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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 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.
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 US 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.
Chase Slate and BankAmericard credit card
These no-annual-fee cards don’t earn you travel rewards or offer lucrative sign-up bonuses, but they earn a top spot on this list because they both waive 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 16.99-25.74% based on your creditworthiness.
The BankAmericard credit card offers 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases and for any balance transfers made within 60 days of opening your account. After the introductory period, a variable APR that’s currently 15.24-25.24% will apply.
After 60 days, balance transfers on the Chase Slate will carry a 5% (or $5 if greater) fee, and balance transfers on the BankAmericard will carry a 3% (or $10 if greater) fee.
U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card
If you need more time to pay off purchases or transferred balances, the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card offers 0% introductory APR for the first 18 billing cycles — but all balance transfers must be completed within the first 60 days after you open your account. After the first 18 billing cycles, or for balance transfers completed after the first 60 days, the APR will jump to 14.74% – 25.74%. Each balance transfer, even those within the first 60 days, incurs a fee of 3% (or $5 if greater).
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 16.24%-26.24% applies. But, the balance transfer fee of 5% on the Citi Simplicity Card makes the U.S. Bank Platinum Visa Card more attractive. If you can pay off the amount you need to transfer within 15 months, you’ll do better with the Chase Slate or BankAmericard, 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.
Both of these cards carry no annual fees 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 16.99-25.74% applies). With each card, you can earn $150 (or 15,000 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, and 1% cash back (or 1x points) on all other spending. The Chase Freedom Unlimited 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 or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
Discover it® Cash Back
If you’re looking to earn big cash back and initially enjoy 0% APR without paying an annual fee, this is probably the card for you. The Discover it® Cash Back comes with 14 months of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers and you can enroll each quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in specific categories and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, Discover will match your cash back on all purchases made in the first year of account opening. This means up to 10% cash back on quarterly categories and 2% cash back on all other purchases. Balance transfers incur a 3% fee, and after the 14-month introductory 0% APR period, a 14.24-25.24% standard variable purchase APR applies.
Both of these cards have no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and feature a welcome offer of $150 once you spend $500 on purchases within three months from account opening. Plus, both cards offer 0% intro APR for purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% fee) within 15 months from account opening. After 15 months, there’s a 15.24-25.24% variable APR but no balance transfer fee.
The cards mainly differ in their reward structures. The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card simply provides 1.5% cash back on all purchases while the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card provides 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% cash back at grocery stores and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
If you’re looking for a 0% intro APR card that provides better cash back earning on US supermarket purchases, the Blue Cash Everyday may be your card. It provides 3% cash back at US grocery stores on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 2% cash back at US gas stations and select US 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.
The Blue Cash Everyday has no annual fee and features 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months after which a variable APR of 15.24-26.24% will apply. In order to get the 0% intro APR on balance transfers, they must be completed within 60 days of your account opening. All balance transfers will incur a 3% fee or $5 fee, whichever is greater.
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.
Additional reporting by Katie Genter.
This is The Points Guy’s permanent page with the best currently available credit cards for 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.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.99-25.74%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- 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
- No minimum to redeem for cash back
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
- Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
- No annual fee