Best Low Interest Credit Cards of 2019

Low interest credit cards keep big purchases from putting big dents in your budget. Making payments over time without accruing a ton of interest is both strategic and convenient. Here are our recommendations for the best low interest credit cards from our partners, and our advice for maximizing their value.

Best low APR card with travel rewards

Capital One Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day.
Welcome Offer:
20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% intro on purchases for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.74% - 23.74% variable APR after that
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for basic travel rewards

Discover Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Miles

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
Welcome Offer:
Discover will match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That's $700 towards travel!
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
10.99% for 14 months
Regular APR:
13.49% - 24.49% Variable

Card Details

  • Unlimited Bonus: Discover will match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That's $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

Best for large earning potential

Chase Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Chase's secure website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases
Welcome Offer:
Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Regular APR:
16.49% - 25.24% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for daily purchases

Citi Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Citi's secure website

Citi Rewards+℠ Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% intro for 15 months on Purchases
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% intro for 15 months on Balance Transfers
Regular APR:
14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)

Card Details

  • The Citi Rewards+℠ Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap.
  • Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $150 in gift cards at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.99% - 24.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for first-year rewards

Discover Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Cash Back

Rewards Rate:
Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Welcome Offer:
Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 14 months
Regular APR:
13.49% - 24.49% Variable

Card Details

  • Intro Offer: Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.

Best intro APR offer for balance transfers

Citi Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Citi's secure website

Citi Simplicity® Card

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 12 months on Purchases
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers
Regular APR:
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months from date of first transfer. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • If you transfer a balance with this offer, after your 0% Intro purchase APR expires, both new purchases and unpaid purchase balances will automatically accrue interest until all balances, including your transferred balances, are paid in full
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 16.24% - 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
  • Stay protected with Citi® Quick Lock and $0 liability on unauthorized charges
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best balance transfer offer

Discover Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Rewards Rate:
Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Welcome Offer:
Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 6 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 18 months
Regular APR:
13.49% - 24.49% Variable

Card Details

  • Intro Offer: Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • No annual fee.

Best for 15-month intro APR offer

Capital One Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Welcome Offer:
$150 after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
Regular APR:
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)

Card Details

  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for flat-rate cash back

Citi Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On Citi's secure website

Citi® Double Cash Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% intro for 18 months on Balance Transfers
Regular APR:
15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn cash back twice. Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.49% – 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Click "Apply Now" to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 15.49% – 25.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for military families

USAA Image

Recommended Credit Score

Good to Excellent (670 - 850)

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

Apply Now On USAA's secure website

USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 3X points per dollar on dining Earn 2X points per dollar on gas and groceries Earn 1X point for every dollar spent on all other purchases
Welcome Offer:
Get 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
11.40% - 27.40% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 3X points per dollar spent on dining
  • Earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas and groceries
  • Earn 1X points for every dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Get 2,500 bonus points with your first purchase
  • Redeem points for cash, merchandise, gift cards and more.
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.


Author: Barry Bridges | bbridges@bankrate.com

Have questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.


Everything you need to know about Low Interest cards

Just because credit card interest rates are rising, it doesn’t mean your stress levels have to rise with them. Low interest credit cards are tools to help you pay down debt, while not digging yourself into a large financial hole. And in some cases, the offer of a zero percent APR period over the first few months of your active account sweetens the deal. Here’s more about our top picks, where you can win with them and tips for navigating the low interest cards world.

In this article:

Compare: Our top low interest card picks for 2019

Card name Bankrate score Best for
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card 4.1 / 5 Low APR with travel rewards
Discover it® Miles 4.8 / 5 Basic travel rewards
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 4.6 / 5 Large cash back potential
Citi Rewards+ Card 4.6 / 5 Daily spending
Discover it® Cash Back 4.8 / 5 First year rewards
Citi Simplicity® Card – No Late Fees Ever 4.4 / 5 Intro APR offer for balance transfers
Discover it® Balance Transfer 4.4 / 5 Balance transfer offer
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card 4.8 / 5 15-month intro APR offer
Citi® Double Cash Card 4.3 / 5 Flat-rate cash back
USAA® Rewards™ American Express® Card 4.3 / 5 Military families

Methodology for low interest credit cards

Bankrate’s scoring methodology awards each card a score out of 100. For low interest cards, we highlighted the most important elements for the criteria: APR, introductory APR offer, annual fee, balance transfer offer as well as any extras and discounts.

APR

Split between “standard” and “penalty.” Standard APR can range from below 10% to above 20%. Penalty APR is the rate you would incur if you were late in making a payment. This can reach up to almost 30%. With low-interest at the top of mind, we pay particular attention to APR in all its forms.

0% Introductory APR offer

This period can significantly help cardholders who are looking to use the card as a tool to pay down debt.

Annual fee

Is the card’s annual fee worth it? Do the card’s rewards justify the expense?

Balance transfer offer

For cardholders looking to consolidate debt from one lender to another, a favorable balance transfer offer is paramount.


A closer look at Bankrate’s top low interest credit cards

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

If you’re looking for a card with a low cost of ownership and easy-to-earn flexible rewards, look no further. The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card earns 1.25 miles on every dollar spent, and you can redeem those miles to book travel any way you like. If you’re planning to use the card to finance a large expense, you’ll save on interest while earning travel rewards, which can get you closer to your 2019 vacation goals.

Highlights:

  • No annual fee
  • Cardholders can transfer miles to multiple airline programs at generous transfer rates.
  • Use Capital One’s “Purchase Eraser” to receive a statement credit for travel booked anyway you choose.
  • Pay 0% APR on purchases during the first 12 months of your account (then 13.74% – 23.74% variable).

What’s an added benefit to paying low interest with this card?

The Capital One VentureOne has a pretty substantial welcome offer – 20,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of your account. And paying zero percent interest on purchases over the first 12 months (13.74% – 23.74% variable APR after) makes it easier to earn that bonus while paying down debt.

Discover it® Miles

What makes this card intriguing is that, like most Discover cards, the issuer will match your first-year earnings dollar for dollar. The Discover it® Miles card earns 1.5 miles for every dollar, which is a just-OK rate. But the first-year earnings work out to be 3 miles for every dollar, which puts it on a par with some of the best cash-back cards on the market.

Highlights:

  • There’s no annual fee, foreign transaction fees and the penalty fee of up to $39 is waived with the first late payment.
  • The intro APR is 0% on purchases for 14 months, and balance transfer intro is 10.99% for 14 months. After that, the standard variable APR of 13.49% to 24.49% will apply – 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*.
  • Rewards can be redeemed in any amount as cash back or a statement credit for travel purchases made in the last 180 days.

What’s the added benefit to paying low interest with this card?

The Discover it® Miles softens the blow of missing your first payment by forgiving it, outright. That’s right – no late penalty fee or hiked APR. While we recommend doing your best to make all payments on time, this benefit makes it easier for you to get into the groove of paying off your balance without looking over your shoulder.

Citi Rewards+SM Card

The Citi Rewards+ Card is a great no annual fee option for those looking to earn points for everyday spending. Get 2x points at supermarkets and gas stations (on up to $6,000 a year, then 1x) and 1x points on everything else. Plus, you’ll get a 15,000 ThankYou Point bonus when you spend $1,000 within the first three months of account opening. Other benefits include rental car insurance, trip cancellation protection and access to elite events through Citi Private Pass.

Highlights:

  • Generous rewards rate for supermarket and gas station purchases
  • 0% intro APR for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases (APR of 14.99% – 24.99% variable afterward)
  • No annual fee

What’s an added benefit to paying low interest with this card?

The Citi Rewards+ is the only card that automatically rounds your points up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase, with no cap. Earning ThankYou points at that rate, while taking advantage of low intro APR makes this a solid option.

Discover it® Cash Back

The Discover it® Cash Back earns 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, and more up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Also, earn an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Redeem your cash back any amount, any time because your rewards never expire.

Highlights:

  • Redeem for gift cards, donations, credit to your account, direct deposit into any account, payment at select retailers.
  • Your first late payment fee is waived.
  • There’s a 14-month 0% APR introductory interest rate on purchases and balance transfers. Following the intro period, the standard APR is a variable 13.49% to 24.49% based on your creditworthiness – 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*.

What’s an added benefit to paying low interest with this card?

In addition to earning a high cash back rate in certain areas, the Discover it® Cash Back allows you to maximize your rewards by matching your earnings at the end of the first year of membership. Adding in the lengthy zero percent intro APR easily positions this card to work in your favor.

Discover it® Balance Transfer

This card helps you pay down debt while packing a big rewards punch. Earn five percent cash back in rotating categories like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate. Then earn unlimited one percent cash back on all other purchases, automatically.

Highlights:

  • There’s no annual fee
  • Rewards never expire
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get social security number alerts on dangerous websites.

What’s an added benefit to paying low interest with this card?

This Discover card’s ace in the hole is its Cashback Match welcome offer. Discover will match the total cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically, with no signup required and no limit to how much is matched.

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

With a flat 1.5 percent rewards rate on all purchases, no annual fee and a $150 bonus after spending $500 in the first three months, this card is great for those looking for a straightforward option. You can redeem rewards for any amount with no rotating categories to manage.

Highlights:

  • 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that (3% balance transfer fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months)
  • Rewards don’t expire
  • No earning limits
  • $150 cash bonus when you spend $500 within the first three months of account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees

What’s an added benefit to paying low interest with this card?

In addition to having no annual fee, the Quicksilver has no foreign transaction fee. You’re free to spend outside of the U.S. without paying the additional percentage, and while taking advantage of some nice travel perks, including travel insurance, accident insurance and an extended warranty.

Citi® Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash Card offers some of the best value of any no annual fee cash-back card available today. Cardholders earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when they buy, plus an additional 1% as they pay for those purchases.

Highlights:

  • Simple flat-rate rewards structure
  • 18-month 0% introductory APR on balance transfers. After that, the variable APR will be 15.49% – 25.49% based on your creditworthiness.
  • Rewards can be redeemed in several ways — as a statement credit, a check or a gift card.

What’s an added benefit to paying low interest with this card?

With the Citi Double Cash being a flat-rate cash back card, it’s set up nicely to pair with other rewards cards. Pairing would allow you to earn rewards while having plenty of runway to pay off your balance.


Balance transfers to low interest credit cards

If you are carrying a lot of high-interest debt, shifting the balance to a card with a lower APR can save you money. But, it’s important to do the math before making the switch. Many cards that offer an introductory 0 percent APR will also charge a balance transfer fee. Typically, this fee ranges from 3%-5% of the amount being transferred.

In some cases, the cost of a balance transfer fee could outweigh the savings of shifting to a low interest card. For example, if you have a balance of $10,000 on a card, but you plan on paying this balance off over the course of a year, it may cost you less in interest than if you shift this balance to a card with a 0 percent introductory offer that has a 5 percent balance transfer fee, which will cost you $500 to move.

Is a low interest card right for me?

If you have a big life event coming up in 2019 – graduation, wedding, moving, etc. – a zero percent APR card can give you some financial breathing room to plan around. However, per usual, there are some drawbacks to consider as you’re making your decision. It’s also important to weigh the other available card options against low interest cards. Here are the pros and cons of low interest cards and other cards to consider:

Pros:

  • Shifting a high-interest balance to a card with a lower rate can save you money.
  • Paying off large purchases over time
  • Paying off debt faster due to less money going towards finance charges

Cons:

  • If you haven’t paid off your debt by the time the 0% promotional period ends, you could end up with a higher rate than before.
  • Having a card with low or no interest could tempt you to spend beyond your means.
  • Some cards will charge you a stiff penalty APR if you miss or make a late payment, so if you aren’t rigorous about paying your bill, you could lose the advantageous rate.

Other options to consider:

Charge cards

Charge cards are a good choice when you make large purchases that you can pay back at month’s end, because you will be approved (or rejected) at the counter, based on your spending, payment patterns and income, because there’s no prearranged credit limit.

Debit cards

These cards are connected directly to your financial institution, and require a bank account for you to make purchases. Unlike credit cards, debit cards don’t have credit limits and aren’t used to build credit.

Prepaid cards

These cards are not linked to a financial institution like debit cards, but they are similar in that they allow you to spend money you already have. Prepaid cards help you to establish some healthy spending habits, but they don’t have credit limits, and thus can’t help you build your credit score.

Which is better – low interest or 0% interest credit card?

When it comes to choosing a credit card that offers better terms than what you may currently have, it’s important to make the distinction between low interest cards and ones with an introductory zero percent offer. There are no credit cards that offer 0% interest forever, since they’re used to pay off a balance over time in exchange for accruing interest on the amount of debt you’re carrying. If you want a truly interest-free card in your wallet, you’d be better off with a charge card or debit card.

How to choose the right low interest card for your situation

If you carry a credit card balance, you are not alone: 38% of households in the U.S. have revolving credit card debt, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s 2018 Financial Literacy Survey. Reasons for falling into debt most often deal with a big life change, an unforeseen event or emergency.

Medical emergencies

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index states that medical costs have risen 35% over the last decade, whereas income has only risen 20% in the same time period. That means medical bills are outpacing income rates, which makes it easier to fall into debt if you or a family member needs medical care.

  • Pro tip: You can frequently negotiate a lower cost for medical bills by talking to someone in accounting.

Job loss

The gap between unemployment and employment can be unpredictable, which means meeting your financial obligations during that time can be also. Credit cards are often an easy option — and sometimes the only choice. But this also means debt can quickly follow.

  • Pro tip: Many have found that establishing an emergency fund and drawing from that during the gap period can be a safer and more viable option.

Upcoming wedding

Weddings (especially destination weddings) can be a drain on your budget. You want to take advantage of everything the event has to offer – but depending on the details, things can get costly, quickly. And if you aren’t in a position to put a large enough sum of funds to the side in preparation, credit card debt can easily follow.

  • Pro tip: Funding your wedding experience with a credit union card may help, since they often offer the lowest rates on the market.

Purchasing new furniture

Whether you’re moving, renovating or finally replacing your college sofa, purchasing new furniture isn’t cheap. Even if you strategize by doing one room at a time, the costs (and credit card debt) add up.

  • Pro tip: Borrowing through the furniture company could be a helpful option, since the interest would not be deferred.

It’s important to choose the right low interest card that will help you to manage your debt and minimize the amount you owe. Consider not just the short-term benefits but how you’ll use the card in the years ahead. In situations like the ones above, low interest options such as the Citi Rewards + Card would make sense. It allows you to earn rewards on everyday spending, with no annual fees or high maintenance with rotating categories. You want to get value from making needed purchases without adding stress to what can already be a stressful situation.

How to get a credit card with a low interest rate

Most issuers offer cards with a variable APR range. If you qualify for the lower end of this range, and you carry a balance, then you will end up paying less interest. Generally, it is inadvisable to carry a balance on a credit card due to the high average interest rates but sometimes it can be unavoidable. If you plan to carry a balance or you are worried that you might, a low-interest card can save you money. To get the best rates you need to have a good or excellent credit score. The first step is to check your credit report, you can find out what your current score is and check for any issues or errors on your report. Improving your credit score takes time but it can be done with a sound strategy.

Some cards also offer introductory 0% interest rate periods for purchases, balance transfers or both. The length of time at 0 percent interest typically ranges from 12 months to as long as 21 months, after which the standard variable APR will apply.

Before choosing a card with low interest or a zero interest sign-up offer, take time to consider your spending habits. If you almost always carry a balance, you may be better off with a card that has a set low-interest rate than one at 0% that will likely jump up to double digits when the promotional period is over.

You can apply for a low interest credit card online and you’ll usually find out if you’re approved within minutes. But, if your credit is just fair or worse, you may not qualify for a credit card that offers advantageous rates.

How to save money with a low APR card

With four rate hikes in 2018, the current average variable APR on a credit card is over 17%. It’s clear that for anyone who typically carries a balance, there’s a big benefit to switching to a card with a lower APR.
Here’s the proof in plain numbers: If you have a balance of $10,000 on a card with an APR of 16%, over the course of a year if you leave that balance untouched, you’ll accrue an additional $1,600 in finance charges. But, shift that balance to a card with an introductory 15-month 0% offer and after a year, that same $10,000 balance won’t have racked up any finance charges, saving you $1,600.

More reviews and research

Still need to do more research? No worries, we have plenty of reviews and helpful content to help you make a decision. We have reviews on almost every major low interest credit card on the market. Check out those and other related review categories below.


Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, personal loans, mortgages and other personal finance products since 2017. Before joining Bankrate, he was an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to bbridges@bankrate.com.

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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.