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While we don’t ever recommend carrying a balance on a credit card, there are times when a large purchase or emergency situation arises and having a 0% APR credit card can be a lifesaver. 0% APR credit cards also apply the 0% rate to balance transfers, which can give you time to pay down large debt and allow you to utilize one of these cards as a critical step in your debt-reduction strategy. You must be disciplined and organized to ensure you don’t go beyond the 0% APR time period or miss making payments, which incur further fees. Today, I’ll cover the best credit cards that offer 0% APR for an introductory period.
Before diving into the list, it’s important to note that if you’re signing up for one of these cards in order to transfer the balance from a high-interest-rate credit card, you won’t get away scot-free. Most cards will charge a 3-5% balance transfer fee. Balance transfers also do not count toward minimum spending to trigger sign-up bonuses, and you don’t earn rewards on balance transfers.
Finally, as a reminder to active duty US military members, Barclaycard among other card issuers will lower your interest rate for all products to 0% for the duration of your active service. This can be a blessing and a curse, depending on whether you can withstand the temptation to spend with no interest, but it is an option to lower any debt you currently have.
This card doesn’t earn you travel rewards or offer a lucrative sign-up bonus, but it earns a top spot on this list because it waives balance transfer fees for the first 60 days your account is open. (After 60 days, balance transfers will carry a 5% fee, with a minimum of $5). If you need to move over a significant balance, this could be a great option. Otherwise, it could be more worthwhile to choose a card that earns you cash back or points — and all the options below have no annual fee.
Both of these cards carry no annual fee and can earn you significant Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The cards each offer 0% APR for 15 months for new purchases and balance transfers (then a variable APR of 15.49% to 24.24% applies). With both the Chase Freedom and the Chase Freedom Unlimited, you can currently earn $150 (or 15,000 bonus points) after spending $500 in the first three months, plus $25 (or 2,500 points) for adding an authorized user who makes a purchase in the first three months. Note that balance transfers don’t count toward the $500 spending requirement.
The standard Chase Freedom Card offers 5% cash back (or 5x points) on rotating quarterly bonus categories capped at $1,500 in spending per quarter, and 1% cash back (or 1x points) on all other spending. The Chase Freedom Unlimited Card, launched earlier this year, earns 1.5% cash back (or 1.5x points) on all spending, making it a great option if you don’t want to be bothered with tracking quarterly categories or make a lot of purchases that fall outside of a bonus spending category. To earn points rather than cash back with these two cards, you also need to hold an Ultimate Rewards-earning card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card or the Chase Ink Plus Business Card.
If you’re looking to earn big cash back and enjoy 0% APR without paying an annual fee, this is probably the card for you. The Discover it Card comes with 12 months of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers, in addition to offering 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories (capped at $1,500 per quarter) and 1% cash back on all other purchases. What makes the Discover it Card especially hot on this list is the current promotion where Discover will match your cash back on all purchases made in the first year of account opening. This means 10% cash back on quarterly categories and 2% cash back on all other purchases. After the 12-month introductory 0% APR period, a 11.49% to 23.49% standard variable purchase APR applies.
I’ve become a big fan of this card because of the intro rewards period where you can earn an uncapped 5x points on all grocery store, drugstore and gas purchases. Because you can redeem points toward airfare at 1.5 cents each, this means you have 6 months of unlimited 7.5% cash-back rewards earnings toward airfare from spending in the bonus categories. This card comes with no annual fee and 15 months of 0% APR for purchases and balance transfers, (after that the variable APR will be 12.65%-26.49%), but no sign-up bonus.
Membership Rewards are some of the most valuable transferable points you can earn, and this card lets you accrue them without paying an annual fee. The EveryDay Card also offers 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months, after which APR will be 13.49% to 23.49%. The current sign-up bonus is 10,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months of account opening (though you may be targeted for an offer of 15,000 points after spending $1,000 or 25,000 points after spending $2,000). You’ll earn 2x points at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year) and 1x points on everything else. You’ll also get a 20% bonus on any points earned each statement if you use the card for 20 or more transactions.
There are several solid credit cards offering 0% APR for an introductory period, and you can earn valuable rewards or cash back — without paying an annual fee — as you work to pay down any outstanding debt. Just make sure you stay on top of your payments and know exactly when the introductory period ends to avoid getting hit with steep fees.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
What’s your favorite credit card that offers 0% APR?
- Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.49-24.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- Redeem for cash — any amount, anytime
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
- No annual fee