Best 0% Intro APR Credit Cards of 2019

Zero interest credit cards offer a 0% introductory APR period, allowing you to lower your monthly debt obligation on big purchases and/or balance transfers. Today's market is full of credit cards that offer introductory periods of up to 21 months interest-free. Below, our experts have compiled recommendations for the best 0% interest credit cards from our partners and advice on how to make the most of these offers.

These are the best 0 interest credit cards of 2019:

Best for 0% APR period and unlimited cash back

Capital One Image

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

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:
16.24% - 26.24% (Variable)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

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; 16.24%-26.24% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 16.24%-26.24% 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 rotating category cash back

Discover Image

Discover it® Cash Back

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:
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply

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 for first-year value

Chase Image

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

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 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases after initial $20,000 spend in your first year.
Welcome Offer:
Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent.
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:
17.24% - 25.99% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Card Details

  • New Offer! Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that 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 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
  • No annual fee
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for long 0% APR offer on purchases

Wells Fargo Image

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card

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 Wells Fargo's secure website

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card

Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 18 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 18 months on qualifying balance transfers
Regular APR:
13.74%-27.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 13.74%-27.24% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card
  • Easy access to your FICO® Credit Score with Wells Fargo Online®
  • Zero Liability protection for promptly reported unauthorized transactions
  • Convenient tools to help create a budget and manage your spending with My Money Map
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
Capital One Image

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

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 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture 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:
14.24% - 24.24% (Variable)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

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
  • Earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels, through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 14.24% - 24.24% variable APR after that
  • 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
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for cash back on everyday spending

American Express Image

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

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 American Express's secure website

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Rewards Rate:
3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores 1% back on other purchases
Welcome Offer:
$150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% on Purchases for 15 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Regular APR:
15.24%-26.24% Variable
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Card Details

  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 15.24% to 26.24%.
  • You spoke, we listened. Over 1.6 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2018.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Best for first late payment penalty forgiveness

HSBC Image

HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card

Recommended Credit Score

Excellent to Good (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 HSBC's secure website

HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card

Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on credit card purchases for the first 18 months from account opening
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on balance transfers for the first 18 months from account opening
Regular APR:
Variable APR of 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% will apply after the Introductory Period
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Card Details

  • 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 18 months from account opening. Then a variable APR of 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% will apply.
  • No Penalty APR
  • Late Fee Waiver.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $0 Annual Fee.
  • $0 liability for unauthorized purchases.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Best flat-rate cash back card

Citi Image

Citi® Double Cash Card

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 2% cash back on purchases 1% when you buy and 1% as you make payments for those purchases
Annual Fee:
$0*
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers*
Regular APR:
15.74% - 25.74%* (Variable)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Card Details

  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases 1% when you buy and 1% as you make payments for those purchases
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time
  • 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 15.74% - 25.74% based on your creditworthiness.*
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for flexible rewards points

Wells Fargo Image

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

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 Wells Fargo's secure website

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in Earn 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit Earn 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals Earn 1X points on other purchases
Welcome Offer:
Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% for 12 months
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% for 12 months on qualifying balance transfers
Regular APR:
16.24% to 27.24% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $300 cash redemption value
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in
  • Earn 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit
  • Earn 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 16.24%-27.24% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions

Best for no penalty APR

Bank of America Image

BankAmericard® credit card

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 Bank of America's secure website

BankAmericard® credit card

Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 18 billing cycles
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
Regular APR:
15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Card Details

  • 0% Introductory APR for 18 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 15.24% - 25.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
  • No annual fee
  • No penalty APR. Paying late won't automatically raise your interest rate (APR). Other account pricing and terms apply
  • Access your FICO® Score for free within Online Banking or your Mobile Banking app
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: Madison Blancaflor

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


Tips for choosing your 0% intro APR credit card

According to a recent Experian survey, 51 percent of consumers surveyed said that high interest rates were the most significant concern of credit card use — with good reason. The average credit card balance in America is $6,354. If your card comes with an 18% variable APR and you only pay the minimum payment each month, it could take you years and thousands of dollars in interest payments to completely pay off your card.

This is where a 0% interest credit card can help. There are a lot of choices available, and the Bankrate team is here to walk you through how to choose the best credit card for you.


What is a 0% interest credit card, and how does it work?

If you carry a balance on your credit card, issuers will charge a variable interest rate on your purchases until you pay off the card. You can delay interest, though, with cards that offer an introductory period free from interest (ranging anywhere from 6 to 21 months) on purchases or balance transfers. If you were to open one of these cards today, you could forgo interest until 2021 in some cases.

There are two main uses for a 0 interest card: financing large purchases and consolidating debt.

Financing large purchases

Let’s say you’re planning a spring renovation for your home, and you want to charge all new kitchen appliances to a credit card. You can sign up for a credit card with a 12-month zero percent introductory offer and (if your credit limit allows) charge the $10,000 for those appliances on that card.

If you pay the balance off in full before the end of that 12-month promotional period, you won’t owe any additional amount in interest. If you spent that same $10,000 on a card with an APR of 18% and took a year to pay off the balance, you’d tack another $1,001 in finance charges onto what you already owed.

Compare 0% intro purchase APR to regular rate…

Balance APR Term Interest paid Monthly payment
$10,000 0% 12 months $0 $833.33
$10,000 18% 12 months $1001.00 $916.00

Consolidating debt

Similarly, you can consolidate $10,000 worth of debt by transferring that debt to a card with a 12-month balance transfer offer. Rather than being charged hefty interest rates across multiple cards with differing balances, you’ll be charged a balance transfer fee (typically 3% – 5% of each transfer) and forgo interest if you pay off that balance within the offer period.

Compare 0% intro APR balance transfer offer to regular rate…

Balance APR Term Interest paid Balance transfer fee Monthly payment
$10,000 0% 12 months $0 3%=$300 $858.33
$10,000 18% 12 months $1001.00 N/A $916.00

How to use a zero interest credit card?

Sometimes carrying a balance on your credit card is unavoidable. Large expenses pop up, cash gets tight throughout the year, other credit card debts pile up… life happens. Here are a few ways you can use a 0% intro APR credit card to stay on top of your financial goals.

Finance your 2019 summer vacation

It’s time to start planning this year’s summer getaways. Whether you’re a wannabe beach bum looking for some Vitamin D or a history nerd who wants to visit as many ancient ruins as possible — a 0% intro APR credit card can offer you a way to plan and pay for your dream vacation without the stress.

Check out the Capital One® VentureOne® if you want a travel card with a strong intro APR offer. You’ll earn 1.25x miles on every purchase (plus 10x miles on purchases at hotels.com/venture through January 2020) and a 20,000-mile welcome offer after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

New home = new furniture

So you’ve started off 2019 with a bang, and you’re all moved into a new house or apartment. Now comes the fun — and expensive — part: summoning your inner Joanna Gaines to decorate your new place. While most major furniture outlets offer some sort of financing, it’s rarely the most financially savvy decision. With a 0% APR credit card, you can pay off your furniture and decor interest-free. Plus, some credit cards offer an extended warranty on eligible purchases, which can be a lifesaver when buying more expensive pieces.

It can be tempting to apply for an Ikea or Home Depot credit card when outfitting your new home, but our recommendation is to choose a card with a lengthy intro APR period instead. The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card offers 18 months with 0% APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (then 13.74% – 27.24% variable, therefore), which gives you more time than average to pay off furniture, appliances and all of the throw pillows you could ever want.

Weddings and honeymoons

Weddings are getting more and more expensive. According to the Brides 2018 American Wedding Study, the cost of a typical wedding in the United States increased from around $27,000 in 2017 to almost $44,000 in 2018. While it’s always smart to save up for the big day and, ideally, start your marriage without credit card debt, for some people that’s just not realistic. Even if you do have a wedding fund ready to go, it could be helpful to have a 0% APR credit card available for last-minute and unplanned wedding expenses.

A credit card like the Capital One® Quicksilver® is a great option. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, and the card will give you a significant cushion before you have to start paying interest.

Getting out of debt and repairing your credit score

Everyone goes through seasons where life takes a toll on your finances. It can be due to a new baby (and all of the expenses that come with a new baby) or after an especially difficult tax season or a number of things in between. Balances can pile up across multiple cards, damaging your credit score and causing a lot of stress.

You can use an intro APR credit card with a strong balance transfer option such as the Citi Simplicity to consolidate debt and pay off your balance without compounding interest. Paying off your debt can also help drastically improve your credit score, which can help you get approved for new lines of credit with more favorable terms.

How to choose the right zero interest credit card?

Which type of credit card you should get depends on what your long-term goals are for the card. Are you just wanting to consolidate debt? Is building your credit score your ultimate long-term goal? Do you want to be able to earn rewards long after the welcome offer for the card ends? The answers to these questions will determine which credit card is right for you.

If you’re looking for a debt consolidation tool, the length of the balance transfer offer and the balance transfer fee are the two features you should look out for. The more debt you want to pay off, the longer the intro APR period you’ll want. The Citi Simplicity and Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card, for example, both offer a great intro period length to give you time to pay off debt.

Those who want to keep their card long after the intro period is over should look for a card that offers great rewards. The Wells Fargo Propel and Citi Rewards+ Card both come with generous rewards and long-term value that goes well beyond the intro APR offer.


Recap: Bankrate’s top picks for 0% intro APR credit cards

Card Name Best for Bankrate Review Score
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card Unlimited cash back 4.8/5
Discover it® Cash Back Rotating category cash back 4.8/5
Chase Freedom Unlimited® First-year value 4.6/5
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card Long APR offer on purchases 4.6/5
Citi Simplicity® Card (not currently available) Balance transfers 4.1/5
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card Travel rewards 4.1/5
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express Cash back on everyday spending 4.3/5
HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card First late payment penalty forgiveness 4.1/5
Citi® Double Cash Card Flat-rate cash back 3.9/5
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card  Flexible rewards points 4.3/5

Bankrate criteria for 0% APR credit cards

Bankrate’s team of experts is focused on providing 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, allowing you to save on interest expenses for the length of the promotional period. It’s important to develop a plan for how you will use your card and pay it off before your 0% introductory period ends. When you make your plan, it may 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.

Our experts award each card a Bankrate score out of 5 by comparing the 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. 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.

0% Introductory APR Offer

Generally, for 0 interest cards, the longer the period without APR, the better. Make sure you consider the introductory offer for both purchases and balance transfers. A 0% introductory purchase APR can be helpful if you plan to make a large purchase with your new card and can’t completely pay it in a single month. If you want to transfer a balance to help pay off debt, you should look for a 0% introductory balance transfer APR. Always ensure each introductory period aligns with your goals and ability to pay off your balances.

Balance Transfer Offer

There are a few factors you should consider when comparing balance transfer offers. First, make sure the 0% introductory period is long enough to realistically allow you to pay off your balance. A great 0% interest credit card will also offer a low fee on transferred balances or no fee at all. You can weigh the cost of the transfer and the length of the introductory period to figure out which balance transfer offer is right for you.

Regular Variable APR

Regular variable APR, or standard APR, refers to the interest rate you incur on a credit card’s outstanding balance after the introductory 0% APR period ends. Standard APR can range from below 10% to over 20% and the current average for credit cards is nearly 18%. While you shouldn’t carry a balance on your card, choosing a card with a low APR can help lessen the burden if you find yourself in a situation where you must.


How much can you save with a 0% intro APR offer?

Take a look at a comparison of some of our top zero interest cards:

0% APR offer period for new purchases Regular APR How much you’ll save in interest charges
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card 18 months 13.74%-27.24% (Variable) $687
Capital One Quicksilver 15 months 16.24% – 26.24% (Variable) $551
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 15 months 17.24% – 25.99% (Variable) $545
Discover it® Cash Back 14 months 14.24% – 25.24% (Variable) $494
Citi Simplicity (not currently available) 12 months 16.24% – 26.24% (Variable) $443
Capital One VentureOne 12 months 14.24% – 24.24% (Variable) $408
Blue Cash Everyday 15 months 15.24% – 26.24% (Variable) $551
HSBC Gold Mastercard credit card 18 months 13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% (Variable) $530

**Savings calculated using the top of the variable APR range and a $3,000 balance. Citi Double Cash not included because it does not offer an intro period for new purchases.

Should you use your 0% APR credit card to finance large purchases?

Ideally, large purchases — both planned and unexpected — are paid for with money you’ve saved up over time. However, sometimes that’s just not possible. If you have to charge a larger purchase, a 0% APR credit card is typically a good choice. It allows you to spread out payments over time without worrying about interest.

The downside to these credit cards is that the regular APR that takes effect after the intro offer period is over might be a little higher than your average rewards card. Make sure you have a plan for paying off your balance within the offer period, because those interest charges can add up quickly. Calculate how much you should be paying off each month by simply taking your intro APR purchase balance and dividing it by the length until your intro period ends.

So, if you charge $1,500 on a card that has a 15-month intro period for new purchases, you need to pay $100 a month at minimum. It’s actually probably a good idea to plan to pay just a little extra each month so that you get the balance paid off a month or so early.

When a 0% APR credit card might not be right for you

Sometimes, a 0% intro APR card isn’t the best choice when looking at funding options. If you are looking to make a purchase you know you won’t be able to pay off within the offer period, it might be better to look at your personal loan options.

For example, it’s probably feasible for you to pay off plane tickets for an upcoming vacation or a new set of tires for your car over the course of a year to a year in and a half. Charging an entire home renovation or a large medical bill to a 0 APR credit card, on the other hand, might not be the best choice if you don’t have a realistic plan for paying off the charges within a year to a year and a half (depending on which card you apply for). Personal loans charge a much lower interest rate than credit cards, so even if you have to pay some money in interest, you’ll still be saving hundreds.

How does a 0% APR card affect your credit?

Any time you apply for a new credit card, the credit card issuer will check your credit report to determine your creditworthiness. This is called a hard inquiry, and it can temporarily affect your credit score. Typically, as long as you aren’t applying for multiple lines of credit within a short period of time, there shouldn’t be any lasting negative effects to your credit score.

However, there are multiple ways a 0% APR card can affect your credit depending on how you use the card. If you’re using your card to consolidate debt, it can actually help boost your credit score over time. A large factor in determining your credit score is your credit utilization ratio. By consolidating and paying down credit card balances, you’re lowering that ratio.

Furthermore, if you use a zero APR credit card to pay off a large purchase over time, you can boost your credit score just by showing lenders that you can consistently make on-time payments.

Does paying the minimum on a credit card hurt your credit?

When you carry a balance, you can opt to pay a minimum payment each month rather than the larger amount. While paying the minimum payment doesn’t directly hurt your credit score, it can have a snowball effect that does end up damaging your score.

Paying only the minimum payment each month means you most likely won’t pay off your balance within the designated intro offer period. That leads to interest charges and a longer pay-off timeline. Both of those things can mean your credit utilization ratio is increased, which can cause your credit score to drop.

Whenever possible, pay off the full amount of your credit card balance each month. When consolidating debt or financing a large purchase with a credit card, have a plan for paying off the full balance before the offer period ends. For example, if you are consolidating $3,000 in debt on a 15-month 0% APR card, you should aim to pay off at least $200 a month.

Deeper analysis on our top zero APR credit cards of 2019

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The basics:
This card currently offers a 15-month introductory period for both balance transfers and new purchases (then 16.24% – 26.24% variable APR thereafter). Plus, you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases and a $150 bonus after spending $500 within the first 3 months of account opening. If you’re looking for a simple way to earn rewards while you save on interest with a 0% APR offer, you’ve found the right card.

Long-term value:
The rewards structure on this card is simple and straightforward. Let’s say you spend $1,200 on your Quicksilver each month. At the end of each year, you’ll have racked up over $200 in cash back rewards.

Discover it® Cash Back

The basics:
The Discover it® Cash Back is a rotating category cash back card that gets you 5% cash back in different areas each quarter, like gas stations and grocery stores, and an unlimited 1% cash back on everything else. You do have to enroll in the new categories each month and 5% cash back is reduced to 1% after you spend $1,500 each quarter. You’ll get a 14-month 0% APR introductory period for purchases and balance transfers (14.24% – 25.24% variable thereafter), and Discover matches all of the cash you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Long-term value:
The intro APR offer isn’t as long as other top cards in this category, but the long-term value you can get from the Discover it® Cash Back makes the shorter offer period worth it for the consumer with a moderate balance. Long after you take advantage of the intro APR period, you can enroll in 5% cash back in different categories each quarter to help you maximize cash rewards (up to $1,500 in purchases quarterly, and 1% on everything else). This is a card for the shopper who likes to time her purchases according to the card’s rotating schedule, not the consumer looking to set it and forget it.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

The basics:
This card currently offers a 15-month introductory period for both balance transfers and new purchases (then 17.24% – 25.99% variable APR thereafter). Plus, you’ll earn 3% cash back on the first $20,000 in purchases your first year with the card and 1.5% unlimited cash back on all other purchases. If you’re looking for a simple way to earn rewards while you save on interest with a 0% APR offer, you’ve found the right card.

Long-term value:
While the annual value of the card’s rewards is lower after the first year is over, 1.5% unlimited cash back is still a generous rewards offer. You’ll want to use this as a supplemental card for years after the intro offer ends.

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card

The basics:
The introductory APR for the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card is one of the most competitive on the market: 0% APR for 18 months for both purchases and on qualifying balance transfers (13.74%-27.24% variable thereafter). While you won’t earn rewards with this card, you will have access to Wells Fargo’s My Money Map, a personalized online budgeting and spend-tracking tool. If you’re looking for a way to finance a larger expense, this could be just the card you need.

Long-term value:
Once you’ve utilized the introductory offer, you should probably start looking for a rewards-focused credit card. That doesn’t mean the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card isn’t worth it — it can save you thousands in interest. However, you’ll find more long-term value by using this card to continue to build your score so you can get approved for a top-tier rewards credit card down the road.

Citi Simplicity Card (not currently available)

The basics:
The Citi Simplicity Card is the perfect option for consolidating debt. With a 0% APR period of 21 months on balance transfers (16.24% – 26.24% variable thereafter), you can save thousands of dollars by paying off debt without interest. This card also never charges a late fee, although you don’t want to make it a habit to pay late because of the impact on your credit files.

Long-term value:
If you’re looking for a credit card to use far beyond the intro APR period has ended, this is not the right card for you. However, this is one of the best cards on the market for balance transfers and paying down debt — which can help you boost your credit score if you’re sitting in the “good” range but want to apply for cards in the future that require “excellent” credit.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

The basics:
Have a large travel-related expense coming up? You can finance your upcoming trip while earning travel rewards. The VentureOne card offers a low 12-month introductory 0% APR rate on purchases (14.24%-24.24% variable APR after that), plus 1.25x miles on every purchase and 10x miles on thousands of hotels (through January 2020; learn more at hotels.com/venture). This is the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card’s sister credit card. It has a lesser rewards rate, but the card doesn’t charge an annual fee.

Long-term value:
The Venture travel rewards program is valuable, and you can rack up a lot of miles on everyday purchases by using this card — all for no annual fee. For even more perks, you can upgrade the VentureOne® to the higher-earning Venture® as you ramp up travel spending to offset the Venture’s annual fee of $95 (waived the first year).

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

The basics:
The Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express offers zero interest on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months (then 15.24% – 26.24% variable). Additionally, the card comes with competitive cash back 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. Other cash back cards have a bit more flexibility when it comes to redemption options, but this is still a great option.

Long-term value:
The intro APR offer with this card is great, but the real value comes from its tiered rewards structure. By hitting the maximum spend for 3% cash back each year, you’ll earn $180 in rewards from that category alone.

HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card

The basics:
Everyone makes mistakes, including forgetting the due date for your credit card bill every now and again. Luckily, the HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card will forgive your first late payment penalty, so you can focus on paying off your balance instead of paying off additional fees. The card also offers an impressive 18-month introductory APR offer on new purchases and balance transfers (13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable APR after).

Long-term value:
The regular APR (13.24%, 17.24% or 21.24% variable after the intro period ends) is one of the best regular APRs on our top zero-interest credit cards list. If you know you might end up carrying a balance at any time past the intro offer period, this is a great card to have on hand to save on interest compared to other credit cards.

Citi® Double Cash Card

The basics:
The Citi Double Cash Card offers one of the most competitive flat-rate rewards structures available. You’ll earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases — 1% back when you swipe and another 1% back when you pay for those purchases.  While there is no introductory offer for new purchases, you can get 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers (15.74% – 25.74% variable APR after the intro period ends).

Long-term value:
You’ll get the most cash back from this card by using it for your everyday purchases and paying off your bill in full each month. That same strategy will also help you maintain or even improve your credit score over time, which can help you qualify for lower interest rates, more favorable loan terms and more.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card

The basics:
The Wells Fargo Propel offers a 12-month introductory offer on new purchases and qualifying balance transfers (16.24% to 27.24% variable APR applies after the intro period ends). Additionally, you’ll be able to earn some stellar rewards with the card.

Long-term value:
The Wells Fargo Propel earns 3x points on all dining, gas stations, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. For those living in cities where ridesharing and transit costs are a common expense, you won’t find a card with better long-term rewards on these specific spending categories.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.