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Your guide to choosing and using the best 0-interest credit cards
Credit cards with 0% introductory APR offers can help you temporarily avoid paying interest on purchases and balance transfers for anywhere from several months to a year or more.
As of February 24, Bankrate estimates the three-month trend for variable credit card interest rates at 15.99%. If you’ve ever carried a balance on your credit card, you know how much APR can cost. One possible remedy is a credit card with a 0% intro APR offer.
Below you’ll find more information about limited-time, interest-free credit card offers and how to use them for making a large purchase or transferring a balance while getting a temporary reprieve from interest charges. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the best introductory zero-interest cards with the best offers.
Compare Bankrate’s top 0% intro APR credit cards
||Intro Purchase offer
||Intro Balance transfer offer
||Regular APR (Variable)
|Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
||15.49% – 25.49%
|Discover it® Cash Back
||11.99% – 22.99%
|Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
||14.74% – 24.74%
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
||0% intro APR for 15 months
||13.99% – 23.99%
|Citi Rewards+® Card
||0% for 15 months
||0% for 15 months
||13.49% – 23.49% variable
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®
||14.99% – 23.74%
|Citi® Double Cash Card
||13.99% – 23.99% variable
|Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
||0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
||0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
||13.99% – 23.99% on purchases and balance transfers
|Wells Fargo Platinum card
||18 months (on qualifying)
||16.49% – 24.49% variable
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
||0% for 15 months
||15 months (on qualifying)
||14.49% – 24.99% variable
|BankAmericard® credit card
||0% Introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
||0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days
||12.99% – 22.99%
|Alliant Visa® Platinum Credit Card
||0% – 5.99% APR for 12 months
||0% – 5.99% APR for 12 months
|Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
||15.49% – 25.49%
|American Express Cash Magnet® Card
||0% intro APR for 15 months
|Citi Simplicity® Card
||14.74% – 24.74%
|U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
||0% for 20 billing cycles
||0% for 20 billing cycles
||14.49% – 24.49% variable
A closer look at our top no-interest credit cards
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
Best for 15 months 0% intro APR and unlimited cash back
This card currently offers a 15-month introductory period for new purchases (then 15.49% – 25.49% variable APR thereafter). Plus, you’ll earn 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases and a $200 bonus after spending $500 within the first 3 months of account opening. Redeeming your sign-up bonus and cash back earnings as statement credits can help you keep your balance under control. If you’re looking for a simple way to earn cash back while you save on interest with an introductory APR offer, you’ve found the right card.
Read our Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card review.
Discover it® Cash Back
Best for 14 months 0% intro APR and rotating category cash back
You’ll get a 14-month 0% APR introductory period for purchases and balance transfers before 11.99% – 22.99% variable APR takes effect. However, this card’s standout feature is earning 5 percent cash back in rotating categories on up to $1,500 per quarter, then 1 percent (activation required). In addition, Discover will match the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year owning the card. The introductory APR offers aren’t as long as other top cards in this category, but the long-term value of the Cashback Bonus Program helps compensate.
Read our Discover it® Cash Back review.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
Best for 18 months 0% intro APR and excellent credit
With an outstanding 18-month 0% APR introductory period on balance transfers and purchases (14.74% – 24.74% variable APR after), the Citi Diamond Preferred is one of the best options for getting a temporary break from APR. The combination of the 0% intro offers and the competitive regular APR makes this card an intriguing choice if you want to maintain your excellent credit score while reducing your exposure to high interest charges. The card has no rewards program, but if you’re looking to avoid interest on a big purchase or a balance transfer, rewards are probably not your top priority.
Read our Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card review.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Best for 15 months 0% intro APR and cash back on everyday purchases
The 15-month 0% introductory APR on purchases is a great perk, but that’s not all the card offers (13.99% – 23.99% variable APR thereafter). The Blue Cash Back Everyday® Card provides a generous cash back program that allows you to earn rewards with the purchases you make every day, like gas and groceries. If you select this card based on the introductory APR offer, the cash back you can earn at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores could make it a rewarding long-term choice. The lack of an annual fee is another boost to its long-term value.
Read our Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express review.
Citi Rewards+® Card
Best for 15 months 0% intro APR and rounding up rewards
The 0% introductory APR offers for purchases and balance transfers last 15 months (13.49% – 23.49% variable APR after), which is good but not great. However, the Citi Rewards+ Card does something that other credit cards don’t: rounding up your rewards to the nearest 10 points on every purchase. This unique feature expands the value of the rewards program, which earns 2X ThankYou Points at supermarkets and gas stations on up to $6,000 in combined purchases per year, along with 1x ThankYou Points on all other purchases. If you spend $6,000 or more at supermarkets and gas stations each year, you’ll maximize the value of that category.
Read our Citi Rewards+ Card review.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Best for 15 months 0% intro APR and rewards versatility
The 15-month introductory period on new purchases (14.99% – 23.74% variable APR thereafter) is solid. Plus, you’ll earn 5 percent on travel purchased through Chase, 3 percent at restaurants and drugstores and 1.5 percent on all other purchases. Remember that you’ll need to make travel purchases through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal to earn the 5 percent cash back rate in the travel category. The higher cash back categories make this much more than a typical 0% intro APR credit card.
Read our Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.
Citi® Double Cash Card
Best for 18 months 0% intro APR and double cash back
It’s important to note that (1) the Citi Double Cash Card’s intro APR offer is for balance transfers only, not purchases, and (2) balance transfers don’t earn rewards. The regular APR after the intro offer is 13.99% – 23.99% variable. This card still has a lot of potential for utility and value. You can earn up to 2 percent cash back — 1 percent when you make purchases, then 1 percent as you pay for them. You might find that this two-part system offers extra motivation to make timely payments in full.
Read our Citi® Double Cash Card review.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
Best for 12 billing cycles of 0% intro APR and flexible rewards
The Bank of America Cash Rewards card currently offers a 0% intro APR period of 12 billing cycles for new purchases, as well as balance transfers made in the first 60 days (then 13.99% – 23.99% variable APR). It also has a choice rewards category that earns 3 percent cash back on one of the following categories such as travel, gas, online shopping, dining, drug stores or home improvement/furnishings and 2 percent on grocery store and wholesale club purchases each quarter (on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases, then 1 percent). Selecting the right choice category based on your spending habits is the key to getting the most out of the rewards program.
Read our Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card review.
Wells Fargo Platinum card
Best for 18 months 0% intro APR and personal finance management
The main reason to get a zero-interest credit card is to pay off a big purchase or a balance transfer during the introductory period and temporarily avoid paying APR. The Wells Fargo Platinum can help you reach that goal thanks to its 18-month (from account opening) intro 0% APR offers on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (16.49% – 24.49% variable APR after), but it can also help you pursue the larger goal of better financial health with the My Money Map system. Although this card doesn’t offer a rewards program, using the My Money Map resources to improve your spending and budgeting habits could prove rewarding in the long run.
Read our Wells Fargo Platinum card review.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
Best for 15 months 0% intro APR and digital wallet users
If you regularly reach for your phone instead of your wallet when it’s time to pay, this card could be the zero-interest option you’ve been looking for. The introductory APR offer lasts 15 months from account opening for purchases and qualifying balance transfers, after which you’ll pay 14.49% – 24.99% variable APR. The added incentive for digital wallet users is the 1.8 percent cash rewards rate on qualified purchases such as Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during your first 12 months. (The rate for regular purchases is 1.5 percent.) Also, using the card to pay your monthly cellphone bill makes you eligible for up to $600 protection against covered damage or theft, with a $25 deductible.
Read our Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card review.
BankAmericard® credit card
Best for 12 billing cycles of 0% intro APR and no penalty APR
This card’s introductory offers provide 12 billing cycles at 0% APR for both balance transfers (made in the first 60 days) and purchases. The regular APR after the intro offers is 12.99% – 22.99% variable. The card doesn’t charge penalty APR, although it does charge penalty fees (up to $40 for late payment, up to $29 for returned payment). With no rewards program, the long-term value of the BankAmericard credit card takes a hit. The best use is for temporarily avoiding interest on purchases or balance transfers.
Read our BankAmericard® credit card review.
Alliant Visa® Platinum Credit Card
Best for low balance transfer fee
The Alliant Visa Platinum Credit Card’s balance transfer and purchase offers (0% introductory APR for 12 months, 0% – 5.99% variable APR after based on creditworthiness) are comparatively short. The card’s most notable feature is a balance transfer fee that beats the industry standard. Instead of charging 3 percent of the amount transferred, this card charges 2 percent or $5, whichever is greater. With no rewards program, your best bet for long-term value could come from the checking account benefits that helped Alliant earn Bankrate’s best credit union of 2021 title.
Read our Alliant Visa® Platinum Credit Card review.
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Best for 15 months 0% intro APR and dining and entertainment
If you have a taste for food and fun but the thought of paying high credit card APR gives you heartburn, consider the Capital One SavorOne. The card has an intro offer for purchases: 15 months at 0% APR, followed by 15.49% – 25.49% variable. As a cash back card, it also earns unlimited rewards in the categories of dining and entertainment (3 percent) and grocery stores (2 percent). The SavorOne has a lot to offer for consumers who make simple pleasures like meals, movies and music a central part of their daily life.
Read our Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review.
American Express Cash Magnet® Card
Best for 15 months 0% intro APR and payment flexibility
If you’re planning a big purchase but wondering about the best way to pay for it, the American Express Cash Magnet offers some intriguing options. You can avoid credit card APR for 15 months thanks to the introductory 0% offer on purchases, paying 13.99% – 23.99% variable after the intro period expires. Also, you can take advantage of the Plan It® feature, which gives you the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee. The card also earns unlimited 1.5 percent cash back and doesn’t charge an annual fee, both of which increase its value.
Read our American Express Cash Magnet® Card review.
Citi Simplicity® Card
Best for 18 months 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers
With introductory 0% APR offers of 18 months on balance transfers and purchases (14.74% – 24.74% variable APR thereafter), the Citi Simplicity Card could help you temporarily avoid interest for a year-and-a-half. Since the Simplicity card doesn’t have a rewards program, your best bet for long-term value is probably the extra layer of protection provided by Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.
Read our Citi Simplicity® Card review.
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
Best for 20 billing cycles of 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers
If you want the maximum zero-interest window to pay for a big purchase for a transferred balance from a different credit account, the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum might be your best bet. The card offers an introductory 0% APR for 20 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers with 14.49% – 24.49% variable APR after. Most competitors have introductory purchase offers lasting no longer than 18 months. With no rewards program, this card’s signature perk is its cellphone coverage. Use the card to pay your cellular bill every month and you’ll be covered for up to $600 worth of damage or theft per claim for up to two claims per year, with a $25 deductible.
Read our U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card review.
What is an introductory 0 APR credit card?
Using a credit card can be a lot more convenient than paying cash or writing a check. However, the convenience of credit cards sometimes comes with a price — the potential for steep interest charges. If you don’t pay your monthly statement on time and in full, you’ll probably face the additional cost of credit card APR.
What is credit card APR? APR (annual percentage rate) determines how much interest applies to your credit card account for transactions in a particular billing cycle, including purchases, cash advances and balance transfers. You can avoid APR by keeping your credit card balance paid off every month. The credit card issuer determines your APR based on your credit score and other factors.
How does credit card interest work? Any unpaid credit card balance that you carry over past the grace period is subject to APR. With the interest compounding daily, the cost of interest can grow slowly but steadily.
Fortunately, credit cards with introductory no-interest offers could provide a solution. These cards offer a way to help you reduce your exposure to credit card APR for a limited period of time. To meet that goal, you’ll need to pay off your large purchase or transferred balance before the zero-percent intro rate expires and the regular APR takes effect. Some of these cards also let you transfer a balance from a high-interest credit account.
Whether it’s a big purchase or a big balance, this type of credit card could help you temporarily avoid credit card APR.
How to choose the right zero-interest credit card
The type of no-interest credit card you should get depends on what you want to do with it, immediately and in the long run.
0% interest on purchases
If you have a large purchase planned, getting a credit card with an intro offer of 0% interest on new purchases 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 16 percent interest should be an easy one.
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.
Learn more with Bankrate: What does 0 percent APR mean?
0% interest APR on balance transfers
Results of a recent Bankrate.com survey found that 16 percent of Americans have more debt than they did just a few months ago. One possible remedy for debt involves transferring it to a 0% APR credit card with an introductory balance transfer offer. If you pay off the debt before the introductory zero-interest offer expires, you could save money that would otherwise go to paying interest charges.
Just like a purchase offer, a longer balance transfer offer gives you more time to pay off the debt you’ve transferred plus smaller monthly payments. Some balance transfer credit 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.
Learn more with Bankrate: What is a balance transfer credit card?
Although some 0% interest cards are short on extras, a good number of them have rewards programs that earn cash back, travel miles or multi-purpose points. We recommend that you focus on paying debt while you’re taking advantage of the introductory zero-interest offer. Once you’ve cleared your debt, you can turn your attention to earning rewards.
Are there alternatives to a 0% interest credit card?
Sometimes a 0% intro APR credit card might not be your best option. If you want to make a purchase you know you won’t be able to pay off within the introductory offer period, consider a personal loan.
Getting approved for a balance transfer card with bad credit can be difficult. You might be eligible only for a low-interest introductory offer rather than a zero-interest offer.
You could contact your credit card issuer to ask for a lower interest rate on your current credit card. However, this strategy might be a longshot unless you’re a longtime customer with an established history of paying off your balance on time and in full.
How much could you save with a 0% intro APR offer?
If you decide to put a big purchase on a credit card, you have another decision to make when the next bill comes due. You can:
- Pay off the entire monthly balance, including the large purchase, and face no APR charges.
- Make a partial payment on the monthly balance and pay APR on whatever amount is left over.
Of course, the problem with option B is that it could cost you a lot of money. The cost is likely to increase with every partial monthly payment you make. Over time, you’d have to devote more and more money to paying off not just the original purchase but also the mounting interest of rolling over unpaid debt from month to month.
A zero-interest credit card offer could help you avoid this kind of cycle by offering a temporary break from APR. Here’s an illustration of how it works, using Bankrate’s Credit Card Payoff Calculator:
A $3,000 purchase with your regular credit card
The average credit card interest rate is about 16 percent. If you were to isolate $3,000 spent on a vacation, for example, and pay it off in equal installments over a year’s time on your regular credit card, the payment schedule would look like this:
|Total Principal Paid
||Total Interest Paid
In addition to the $3,000, you’d also pay $266 in interest. Interest (in the form of APR) would account for 8 percent of your total cost.
A $3,000 purchase with a 0% intro APR credit card
In the second scenario, you get a new credit card with a 12-month zero interest offer and use that card to pay for your $3,000 vacation. The payment schedule (also one year of equal installments) would look like this:
|Total Principal Paid
||Total Interest Paid
As long as you paid off the entire $3,000 before the 12-month offer expires, you wouldn’t be on the hook for the $288 in APR charges. Your monthly payment would be $24 less, too.
How to avoid paying credit card interest
A credit card is a type of loan, and virtually every loan involves interest. It’s possible to avoid paying credit card interest, but only under a few well-defined conditions.
- Paying your statement in full and on time. Keeping up with your monthly credit card payments so that no money carries over into the next billing cycle is the simplest, most effective way to keep from paying credit card interest.
- Using a 0% interest intro offer. A zero-interest card can help you avoid paying interest on purchases and balance transfers, but only as long as the introductory offer lasts. When the offer runs out, the card’s regular APR applies.
- Using a grace period. Most credit card issuers offer a grace period that provides a temporary reprieve from interest for a short period of time after a billing cycle ends. However, the key word is “temporary.” The typical grace period is 21 days.
What’s the best 0% intro APR credit card?
Even though no single choice will be a perfect fit for everyone, the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card has the edge over many other options.
The card’s current offer for new purchases and balance transfers is 20 billing cycles at 0% introductory APR, 13.99% – 23.99% variable APR after. Many competitors vying for best 0% APR credit card have introductory offers lasting 18 months. Having an extra two billing cycles could give you more cushion when you’re trying to pay off a big purchase or a transferred balance while avoiding interest. Also, the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum’s regular APR range (13.99% – 23.99% variable) is lower than those of many other 0% APR cards.
However, some of its competitors offer things that the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum doesn’t: welcome offers and rewards programs. One example is the Discover it® Cash Back. Its introductory offer for purchases and balance transfers (14 months at 0% APR,11.99% – 22.99% variable APR after) is significantly shorter, but it does have a cash back program that includes rotating bonus categories. You earn 5% cash back in the rotating categories on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter followed by 1% (enrollment required), as well as unlimited 1% on all other purchases.
While the introductory offers are the key feature of 0% intro APR credit cards, they aren’t the only feature. You might also consider the card’s long-term value, in which rewards programs and welcome offers play a big part.
CardSmart: A zero-percent intro offer in action
A consumer named Carol emailed me for advice on using zero-interest cards to save money on APR. She was considering a 0% intro APR credit card to pay for some upcoming dental work that would cost $8,000.
Using some basic math and Bankrate’s Credit Card Payoff Calculator, I was able to simulate what would happen if she got a credit card with a 12-month zero percent introductory offer to pay for the procedure. Then I compared that outcome with another where she used a regular credit card with 18% APR.
Long story short, it looked like Carol could avoid several hundred dollars in interest charges with a 0% intro APR offer:
||Average monthly payment
|0% intro APR
- If she paid off the balance in full before the end of that 12-month promotional period, Carol wouldn’t owe any additional money in interest.
- If she were to put $8,000 on a regular card with 18 percent APR and pay off the balance in 12 months, she would face $801 in interest charges over time.
- Her average monthly payment with a regular card would be $733 instead of $667, or about 10 percent higher.
I exchanged a few emails with Carol over the course of a week. She wound up getting a 0% APR card with a 12-month intro offer and made a plan to pay off the cost of her dental work on schedule to avoid interest.
If you have a question about using a zero-interest APR offer to save money like Carol, please email me at email@example.com.
How we chose our best zero-interest 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% APR intro offers.
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.
Regular variable APR
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.
Should you keep this card after it’s served the initial purpose? That’s a key question we ask when evaluating credit cards with 0% 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.
Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, loans, mortgages and other personal finance products for Bankrate since 2018. His work has also appeared on websites including Nasdaq.com, Zillow.com and The Simple Dollar. He was previously an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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