Are you thinking about applying for a zero-interest credit card? Credit cards with 0 percent introductory APR offers can help you fund a large purchase, pay off old debt and save money on monthly interest charges. However, many people don’t realize that they need good to excellent credit to be accepted for one of today’s best zero-interest credit cards.

What credit score do you need for an 0 percent APR card? In most cases, you’ll need a FICO score of at least 670 or a VantageScore of at least 661. If you’re still working on building good credit, don’t worry. You can always improve your credit score before applying, or you can consider other low-interest credit options such as a personal loan.

Here’s what you need to know about 0 percent intro APR cards, including why you need good credit to apply and what to do if your credit isn’t quite there yet.

0% APR cards require good to excellent credit

In most cases, 0 percent APR credit cards require good or excellent credit scores. This means you’ll need a FICO credit score of at least 670 or a VantageScore credit score of at least 661. If you have very good or excellent credit, which means a FICO score of at least 799 or a VantageScore of at least 781, you’ll be even more likely to be accepted.

Why do credit card issuers require a high credit score for these types of cards? Lenders want to make sure that you won’t default on your credit card debt, especially since they are offering you several months of zero interest on your purchases. If you make purchases and fail to pay them off, the credit card company could take a financial loss — which is why these lenders want to ensure that the best 0 percent intro APR cards only go to consumers who are likely to pay them back.

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, for example, offers 0 percent intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (after that, it’s 19.74 percent to 29.74 percent variable APR), and Capital One’s website states that the credit level required for this card is “excellent.” If you want an even longer introductory APR period, the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card offers 21 months of 0 percent intro APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate, BT fee of 5%, min $5). 17.99 percent to 29.99 percent variable APR thereafter. And, although Wells Fargo does not clarify what credit score is recommended to apply, our research indicates that people with good or excellent credit are more likely to be approved.

Are there 0% APR cards for bad credit?

Most credit cards for bad credit don’t include introductory 0 percent APR offers. However, many of the best credit cards for bad credit can help you build your credit score while minimizing your monthly interest charges. Credit cards for bad credit tend to offer low credit limits, which could make it easier to keep your monthly credit card bill under control. All you need to do is make few small purchases on your card each month and pay your statement balance in full when it arrives. If you pay off your balance before your grace period expires, you won’t be charged interest on your purchases.

Alternatives to 0% APR cards

Apply for a low-interest credit card

If you have a fair credit score and a large purchase coming up, consider applying for a low-interest card. Many of today’s best low-interest credit cards are available to people with fair or excellent credit, giving you the option to carry a balance without accruing high interest charges. Keep in mind that your credit card interest will compound over time — which means that even if you have a low-interest card, you’ll still want to get your balance paid off as quickly as possible.

Lower your current interest rate

If you have poor credit and a small amount of credit card debt, consider asking your credit card issuer to lower your current interest rate. Many credit issuers will lower your interest rate if you ask, especially if you’re dealing with an unexpected financial hardship. If you have a history of on-time payments, you have an even better chance of getting your request granted.

Seek debt relief

If you have poor credit and a large amount of credit card debt, you might want to consider debt relief. While debt relief services have their pros and cons, many people successfully use them to consolidate their credit card debt and lower their monthly payments. You may also want to consider taking out a personal loan — especially if you can secure a loan that offers lower interest than what you’re paying on your credit cards. You can use the personal loan to pay off your high-interest credit card debt, and then pay off the personal loan at a lower interest rate.

Wait and build your credit score

If you’re hoping to use a 0 percent intro APR card to finance a large purchase without paying interest, you may want to wait and build your credit score before you apply. That way, you get the benefits of zero interest and the benefits of good credit.

The bottom line

In most cases, you’ll need a good or excellent credit score before you can successfully apply for a 0 percent intro APR card. This means a FICO credit score of at least 670 or a VantageScore of at least 661. If your credit score isn’t quite there yet, you might want to build your credit before applying for a zero-interest credit card. You might also want to consider applying for a low-interest credit card or a low-interest personal loan, both of which could help you save money on interest charges even if you don’t have good or excellent credit.