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13 best 0% interest credit cards: 0% intro APR period until 2024

Updated January 27, 2023

A credit card with a 0 percent intro APR period allows you to make purchases interest-free for a set length of time. The top cards also let you transfer a balance, for a fee, and pay no interest on it during the intro period. This type of card could be a big help if you’re experiencing financial stress. The average credit card balance is more than $5000, according to a recent TransUnion report, and most people don’t have enough savings to cover an emergency.

The best 0 percent APR credit cards help you avoid interest for up to 15 months or longer. Though you’ll still need to make minimum payments, with the right strategy, they’re among the best tools to pay off past debt or cover emergency expenses. To find the right 0 percent APR card for you, check out our top picks and advice below.

Image of Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

BEST FOR LONGEST INTRO APR

Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

Apply now Lock
On Wells Fargo's secure site
Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5
4.7 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Balance transfer intro APR

0% intro APR for up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers

Regular APR

17.24% - 29.24% Variable APR

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Discover it® Cash Back

Best for flexible spenders

Discover it® Cash Back

Apply now Lock
On Discover's secure site
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
4.4 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Balance transfer intro APR

0% for 15 months

Regular APR

16.24% - 27.24% Variable APR

Rewards rate

1% - 5%
Info

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Best for flat-rate cash rewards

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

Apply now Lock
On Wells Fargo's secure site
Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
4.3 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Balance transfer intro APR

0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers

Regular APR

19.24%, 24.24%, or 29.24% Variable APR

Rewards rate

2%
Info

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best for dining and entertainment

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply now Lock
On Capital One's secure site
Rating: 4.9 stars out of 5
4.9 Bankrate review
Info

Balance transfer intro APR

0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months

Regular APR

19.24% - 29.24% (Variable)

Rewards rate

1% - 10%
Info

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Best for customizable rewards

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card

Apply now Lock
On Citi's secure site
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
4.4 Bankrate review
Info

Balance transfer intro APR

0% for 15 months on balance transfers

Regular APR

18.24% - 28.24% (Variable)

Rewards rate

1% - 5%
Info

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Discover it® Balance Transfer

Best balance transfer card with rewards

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Apply now Lock
On Discover's secure site
Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5
4.7 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Balance transfer intro APR

0% for 18 months

Regular APR

16.24% - 27.24% Variable APR

Rewards rate

1% - 5%
Info

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Apply now Lock
On Capital One's secure site
Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5
3.8 Bankrate review
Info

Balance transfer intro APR

0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months

Regular APR

19.24% - 29.24% (Variable)

Rewards rate

1.5% - 5%
Info

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Citi Simplicity® Card

Best for no late fee

Citi Simplicity® Card

Apply now Lock
On Citi's secure site
Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5
4.2 Bankrate review
Info

Balance transfer intro APR

0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers

Regular APR

18.24% - 28.99% (Variable)

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of My GM Rewards Card™

BEST FOR GM PURCHASES

My GM Rewards Card™

Apply now Lock
On Goldman Sachs Bank USA's secure site
Rating: 3.9 stars out of 5
3.9 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Balance transfer intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

19.24% to 29.24% variable purchase APR based on creditworthiness. Rates as of 1/1/2023

Rewards rate

4X - 7X
Info

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Best for excellent credit

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Apply now Lock
On Citi's secure site
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
4.0 Bankrate review
Info

Balance transfer intro APR

0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers

Regular APR

17.24% - 27.99% (Variable)

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of BankAmericard® credit card

Best for balance transfer with low ongoing interest

BankAmericard® credit card

Apply now Lock
On Bank of America's secure site
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
5.0 Bankrate review
Info

Balance transfer intro APR

0% Intro APR for 21 billing cycles for any BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee (min. $10) applies.

Regular APR

16.24% - 26.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Apply now Lock
On American Express's secure site
Rating: 4.4 stars out of 5
4.4 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
See if you're pre‐approved for this card with CardMatch™

Balance transfer intro APR

0% on balance transfers for 12 months

Regular APR

18.24%-29.24% Variable

Rewards rate

1% - 6%
Info

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info
Image of U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Best for cell phone bills

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Apply now Lock
On U.S. Bank's secure site
Rating: 3.6 stars out of 5
3.6 Bankrate review
Info
See Rates & Fees

Balance transfer intro APR

0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles on balance transfers

Regular APR

18.74% - 28.74% (Variable)

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended credit

Good to Excellent (670 – 850)
Info

Compare Bankrate's top 0% intro APR credit cards

Card name Intro purchase offer Intro balance transfer offer Regular APR (variable) Bankrate score
Wells Fargo Reflect Card Up to 21 months Up to 21 months (on qualifying transfers) when minimum, monthly payments are made on time 17.24% to 29.24% 4.7 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Cash Back 15 months 15 months 16.24% to 27.24% 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Wells Fargo Active Cash Card 15 months from account opening 15 months (on qualifying transfers) 19.24%, 24.24% or 29.24% 4.3 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card 15 months 15 months* 19.24% to 29.24% 4.9 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Custom Cash Card 15 months 15 months

18.24% to 28.24%

4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Balance Transfer
6 months
18 months
16.24% to 27.24% 4.7 / 5
(Read full card review)
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card 15 months 15 months* 19.24% to 29.24% 3.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Simplicity Card
12 months
21 months
18.24% to 28.99%
4.2 / 5
(Read full card review)
My GM Rewards Card 12 months None 19.24% to 29.24% 3.9 / 5
(Read full card review)
Citi Diamond Preferred Card 12 months 21 months 17.24% to 27.99% 4.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
BankAmericard credit card 21 billing cycles 21 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days; a 3 percent fee (minimum $10) applies 16.24% to 26.24% 5 / 5
(Read full card review)
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express 12 months 12 months 18.24% to 29.24%  4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card
18 billing cycles 18 billing cycles 18.74% to 28.74% 4.1 / 5
(Read full card review) *3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months.

A closer look at our top 0% intro APR credit cards

Wells Fargo Reflect Card: Best for longest intro APR

  • What we love about the Wells Fargo Reflect Card: If you can meet the terms of the intro APR offer by transferring a qualified balance within 120 days and making minimum monthly payments on time, you could qualify for one of the longest intro APR promotional offers on the market for both purchases and qualifying balance transfers. 
  • Who this card is good for: Anyone who wants the maximum amount of time to pay off an existing credit card balance or large purchase.
  • Alternatives: If you need a lot of time to pay off debt or a large purchase, this card is a top pick for that priority. If you don’t need the extra time and want a card with longer-term value, consider a card that offers promotional interest and base rewards such as the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Learn more: Card expert Holly Johnson: Is the Wells Fargo Reflect Card worth it?

Read our full Wells Fargo Reflect Card review or jump back to offer details.

Discover it Cash Back: Best for flexible spenders

  • What we love about Discover it Cash Back: On top of a generous intro APR offer for purchases and balance transfers, Discover has a solid sign-up bonus and a rewards program that gives you the chance to earn a high rewards rate in rotating categories.
  • Who this card is good for: People who are open to a compromise between cash back earnings and the length of the introductory APR offers.
  • Alternatives: If you want a rewards program that doesn’t need as much attention, the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card offers 2 percent cash rewards on all eligible purchases year-round without having to enroll in rotating categories or worry about spending caps.

Learn moreCard expert Holly Johnson: 3 reasons to love the Discover It Cash Back card

Read our full Discover it Cash Back review or jump back to offer details.

Wells Fargo Active Cash Card: Best for flat-rate cash rewards

  • What we love about the Wells Fargo Active Cash Card: The Active Cash card is one of the simplest and most versatile cards around, offering great short-term value thanks to a sign-up bonus and a decent intro APR offer on purchases and qualifying balance transfers. When it comes to long-term value, you can earn an unlimited 2 percent rewards on your purchases — one of the highest flat rates around.
  • Who this card is good for: People who want an easy way to earn unlimited cash rewards on purchases.
  • Alternatives: There are a number of top flat-rate rewards cards that offer a great rate, but few match the Active Cash card’s intro APR offer. The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card is the rare exception, offering a solid flat rate, sign-up bonus, and nice intro APR offer for purchases and balance transfers.

Learn moreCard expert Aja McClanahan: Is the Wells Fargo Active Cash worth it?

Read our full Wells Fargo Active Cash Card review or jump back to offer details.

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for dining and entertainment

  • Why we love the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: While a lot of other cards offer rewards on dining, the SavorOne also includes rare cash back on entertainment purchases across comprehensive categories — including 8 percent cash back on Capital One Entertainment purchases and 3 percent on entertainment and popular streaming services.
  • Who this card is good for: Devotees of food and fun who want to capitalize on generous cash rewards and a solid intro APR offer for purchases and balance transfers.
  • Alternatives: This no-annual-fee card has a lot to offer for people who want cash rewards tailored toward meals, movies and music but has a pretty high ongoing interest rate. The Discover it® Cash Back card has a lower ongoing APR if you need more time to pay off an unexpected expense after your intro APR expires. Plus, it grants you 5 percent on popular categories with activation on rotating categories each quarter (up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1 percent).

Learn moreWhy expert Ana Cvetkovic loves the Capital One SavorOne card

Read our full Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review or jump back to offer details.

Citi Custom Cash Card: Best for customizable rewards

  • What we love about the Citi Custom Cash Card: The automatic bonus category adjusts to your top eligible spending category each billing cycle. This is an interesting, low-maintenance approach to bonus cash back that lets you earn high rewards without having to track bonus categories. Plus, you’ll be able to rack up these rewards while benefiting from the card’s intro APR on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Who this card is good for: People who want to earn generous cash back in one eligible everyday category, like groceries, without having to enroll in bonus categories or plan out a spending strategy in advance.
  • Alternatives: The Wells Fargo Active Cash card is another great card that earns rewards and comes with a similar intro APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers. You can pair it with the Custom Cash card for maximum rewards value, but it’s also a great standalone card for people looking for a low-maintenance option.

Learn moreCiti Custom Cash vs. Citi Diamond Preferred

Read our full Citi Custom Cash Card review or jump back to offer details.

Discover it Balance Transfer: Best balance transfer card with rewards

  • What we love about the Discover it Balance Transfer: You’ll be able to reap the benefits of a lengthy intro APR on balance transfers alongside earning Discover’s impressive rotating category rewards rate (when activated). This is a rare combination for balance transfer cards. 
  • Who this card is good for: Fans of Discover’s rotating bonus categories who need a long period of time to pay off debt before enjoying the perks of a cash back rewards card.
  • Alternatives: If you want to earn rewards year round in your favorite categories, you’ll need to look elsewhere. For example, if groceries and gas are a priority, check out the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, which provides great value on everyday essentials without having to enroll in rotating categories.

Learn moreCard expert Erin Bendig: Is the Discover it Balance Transfer card worth it?

Read our full Discover it Balance Transfer review or jump back to offer details.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for instant cash back

  • What we love about the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card: The Quicksilver card packs a lot of value into one card. On top of the intro APR offer for purchases and balance transfers, it offers a flat cash rewards rate on all purchases. You can set up automatic redemptions at a certain time or cash back amount for an even easier experience.
  • This card is good for: People wanting a straightforward way to earn unlimited cash back while they enjoy a temporary break from interest with an introductory APR offer on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Alternatives: For maximum value, cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® come with solid intro APR periods and the chance to earn a higher rate of bonus rewards in top spending areas.

Learn moreWhy expert Nicole Dieker loves the Capital One Quicksilver

Read our full Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card review or jump back to offer details.

Citi Simplicity Card: Best for no late fees

  • What we love about the Citi Simplicity Card: The promotional APR on balance transfers is one of the longest on the market. It also comes with a shorter intro APR on purchases, similar to the Citi Diamond Preferred. It’s also one of the most forgiving cards because it doesn’t charge late fees or assess a penalty APR if you make a late payment.
  • Who this card is good for: Someone who wants as much time as possible to pay off past debt and wants a safety net in case they occasionally miss a payment.
  • Alternatives: If you can pay off your debt in a short timeframe, you could get more value with a rewards card that comes with an intro APR offer. For example, the Blue Cash Everyday card offers bonus rewards in popular everyday categories and also provides a decent intro APR offer for purchases and balance transfers.

Learn moreCiti Simplicity vs. Citi Diamond Preferred

Read our full Citi Simplicity Card review or jump back to offer details.

My GM Rewards Card: Best for GM purchases

  • What we love about the My GM Rewards Card: Along with its terrific rewards rate on both GM and general purchases, this card offers a decent intro APR on new purchases based on creditworthiness. That means you can earn big rewards on an expense like a car repair and get some time to pay it off while avoiding interest.
  • Who this card is good for: GM fans who want to minimize interest charges while financing large purchases and redeem points toward the cost of a new or used GM car or a monthly lease payment.
  • Alternatives: If you’re looking for a card that will help you chip away at the cost of a large purchase but want more time and redemption flexibility than the GM Rewards Card offers, consider the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card. Along with its flat cash rewards rate, this card comes with a lengthy intro APR offer on new purchases. It’s one of the longest intro APR offers available on a rewards card. 

Read our full My GM Rewards Card review or jump back to offer details.

Citi Diamond Preferred Card: Best for excellent credit

  • What we love about the Citi Diamond Preferred Card: The 0 percent introductory APR on balance transfers is one of the longest currently on the market, lasting 21 months (then 17.24 percent to 27.99 percent variable). Although its intro purchase APR is shorter, it could still be helpful in a pinch. 
  • Who this card is good for: Anyone who values function over flash. This card’s main selling point is the length of the introductory offers.
  • Alternatives: The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card has a longer intro APR offer for purchases. This could be a better fit if your emergency fund can’t cover a repair or emergency purchase.

Learn moreWhy expert Andy Shuman loves the Citi Diamond Preferred card

Read our full Citi Diamond Preferred Card review jump back to offer details.

BankAmericard credit card: Best for balance transfer with low ongoing interest

  • What we love about the BankAmericard credit card: On top of having one of the longest intro APR periods for purchases and balance transfers, another one of the BankAmericard’s benefits is its below-average ongoing APR. Depending on your creditworthiness, this could be a nice low-interest credit card to hold on to after the intro APR period ends.
  • Who this card is good for: Someone who needs a long period of time to pay off debt or an emergency purchase.
  • Alternatives: If you don’t need close to two years to pay your balance off, you might like a card with better long-term value. The Discover it® Balance Transfer card is a more versatile option that comes with an intro APR offer on balance transfers along with Discover’s flagship rotating rewards program (requires quarterly activation). This gives the card great short- and long-term value.

Learn moreWhy expert Margaret Wack loves the BankAmericard

Read our full BankAmericard credit card review or jump back to offer details.

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express: Best for families

  • What we love about the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express: The rewards program is truly best-in-class, offering an industry-leading 6 percent cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent). What’s more, it’s one of the few premium rewards cards to offer an intro APR on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Who this card is good for: Families and households that need some time to pay off a large purchase but also want a card that can help them earn bonus rewards on their everyday essentials.
  • Alternatives: To match this card’s value while avoiding an annual fee, you may need a combination of no-annual-fee rewards cards. While the Citi Custom Cash Card can offer exceptional value on groceries or gas, you’d need to pair it with another card like the Blue Cash Everyday card or the Wells Fargo Autograph Card to cover more of your essential purchases.

Learn more: Why expert Ted Rossman loves the Blue Cash Preferred Card

Read our full Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express review or jump back to offer details.

U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card: Best for your cellphone bill

  • Why we love U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card: This card provides a long intro APR offer on both purchases and balance transfers. The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum card’s benefits also include handy cellphone protection when you pay your bill with the card.
  • Who this card is good for: Someone looking for a longer period to avoid interest than rewards cards typically provide, and for both purchases and balance transfers.
  • Alternatives: If your goal is to obtain a long intro APR period, this card is perfect. However, if you want to earn rewards and access higher long-term value, you’ll do better with a different card like the Discover it Balance Transfer.

Learn more: Card expert Sara Coleman: Is the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum worth it?

Read our U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card review or jump back to offer details.

 

What is a 0% intro APR credit card?

They go by different names — 0 percent APR credit cards, zero-interest credit cards, introductory APR credit cards — but they all have the same purpose: a 0 percent intro APR is a temporary break from interest charges as you steadily pay off large credit card purchases or balance transfers. In the case of credit cards, the term interest rate is interchangeable with APR. Both refer to the rate of interest that is applied to your credit card.

There are two different types of intro APR offers for credit cards. One is purchase intro APR, in which no interest is automatically applied to new purchases made on the card, and balance transfer intro APR, where no interest is applied to the balance transferred onto the card from another card. Both can come with different limitations on validity so make sure to check the terms. A card can have one, both or neither of these types of introductory offers.

How does credit card interest work?

Interest is essentially the cost of borrowing money. You won’t have to pay interest on your credit card purchases if you keep your balance paid off in full every month. 

If you still have a balance on your credit card past the grace period of a billing cycle, the balance will accrue interest. The amount of interest you’ll need to pay is based on your card’s annual percentage rate (APR). 

Even worse, a penalty APR could apply if you have a late payment more than 60 days overdue. Your APR for purchases may differ from your APR for balance transfers, but the lower the APR, the better. 

The good news is that you can use a credit card's 0 APR offer to temporarily avoid interest charges during the introductory period before the regular, or ongoing APR takes effect. A 0 percent intro offer may apply to new purchases, balance transfers or both.

Most ongoing APRs (the interest rate you’ll accrue after an introductory APR period is over) are variable, meaning that the interest rate can change based on the market rate. Entities like the Federal Reserve make decisions that affect a bank’s likelihood of raising or lowering credit card interest rates.

Want to learn more? Read our full guide on how credit card interest works.

How do 0% APR offers work?

When you open an account with a credit card issuer, they may offer you a 0 percent introductory (APR) period or no-interest financing on purchases made during that time frame. Credit card companies will often offer this type of interest-free promotion for anywhere from 12 to up to 21 months.

While there are usually no upfront fees or penalties associated with this type of promotion, be aware that it won’t last forever. When your 0 percent intro APR offer ends, any balance that remains will start gaining interest at its regular rate — typically between 16 percent and 29 percent at the moment — plus any other applicable fees or charges (such as late payments).

If you’re planning for a large purchase better suited for a credit card instead of a loan, such as a small home renovation or vacation expense, a card with a 0 percent introductory APR offer allows you to pay it off over time without accruing interest. The current average interest rate on a credit card is quite high, hovering around a 20 percent.

Consider the following example we plugged into Bankrate’s credit card payoff calculator. Our cardholder makes a $3,000 purchase and wants to pay it off in 12 months. With a zero-interest credit card, they only have to focus on settling the balance with $250 monthly payments. If they have a card with no intro APR, they immediately start accruing interest (a 17 percent APR, in this example), which increases their overall payments to $273 due to the $283 in additional interest they’ll end up owing.

Interest rate Total principal paid Total interest paid Monthly payment Total cost
17% $3,000 $283 $273 $3,283
0% intro for 12 months $3,000 $0 $250 $3,000

Pros and cons of 0% APR credit cards

Pros

  • Checkmark

    The gift of time: A primary goal of 0 percent APR credit cards is to give you time to pay off a large debt. The best intro offers are 18 months or longer.

  • Checkmark

    Saving on interest: You could potentially save hundreds of dollars on interest charges via an introductory 0 percent APR on purchases and balance transfers.

  • Checkmark

    Lower monthly payments: Having several months (or even longer) to pay off a balance during the introductory period could result in lower monthly payments.

  • Checkmark

    Potential long-term credit score improvements: Responsibly managing debt can help your credit score in the long run and show lenders that you’re a low-risk borrower.

Cons

  • Missing payments could forfeit your introductory APR period: If you miss a payment on your new 0 percent APR credit card, the issuer could consider it a violation of the introductory offer terms and start charging the standard APR.

  • Credit score impact: You have to apply for a new credit card, which means a hard credit inquiry on your credit reports and a dip in your credit score. Luckily, hard credit inquiries fall off your report after a year.

  • Balance transfer fees: Most credit card issuers charge a balance transfer fee, usually 3 percent or 5 percent of the amount transferred.

  • Intro APR offers don’t last forever: Remember that intro APR offers end and when they end depends on the length of the offer detailed by your card issuer.

Want to learn more? Read our full guide on pros and cons of 0 percent APR credit cards.

Who should get a 0% intro APR credit card?

Generally, if you’re avoiding credit card interest, applying for one of the best 0 percent intro APR cards makes sense. Consider one of these cards if you find yourself in the following situations.

Still unsure if a 0% APR credit card is right for you? Check out our Credit Card Spender Type Tool where you can get personalized credit card recommendations based on your credit score, spending habits and daily needs.

How to make the most of a 0% APR offer

  • Calculate your total payment amount. If you’re using a 0 percent APR card to make a balance transfer, you’ll most likely have an added balance transfer fee to factor into the total you’ll need to pay back. Make sure you are fully aware of the total amount you’ll need to pay before your 0 percent APR period ends. To make this process easier, you can use our credit card payoff calculator to make a clear plan for paying the balance in full before interest charges kick in.
  • Nail down your monthly payment. To ensure the total balance is paid before the intro period ends, calculate what you will have to pay each month to reach a balance of zero in that timeframe. You can use online tools like Bankrate’s minimum payment calculator to help you nail down a number. If you’re able, you should pay over the minimum amount needed to help you pay off the debt more quickly.
  • Avoid adding extras to your debt total. Introductory 0 percent interest credit cards work well as an intentional debt management tool. If you can, avoid using your 0 percent APR card for anything outside of the designated costs you're trying to cover. For example, if you’re using the card to finance a large purchase, try keeping that card’s usage to only covering that purchase and immediately start strategizing on how to pay it off before the intro APR period ends. If you’re using a 0 percent APR card for a balance transfer, make paying down that total balance a priority before adding more charges.
  • Don’t close the card after the intro APR period ends. Closing the card immediately after you've paid off the debt could undo some of the good work you've done with the zero-interest offer by reducing your available credit, lowering the average age of your credit accounts and affecting your credit mix. Together, these three factors account for 55 percent of your overall credit score. The easiest strategy is to keep the zero-interest card open and use it occasionally to keep the account active while continuing to pay off the balance on time.

What happens when the 0% intro APR ends?

Though 0 percent intro APR offers are a great perk, there is a time limit on this benefit. When your 0 percent intro APR offer ends, the card’s regular, ongoing interest rate will apply to any future balance you carry month to month. For example, if your intro APR period is over and you still have a balance of $200 on your card, your next credit card statement will show that you owe $200 plus any additional charges from the interest you’ve gained.

Whether you use it for purchases or balance transfers, even the best 0 percent intro APR credit card isn’t a quick fix. You’ll still need to hold up your end of the bargain by making regular monthly payments and erasing the debt before the intro offer expires, to reap the full benefits. You can find your credit card’s ongoing APR in the fine print so you know how much interest is charged after the intro period ends.

What determines the APR on a credit card?

When you are approved for a credit card, both your credit limit and ongoing interest rate (your interest rate after your intro period ends) are set by the issuer. The ongoing interest rate is often variable, meaning it can change or be different for different people depending on several factors. The issuer considers your credit score, payment history, number of open credit accounts and other information about your personal credit use — so the higher your credit score and the lower your credit usage, the lower your interest rate.

Several other external factors also play a part in credit card APR, including government regulators and banks’ lending standards. Due to recent interest hikes by the Federal Reserve, you’ll begin to see a general increase in rates across most cards.

That said, it’s not impossible to get a low APR on your card. Many rewards cards offer low interest rates to borrowers with the best credit scores. There are also credit union credit cards, which offer exceptionally low APRs for members.

In the News: Time to think about paying off credit card balances

As the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates to combat inflation, credit card issuers are raising the APRs of cards with variable rates. That means higher credit card interest rates for many Americans, which can make it harder to pay off balances.

If you are carrying a balance on a credit card, the new year is a good time to look over your finances and figure out how to pay off your debt. Finding the right budgeting method could help, or you may need to come up with a debt repayment strategy. For some, that may mean looking for ways to lower the amount of interest you’re getting charged.

Some of the best credit cards for paying off debt offer 0 percent introductory periods that let you transfer over your debt. Then, you have anywhere from 15 to 21 months to make payments without additional interest charges.

To make sure a balance transfer card is right for you, use a balance transfer calculator. It allows you to compare how much interest you'll pay and how long it will take to pay off the balance based on your total debt and how much you can afford to pay each month.

How we chose our best 0% intro APR credit cards

Bankrate uses a 5-star scoring system to evaluate the credit cards available from our partners. In selecting the cards featured on this page, we further refine the criteria to focus on qualities that define the best credit cards with 0 percent APR intro offers.
  • Checkmark
    What is the length of the introductory offer?
    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. The best 0 percent intro APR offers generally last between 12 to 21 months.
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    What is the regular variable APR?
    A card's regular APR, sometimes called standard "go-to" APR, refers to the interest rate 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 reasonable go-to APR can help ease the burden if you find yourself in a situation where you have to.
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    What is the long-term value?
    Should you keep this card after it's served its initial purpose? That’s a key question we ask when evaluating credit cards with 0 percent APR intro offers. 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.

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Frequently asked questions about 0% APR credit cards

Ask the experts: What are the best ways to avoid paying interest on a credit card?


Credit And Money Management Expert Contributor

The best way to avoid interest charges is by paying your monthly statement balance in full. Nearly all credit cards offer to waive interest charges for those who do. Another way to avoid interest is to open a new credit card account with 0 percent APR financing on new purchases, balance transfers or both. These offers can last as little as six months, and the most competitive ones extend to 15 or 18 months. Note that 0 percent APR balance transfers will almost always require the payment of a 3 percent or 5 percent fee. Once you already have credit card debt, you can avoid interest charges by paying down your debt as quickly as possible. Never pay just the minimum balance, always pay more. You can even make multiple payments each month.

Travel Rewards Expert Contributor

It’s worth trying to avoid high interest when possible. Make a list of your cards and their interest rates. If you must carry a balance, use cards with the lowest APRs. Consider contacting your credit card company and asking for a lower rate. Make minimum payments faithfully, with automatic minimum payments if possible. If you miss a payment your APR can rise, costing you significantly more in interest expense. Check out more favorable credit cards. A new, zero-interest intro credit card can give you a reprieve from interest charges, and motivation to pay off the balance before the introductory period ends. A card with a lower regular APR can lower your interest expense in the long term.

Personal Finance Writer

There are a few surefire ways to avoid paying interest on credit card purchases. The most common is to wait for your account statement to arrive. It will list the sum of your charges, and if you send the full amount by the due date, you'll be within the interest-free grace period. Or pay for each charge as you go. After each transaction, log into your account on the issuer's website or use your bank's app, then pay for what you bought. You'll never have a running balance for interest to be assessed! You can also transfer a balance to a 0 percent APR credit card. A transfer fee will be applied, but you can pay over time, and if you pay off the transferred debt before the real rate goes into effect, no interest will be added.