Best 0% Intro APR Credit Cards of 2019

Credit cards that offer a 0% introductory APR period can help you avoid paying sky-high interest rates on big purchases and balance transfers, for up to a year or even longer. Personal finance experts from Bankrate compared hundreds of options to bring you a list of the best 0% interest credit cards available from our partners.

Best Zero Interest Credit Cards of 2019

Need more information?

Skip down to read our card profiles and expert advice.

Best for 0% APR period and unlimited cash back

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 overall versatility

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:
16.74% - 25.49% 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 16.74-25.49%.
  • 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 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 rotating category cash back

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 for long balance transfer offer

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 for basic debt solutions

Bank of America 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 Bank of America's secure website

BankAmericard® credit card

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
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:
14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

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, 14.74% - 24.74% 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

Best for flexible rewards

Bank of America 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 Bank of America's secure website

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Rewards Rate:
Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice. Earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases
Welcome Offer:
$200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
0% Introductory APR on purchases for 15 billing cycles
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
Regular APR:
15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Card Details

  • No annual fee
  • $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases) and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 15.74% - 25.74% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee (min $10) applies to all balance transfers
  • No expiration on rewards
  • If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25% - 75% more cash back on every purchase
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for overall balance transfer value

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.

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


Bankrate helps you choose (and use) the right 0% intro APR card

Why do 0% intro APR offers matter? Because credit card interest rates matter. As of November 13, Bankrate estimates the three-month trend for variable credit card interest rates at 17.47%. Although rates have been on a general downward trend the past few months, interest charges can still cost a considerable amount of money.

Fortunately, a credit card with a 0% intro APR offer on purchases, balance transfers or both can help you temporarily avoid high interest charges.

Below you’ll find more information about limited-time zero-interest offers and how to use them for making a large purchase or transferring a balance. You can keep reading or skip down to the profiles of our top introductory zero-interest APR credit cards.


Compare Bankrate’s top 0% intro APR credit cards

Card Purchase offer Balance transfer offer Regular APR (Variable)
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card 15 months 15 months 15.74% – 25.74%
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 15 months 15 months 16.74% – 25.49%
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card 12 months N/A 13.74% – 23.74%
Discover it® Cash Back 14 months 14 months 13.49% – 24.49%
Citi Simplicity® Card 12 months 21 months 16.24% – 26.24%
BankAmericard® credit card 18 billing cycles 18 billing cycles* 14.74% – 24.74%
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card 15 billing cycles 15 billing cycles* 15.74% – 25.74%
Discover it® Balance Transfer 6 months 18 months 13.49% – 24.49%

*For any balance transfers made in the first 60 days

A closer look at our top zero APR credit cards of 2019

Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Why it’s a top 0% intro APR card:

This card currently offers a 15-month introductory period for both balance transfers and new purchases (then 15.74% – 25.74% 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 cash back while you save on interest with a 0% APR offer, you’ve found the right card.

What’s its 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.

Read our full review and find out how to apply.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Why it’s a top 0% intro APR card:

The 15-month introductory period for both balance transfers and new purchases (16.74% – 25.49% variable APR thereafter) is solid. Plus, you’ll earn 1.5% unlimited cash back on all eligible purchases. The potential as an intro APR card and a cash back card make the Chase Freedom Unlimited truly stand out.

What’s its long-term value?

While a number of cash back cards have higher rewards rates, 1.5% unlimited is still respectable. You’ll want to use this as a supplemental card (preferably with one of Chase’s Sapphire options) after the intro offer ends.

Read our full review and find out how to apply.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card

Why it’s a top 0% intro APR card:

With no balance transfer offer, this card should be used strictly for large purchases. The VentureOne card offers a 12-month introductory 0% APR on purchases (13.74% – 23.74% variable APR after that), plus 1.25x miles on every purchase.

What’s its 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 to the higher-earning Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.

Read our full review and find out how to apply.

Discover it® Cash Back

Why it’s a top 0% intro APR card:

You’ll get a 14-month 0% APR introductory period for purchases and balance transfers before the a variable APR between 13.49% and 24.49% takes effect (with 3% intro balance transfer fee; up to 5% on future balance transfers, see terms*), and Discover matches all of the cash you’ve earned at the end of your first year. 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.

What’s its 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 some consumers. It’s ideal for the shopper who can time his or her purchases according to the card’s rotating schedule and remember to activate each quarter.

Read our full review and find out how to apply.

Citi Simplicity® Card

Why it’s a top 0% intro APR card:

The Citi Simplicity Card is a very useful option for transferring or 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 does not charge a late fee, although you don’t want to make it a habit to pay late because of the impact on your credit score.

What’s its 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.

Read our full review and find out how to apply.

BankAmericard® credit card

Why it’s a top 0% intro APR card:

This card’s introductory offer is 18 billing cycles at 0% for both balance transfers (made in the first 60 days) and purchases. Regular APR after the intro offer is 14.74% – 24.74% variable. Despite the lack of a rewards program or sign-up bonus, its short-term value gets a boost from no annual fee and a low balance transfer fee of 3% ($10 minimum). The BankAmericard credit card might not be flashy, but it can get the job done if you need to pay off transferred debt or a big purchase.

What’s its long-term value?

With no rewards program, the long-term value of this card takes a hit. The monthly FICO Score for free is a nice benefit but not at all uncommon for cards of this caliber. The card’s overall value and utility will diminish after you’ve completed the payoff of a purchase or balance transfer.

Read our full review and find out how to apply.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Why it’s a top 0% intro APR card:

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card has a 0% intro APR offer for 15 billing cycles on purchases and for balance transfers made in your first 60 days of owning the card (15.74% – 25.74% variable thereafter). If you plan to transfer a balance, be mindful of the balance transfer fee (either $10 or 3% of the amount being transferred, whichever is greater). However, it’s the cash back rewards program that makes this card stand out among zero-interest APR cards.

What’s its long-term value?

You get six options for your choice rewards category — travel, gas, online shopping, dining, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings. The choice category earns 3% cash back each quarter on up to $2,500 in combined purchases along with the 2% grocery store and wholesale club category. For other purchases, you earn unlimited 1% cash back. This card can help you earn a considerable amount of cash back rewards across a wide range of purchases.

Read our full review and find out how to apply.

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Why it’s a top 0% intro APR card:

Few cards can match the intro offer for balance transfers: 0% APR for 18 months, then 13.49% – 24.49% variable (3% intro balance transfer fee; up to 5% fee on future balance transfers, see terms*). Fewer still combine that kind of balance transfer offer with a rewards program that earns 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories up to $1,500 each quarter after activation and 1% back on everything else. However, we don’t recommend the Discover it Balance Transfer for paying off a big purchase. The introductory 0% APR period for purchases is just 6 months, after which variable APR goes to the regular 13.49% – 24.49%.

What’s its long-term value?

Much like the Discover it Cash Back, the rewards program holds the key to this card’s long-term value. The potential earnings in bonus categories make the Discover it Balance Transfer well worth considering for a long engagement after the intro APR period ends. The card also features Discover’s Cashback Match™, a dollar-for-dollar match of the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Read our full review and find out how to apply.


What is a 0% intro credit card? A useful financial tool

Cash is king, but sometimes even a king can be less than convenient.

Instead of stopping by the bank beforehand to withdraw an envelope of large bills, a typical consumer would probably find it a lot easier to go straight to the appliance store and put that new washer and dryer on a credit card. The convenience of making a large purchase on credit could come at a price, however.

With the average credit card APR (annual percentage rate) above 17%, the potential for steep interest charges comes into play. If you don’t pay your balance in full before the next billing period, interest on your new washer and dryer could put you through the wringer. Fortunately, a 0% intro APR credit card might provide a solution for large purchases and big balances alike:

Zero-interest APR for purchases

If you have a large purchase planned, getting a credit card with a zero-interest APR offer ahead of time can truly pay off. Putting your big-ticket item on the 0% intro APR credit card instead of your regular card means a chance to avoid paying interest for the length of the intro period. The choice between 0% interest and the average 18% interest should be an easy one.

Learn more with Bankrate: Should you use a credit card for large purchases?

Zero-interest APR for balance transfers

If you don’t pay your monthly credit card balance down to zero, the unpaid portion is subject to interest charges, or APR. One remedy for the escalating cost of unpaid balances involves moving that debt to a credit card that offers 0% intro APR on balance transfers. By paying off the balance you’ve transferred to the new card before the introductory zero-percent rate ends, you can save money that would otherwise go to paying high interest charges.

Learn more with Bankrate: Try out the Credit Card Balance Transfer Calculator.

Purchase or balance transfer? Get the right card for the job

Most of the cards we’ve chosen offer an introductory 0% APR rate on both purchases and balance transfers, for the same period of time. If you’re only interested in transferring a balance, you can check out our list of Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards.

Also, don’t forget that some balance transfer cards work with more than just credit card debt. In addition to credit card balances, you might be able to transfer debt from personal loans, student loans and other types of credit accounts.

How to use them: Zero-percent intro cards in action

You could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars with the help of a 0% intro APR card, whether it’s for a big purchase or transferred debt from one or more credit accounts. Here we show you how the process might work.

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 $833.34
$10,000 18% 12 months $1001.00 $916.00

Transferring debt

Similarly, you can transfer $10,000 worth of credit card debt to a card with a 12-month balance transfer offer. Rather than being charged a steep APR, you’ll be charged a balance transfer fee (typically 3% – 5% of each transfer) and avoid interest if you pay off that balance before the offer expires.

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 $858.34
$10,000 18% 12 months $1001.00 N/A $916.00

How to choose the right zero interest credit card

Which type of credit card you should get depends on your long-term goals for the card.

  • To pay for a large purchase: The longer the 0% intro offer on purchases, the better. It will give you more time to take advantage of the zero-interest window as you gradually make the payments.
  • To transfer a balance or consolidate debt: Pay attention to the length of the balance transfer offer (the longer, the better) and the balance transfer fee.
  • To get long-term value out of the card. Do you want to be able to earn rewards long after the zero-interest intro offer ends? Look for a card that offers a generous rewards program for cash back or travel.

Sometimes, though, a 0% intro APR credit card might not be the best option. If you want 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. 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.

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
Capital One Quicksilver 15 months 15.74% – 25.74% (Variable) $551
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 15 months 16.74% – 25.49% (Variable) $534
Discover it® Cash Back 14 months 13.49% – 24.49% (Variable) $494
Citi Simplicity 12 months 16.24% – 26.24% (Variable) $443
Capital One VentureOne 12 months 13.74% – 23.74% (Variable) $408
Discover it® Balance Transfer 6 months 13.49% – 24.49% Variable $224

**Savings calculated using the top of the variable APR range and a $3,000 balance.

What to do when the zero-interest period ends

Should you cancel the card after the purchase or transfer is paid off? Once a zero-interest APR credit card has served its initial purpose, you might assume you don’t need it anymore. Don’t be too quick to act on that assumption.

Canceling a credit card could have a negative effect on your credit score. The reason involves credit utilization, the relationship between two numbers: how much available credit you have vs. how much of that credit you’re using. A canceled credit card lowers the first number, which means you’ll use more of the credit left available to you.

Why is higher credit utilization potentially a problem? It could give lenders the impression that you’re having financial difficulties and make it seem like you’re more of a credit risk.

If you’ve used a 0 interest card for a credit card balance transfer, you should also think carefully before canceling the original card — yes, the one that got you into debt in the first place. Even with a card that doesn’t get much use, putting it in a drawer while leaving the account open could keep your credit score from taking the hit from a cancellation. Also, longstanding accounts generally look good on your credit score.

A 0% APR card can affect your credit in a number of ways, 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.

What determines the APR on a credit card?

A number of factors play a part in credit card APR, including government regulators and banks’ lending standards. Rather than diving into a complicated analysis of the federal funds rate, the prime rate and the constant push and pull of various economic forces, try to focus on the one factor that you can directly influence: your credit score.

Generally, having a higher credit score means you can qualify for lower APR not only on credit cards but also on personal loans, auto loans, mortgages and other forms of credit. A solid track record of diligently paying what you owe tells potential lenders that they face less risk if they decide to do business with you.

With credit cards, different types of APR come into play. Some fluctuate with economic factors and others (such as penalty APR for making late payments) are set by credit card issuers. However, if you’re looking at one of the cards profiled on this page, you should pay particular attention to:

  • 0% intro APR on purchases
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers
  • Regular APR

The first two refer to offers for a temporary interest-free window on purchases or balance transfers, respectively. Regular APR, also known as go-to APR, represents the interest you would pay on any remaining balance after the intro period ends.

The whole point of a zero-interest offer is to avoid paying regular APR. To achieve that goal, you would need to pay off your large purchase (or balance transfer, as the case may be) before the offer expires.

Methodology

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. To help you achieve your goals, we focus on specific areas when scoring 0% intro APR credit cards:

Length of the introductory offer

Generally, for zero-interest cards, the longer the period without APR, the better. A longer intro period means more time for you to pay for a big purchase or pay off a transferred balance, whichever the case may be, without facing high APR charges.

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 zero-interest period ends. While you shouldn’t carry a balance on your card, choosing a card with a low APR can help ease the burden if you find yourself in a situation where you must.

Long-term value

“Should you keep this card after it has served the initial purpose?” That’s a key question we ask when evaluating a zero-interest card. Several cards on this list have rewards programs and other features that can make them worth keeping even after you’ve paid for a big purchase or paid off transferred debt.


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.