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Best Credit Cards With 0% APR Intro Periods

May 2024

A good credit card allows you to borrow money affordably while paying minimal fees and enjoying rewards for your spending. A card with a 0% intro APR period will save you the most on interest in the short term and help you pay back what you've borrowed faster.
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Credit cards with 0% APR intro periods save you money by lowering the cost of debt. If you don't have to pay interest, you can pay back what you've borrowed more quickly. A card with a 0% intro APR period is the best deal in the short term. Look for cards that offer an intro period that is longer than a year. However, if you tend to carry a balance most months, cards with a permanently low-interest-rate could save you more in the long run.
Here is our list of the best 0% APR credit card currently available.
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SuperMoney's Guide to the Best Credit Cards with Zero-Percent APR

In an effort to win the business of customers, many credit card companies have cards with enticing offers. One such offer is an interest-free or "0% APR" introductory period in which you don't have to pay interest on your purchases. This can be helpful when you want to make a big purchase, but you can't pay for it in cash or if you just need to carry over a balance for a few months.
However, there is more to 0% APR intro period credit cards than meets the eye. Here are some questions you should consider before choosing your next balance transfer credit card.

FAQs on 0% apr intro periods Credit Card

What does 0% APR mean?

The annual percentage rate, or APR, is the interest rate your credit card issuer charges on your credit card debt. Some cards charge a single rate for all debt on the card; others charge different rates for different kinds of debt (purchases, cash advances, etc.).
A 0% introductory APR offer means you won't be charged interest on your balance for a certain period, as determined by your credit card company. To take advantage of this offer, you'll need to make at least the minimum payments due on your statement.

What does the introductory period mean?

The term "introductory period" means the deal is offered for a limited amount of time after opening the card. After the introductory period, your rate will adjust to its actual amount, and you will be charged interest on your balances that carry over. So if you are going to use the card to make a big purchase, you'll want to ensure you can pay off as much as possible during the no-interest period.
An important thing to keep in mind is that if you're late with a payment, the issuer can cancel your 0% rate, leaving you paying high interest on a big balance.
Some cards don't have a 0% introductory period but instead offer you a super-low teaser rate, say 3%, or the prime rate. These are worth considering, too, especially if the ongoing rate is low.

How do 0% APR offers work?

Usually, when you use a credit card, you will have an annual percentage rate (APR) applied to your account. You will typically receive a bill after your billing cycle closes for the month. Credit card companies only require you to pay a percentage of your bill, known as the minimum payment due. However, if you do not pay the amount off in full, you will pay interest on the balance that carries over. You typically have a grace period of 25 days to pay off the entire balance before interest charges begin.
When you get a credit card with an interest-free introductory period, no interest will be charged on your balance during the promotional period, even if a balance is carried over. However, once the period ends, interest charges will begin.
For example, if you have a card with an introductory 0% purchase APR for 15 months. A "0% APR" means no interest will be charged for the first 15 months you have the card. Once that introductory period runs out, interest will be charged at the ongoing APR — but only on your balance going forward. There is no "retroactive" interest.
This can come in handy when you use a credit card for a sizeable purchase, such as furniture or a car repair. If you open the card, make the purchase and pay it off by the end of the promotional period, you won't have to pay any interest.

What is the difference between 0% APR and deferred interest?

Zero-percent periods on credit cards are different from the "no interest for 12 months" offers you see in stores. Those are known as "deferred interest" offers. In those offers, you don't have to pay interest during the promotional period. However, interest is silently being calculated in the background. If you have any balance remaining at the end of the period, you will be charged interest on your entire purchase, going all the way back to the time of purchase. That could cost you hundreds of dollars.

What credit card has the longest interest-free period?

One of the first things to look for when shopping for a credit card with an interest-free introductory period is how long the promotional period will last. This can vary greatly from as little as six months to 21 months or more. The longer the offer, the better. However, offers with longer periods will usually have stricter approval requirements.
Some of the longest 0% APR credit cards are the HSBC Gold Mastercard Credit Card (0% for 18 months on purchases), the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card (0% for 18 months on purchases), and the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card (0% for 18 months on purchases). They all have $0 annual fees but watch out for transfer fees. To see some of the cards with the longest 0% APR on balance transfers, see our page about the best balance transfer cards.
Some store cards may offer 0% interest for longer than 18 months, but chances are they are using "deferred interest." That is, you earn interest on your balance during the 0% period but don’t have to pay that interest if and only if you bring your balance to $0 before the 0% period ends. The JCPenney Card is one example, offering 48 months of deferred interest. But those cards are best avoided because there’s a chance you’ll get blindsided by interest charges. So they’re not really eligible to be in the running for the longest 0% APR.

Are 0% interest credit cards good?

One of the best uses of a 0% interest credit card offer is to make a large purchase interest-free. However, that only works if you can pay off the balance before the interest rate comes back. When it does, it might be very high, so know the interest rate after the introductory period and plan accordingly.
With any card, watch your balance. For the sake of your credit scores, it's best to keep your balance under 30% of the credit limit on the card. A balance of under 10% is even better. When balances rise above 30% of credit limits, scoring formulas start to interpret that as a sign of financial stress.

Will credit cards extend the 0% interest period?

Introductory periods are the honeymoons of 0% interest credit cards: They're great while they last, but they don't last forever. An introductory period is the fixed amount of time — usually 6 to 18 months — that a credit card issuer doesn't charge interest.
Try to eliminate as much debt as possible before that introductory period ends and the interest resets to its ongoing rate. A 0% card should be a tool for getting rid of debt, not just a place to park debt and forget about it.
If your intro APR period is ending, you can consider using a balance transfer credit card with a 0% APR introductory period to move the remaining balance over to a new card so you can continue to chip away at the debt. Make sure to take a look at balance transfer cards with no balance transfer fee.
If you find yourself moving debt from one 0% card to another but never paying it down, it's time to consider other ways to get out of debt.

Does 0% APR mean no interest?

A 0% APR means that you pay no interest on new purchases and balance transfers for a certain period. The best 0% APR credit cards give 15-18 months without interest.

Do you pay any interest on 0% credit cards?

With 0% APR cards, you don't pay interest during the introductory period. But all good things must come to an end, and the interest-free introductory period is no exception. Once it ends, the APR you are given will become very important.
You can keep using your purchase credit card after the 0% period, but any existing balance will be subject to interest, and any new purchases may also attract an interest charge. If you repay the balance in full every month, you won't be charged interest - even when the 0% period is over. The credit card industry refers to these people as "transactors" — someone who uses their card for convenience and rewards and pays the bill in full every month.
On the other hand, if you're a "revolver" — someone who uses cards to float purchases they can't pay off all at once and carries debt from month to month — then your APR is critical because it dictates how much you pay in interest.
Credit card companies will have a range of APRs and will decide which one applies to your account based on your creditworthiness. Check the range offered by the card companies you are considering, and be sure to note what rate you qualify for if you are approved.

How do you qualify for a 0% APR credit card?

Each credit card company sets its own credit requirements. Some are more lenient and accept fair credit, while others are more strict and only accept excellent credit.
Credit card companies will run a credit check to determine the level of risk involved in lending to you. You will need to have a sufficient credit score to get approved. It's a good idea to check your credit score before applying. Then review the credit requirements of cards you are interested in. There is no point in applying for cards you know you can't qualify for.

Do 0% APR cards come with rewards?

Rewards are returns a card offers you for your spending. For example, cash-back reward programs offer you back a percentage of your purchases in cash. You might earn 1% cashback on all purchases, so you would get $100 back if you spent $10,000. Sometimes the cash-back reward is based on a percentage of all purchases, while other times, the percentage earned is based on spending in specific categories such as gas or groceries. Another example is an airplane mile reward system in which you earn miles in return for your spending. You can then purchase airplane tickets using the miles you have racked up.
Not all cards with 0% introductory periods will have a rewards program in place, but if they do, you will save on interest costs while gaining the additional returns. The best 0% interest credit cards — those with 0% APR periods of 18 months or more — generally don't offer rewards, so once the 0% interest period runs out, there's not a lot of incentive to use the card unless the card offers a low ongoing rate.
These 0% APR cards are meant for financing rather than regular spending. You can use a different card for purchases you’ll pay in full each month.

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