The Best 0% APR Credit Cards

There is no such thing as a permanent 0% APR credit card. We know that’s not the best way to begin a guide titled, The Best 0% APR Credit Cards, but if you came here looking for a free ride courtesy of Visa, Mastercard, and friends, we’re going to have to disappoint you. Credit is business, big business, and for those providers to turn a profit they need to charge interest rates and fees.

Start raising your credit score today.

Call 800-450-0779.

However, to tempt you into signing on the dotted line, many credit card issuers will provide you with an introductory offer of 0% APR for a fixed number of months. The exact length of this trial period and the terms to which it adheres will depend on the specific credit card, but in this guide, we’ll look at the best of them.

The Best 0% APR Credit Cards

Most card offers include some kind of reduced APR, with the best going all the way down to 0% for between 6 and 21 months. We’ll discuss what the APR means a little further down, but for now, let’s look at the best credit card offers with a 0% intro period.

HSBC Gold Mastercard

The HSBC Gold is a Mastercard that offers some generous rates. For instance, there is no penalty APR and a late fee waiver, and that, combined with a 0% on purchases and transfers for 18 months, makes it a great choice for cardholders seeking to claw their way out of debt or to make some big purchases that they can’t afford just yet.

No penalty APR, late fee waiver

  • Card Issuer: Mastercard
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 16.49% to 24.49% variable APR
  • Intro APR: 0% APR for balance transfers and purchases for 18 months
  • Rewards Program: No
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 5%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Sign-up Bonus: N/A

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited allows you to make interest-free purchases for 15 months and this, in combination with a generous rewards scheme, makes this card one of the best in the country.

  • Card Issuer: Visa
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 16.49% to 25.24% variable APR
  • Intro APR: 0% APR for balance transfers and purchases for 15 months
  • Rewards Program: Yes, cash back rewards offering 1.5% on unlimited purchases
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3%
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%
  • Sign-up Bonus: Get $150 when you spend $500 in three months

Discover It Balance Transfer

The Discover It series of credit cards offer a wealth of features, including a cash back rewards program that pays up to 5%. This particular card is great if you want a 0% APR card that will cover you for 6 months of new purchases and 18 months of balance transfers. 

It’s the best balance transfer card offered by Discover and can beat most of the other cards offered by Discover’s competitors. Discover will also match all of the cash you earn at the end of your first year, essentially doubling the rewards you receive.

  • Card Issuer: Discover
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 13.49% to 24.49% variable APR
  • Intro APR: 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months; 0% on purchases for 6 months
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% on all balance transfers
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
  • Rewards Program: 1% to 5%; redeem as gift cards or statement credit
  • Sign-up Bonus: Cash back is matched for first year

 

Capital One QuickSilver

Capital One has a few great cards, many of which have 0% intro purchase APR offers. The Capital One QuickSilver is our personal favorite, though, as the intro period stretches for an impressive 15 months and it also comes with a generous rewards scheme. What’s more, you don’t need excellent credit to be accepted, and anything above 650 should qualify.

  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Regular APR: 15.49% to 25.49% variable APR
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
  • Balance Transfer Fee: 3% on all balance transfers
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: $0
  • Rewards Program: 1.5% unlimited cash back for every purchase
  • Sign-up Bonus: $150 when you spend $500 in first 3 months

Other 0% Interest Rewards Cards

There are many more top reward cards out there offering 0% APR rates in addition to air miles, cash back, and more. Amazon has a great rewards card, and the Blue Cash Everyday, as well as the Blue Cash Preferred, are both worthy of being included. 

These cards are provided by American Express, a network that is also responsible for a host of other great 0% APR credit cards.

How to Use a 0% APR Credit Card

A 0% intro APR can do more harm than good in certain situations. If you don’t have an existing credit card, with no credit card debt to repay or move around and no experience of using these cards, it can be a costly temptation. 

You may make big purchases that you can’t afford to repay, only to be hit with equally large bills when the intro APR period ends, and all those purchases come back to bite you.

There are times, however, when it’s helpful. For instance, if you have a lot of credit card debt, mounting bills, and growing obligations, a 0% intro APR can buy you a little breathing room. You can move your current debt onto a new card, ensuring that all of your monthly payments go towards the principal, and you can make the purchases you need to make without adding more interest.

It can also help you if you have a few big expenses coming up and no way to cover them. The credit card will cover those costs for you and the 0% APR means you won’t have to worry about them for several months. Just make sure you clear the balance in time, because if you don’t, the interest rate will kick in, your balance will grow, and before you know it, you may have more debt than you can handle.

Of course, you can avoid this by paying the balance in full before the intro APR offer ends. What many novice credit card users don’t realize is that credit card interest online applies when the balance is not cleared. 

For instance, if you spend $2,000 on your card this month, you will have the option of either clearing the balance in full next month, or making a minimum payment, the latter of which is often just a fraction of the balance. Scared by the huge bill they’re facing, many inexperienced users will opt for the minimum payment instead, but as soon as they do this, the balance starts generating interest and they become trapped in a dangerous cycle.

If you make a late payment, you could make the situation worse for yourself, as you may be hit with a high-interest rate courtesy of a penalty APR, as well as late payment fees. However, as bleak as this situation appears, and as costly as that initial mistake may seem, you can still dig yourself out of trouble by paying your balance at a later date.

What are the Different Types of APR?

APR stands for “Annual Percentage Rate” and it is basically the interest that a creditor charges you over a year. Or at least, in theory, it is. In practice, it’s a little more complicated as you actually pay interest on a daily basis (the exact rate is calculated as your APR ÷ 365) and this compounds. In other words, you pay interest on interest, and if your balance keeps growing then so will the amount of interest that you pay.

APR is actually used to simplify the process, as creditors are required by law to include an APR on all credit card offers, giving consumers an easy way to compare one card to another without needing to understand how credit card interest works. And while it’s not quite as cut and dry as you might think, it does help when comparing, because an APR of 25% will always be lower than an APR of 26%, when all balances and fees have been accounted for.

To make things even more confusing, however, there are several different APRs displayed in credit card offers, each referring to a specific part of your credit card.

  • Balance Transfer APR: A balance transfer is the act of moving one or more credit card balances to a new card. The balance transfer APR is the interest rate that you pay on this transferred balance, with many balance transfer credit cards giving you 0% for between 6 and 21 months. 
  • Purchase APR: A purchase APR is the interest rate applied to all purchases. For instance, when you see an offer that provides “0% APR on purchases for 12 months”, this means all the purchases you make in that time frame will not incur interest. However, this doesn’t include fees and penalties, and if your balance has not been cleared when those 12 months come to an end, you will be charged interest.
  • Cash Advance APR:  When you use your credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM or to initiate any other kind of money transaction, such as purchasing money orders or gift certificates, you may be hit with cash advance fees and those fees may incur interest. Fees are also charged every time you use your credit card to gamble.
  • Regular APR: The regular APR is the usual rate, often charged at between 16% and 26%. The better your credit score, the lower it will be.
  • Variable APR: If a rate is “Variable”, as is so often the case, it means it is subject to change and may increase or decrease according to the prime rate.
  • Introductory APR: The intro APR is what we have been discussing in this article. It’s a fixed-term, intro offer that typically provides 0% APR for between 6 and 21 months. Once the intro APR period ends, the “Regular APR” will kick in.

The Most Important Features of a Credit Card

A 0% introductory period is a great addition to a credit card offer and is one of the many things you should look for in a credit card. However, it’s not the only defining factor, and there are several other important features to consider, including:

Regular APR: How high will the interest charges be once the intro period ends, are they reasonable enough to make this a long-term credit card or are they so high that your finances will be decimated if you ever fail to pay your balance?

Rewards: Whether it’s a cash rewards credit card or a travel rewards credit card, these cards incentivize you to spend, giving you points, miles or cash every time you use your card. These may be tied to specific bonus categories like gas stations, grocery stores, and US supermarkets, which means you’ll need to spend your money there to get the bonus.

Perks: Some credit card companies offer additional perks and rewards, including a free FICO score check, gift cards, access to VIP tickets and airport lounges, and more.

Balance Transfers: It’s common for a balance transfer offer to outlast a purchase APR offer, encouraging cardholders to move their money across to their new credit card.

Welcome Offers: Credit cards don’t stop at 0% APRs and often use other enticing features to lure you in, including a cash bonus or points bonus when you first sign up. One of the most common is to provide you with a cash bonus when you spend a specific amount of money during the first three billing cycles. Known as sign-up bonuses or account opening bonuses, these can help you get started with the card’s rewards program.

How to Get a Better Interest Offer

If you’re not getting the rewards you want or the APR you need, it may come down to your credit score, also known as your creditworthiness. If you’re deemed to be high risk due to a flawed credit report and a low credit score, you simply won’t get the offers you’re looking for. 

However, there are a few simple ways you can boost your credit score and your creditworthiness, including:

Repair Your Credit

The first step is to check your credit report and look for any errors. These can result from simple mistakes, such as an incorrectly reported account, but they can also happen if you are the victim of fraud.

If someone steals your identity, they can open new credit cards and loans in your name, and because they don’t care what happens to your credit score, they won’t make an effort to repay those loans. Payments will gradually lapse, your accounts will default, and before you know it, your credit score will be destroyed.

By spotting these mistakes and making a proactive effort to fix them, you can clear everything up quickly and start rebuilding your credit right away.

Clear Existing Debt

Keeping a low credit utilization ratio is essential for building a strong credit score. This ratio compares your credit limits to your debt, which means a credit limit of $2,000 and a debt of $500 will create a credit utilization ratio of 25%.

The more of your debt that you clear, the lower this ratio will be and the sooner you can start building your credit and getting your hands on the ideal card.

Increase Credit Limits

Your credit utilization ratio will also receive a boost when you increase your credit limits, providing you don’t immediately make several big purchases and add more debt. If you have existing credit cards, contact your lender and request an increased credit limit and your credit utilization ratio should get a short, sharp boost that will improve your credit score right away.

Limit Applications

Every time you apply for a new card or loan, and every time a new account opens, your score takes a hit. To get the best credit card, therefore, you need to stop applying for new lines of credit. The good news is that hard inquiries disappear after 24 months and stop impacting your score after just 12 months, while new accounts will quickly turn to old accounts. 

Bide Your Time

One of the best things you can do to improve your credit score is just wait. Bide your time, wait for those hard inquiries to disappear and those new accounts to become old, and you should see a marked improvement in your credit score. Of course, for this to work, you’ll need to commit to making your monthly payments on time and without fail.