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Author: Robin Saks Frankel | Last Updated: August 15, 2018


In this article:


How we chose our favorite 0% interest credit cards

Credit cards that offer 0% interest, also known as 0% APR, can be extremely useful for consumers who need to make a large purchase or perform a balance transfer. The credit card editors at Bankrate analyzed over 1,000 credit cards with 0% interest offers and graded them against an objective list of category-specific card features to develop our unbiased recommendations for you.

Review criteria

When our editors review credit card offers, we take different credit card features into account depending on the category. The best zero interest credit cards offer lengthy intro 0% APR periods with low or no annual fee, a reasonable ongoing regular variable APR, and a solid balance transfer offer. We also give a few extra points to cards that have both solid 0% interest offers and give consumers the opportunity to earn rewards. Applying for a credit card is a big deal, and Bankrate wants to make sure that the card that you choose to own will take care of both your immediate and future financial needs.

  • 0% Introductory APR Offer – As far as we’re concerned, for 0% interest cards, the longer the period without APR, the better. That’s why we pay close attention to the fine print around the 0% introductory APR offer to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
  • Balance Transfer Offer – Credit cards that offer 0% interest rates oftentimes include introductory balance transfer offers. A good 0% interest credit card will offer a low fee on transferred balances — usually around 3%-5% of the transferred amount. It can be a great tool to consolidate debt, reduce the cost of what you owe, and pay down your balance.
  • Regular Variable APR – The 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%. Consumers should be aware of what the regular APR is because this will be the cost of carrying credit card debt if a purchase or balance transfer is not paid off within the 0% APR introductory period.
  • Annual Fee – In the 0% interest category, it is rare to see a card that charges an annual fee. Usually, these fees are associated with rewards and luxury cards and are the cost of access to these programs. However, an annual fee is a something to look out for on 0% interest cards, as the fees will likely outweigh the benefit of paying for a purchase over time without the cost interest. In this category, if a card has an annual fee, it will lose a few points in our book.

How do 0 interest credit cards work?

A zero interest card is a credit card that offers an introductory period where you won’t be charged any interest on either purchases, balance transfers–or both. These sign-up offers range from 12 to 21 months and begin from the date you open the account. You may also hear these cards referred to as 0% annual percentage rate (APR) credit cards.

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.

In Review: Bankrate’s Favorite 0% Interest Credit Cards

Citi Simplicity Card

Get out of debt or make a large purchase and take 18 months to pay it off without interest using the Citi Simplicity Card. The introductory 0% APR period is longer than most others, making it a smart choice for consolidating and paying off debt, even without the additional rewards you may get with other cards.

Card Details:

  • Best for: Paying off large debts over 18 months without interest
  • Bankrate Score: 88/100
  • Intro 0% APR term length: 18 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Regular APR: 15.74% – 25.74% variable 

Editor’s take:

If 0% APR term length is the one and only feature you’re looking for in a credit card, Citi’s Simplicity Card is the one you want to go with.

Read Bankrate’s full Citi Simplicity Card 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 2018 Cashback Calendar after enrollment. The kicker is that Discover will double 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, too.

Card Details:

  • Best for: Large first-year bonus
  • Bankrate Score: 93/100
  • Intro 0% APR term length: 14 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Regular APR: 13.74% – 24.74% variable 

Editor’s take:

If you can comfortably pay off the debt you intend to use this card for over the first 14 months, the cash back you’ll earn on it can’t be beat.

Read Bankrate’s full Discover it Cash Back review.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

If you’re seeking a 0% APR 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 relatively high balance transfer fee is a reminder that this is a rewards credit card first, and a debt consolidation card second.

Card Details:

  • Best for: Collecting flat-rate cash back while paying down debt
  • Bankrate Score: 92/100
  • Intro 0% APR term length: 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Regular APR: 16.74% – 25.49% variable 

Editor’s take:

This is an excellent supplementary card to Chase’s Sapphire lineup, as its cash back can be converted to points. Think of the 0% APR introductory period as a perk of owning this card, not a primary reason for getting it.

Read Bankrate’s full Chase Freedom Unlimited 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 eating out, travel, and popular streaming services, 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 that you won’t mind keeping in your wallet long after the intro APR period expires.

Card Details:

  • Best for: Earning points rewards while taking your time to pay off a large purchase
  • Bankrate Score: 97/100
  • Intro 0% APR term length: 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Regular APR: 14.24% – 26.74% variable 

Editor’s take:

If you are looking for a card with a reasonable introductory 0% APR offer that you will want to keep in your wallet, look no further. The Propel Card is a best-in-class rewards credit card that also boasts a respectable, 12-month 0% APR offer. Consider that there is no annual fee, and you can see why this card received one of the highest scores possible from our editors.

Read Bankrate’s full Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card review.

Citi Diamond Preferred Card

With an unparalleled 21-month 0% APR introductory period on balance transfers, the Citi Diamond Preferred makes a strong case for consumers who want or need a longer timeline for paying off debts. You won’t earn the cash back you’d get from other credit cards, but if you’re looking for a no-interest term length of almost two years, rewards are probably not your top priority. Don’t overlook the perks of the Citi Diamond Preferred, though, which include price protection and Citi Private Pass access.

Card Details:

  • Best for: Making low monthly payments on balance transfer debt without interest
  • Bankrate Score: 82/100
  • Intro 0% APR term length: 21 months on balance transfers, 12 months on purchases
  • Regular APR: 14.74% – 24.74% variable 

Editor’s take:

Primarily to be used as a 0% APR card for balance transfers, the Citi Diamond Preferred won’t give you as much time to pay off new purchases as other cards. If you want a small monthly payment on a balance transfer, though, this is your best option.

Read Bankrate’s full Citi Diamond Preferred Card Review

Chase Freedom

For savvy rewards cards users looking for a 0% APR credit card, the Chase Freedom is a solid option for getting cash back without accruing interest for the first 15 months. Another credit card with bonus rotating quarterly categories, the Chase Freedom will pay you 5% cash back on select spending like groceries, wholesale clubs, movie theaters, etc. If you are up for tracking the categories and can maximize your spend, you’ll get a nice return. Again, the 0% introductory APR is a great perk if your credit is good enough to get you approved.

Card details:

  • Best for: Maximizing cash back on quarterly spend categories
  • Bankrate Score: 90/100
  • Intro 0% APR term length: 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Regular APR: 16.74% – 25.49% variable 

Editor’s take:

If you have the time to track your quarterly spending, this is a great option for earning cash back. Keep in mind that the 5% rewards rate is capped at $1,500 in quarterly spending.

Read Bankrate’s full Chase Freedom review.

Capital One Quicksilver Card

The simplicity of the Quicksilver card and its $150 sign-up bonus give reason to consider it for your balance transfer, considering it also carries a 15-month long 0% APR period on purchases and balance transfers. 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.

Card Details:

  • Best for: Earning flat-rate cash back with a lengthy intro 0% APR period
  • Bankrate Score: 93/100
  • Intro 0% APR term length: 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Regular APR: 14.74% – 24.74% variable 

Editor’s take:

If you are looking for a straightforward cash-back credit card with no annual fee and solid introductory 0% APR period, you should consider this card.

Read Bankrate’s full Capital One Quicksilver Card review.

How much can you save by using a 0% intro APR card?

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. 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. towards the balance:

Credit Card Name Time to Payoff Interest Savings
Citi Simplicity® Card 14 months $459
Discover it® Cash Back 15 months $457
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 14 months $472
Citi Diamond Preferred 14 months $410
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card 15 months $444
Chase Freedom 14 months $472
Capital One® Quicksilver® Card 14 months $464

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.

Pros and Cons of Zero Interest Cards

Pros

  • If you plan on buying a big-ticket item and can’t 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 zero interest offer on balance transfers, 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Debt Consolidation Options

For someone carrying heavy credit card debt, 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.

Author Spotlight
Robin Saks Frankel is a credit cards journalist with multiple years of experience in card reviews, breaking news, points guides and editorial advice. Robin has written content for Bankrate, Nerdwallet, and multiple other financial publications. You can find her on Twitter @robinsaks.

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