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Author: Bankrate Staff | Last Updated: January 14, 2019
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Recap: Bankrate’s top picks for 0% intro APR credit cards
Why you should trust Bankrate
Bankrate’s team of experts is focused on bringing you comprehensive, well informed financial guidance for every stage of your life. From mortgages to student loans, credit cards and more, you will find friendly and impartial advice with Bankrate. A 0% APR credit card can be a fantastic financial tool for 2019 when used appropriately, as it will allow you to save on interest expenses for the length of the promotional period. It’s important to have a good plan in place for how you want to use your card and pay it off before your 0% rate ends. When you make your plan, it could become apparent that the promotional period won’t be long enough to pay down what you owe, in that instance, it’s worth considering a personal loan.
A great zero interest card should enable you to achieve your 2019 financial goals by offering a long introductory 0% APR period, no annual fee, and a low regular variable APR rate. Our experts award each card a Bankrate score out of 100 by comparing a card’s offering against Bankrate’s proprietary scoring matrix. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to credit cards so it’s important that you factor in all the variables of your unique situation to find the best card for you.
- 0% Introductory APR Offer: Generally, for 0% interest cards, the longer the period without APR, the better.
- Balance Transfer Offer: A good 0% interest credit card will also offer a low fee on transferred balances and a lengthy balance transfer period.
- Regular Variable APR: Regular variable APR refers to the interest rate you incur on a credit card’s outstanding balance, after the introductory 0% APR period. Standard APR can range from below 10% to over 20%.
What is a 0% interest credit card?
With a zero interest credit card, you receive an introductory period free from interest (ranging from 12 to 21 months) on purchases with the card or balance transfers. This type of credit card can also be referred to as a 0% APR (annual percentage rate) card, and is great for people looking to save on interest expenses throughout 2019.
For example, say you sign up for a credit card with a 12-month zero percent introductory offer, and you charge $10,000 worth of items on that card within the first month. If you pay the balance off in full before the end of that 12-month promotional period, you won’t owe any additional interest charges. But, if you spent that same $10,000 on a card with an APR of 18%, and you took a year to pay off the balance, you’d tack another $1,800 in finance charges onto what you already owed.
Deeper analysis on our top 0% APR credit cards of 2019
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
The simplicity of the Quicksilver card, with its $150 sign-up bonus, gives card-shoppers a great reason to consider it for 2019 balance transfers. It currently offers a 15-month long 0% APR period on purchases and balance transfers, and, additionally, you’ll also earn a flat rate of 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make. As a good-to-excellent credit score is needed to be approved for the Quicksilver, those who don’t value rewards as much as the length of the introductory period may be better off with another card.
- Best for: Unlimited cash back
- Bankrate Score: 93/100
- Intro 0% APR term length: 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
- Regular APR: 15.24% – 25.24% variable
Read Bankrate’s full Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card review.
Citi Simplicity Card
Make a large purchase and take 12 months to pay it off without interest using the Citi Simplicity Card. You can also transfer a balance with no interest for 21 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.24% – 26.24%, based on your creditworthiness. All transfers must be completed in first 4 months. The introductory 0% APR period for balance transfers is longer than most others, making it a smart choice for consolidating and paying off debt in 2019, even without the additional rewards you may get with other cards.
- Best for: Balance transfers
- Bankrate Score: 88/100
- Intro 0% APR term length: 21 months on balance transfer
- Intro 0% APR term length: 12 months on purchases
- Regular APR: 16.24% – 26.24%* (Variable)
Read Bankrate’s full Citi Simplicity Card review.
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
Offering a year-and-a-half of zero interest on balance transfers and purchases, the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card is ideal if you’re looking for a long timeframe in which to pay off what you owe. If you value cash back rewards as much as the introductory APR rate, this might not be the card for you (there are other zero interest cards that also offer rewards). However, additional financial management tools like My Money Map (Wells Fargo’s personalized online budgeting and spend-tracking tool) and credit score monitoring can be extremely useful for cardholders working on improving their financial situation in 2019.
- Best for: Long 0% APR offer on purchases
- Bankrate Score: 81/100
- Intro 0% APR term length: 18 months on purchases and balance transfers
- Regular APR: 13.74%-27.24% variable
Citi Rewards+SM Card
If you’re in the market for a zero interest card but and are looking for a simple way to earn rewards, the Citi Rewards+ Card could be a great match. For everyday spending, you’ll receive 2x points at supermarkets and gas stations (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1x) and 1x points on all other purchases. And when you spend $1,000 within the first three months, you’ll receive a welcome bonus of 15,000 ThankYou Points. This card rounds ThankYou points to the nearest 10 points on card purchases, so even the smallest purchases could earn you major points.
- Best for: Everyday use
- Bankrate Score: 92/100
- Intro 0% APR term length: 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
- Regular APR: 15.74% – 25.74% variable
Chase Freedom Unlimited
If you’re seeking a zero interest card but would still like to be rewarded for your spending, consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which pays 1.5% cash back on every purchase made. The 15-month introductory APR period is on-par with most other cards in the category, but the 3% balance transfer fee can eat into those rewards. This is a rewards credit card first and a debt consolidation card second.
- Best for: Flat rate cash back
- Bankrate Score: 92/100
- Intro 0% APR term length: 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
- Regular APR: 16.99% – 25.74% variable
Read Bankrate’s full Chase Freedom Unlimited review.
Discover it® Cash Back
A rewards-first 0% APR credit card, the Discover it Cash Back makes a case for itself by offering 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in accordance with Discover’s 2019 Cashback Calendar after enrollment. The kicker is that Discover will match all of the cash you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Add in a 14-month 0% APR introductory period and you have a quality rewards credit card that affords you the opportunity to pay down debt in 2019.
- Best for: Rotating category cash back
- Bankrate Score: 93/100
- Intro 0% APR term length: 14 months on purchases and balance transfers
- Regular APR: 14.24% – 25.24% variable
Read Bankrate’s full Discover it Cash Back review.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
The VentureOne card offers a low 12-month introductory APR rate on purchases (14.24%-24.24% variable APR after that), which isn’t the most competitive APR rate on purchases in this list. Its real value is in the travel rewards it offers. With this card, you can earn 1.25x miles on every purchase and 10x miles on a ton of hotels when you book and buy through hotels.com/venture. Coming soon, you will also be able to transfer miles to multiple airline programs at generous transfer rates, which really boosts the value of your miles. This is all with no annual fee. If you’re looking for a low-maintenance travel rewards card for 2019 that allows you to use the miles you accumulate for any hotel or airline then this could be a good option for you.
- Best for: Travel rewards
- Bankrate Score: 80/100
- Intro 0% APR term length: Low intro APR rate on purchases for 12 months
- Regular APR: 14.24%-24.24% variable
Read Bankrate’s full Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards review.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for an initial 15-month period. Additionally, the card comes with competitive cashback rates on everyday spending, like 3% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 a year (1% after that), unlimited 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% on everything else. The only drawback is that your cashback rewards can only be redeemed as statement credit or in American Express’ online catalog — there are other cards that allow you to redeem your cash back into your bank account or for things like gift cards.
- Best for: Cash back on everyday spending
- Bankrate Score: 89/100
- Intro 0% APR term length: 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers and purchases
- Regular APR: 15.24% to 26.24% variable
Read Bankrate’s full Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Review.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card is one of Bankrate’s favorite rewards cards, and it offers a 12-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers. With 3X rewards points across dining, gas and travel, this is a perfect card if you are looking to book a trip that you can pay off over the next year with no interest. Additionally, this card has no annual fee, making it an extremely attractive card for 2019 that you won’t mind keeping in your wallet, post-introductory APR.
- Best for: Flexible rewards points
- Bankrate Score: 97/100
- Intro 0% APR term length: 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
- Regular APR: 14.74%-27.24% variable
Read Bankrate’s full Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card review.
Why get a zero interest credit card?
It’s important that you do your due diligence to get a credit card that is right for your needs. There are many reasons someone might consider a 0% interest card for 2019, here are a few use cases.
A flurry of necessary expenses
Charges can add up fast and if you’re charging these purchases to a standard credit card, and can’t pay off everything you owe at once, you’ll be incurring regular variable APR rates. That short-term cash flow issue can become hard to handle when your balance begins accruing sizable interest. Putting in a little forethought and applying for a zero interest card — in preparation for those expenses — means you’ll have time to pay off what you owe without incurring interest.
It’s important to be disciplined, not spend more than you can pay off within the introductory window and factor in the cost to pay off this card in your emergency fund in the case of unforeseen loss of income. However, if used responsibly, a 0% APR card can give you one less thing to worry about.
New homeowners know that the expenses don’t stop once you buy a house. If you’re upsizing and looking to refurbish rooms or if you’re downsizing and need to buy new appliances, the expenses add up. Unexpected breakdowns and moving fees can also put a sizable dent in your 2019 funds.
A zero interest card can be a way to finance these expenses and pay them off interest-free over time, with some cards offering as much as a year-and-a-half at no interest. It’s also worth considering cards that offer rewards on spending throughout 2019, as this will allow you to earn cash back or points on your sizable home-related purchases while you pay off your balance interest-free.
Weddings and honeymoons
Weddings are getting more and more expensive. The average cost of a wedding in the United States was $25,764 in 2017 and a lot more couples are financing the event themselves — without help from friends and family. While it’s always better to save up for the big day and, ideally, start your marriage without credit card debt, for some people that’s just not realistic. Instead of using a credit card, which charges standard variable APR on your balance, consider a 0% APR card in 2019. This will at least give you a cushion of time to pay back the wedding or honeymoon expenses.
How to choose the right offer
If you’re looking to consolidate high-interest debt from balances on other cards onto a zero-interest credit card, for 2019 you should look for cards offering 0% interest on balance transfers for the longest period of time. This will give you the most amount of time to pay down as much debt as you can while you’re not paying interest. It’s also worth paying close attention to the balance transfer fee. There are a lot of suitable cards for balance transfers in this list but make sure to also check out our list of balance transfer credit cards.
Cards that offer low rates for introductory periods tend to have high rates after that introductory stage is finished. This means that if you frequently carry a balance from one month to the next then you should prioritize a card with a low ongoing interest rate.
How much can you save with a 0% intro APR offer?
If you need to make a large purchase, but can’t afford to pay all at once, using a credit card with a standard variable APR could cost you more than you might think. Standard variable (meaning: depending on your creditworthiness) APR rates can reach as high as 28% and compound every month which adds interest to your interest. This can quickly get out of hand. Doing your homework before you make a purchase can save you a lot of money in 2019. Here is how much you will save in interest payments on each of Bankrate’s favorite 0% intro APR credit cards if you purchase an item that costs $3,000 and pay $200/mo. toward the balance:
|Credit Card Name
||Time to Payoff
|Citi Simplicity® Card
|Discover it® Cash Back
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
|Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Interest savings calculation is based on a total purchase balance of $3,000, assuming a current regular variable interest rate of 17.21% and $200 monthly payments towards the purchase balance.
You can use Bankrate’s credit card payoff calculator to determine how many months you’ll need to pay off your debt.
Is it wise to finance a big-ticket item with a 0% APR card?
The simple answer to this question: it depends. Depending on your situation, a zero interest card can be a great way to meet your financial needs in 2019 without incurring expensive interest charges. If you’ve moved house and need to buy appliances for instances, a 0% APR card can make a lot of sense.
However, there are times when using a zero interest card is not a great idea. For instance, if you don’t have the regular income to pay off what you spend then it’s unlikely you’ll pay off your balance within the zero-interest window. Or, if you charge unnecessary and unplanned expenses to your card. This type of card works best when you have a specific plan in mind. Maybe your washing machine broke and you need a new one, buying it on a card with a 12-month 0% interest-free offer means that you can spread the cost of the washing machine into manageable chunks and not pay any interest. Potentially saving you hundreds of dollars. If you buy the washing machine and then charge an unplanned and unnecessary vacation on the card, this means you have more to pay off and you could run the risk of carrying a balance on the card after the introductory period is over.
It’s important to have a plan and keep what you owe down to a minimum. A 0% APR card isn’t free money, one day those interest charges will kick in and it’s important that you’re not carrying a balance when that happens. Used properly though, they are a great tool to help you fund large expenses throughout 2019 and save on interest payments.
Pros and cons of zero interest cards
- If you plan on buying a big-ticket item in 2019 and won’t be able to pay for it all at once, a zero interest offer can give you some breathing room to pay it off without accruing interest.
- A zero interest offer on purchases is often coupled with a balance transfer offer, which can help you pay off your debt more quickly.
- If you have an emergency, using a credit card with a zero interest offer can help you get out of a jam, without incurring extra costs.
- In addition to the 0% APR introductory period, some cards offer rewards like cash back or airline miles.
- After the introductory period ends, you could be stuck with a card that has a higher-than-average APR.
- You could be tempted by the zero interest period into spending more than you can afford.
- If you don’t stick to a plan to pay off the balance when your zero percent period is up you could get socked with high finance charges on any remaining debt.
- These cards are typically designed for and offered to those with good to excellent credit. If your credit is in poor standing, you may have trouble qualifying.
Consolidating debt? Consider all your options
For someone carrying heavy credit card debt prior to 2019, a zero percent credit card might be a solution. If you have recurring monthly charges that you put on a card, like tuition or medical bills, then switching to one with an introductory zero percent offer on purchases could help you pay off your bills faster than one that piles on the finance charges every billing cycle. Keep in mind that the introductory period offered with these cards is a temporary promotional period. Once the period is up, the rate resets to a standard APR, and you could potentially be charged a significantly higher interest rate on your balance. It’s best to pay off your balance in full before the promotional period is up.
Those looking to consolidate debt from one or more high-interest credit cards may also benefit from transferring the balances to a card with a zero-interest promotional period. Keep in mind that many balance transfer cards cap the transfer amount at $15,000. And, some cards may also charge a balance transfer fee—typically 3% to 5% of the amount being transferred, which can also add to your debt load.
Before you switch cards, use a balance transfer calculator to make sure that fee you’ll pay for transferring a balance to a new card is less than what you’d pay in interest charges on the original card. If you know you’ll carry a balance even after the promotional zero percent period ends, you may be better off switching to a low-interest credit card instead.
More reviews and research
Still deciding and want to do more reading? We have you covered. We have in-depth reviews of major credit cards that offer a 0% intro APR period for both purchases and balance transfers. Check them out below.