Generally, it’s wise to avoid carrying balances on your credit cards. Credit card balances quickly rack up interest charges, eating into your monthly personal budget and hampering your ability to save and invest. Over time, unpaid credit card balances could compel you to enroll in credit counseling, or even cause you to declare bankruptcy.
However, it’s sometimes impossible to avoid carrying credit card balances. For instance, if your car breaks down and you have no other way to get to work, charging the repair to your credit card is better than losing your job – even if you know it’ll take some time to pay off the balance.
Low-APR credit cards make it easier to carry balances from month to month because they don’t accrue interest as rapidly, and their carried balances grow more slowly as a result. If you habitually carry balances from month to month, or want to do so in the future without paying through the nose, consider these low APR credit card options.
Best Low Interest Credit Cards
These are the best low-APR interest credit cards on the market right now, backed by some of the most popular credit card issuers around.
Best Overall: U.S. Bank Visa Platinum® Card
This offer is no longer available.
For a limited time, the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card has one of the longest 0% APR promotional periods of any credit card on the market.
Better yet, this promotion applies to both purchases and balance transfers, making U.S. Bank Visa Platinum the best low-APR credit card for folks looking to finance major purchases or pay down high-interest debt.
After the introductory periods, variable regular APR applies (currently 17.49% to 27.49%, depending on creditworthiness and prevailing rates).
- No annual fee
- The foreign transaction fee is 2% or 3%, depending on how the transaction is denominated
- Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3%.
- All cardholders get a generous cell phone protection plan with a low deductible
- Cardholders with U.S. Bank deposit accounts may qualify for overdraft protection
Best for Balance Transfers: Citi Simplicity® Card
With a super-long 0% introductory APR for balance transfers — 21 months from account opening — the Citi Simplicity Card is great for transferring high-interest balances from other credit cards. Note that eligible balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
The purchase promotion isn’t bad either — 12 months from account opening — but you can do better elsewhere.
Following the introductory periods, variable regular APR applies (currently 17.74% to 27.74%), depending on your creditworthiness and prevailing rates.
- No annual fee
- No late payment fee
- Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5% of the transferred amount
- Foreign transactions cost 3% of the total amount
- Choose your own payment due date
Best for Flat-Rate Cash Back: Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® Credit Card is a popular cash back credit card that also happens to have a very long introductory 0% APR promotion on purchases and balance transfers: 15 months. Thereafter, variable regular APR applies, currently 17.24% to 25.99%, depending on your creditworthiness and other factors.
How does Chase Freedom Unlimited’s rewards program break down? It offers:
- Unlimited 5% cash back on eligible purchases through Chase Travel
- Unlimited 5% cash back on eligible Lyft purchases through March 2022
- Unlimited 3% cash back on eligible drugstore and restaurant purchases (including takeout and eligible delivery)
All other eligible purchases earn unlimited 1.5% cash back. During the first year, you’ll earn an additional 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases (on the first $20,000 in eligible spending).
If you’re in the market for a major purchase and want to earn well-deserved rewards at predictable flat rates in the process, you need to give this card a closer look.
- No annual fee
- Foreign transactions cost 3% of the transaction amount
- Enjoy extended warranty coverage, complimentary secondary coverage on car rentals purchased in full with your card, and other shopping and travel benefits courtesy of Visa
Best for Rotating Cash Back: Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card
The Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card is another popular cash back card with a fantastic 0% APR introductory offer on purchases and balance transfers during the first 15 months. Thereafter, variable regular APR applies, currently 17.24% to 25.99%, depending on your creditworthiness and other factors.
Its rewards program is similar to Freedom Unlimited’s as well, with the same great 5% and 3% bonus tiers. The biggest difference is the addition of special quarterly rotating 5% cash back categories that promise bonus earnings on the first $1,500 in combined eligible purchases each quarter.
All other eligible purchases earn 1% cash back.
- Earn a $200 bonus cash-back credit when you spend at least $500 on eligible purchases within three months of opening your account.
- No annual fee
- Foreign transactions cost 3%
- Enjoy shopping and travel benefits like extended warranty coverage and complimentary secondary coverage on car rentals paid in full with your card
Best for Customized Cash Back: Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card is a no-annual-fee cash back credit card with a twist: Rather than a flat rate, you earn 5% cash back on the first $500 in purchases in your top eligible spending category each month, then 1% cash back on purchases above the cap.
Eligible 5% categories include restaurants, gas stations, select travel, select transit, select streaming services, live entertainment, home improvement stores, and drugstores.
You’ll also earn 1% cash back on just about all other eligible purchases, every month.
- Earn $200 bonus cash, fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou points, after spending $1,500 in eligible purchases during the first 6 months your account is open.
- This bonus is fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou points
- Enjoy 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
- Thereafter, variable regular APR applies (currently 16.99% to 26.99%), depending on prevailing rates and your creditworthiness
- No annual fee
- Foreign transactions cost 3% of the transaction amount
Best for Business Owners: U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard®
In the market for a new small business credit card? Seeking a low introductory interest rate to help manage existing business credit card debt?
The U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard® could be the card for you. Although it’s first and foremost a business cash back credit card that earns up to 3% cash back on eligible net purchases at office supply stores, restaurants, gas stations and EV charging stations, and cell phone or service providers purchases (and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases), it’s also an excellent balance transfer credit card — one of the few available to small business owners.
- For a limited time, earn $500 bonus cash back after spending $4,500 in eligible purchases during the first 150 days your account is open
- Enjoy 0% APR on balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles your account is open, then variable regular APR applies (currently 16.99% to 25.99%)
- No annual fee or employee card fee
- The foreign transaction fee is 3% of the transaction amount
- Terms and conditions apply — see rates & fees
Best for High Credit Limits: Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa®
The Upgrade Cash Rewards Visa® blends the anywhere-anytime flexibility of a credit card with the low cost and predictability of a personal loan or line of credit. And its credit limits are among the highest around — up to $50,000 for the best-qualified applicants.
- Get unlimited 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases when you pay them back
- Variable regular APR for purchases ranges from 8.99% to 29.99%, depending on prevailing rates and creditworthiness
- Autopay is required to qualify for the lowest rates
- Payments must be made in installments whose size varies depending on balance and term
- No annual fee
Best for Car Buyers: My GM Rewards Card™
The My GM Rewards Card™ is a great rewards credit card for General Motors owners — and anyone planning to purchase a GM vehicle in the near future.
Customize your cardmember experience by choosing from one of five card designs: GM, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac. Then gear up to earn unlimited 7x total points with GM purchases and 4x points on all other eligible purchases.*
Here’s what else you need to know about this card.
- Welcome Offer: Get 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in your first 3 months.*
- Earn Rate. Earn 7x total points with GM, 4x points on purchases everywhere else.* If you spend $12,000 a year, you will earn at least 48,000 points ($480) toward future redemption with GM.
- Introductory APR: Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 12 months, then a variable APR of 17.24% to 27.24%.* Rates as of 8/1/2022.
- Key Fees: No annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, or cash advance fees. Late fees may apply.*
- Other Perks: See if you’re approved with no impact to your Credit Score. Accepting a card after your application is approved will result in a hard inquiry, which may impact your credit score.
Terms & Limitations Apply. Click here to see *Rates and Terms and Benefit Terms. Select ‘Apply Now’ to learn more about the product features, terms, conditions, and Program Rules. Subject to credit approval.
Methodology: How We Select the Best Low-APR Credit Cards
We use several important factors to evaluate low-APR credit cards and choose the best products for our customers’ needs. These are the most important.
The best low-APR credit cards tend to have stringent credit requirements, so we can’t automatically disqualify picky products. But we do like cards that give would-be cardholders with less-than-perfect credit a bit of a break.
Introductory Interest Rate
Many low-APR credit cards have long 0% APR introductory periods. Indeed, this is the main attraction for some cards with no rewards programs and mediocre ongoing rates.
The best cards on this list tend to make the same offers for purchases and balance transfers. One or the other is preferable to neither, of course.
Ongoing Interest Rate
If you do need to carry a balance from month to month, you want to pay as little as possible to do it. That’s why we pay close attention to these cards’ ongoing interest rates — not because we love the idea of paying interest on carried balances, but because we sometimes have no choice.
Most low-APR credit cards aren’t known for generous rewards, though some of the cards on this list have a rewards program.
For those that do, we consider:
- Which spending categories the programs reward
- How much you can earn in the top-earning categories
- Any caps or restrictions on earned rewards
- Redemption processes and what you can redeem for
All else being equal, we prefer low-APR cards that earn rewards, but we don’t write off those that don’t.
Sign-up Bonus (Welcome Offer)
Low-APR credit cards aren’t big on sign-up bonuses either. But we do like low-APR cards that go the extra mile and extend welcome offers or early spend bonuses to new cardholders. We prefer those with accessible early spend thresholds — under $1,000 over 3 months, if possible.
Low-APR credit cards tend to have manageable fees. Many don’t charge annual fees, and those that do tend to market themselves to people with less-than-perfect credit.
Of course, all else being equal, we prefer low-APR cards with lower fees, and we order this list accordingly.
Low-APR Credit Card FAQs
Still have questions about low-APR credit cards? We have answers about how these products work, when they make sense to use, and when to pass them up.
What Counts As a Low APR?
That depends on prevailing benchmark interest rates, borrower creditworthiness, and other factors.
For a borrower with very good or excellent credit and a healthy income in a relatively low-rate environment, anything under 15% APR counts as “low.” For a borrower with not-so-good credit, 20% APR or higher is often the cost of carrying a balance.
How Are Credit Card APRs Calculated and Assigned?
Most of the cards on this list have variable APRs that fall within a fairly wide range. When you open a new card account, the issuer assigns your APR at a point within that range, based on your creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates at the time.
If you have an excellent credit score and unblemished credit history, your rate is likely to be at the lower end of the range. If your credit isn’t stellar, expect a higher rate. As time goes on, your variable APR rises or falls in response to fluctuations in prevailing interest rates and changes in your creditworthiness.
Should You Carry a Balance on Your Credit Card?
Not unless you have to — or you can do it without paying any interest thanks to a 0% APR promotion.
Of course, you might not have the choice. If you don’t have the cash to cover a major unexpected expense or you have no other way to finance a project that can’t wait, you’ll need a credit card with a low ongoing APR.
Can You Offset Interest Charges With Credit Card Rewards?
It’s very unlikely. Carrying a balance for more than a month or two can completely offset the value of your rewards, and could actually end up costing you money.
The only real exception to this rule is when you’re a new cardholder and you qualify for an early spend bonus worth hundreds of dollars. That’s good for at least a few months’ interest, depending on how much you charge.
How Much Does a Credit Card Balance Transfer Cost?
It depends on the card. Generally, a credit card balance transfer costs between 3% and 5% of the transferred amount, with a flat fee usually not more than $10 for smaller transfers.
That said, the best balance transfer credit cards don’t charge for balance transfers at all. Line up one of those if you’re planning to make a balance transfer anytime soon.
How to Choose the Best Credit Card With a Low Interest Rate
Still not sure which of these credit cards is best for your financing needs?
You’ll get closer to an answer if you can sort out what you’re really looking for in your low-APR credit card. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I want a low ongoing APR above all else?
- How important is a 0% APR to me, if at all?
- Do I want to finance a major purchase, a series of smaller purchases, a balance transfer, or something else?
- Can I pay off my credit card in full each month or do I need to carry a balance?
- Do I want the option to earn rewards on my purchases — and can I avoid carrying a balance if I do so?
These aren’t the only questions relevant to choosing a low-APR credit card. But if you answer them honestly, you’ll find yourself much closer to a final selection