period – Think about the amount of your purchase or balance and how long you’ll need to pay it off. A long enough period is one during which you can pay back everything you owe. Always go for a longer period. For example, if you think that you’ll need around 15 months to pay off the balance or purchase, still go for a card that has an 18-month 0% APR offer.
- Consider the ongoing APRs – However long, the intro period will once end, so think about the APR you’ll have to pay when that happens.
- Long-term value and other benefits – Many of the cards on our list, not only offer 0% APR, but also rewards. You should look beyond the intro period and think about how the card can bring you additional value. Here you can find the best credit cards for rewards.
Why do credit cards offer 0% APRs?
As these 0% APR offers sound great to you, you're probably wondering what's in it for the credit card companies. Well, to start with, by offering these intro interest-free periods they attract more customers to sign-up for the card. Also, as you’re not allowed to make a balance transfer on another card from the same issuer, with these offers, credit card companies “steal” customers from competitors while charging you a balance transfer fee.
Lastly, they are also counting on some cardholders to be late with a payment or miss one or more and will have to pay high penalty fees. Some will fail to pay off the whole amount due during the intro period and will have to keep paying when the regular APR is applied.
So, we are rooting for you to be smart and prevent them from profiting from you, by managing your credit card responsibly and keeping in mind all the tips we mentioned throughout this article.
Can I extend the 0% introductory period on a credit card?
It depends, but it's highly unlikely. As we said, card issuers profit from your interest payments. However, if you've been making all your payments on time, you can call and ask for an extension on the intro period. Even if you don’t succeed to prolong the 0% APR period, maybe you can negotiate a lower interest rate.
What credit score should I have in order to increase my approval odds for a 0% APR credit card?
Generally, you’ll need a good to excellent credit score to qualify for a 0% APR credit card. A credit score of at least 670 is recommended.
What are other credit cards to consider?
Other good credit cards with 0% APR offers that didn’t make our list are: the Discover it® Student Cash Back (0% APR on purchases for 6 months) and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (0% APR on purchases for 12 months).
How do I find out which APR will I get on a particular credit card?
As we said earlier in the text, the better your credit score - the lower the APR you’ll get. However, the exact APR will be disclosed after you get approved for the card.