Unforeseen emergencies happen. If you can’t afford to pay for an urgent purchase or expense out of your own pocket, you may have no choice but to use a credit card. This is when a 0% APR credit card comes in handy.
The good news is there’s no shortage of credit cards that make it easy to charge big-ticket purchases or expenses without accumulating interest from day one.
Dozens of credit cards come with 0% introductory purchase APR periods, many of which last 12 months or longer.
Although every introductory APR period eventually comes to an end, the opportunity to get a head start on repaying big purchases without worrying about ballooning interest is invaluable.
Best Credit Cards With 0% APR Interest on Purchases
These are the best credit card offers with 0% purchase APR promotions on the market today.
Best Overall: Chase Slate EdgeSM Credit Card
The Chase Slate EdgeSM Credit Card is our top overall 0% APR pick thanks to a generous one-two punch: 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months from your account opening date. Thereafter, variable regular APR applies, currently 20.49% to 29.24%.
That’s not all. Slate Edge is also one of the best low APR credit cards on the market.
Moving forward, you can lower your interest rate by 2% each year. If you pay on time and spend at least $1,000 on your card by your next account anniversary, you’ll automatically be considered for this APR reduction.
- Special welcome offer: Get an automatic, one-time review for a higher credit limit when you pay on time and spend $500 in your first 6 months
- No annual fee
- Keep tabs on your credit health with Chase Credit Journey
Longest 0% APR Balance Transfer Promotion: Citi Simplicity® Card
The Citi Simplicity® Card has the longest intro balance transfer APR promotion on the market: 21 months for balances transferred within 120 days of account opening.
It also has a solid intro purchase APR promotion: 12 months from account opening.
- Lock and unlock your card easily right in the app
- No annual fee on either card
- With Citi Simplicity, pay no late fees — ever
- Get exclusive access to thousands of events with Citi Entertainment
- Enjoy customizable payment due dates and 24/7 customer service
Best Flat-Rate Cash-Back Card for Purchases: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is a great cash-back credit card in its own right. Thanks to its 15-month 0% APR introductory promotion on purchases and balance transfers and flat, unlimited 1.5% cash back on most eligible purchases, it’s the best 0% APR credit card for people seeking predictable rewards.
- No annual fee
- Earn $200 cash back after you spend $500 in the first 3 months of card membership
- No foreign transaction fee
Best Flat-Rate Cash-Back Card for Balance Transfers: Citi® Double Cash Card
The Citi® Double Cash Card‘s 18-month 0% APR balance transfer promotion is among the best in the cash-back category and makes it one of the best balance transfer credit cards overall. Qualifying balance transfers must be made within 120 days of account opening.
If you’re struggling with high-interest credit card debt and seek a payoff method that earns a nice return on spending and has a modest balance transfer fee, Double Cash is a top contender. Plus, you can earn up to 2% back on all eligible purchases here.
- Earn 1% cash back on all eligible purchases when you make them
- Earn another 1% cash back when you pay off your balance
- Pay your statement in full each month to effectively earn 2% cash back on virtually all card transactions, with no bonus categories to worry about
- No annual fee
Best for U.S. Supermarket Spending: Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is a no-annual-fee cash rewards credit card that has more to offer than a generous introductory APR promotion. Its three-tiered cash-back program rewards users as follows:
- U.S. supermarket purchases and U.S. gas station purchases earn 3% cash back up to a $6,000 annual limit, and 1% cash back after that (terms apply)
- U.S. online retail purchases earn 3% cash back on up to a $6,000 annual limit, then 1% (terms apply)
- All other eligible purchases earn 1% cash back (terms apply).
Clearly, this is a great card to use at the supermarket. And the 15-month 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers (see rates and fees page) is worth writing home about. After the intro period ends, variable regular APR applies (19.24% - 29.99%), depending on creditworthiness and prevailing rates. Terms apply.
- No annual fee (see rates and fees page)
Best for Travelers: Citi Rewards+℠ Card
The Citi Rewards+℠ Card is arguably the best no-annual-fee credit card for frequent travelers, thanks to a 2x point-earning opportunity on gas station purchases (up to $6,000 in combined category spending each year). After that, you’ll still earn 1 point per $1 spent on these purchases.
This card also boasts a generous introductory APR promotion for purchases and balance transfers: 15 months at 0% APR on both types of transactions, with the balance transfer APR kicking in only after the first transfer.
Once the introductory period ends, variable regular APR applies, depending on your creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates.
- Earn 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,500 on purchases within three months of account opening — worth $200 in gift cards at redemption
- Eligible supermarket and gas station spending earns 2 points per $1 spent, up to $6,000 in combined category spending per year
- All other eligible spending earns an unlimited 1 point per $1 spent.
- Citi rounds up rewards earned on every purchase to the nearest 10 points — turning a 5-point purchase into a 10-point purchase — and kicks back 10% of redeemed points up to the first 100,000 points redeemed each year
- No annual fee
How Do 0% APR Offers Work?
Simply put, a 0% intro APR credit card will not incur any interest over a set period from opening the card. This introductory period can vary, but it’s typically between six months to two years.
This includes not only the balance on any new purchases made on your card, but may also include any balance transfer from other credit cards.
Some cards will cover balance transfers, while others won’t. You’ll need to check the terms on each card.
Zero interest cards are often used for debt consolidation, or for those planning to make a large purchase and pay it off over a set period.
Maximize Your 0% Intro APR Offer
The best way to maximize a 0% intro APR credit card is to pay the card off in the initial period. Also make sure you hit the minimum monthly payment every month, as otherwise, it may cancel the 0% offer.
Understand all of the terms so that you are guaranteed that 0% rate for the entire time you need it.
Should I Get a 0% Intro APR Credit Card?
These credit cards do have their place and can be beneficial for certain people.
The type of person who will be able to make the most of a 0% APR card is someone who has discipline with credit cards.
The ideal person won’t be tempted to make new purchases just because they have a new card with this initial offer. It’s also very important that they’re someone who doesn’t usually miss any payments!
3 Reasons to Consider a Zero Interest Credit Card
In certain situations, using a 0% intro APR credit card can save you a significant amount of money.
Here are some of the reasons why you may want to use a 0% APR credit card:
1. Large Purchases
One reason to use a 0% intro APR credit card is if you’re someone without debt wanting to make a large purchase.
Perhaps you want to buy a computer for $3000 and you’ve just gotten a new job that pays well, but you don’t want to wait and save up.
You’ve looked at your budget, and know you’ll have an extra $100 per week with your new salary- even accounting for emergency purchases such as car repairs. So, you decide to sign up for a 0% APR credit card offering no interest for 12 months. You purchase the computer with the credit card and refrain from using the card afterward.
If you set aside $100 per week, the credit card balance will be cleared in 30 weeks. In doing so, you’ve essentially borrowed money for free- excluding any credit card fees that the card may or may not have had.
2. Debt Consolidation
Another potential reason to use a 0% intro APR credit card is when you have an existing credit card that you can’t immediately pay off.
Some cards will allow those with good credit histories to transfer their credit card balances and have that transfer qualify for the 0% APR for a set period. There is typically a fee for transferring the debt unless you find a credit card with no balance transfer fees.
It’s important to understand all the terms, including the fine print– as there will be limits to how much you can transfer. You’ll need to determine if the amount you’re spending to transfer the money makes financial sense in relation to what you’ll be saving.
This can be a good option for someone who knows they can pay their debt off in the initial period.
For example, someone may get a card with a 21-month, no-interest period and make a solid plan for paying off the card in that time. Assuming they follow through and pay the card off completely, they’re likely to have saved a lot of money!
However, if they don’t pay it off in that time period, the interest rates will probably be higher afterward- which can then get them into real trouble.
3. Unexpected Expenses
While the two points above are the main reasons for getting a 0% APR credit card, there are also some other situations and people who may consider it.
For instance, someone between jobs may find this to be a method to get them by until they start a new job.
It should really only be used if you have another job lined up (in writing), and you should only ever put on the card what you can pay off in the initial period.
Another scenario is when someone has expenses that have popped up unexpectedly. We’ve all experienced difficult times where we’ve been hit by unexpected expenses, one after another.
While it’s best to have emergency savings prepared in these situations, it’s not always possible. Using a 0% card could help you get back on your feet, if you know you’re able to pay off the debt in a certain amount of time.
3 Reasons You May Want to Ignore that 0% Intro APR Offer
Certain types of people should avoid using this type of card, as it may only worsen their financial issues:
- People who’ve struggled with credit card usage and debt as an ongoing issue should really avoid opening any more credit cards. There are alternatives to credit cards to consolidate your debt, simplify your repayments, and avoid the risks of having another credit card.
- Those who struggle with paying any bills on time should avoid this option. If you have a history of missing payments in the past, then it would be risky to commit to another credit card. Only consider a 0% card if you are entirely confident in your ability to make every monthly payment on time.
- Lastly, if you’re considering moving your balance so that you can continue spending on your old cards, you’ll only be getting yourself into more trouble in the future. If you have a problem with spending, a new card will only tempt you to spend more! In that case, you really should consider consolidating your debt to a personal loan or a home equity loan so that you can pay it off over time and get rid of the credit cards altogether. These options will likely also offer you better interest rates!
How to Choose the Best 0% APR Card
Clearly, you have no shortage of 0% APR credit card options. Assuming a 0% credit card is the right choice for you right now, how do you choose the best one?
First, figure out your objectives. If you’re gearing up for a major purchase or series of purchases, you’ll want a card with a long 0% APR period on purchases. If you have high-interest credit card debt already and want to pay it down without spending an arm and a leg, you need a balance transfer credit card.
Often, these are one and the same. But you’ll want to make sure.
Next, compare the length of each card’s 0% APR period. The longer, the better, unless you’re applying for other reasons too — like a generous sign-up bonus or ongoing rewards program.
Finally, look at other features and costs of each card. Avoid annual fees if possible — it’s easy to do with this type of card — and look for value-adds like great cash-back rewards or travel benefits.
Pros and Cons of 0% APR Credit Cards
Zero-interest credit cards have several obvious benefits.
- Less Money Spent on Interest: This will be the number one reason for picking a 0% APR credit card. The amount of savings can be significant by not allowing the interest to compound on your debt.
- Lower Monthly Payments Are Possible: Due to less interest, you may get to pay a smaller amount per month. However, it’s important not to go by the minimum payments, but by the amount you need to pay to clear the debt before the initial period is over.
- Less Time Required to Pay Off Debt: Because interest isn’t being added to the debt each month, you should be able to clear the debt sooner.
- Perks and Rewards: Many of these cards will offer additional perks and rewards. This includes earning rewards on purchases, a welcome offer, cash back rewards, consumer protections, benefits, and extended warranties.
- Improve Credit Score: You can start building up your credit score by paying down your debt and making regular payments.
There are many drawbacks if you do not use the credit appropriately, so it’s important to know all the risks before making a decision.
- A Late Payment May Result in a Loss of the 0% Offer: As great as the initial offer is, it can be taken away swiftly. One late payment can make that 0% rate instantly disappear. You will then be hit by a much higher rate than you were prepared for.
- May Result In a Slight Decrease in Your Credit Score Initially For Starting a New Card: Opening another new card can give a slight hit to your credit score. If you use it appropriately and pay that debt off, your score will rise more than enough to undo the damage, so this is only a consideration if you fail to do that.
- Balance Transfer Fees Are Common: These rates can be as high as 5%, which can really add up if you have a substantial amount of debt. It’s essential to make sure it’s the right financial decision for you. It’s even better if you get a card with no balance transfer fees!
- The Initial Period is Only Short Term: It’s important to be prepared for when the initial period ends. If you still have plenty of debt at that time, you’ll see that interest start piling on again.
- Offers a False Sense of Security: Just knowing that you aren’t paying any interest may make some people complacent. Not having that stress of interest building may be good for some, but harmful for others. They might start to add new purchases that they shouldn’t or only pay the bare minimum, thinking they can catch up later on.
You have questions about 0% APR credit cards. We have answers.
How Long Does the 0% Interest Period Last on a New Credit Card?
The best 0% APR credit cards’ zero-interest periods last 18 months or longer. It’s not uncommon to find cards with promotional windows stretching 20 or 21 months. It all depends on the card though. If your credit isn’t great, you might not qualify for those with the very best terms.
How Much Can You Spend on a 0% Credit Card?
Technically, you can spend all the way up to your credit limit. That might not be the wisest course of action, however.
You don’t want to be left with a balance after the 0% APR period ends and your rate rises. To ensure that you aren’t, create a plan to pay off your charges or transfers ahead of schedule.
And if you expect to make many large purchases over time — perhaps to finish off that home improvement project or turn your wedding dreams into reality — look into low-APR credit cards (low-interest credit cards) with affordable regular interest rates that reduce the cost of carrying a monthly balance. Or look for another 0% APR credit card to transfer your remaining balance.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay Off Your Balance Before the 0% APR Period Ends?
It’s essential to pay off your purchases or balance transfers before the promotional APR expires. If you don’t, you may owe interest on the entire balance. Even if not, you’ll begin accruing interest on whatever’s left, raising your payments over time.
This means you could find yourself struggling to keep pace — and facing a pile of interest-accumulating credit card debt that could stay with you for a much longer period of time than the initial promotion window.
Are 0% APR Credit Cards Worth It?
The interest rate on a credit card can be thought of as the price the company charges for you to borrow money from them.
APR stands for annual percentage rate. This is how much interest you’ll pay on a credit card if you don’t fully clear your balance each month.
A low APR is therefore a selling feature when comparing different credit cards.
While you can avoid paying any interest by clearing your credit card balance in full every month, most Americans carry some credit card debt and get eaten alive by high interest rates in the process.
As inflation continues to hit us on seemingly all our essentials, credit debt levels are increasing as well. Amongst the rising costs of goods and services and mounting credit card debt, credit card interest rates are also climbing to new all-time highs- and are only expected to continue growing.
This makes 0% intro APR credit cards even more appealing.
Those with credit card debt may think of switching to one of these cards for relief from snowballing interest. On paper, this sounds like a great offer, however, what happens when the initial period is done? Is it really as good as it sounds?
We consider several key factors when assessing the top 0% APR credit cards. These include the length of the 0% APR period, the types of transactions it applies to, and the other features and benefits of each card.
Length of 0% APR Period
A longer promotional period means more time to pay off charges before interest begins to accrue. This doesn’t mean you should make unnecessary purchases just because it won’t cost as much to carry the balance, but it does allow you to control your total credit card costs if you’re careful about it.
Transactions Qualifying for 0% APR
Most 0% APR credit cards offer zero-interest financing on purchases, balance transfers, or both.
Credit cards with 0% intro purchase APR promotions are great for financing big-ticket purchases — such as supplies for home improvement projects or wedding expenses — that you’d normally struggle to pay for out of pocket.
Credit cards with 0% intro balance transfer APR promotions are great for paying down high-interest debt without incurring additional interest charges.
Naturally, cards that allow both are tops in our book. Most of the entrants on this list fit that bill.
Pay attention to each card’s regular (post-promotion) purchase APR too. Some of these cards stake their reputations on low ongoing APRs (low interest), while others are less generous, especially to cardholders without excellent credit.
All else being equal, we prefer cards with low ongoing APRs.
The annual fee is the best-known credit card fee and one that can quickly add up over time. If your 0% APR credit card charges an annual fee, it’ll eat into your interest savings.
Fortunately, most 0% APR credit cards don’t charge annual fees. We’ve noted the ones on this list that do and feel they’re worth the expense.
Other Card Fees
Although most of these cards charge no annual fee, some carry miscellaneous fees and charges that can raise the cost of card ownership prior to the end of the intro APR period and beyond. Read the statement of fees carefully and avoid cards with excessive levies.
Don’t sleep on these cards’ rewards programs either. Though rewards aren’t the top selling point for many, some do count among the best cash-back cards on the market.
We’re attentive to the details of these perks (or lack thereof) and work to find the most generous rewards cards that also happen to have the best 0% APR promotions.
Other New Cardholder Offers
Many credit cards entice new cardholders with sign-up bonuses — points or cash in exchange for clearing a predefined spending threshold. Some of the entry-level cards on this lift have very attainable sign-up bonuses that require just $500 or $1,000 in spending over a 3-month period.
Other Card Perks and Benefits
We’re big fans of credit cards with other value-added perks and benefits, like complimentary car rental coverage and discounts at partner hotels. Every card is a little different, so be sure to read the fine print of your cardholder agreement and rewards program terms.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please visit this rates and fees page.