When it comes to managing your money and your credit cards, there are a lot of best practices to employ -- such as not being late with payments, lest your interest rate gets increased. It's also important, though, to be sure you're using a credit card that's designed to serve you best.
If you're carrying revolving debt on your credit card(s), or tend to do so now and then, you might be well served using a card that charges low interest rates. Below are some of the best low-interest-rate credit cards for your review.
Note that each is best for people who seek low rates -- but each will vary in how perfect it is for you. Learn more about these contenders to see which one(s) make the most sense given your needs, preferences, and charging habits.
What to know about low-interest rate cards
One thing to know about most credit cards is that they don't typically feature a single interest rate. Instead, there will be a range, and you'll get a rate at the low end of the range, depending on how creditworthy you're deemed to be -- in large part via your credit score.
Also, some low-interest rate cards feature the lowest rate of all -- 0%! -- but that zero rate will only be temporary. A good zero-interest card will maintain that teaser rate for a year to 18 months. That can be perfect for someone carrying debt who wants to do a balance transfer and pay it off as soon as possible.
If you decide to transfer your balances, check to see what fees, if any, are charged for that. Some cards charge nothing, while others might charge 3% or 5% or so of the sum you transfer, which could amount to hundreds of dollars, which kind of defeats the purpose.
Best low-interest-rate cards
Below are some of the best low-interest credit cards that are likely to keep your interest costs relatively low. Each offers a suite of other benefits, as well.
- Barclaycard Ring MasterCard: This card charges no balance transfer fee, and its initial annual percentage rate (APR) is 0% for the first 15 months for transfers made within 45 days of opening the account. After the introductory period, the APR for purchases, balances owed, and balance-transfer sums (but not cash advances) will be variable, tied to the prime rate. Its rates are quite competitive -- and it doesn't levy a penalty APR, either, if you're late paying a bill. The Barclaycard Ring MasterCard also offers online access to your FICO credit score, which can be handy if you're working hard to pay off debts and beef up your score -- perhaps in preparation for getting a mortgage, or taking on other debt. It doesn't charge foreign transaction fees, either, which is nice if you travel outside the U.S. There's no annual fee. (Read our full review of Barclaycard Ring MasterCard to learn more.)
- BankAmericard®: BankAmericard® also charges no annual fee, though it does charge a balance transfer fee of 3% of the value of your transfer (or $10, whichever is greater). Its initial APR is 0% for the first 18 billing cycles for transfers made within 60 days of opening the account. After that, the APR is, "Our lowest available interest rate among all BankAmericard credit card products." Its rate, too, will fluctuate along with prevailing interest rates -- and if you're late paying a bill, you may be slapped with a steep "penalty APR," costing you a lot in interest due to a much higher interest rate. (So don't be late!) BankAmericard® also offers online or mobile access to your FICO credit score. (Read our full review of BankAmericard® to learn more.)
- Citi Simplicity Card -- No Late Fees Ever: This card features no annual fee, along with "no late fees ever" and "no penalty rate ever." For balance transfers, it charges a fee of 3% of the value of your transfer, or $5 -- whichever is greater. Its initial APR is 0% for 21 months for both purchases and balance transfers. After that, its low variable APR applies. The Citi Simplicity Card does not feature a penalty APR -- in other words, if you pay a bill late, it won't jack up your interest rate astronomically, as many cards will. (Read our full review of Citi Simplicity Card to learn more.)
- Discover it Card: This card doesn't have the lowest interest rates around, but its rates are still relatively low -- plus it offers cash back rewards. That makes for an appealing combination. (Note that if you're deeply in debt, it's not ideal for you, as you shouldn't be spending very much and should be aiming to be charged as little interest as possible.) The Discover it Card charges no annual fee, and it includes your FICO score on each statement. The cash-back feature pays you 5% back on purchases in rotating categories (such as restaurants, gas stations, or Amazon.com), and 1% back on all other purchases. Spend $1,000 per month and you can expect at least $10 back per month, or $120 per year, and it can easily be more than that. (Read our full review of Discover it Card to learn more.)
Don't just apply for, or own, any old credit card. They may all look similar, but some serve you better than others. Be sure to read the fine print and terms for any card of interest, too -- as some might delight or dismay you. Some, for example, may limit how big a balance transfer you can make, while others might be offering an enticing sign-up bonus. Some may favor customers with above-average credit scores, too.