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Generally when I write about credit cards, it’s to tell readers about the sign-up bonuses and other benefits they offer that can help enable and enrich your travels. But there are other important factors to consider when getting a new card – most critically, the impact that opening an account has on your credit score, and how applying for and using a card fits into your personal finances.

The points and miles you earn from credit cards can be very lucrative, but that value disappears quickly if you end up paying late fees and interest on your spending. I always discourage readers from carrying a balance or spending outside their means, not just because it destroys the value proposition of the points and miles game, but because debt can be damaging both financially and psychologically.

That said, debt is a reality for many people, and while credit cards can sometimes be the culprit that gets you into debt, they can also be a tool for helping you get out of it. 0% APR cards are useful for consolidating and managing debt in the short term, and many travel rewards cards come with introductory offers of 0% APR for a set amount of time. Note- most have balance transfer fees, so if you do balance transfers to one of these cards that offer 0% on balance transfers, make sure you’re aware of the costs.

0 APR

The easiest way to maximize your travel is by making sure you earn points and miles on all of your spending. If you’re thinking about getting a 0% APR card, you may as well get one that earns points. That way you can work toward paying off your debt and get the bonus of travel rewards or cash back in return.

Below I’ve listed some of the top offers for cards that earn points and have a 0% APR for at least an introductory period.  For the most part these cards have no annual fee, though I included one annual fee cards that I think is worthwhile anyway because of the sign-up bonus. At the end I also included a few cards that don’t offer points or miles, but have particularly strong 0% APR offers.  This isn’t a comprehensive list of every 0% APR card out there; instead, these are the offers I thought would be most useful to readers. Read on to find out more.

arrival world mastercard

The Barclaycard Arrival comes with a smaller sign-up bonus and lower earning than the Arrival Plus, but offers many of the same features and a 0% APR for 12 months.

Rewards Cards
These cards offer rewards in the form of points or miles that can be redeemed for travel and more. Some of them are in the form of transferable loyalty currencies, like Amex Membership Rewards or Citi ThankYou Points, while others function like cash back.

Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard
Current Bonus:
20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.
Other Benefits:
Earn 2 miles per dollar spent on travel and dining, 1 mile per dollar elsewhere. Get 10% miles back when you redeem for travel statement credits. No foreign transaction fees. Complimentary online FICO score access.
APR Offer:
0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, then variable APR (currently 14.99% or 18.99%).
Annual Fee:
None
Bottom Line:
This card has only half the sign-up bonus of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus, but still includes the 10% rebate for travel statement credits, so you’re still effectively getting  2.2% back on all travel and dining when you redeem for travel. Considering there are no foreign transaction fees, this card is currently my top all around no fee option for travelers.

Membership Rewards

American Express Everyday
Current Bonus:
10,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.
Other Benefits: 
Earn 2 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 of spending annually (1 point per dollar after that), and earn 1 point per dollar elsewhere. Make 20 or more purchases in a billing cycle and earn 20% more points. Smart Chip technology. 
APR Offer: 
0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months, then variable APR (currently 12.99% to 21.99%). 
Annual Fee:
None
Bottom Line: 
This is the first ever Membership Rewards earning card with no annual fee, and actually the only no-fee card that earns transferable points in one of the four major programs. The 15-month 0% APR period is longer than most, and the 20% bonus makes this a great option for everyday spending (the name is no coincidence).

citi thankyou banner

Citi ThankYou Preferred
Current Bonus:
20,000 ThankYou Points after $1,500 in purchases within 3 months of account opening.
Other Benefits:
2 points per dollar spent on dining and entertainment, 1 point per dollar elsewhere
APR Offer: 
0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then variable APR of 12.99% to 22.99%.
Annual Fee:
None
Bottom Line:
The sign-up bonus on the Citi ThankYou Preferred is worth $200 in gift cards or toward travel through the Citi ThankYou Travel Center. Unfortunately, points earned on this card are not eligible for transfer to the 8 new Citi ThankYou airline partners (or hotel partner Hilton) unless you also have the Citi ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards
Current Bonus:
20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.
Other Benefits:
Earn 1.25 miles per dollar on all purchases. No foreign transaction fees. Miles are worth 1 cent each toward statement credits for travel expenses. Free credit score tracker and alerts.
APR Offer:
0% APR (for purchases only) until August, 2015, then variable APR of 11.9% to 19.9%.
Annual Fee:
None
Bottom Line: 
This card can’t match some of the others for category spending bonuses, but the 1.25 miles per dollar earned everywhere and no foreign transaction fees make it attractive for travelers. These points aren’t good for premium travel redemptions, but are great if you want to purchase economy airfare on fixed dates without any blackout periods. 

Bank of America Travel rewards banner

BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card
Current Bonus:
Online exclusive 10,000 bonus points if you make at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days – that can be $100 towards travel purchases
Other Benefits:
Earn 1.5 points per dollar on all purchases.  Redeem points at 1 cent apiece for travel statement credits. Get an annual 10% customer points bonus on your total purchases when you have a Bank of America® checking or savings account. No foreign transaction fees. Chip and signature technology.
APR Offer:
0% APR on purchases for first 12 billing cycles, then variable APR of 14.99% to 22.99%.
Annual Fee:
None
Bottom Line:
 Along with the low spending requirement for the sign-up bonus, the main attraction for this card is the 1.5% return on all purchases (or effectively 1.65% if you’re a Bank of America customer).

Frontier Airlines World Mastercard
Current Bonus:
40,000 miles after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
Other Benefits:
Earn 2 miles per dollar spent at FlyFrontier.com, 1 mile per dollar elsewhere. 
APR Offer:
0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, then variable APR (currently 15.99% or 24.99%).
Annual Fee:
$69 (There is also a no-fee version with a sign-up bonus of 10,000 miles and lower earnings per dollar spent).
Bottom Line:
This card has an annual fee, but the sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles is worth 2 round-trip tickets (or 4 one-ways) at the Standard Award level – pretty good for the low spending requirement. Of all the cards listed here, this one offers the best overall return.

Cash Back Cards
These cards mostly offer cash back that is applied directly to your statement rather than  having to be redeemed, though Chase Freedom earns points that can be made flexible when combined with other cards.

Chase Freedom
Current Bonus: $100 after you spend $500 in the first 3 months.
Other Benefits: 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories up to $1,500 of spending, 1% back elsewhere. 10% Annual Exclusives bonus for Chase checking customers.
APR Offer: 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months, then variable APR (currently 13.99% to 22.99%).
Annual Fee: None
Bottom Line: Chase Freedom is a worthy option even for those who aren’t necessarily limited to no-fee cards. This card can be used to earn flexible and transferable Ultimate Rewards points when combined with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, or other cards in the program. The 15 month 0% APR offer is also strong.

Discover it
Current Bonus:
None (this card can often be found with a $150 sign-up bonus, but not with the 0% APR).
Other Benefits:
5% cash back on rotating categories, 1% back on other purchases. 5-20% back from online shopping through the ShopDiscover online portal. Free monthly FICO score.
APR Offer:
0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for first 14 months, then variable APR of 10.99% to 22.99%.
Annual Fee:
None
Bottom Line:
 The 5% cash back categories are generally pretty useful (currently gas stations, with online shopping and department stores featured in the last quarter of 2014. The ShopDiscover portal is also potentially lucrative.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards
Current Bonus:
$100 after spending $500 in the first 3 months.
Other Benefits:
1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. Free credit tracker to monitor your credit score.
APR Offer:
0% APR on purchases and balance transfers until May, 2015, then variable APR of 12.9% to 22.9%.
Annual Fee:
None
Bottom Line:
1.5% cash back everywhere is a strong benefit, but the 0% APR offer is one of the shortest out there. Unless you have a strong affinity for Capital One cards, I think the other offers on this list will serve you better.

debt free ahead banner

Non-Rewards Cards
These cards don’t earn points or miles, but they do have longer 0% APR periods, and in the case of Chase Slate, a useful balance transfer offer.

Chase Slate
Current Bonus:
None
Other Benefits:
$0 balance transfer fee for first 60 days, then 3% of amount transferred with $5 minimum.
APR Offer:
0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for first 15 months, then variable APR of 12.99%, 17.99%, or 22.99%.
Annual Fee:
None
Bottom Line:
The 15 month 0% APR period is strong, but not unique.  What is unique about this card is the introductory $0 balance transfer fee offer.  If you’re consolidating debt from elsewhere to buy yourself more time or minimize interest, this offer is hard to beat.

Citi Diamond Preferred or Citi Simplicity
Current Bonus:
None
Other Benefits:
None
APR Offer:
0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for first 18 months, then variable APR of 11.99% to 21.99% for Diamond Preferred, or 12.99% to 22.99% (Variable) for Simplicity.
Annual Fee:
None
Bottom Line:
This card offers an introductory 0% APR for 18 months, which is the best you’ll find at the moment. It does incur balance transfer fees, but the extra 3 months might justify that expense depending on your needs.

Check out these other posts for more information:

Top Credit Card Offers With No Annual Fee
Credit Cards That Offer Free Credit Scores
What’s the Best Travel Reward Credit Card for Someone Young Without Great Credit?

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Ven

    Don’t agree with this article. If you even have to THINK about APR then earning points on a CC shouldn’t be a consideration. Balance Transfers to lower an APR are a valid move, but zero spending should go on that card until the balance is paid off.

  • Gorbal

    That’s lazy analysis. There are plenty of reasons for taking advantage of a 0% APR that don’t involve being in financial dire straits. If you’re going to spend the money anyway, you may as well get something in return.

  • Jeff

    My respect for you and this site took a hit with this one.

  • Eric

    This is a great rundown, thanks. I had been researching this myself recently, so this helps.

    I “borrow” money from 0% APR CCs for some short-term investments and pay them off before interest hits.

  • Ben

    Have you ever considered the fact that one may have the money to make a large purchase (think 10k or more), but wants to pay it off over time while earning money? Just sock the money you have into a savings (or brokerage) account, let it earn a return or interest and pay off the 0% monthly. Easy as that.

  • Ven

    Your return/interest is negated by the balance transfer fee (which most of these cards have) or you are taking a larger risk to earn a return over the fee. How many Slate cards can you have?

  • G

    Generally you are right–if someone gets a 0% APR b/c they are in financial trouble, the last thing they should be thinking about is points and putting spending on the card. However, the one time I can think of it being beneficial is if you want to put a big project on the card–maybe a bathroom renovation–and you don’t want to pay it all in one month. Then, you can pay for everything on the credit card up front, get the points, and then pay it off over the next year.

  • Ven

    Plenty? The entire purpose is to either float a balance from large purchase/bunch of purchases or transfer a balance from a higher APR credit card that you can’t/won’t pay off. Both cases, in my book, are dire financial straights.

  • djw

    I recently had an unexpected non-covered medical expense of several thousand dollars. I was able to apply for and receive the Chase Freedom card (with no fee and 15 months interest free) in time to settle the bill. Spreading the expense out over 15 months was a relief. Plus, I earned points on my misfortune.

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