The top no-annual-fee credit cards with a 0% intro APR
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest credit card information and benefits.
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 often 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. But 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. As an added bonus, none of these cards charge an annual fee, so you can focus on getting out of debt without incurring any additional costs.
How do 0% APR credit cards work?
0% APR credit cards work by offering new cardholders the opportunity to make purchases without incurring interest. These offers are generally good for anywhere from the first nine to 20 months of ownership, depending on the card issuer. A 0% APR offer usually takes the place of a traditional cash or points sign-up bonus, so don’t expect to earn any additional offer from these cards. Your reward for signing up is the promotional 0% APR period, which depending on the size of your debt and your current interest rates could be worth much more than any points you would have received from other cards.
What are the main benefits of 0% APR credit cards?
While it should be obvious that making purchases without accruing interest is a major benefit all on its own, there are other opportunities for use of a 0% interest card. As mentioned above, in the event of an emergency, such as an unexpected vet visit or health visit, these cards can be a lifesaver while you catch up.
They can also be used to help finance one-time purchases, such as getting a new roof or remodeling the bathroom. Of course, as always, we heavily recommend you pay the balance off before the promotion expires in order to avoid paying any interest. You should also be careful not to use a 0% APR card as an excuse to spend beyond your means. Instead, you should treat this like one element of your emergency fund and only tap into it when necessary.
How to choose the best 0% APR card
Everyone’s needs are different, so you’ll need to choose the best credit card for you. This is especially true if you’re looking to earn rewards while you spend. All of the cards below offer varied amounts of rewards for the money you spend, and you can choose which is best for you depending on their fees, reward categories, and which bank issuers the card.
The best no annual fee credit cards with low intro APR:
- Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (see rates and fees)
- Chase Freedom
- Chase Slate
- Citi Simplicity® Card
The information for the Chase Slate, Citi Simplicity and Chase Freedom has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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 usually 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 U.S. military members, Barclays and Citi will lower your interest rate to 0% for all products opened prior to active duty 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.
Related reading: The best credit cards for active duty military
If you’re looking for a 0% intro APR card that provides better cash-back earning on U.S. supermarket purchases, the Blue Cash Everyday may be your card (see rates and fees). It provides 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 select U.S. department stores; and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, it offers a welcome bonus of a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of account opening.
The Blue Cash Everyday has no annual fee (see rates and fees) and features 0% intro APR on purchases for the first 15 months, after which a variable APR of 13.99%-23.99% will apply (see rates and fees).
This card carries no annual fees and can earn you significant Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The card offers a 0% APR for 15 months for new purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99% – 23.74% applies. With the card, you can earn $200 (or 20,000 bonus points) after spending $500 in the first three months. Note that balance transfers don’t count toward the $500 spending requirement.
The standard Chase Freedom offers 5% cash back (or 5x points) on rotating quarterly bonus categories, capped at $1,500 in spending per quarter (activation required), and 1% cash back (or 1x points) on all other spending. The Chase Freedom Unlimited, a similar card, 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 if you make a lot of purchases that fall outside of a bonus spending category.
To earn points rather than cash back with these cards, you also need to hold an Ultimate Rewards-earning card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
The information for the Ink Business Preferred card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related reading: Maximize your wallet with the perfect quartet of Chase credit cards
This no-annual-fee 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.
The Chase Slate offers 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers from account opening; after these 15 months the APR jumps to 14.99%-23.74% variable based on your creditworthiness. After 60 days, balance transfers on the Chase Slate will carry a 5% (or $5 if greater) fee.
Citi Simplicity® Card
The Citi Simplicity Card offers 0% intro APR on balance transfers for slightly longer (21 months) when you complete the balance transfer within the first four months after you open your account. After the introductory period, a variable APR of 14.74% to 24.74% applies. If you can pay off the amount you need to transfer within 15 months, you’ll do better with the Chase Slate, though, since these cards don’t feature balance transfer fees when they’re initially opened. However, unless you need to move over a significant balance, it may be more worthwhile to choose a card that earns you cash back or points.
There are several solid credit cards offering a 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.
Additional reporting by Katie Genter and Carissa Rawson.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday Card, please click here.
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page with the best currently available credit cards for a 0% intro APR, so you can bookmark it and check back regularly for updates. Keep in mind you may see some reader comments referring to older offers below.