Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Welcome Offer: One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Regular APR: 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Welcome Offer: Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Regular APR: 11.99% - 22.99% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn $200 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Regular APR: 13.99%-23.99% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases). Earn automatic 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
  • Regular APR: 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: N/A
  • Welcome Offer: N/A
  • Regular APR: 16.49%-24.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase. Earn 3% on dining at restaurants and drugstores Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Regular APR: 14.99 - 23.74% Variable
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases 1.8% cash rewards on digital wallet purchases including Google Pay™ or Apple Pay® during the first 12 months from account opening
  • Welcome Offer: Earn a $150 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months
  • Regular APR: 14.49%-24.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: N/A
  • Welcome Offer: N/A
  • Regular APR: 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment Earn 2% at grocery stores Earn 1% on all other purchases
  • Welcome Offer: Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Regular APR: 15.49% - 25.49% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply
Top Features
  • Rewards Rate: Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Welcome Offer: N/A
  • Regular APR: 13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
  • Recommended Credit Score: Good to Excellent  (670 - 850)
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

Some of the offers on this page may have expired

The information about the Alliant Visa® Platinum Credit Card, Discover it® Balance Transfer, Citi Simplicity® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.


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 high interest rates on purchases and balance transfers for anywhere from several months to a year or more.

As of April 7, Bankrate estimates the three-month trend for variable credit card interest rates at 15.93%. 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

Card Name Intro Purchase offer Intro Balance transfer offer Regular APR (Variable)
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card 15 months N/A 15.49% – 25.49%
Discover it® Cash Back 14 months 14 months 11.99% – 22.99%
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express 0% intro APR for 15 months N/A 13.99% – 23.99%
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 15 billing cycles 0% Intro APR for 15 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 18 months (on qualifying) 16.49% – 24.49% variable
Chase Freedom Unlimited® 15 months N/A 14.99% – 23.74%
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card 0% for 15 months 15 months (on qualifying) 14.49% – 24.99% variable
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card 18 months 18 months 14.74% – 24.74%
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card 15 months N/A 15.49% – 25.49%
Citi® Double Cash Card N/A 18 months 13.99% – 23.99% variable
BankAmericard® credit card 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 18 billing cycles 0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days (A 3% fee (min. $10) applies) 12.99% – 22.99%
American Express Cash Magnet® Card 0% intro APR for 15 months N/A 13.99%-23.99%
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 best 0% intro APR 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.

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.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Best for 15 billing cycles of 0% intro APR and flexible rewards

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card currently offers a 0% intro APR period of 15 billing cycles for new purchases, as well as any 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.

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.

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

Best for 15 months 0% intro APR and digital wallet bonus

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.

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 good to 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.

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 offers 15 months at 0% intro APR on purchases, followed by 15.49% – 25.49% variable APR. As a cash back card, it 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 lives.

Read our Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card 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 15 billing cycles of 0% intro APR and flexible rewards

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card currently offers a 0% intro APR period of 15 billing cycles for new purchases, as well as any 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.

BankAmericard® credit card

Best for 18 billing cycles of 0% intro APR and no penalty APR

This card’s introductory offers provide 18 billing cycles at 0% APR for both balance transfers (any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, a 3% fee (min. $10) applies) 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.

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.

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?

They go by different names — 0% APR credit cards, zero-interest credit cards — but they all have the same purpose: to provide a temporary break from interest charges as you steadily pay off large credit card purchases or balance transfers.

APR (annual percentage rate) determines how much interest applies to a credit card account for transactions in a particular billing cycle, including purchases and balance transfers. The interest doesn’t take effect if you keep your balance paid off in full every month, but a balance that remains unpaid past the 21-day grace period after the end of a billing cycle could be subject to APR. Even worse, penalty APR could apply if you have a late payment more than 60 days overdue.

The good news is that you could use a 0% intro APR credit card to temporarily avoid the cost of interest charges during the introductory period before the regular rate takes effect.

Pros and cons of 0% intro APR credit cards

Even if you’re generally familiar with the concept, you might not know some of the key details about 0% APR credit cards. It’s important to understand how they work and consider the advantages and disadvantages, which include:

The pros

  • You could potentially save hundreds of dollars on interest charges by temporarily avoiding the cost of APR on purchases and balance transfers.
  • Having several months (or even longer) to pay off a balance during the introductory period could result in lower monthly payments.
  • Responsibly managing debt can help your credit score in the long run and show lenders that you’re a low-risk borrower.
  • Some balance transfer cards allow you to transfer different kinds of debt — not just credit card balances but also personal loans, student loans and so on.

The cons

  • If you miss a payment on your new 0% APR card, the issuer could consider it a violation of the introductory offer terms and start charging the standard APR immediately.
  • Using a 0% intro APR credit card to transfer a very large balance can affect your credit utilization (how much of your available credit you’re currently using), which in turn could cause a dip in your credit score. Fortunately, you can improve that ratio by continuing to pay down your transferred balance.
  • Most credit card issuers charge a balance transfer fee, usually 3% or 5% of the amount transferred.

Whether you use it for purchases or balance transfers, a 0% intro APR credit card isn’t a quick fix or a silver bullet. You’ll still need to hold up your end of the bargain, making regular monthly payments and erasing the debt before the intro offer expires, to reap the full benefits.

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, also known as “purchase APR“, 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.

0% interest on balance transfers

One potentially effective way to manage debt is to use a balance transfer credit card — moving debt from an existing credit account to a 0% APR credit card with an introductory balance transfer offer. If you pay off the debt before the intro offer expires, you save money that would otherwise go to paying interest charges.

A longer balance transfer offer gives you more time to temporarily avoid interest. Some of the best balance transfer credit cards also 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.

Long-term value

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. Here are some possible alternatives:

  • If you think you can’t qualify for a zero-interest introductory offer, consider a low-interest credit card with a standard APR that’s lower than the rate on your current card.
  • 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. A personal loan could be easier to qualify for.
  • As a last resort, you could contact your credit card issuer to ask for a lower interest rate on your current credit card. This strategy is probably a longshot unless you’re a longtime customer with an established history of paying off your balance on time and in full.

At the same time, facing difficult questions about big purchases and debt repayment could be a sign that you need to look at the bigger picture. A long-term strategy for managing debt might be in order.

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:

  1. Pay off the entire monthly balance, including the large purchase, and face no APR charges.
  2. 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 currently about 16% variable. 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 Monthly Payment Total Cost
$3,000 $266 $272 $3,266

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 Monthly Payment Total Cost
$3,000 $0 $250 $3,000

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 0% intro APR period ends, 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

Expert advice on choosing and using credit cards from Bankrate

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:

Interest rate Balance Term Interest cost Average monthly payment
0% intro APR $8,000 12 months $0 $667
18% APR $8,000 12 months $801 $733

The takeaways

  • 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 bbridges@bankrate.com.

Survey: 44% of cardholders off-base about effects of carrying a balance

Findings from a Bankrate survey indicate that 44 percent of U.S. credit cardholders mistakenly believe that carrying a balance can improve their credit scores. In fact, carrying a balance on your credit card does just the opposite.

Knowing the facts about how credit card use affects your credit score is more essential than ever as thousands of consumers face financial challenges brought on by the pandemic’s effects on the national economy.

“There’s a lot of confusion surrounding credit scores,” says Bankrate industry analyst Ted Rossman. “To set the record straight: Try not to carry balances, try to keep old cards open and ask your lenders for help if you’re struggling. Assistance is available, but you need to ask for it.”

The survey also found that 33 percent of credit cardholders did at least one thing since March 2020, the start of the coronavirus outbreak, that could potentially hurt their credit scores. The findings included:

  • 17 percent of U.S. adults added to their debt
  • 12 percent paid a bill late
  • 8 percent carried a balance on their credit card with the intention of improving their credit score
  • 6 percent did not pay a bill at all
  • 3 percent canceled a card specifically to improve their credit score

“In general, you want to show a long history of making on-time payments and keeping your debts low relative to your credit limits,” Rossman says. “Staying well below your limits is one of the best ways to improve your credit score quickly.”

Another possible remedy for a large credit card balance is a 0% intro APR balance transfer offer. You can transfer a balance from your current card to a new card that has an introductory zero-interest rate, providing you with a temporary reprieve from the APR you’ve been paying. If you pay off the transferred balance before the introductory offer expires, you could save hundreds of dollars in interest charges.

How to keep your credit score in good standing

You have the ability to take action to protect your credit score, a key component of your financial well-being. Here are three essential guidelines:

  1. Pay all your bills early or on time, even if you can only make minimum payments. Since your payment history makes up 35 percent of your FICO Score, even one late bill payment can cause your score to take a hit. Make sure you pay every bill you have on or before your due date.
  2. Pay down debt. The second most important factor that makes up your FICO score is your credit utilization. Keeping your credit card utilization below 30 percent of your available credit will boost your score. If you have the means to pay down debt, you should try.
  3. Keep old credit card accounts open. The length of your credit history makes up another 15 percent of your FICO score, so keep all accounts in good standing open as long as possible.

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% 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.

Long-term value

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 bbridges@bankrate.com.

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

Frequently asked questions on 0% APR credit cards

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