Best 0% APR Credit Cards
One of the best reasons to apply for a new credit card is to get a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers, which can save you hundreds of dollars compared to carrying a balance at a typical APR of 18% or more. What's more, At the 0% APR cards on our short list cut out-of-pocket costs further by not charging an annual fee as well.
Best for: Balance transfers and bonus cash back Discover it® Balance Transfer
- INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
- Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
- Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
- 100% U.S. based customer service.
- Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
- Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
- No annual fee.
Best for: 0% intro APR for purchases and travel rewards Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
- Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
- Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 13.74%-23.74% variable APR after that
- Travel when you want with no blackout dates
- No foreign transaction fees
- Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
Best for: Big cash sign-up bonus Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
- Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
- Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Android Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
- No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
- Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
- 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 14.74%-26.74% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
- $0 Annual Fee
- Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
Best for: Long 0% intro APR offer Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
- 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 16.90%-26.74% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
- Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
- Free access to your FICO® Credit Score with Wells Fargo Online®
- Zero Liability protection for promptly reported unauthorized transactions
- Convenient tools to help create a budget and manage your spending with My Money Map
- $0 Annual Fee
- Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions
Best for: Unlimited cash rewards Capital One® Quicksilver® Card - 0% Intro APR for 15 Months
- One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
- No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
- 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that
- 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 14.74%-24.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
- Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Best for: Earn up to 5% cash back Chase Freedom®
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
- Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – it's automatic
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.74-25.49%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
- Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit JourneySM
- No annual fee
Best for: No balance transfer fee and cash rewards Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
Credit Rating Requirement:
- Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.74% to 25.74%.
- $0 balance transfer fee. Balance transfers must be requested within 60 days from account opening.
- 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 1x points on other purchases.
- Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
- Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
- No annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
Best for: Long 0% intro APR offer U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
Credit Rating Requirement:
- 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 20 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 11.74% - 23.74%
- Great Offer for Customers of U.S. Bank, a 2018 World's Most Ethical Company® - Ethisphere Institute, February 2018
- No Annual Fee
- Flexibility to choose a payment due date that fits your schedule
- Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your U.S.Bank Visa® Platinum Credit Card. Certain terms, conditions, and exclusions apply.
Get our latest tips and uncover more of our top picks to help you conquer your money goals
- Jump to
- How we picked the winners
- Why you can trust us
- What is a 0% APR
- How 0% purchase APRs work
- How to save money with a 0% purchase APR
- How you can save money with a 0% balance transfer APR
- A word on balance transfer fees
- 0% APRs -- What’s the catch?
- Why you should say “no” to 0% APR store cards
- How to use a 0% APR card offer
How we picked the winners
We think the best 0% APR credit cards share some common traits, including long 0% offer promos, minimal balance transfer fees, no annual fee, and access to a credit score to help monitor your credit. All four of these factors are outright essentials and we simply don’t think there’s a place cards on this list that don’t rank well in all four.
Why you can trust us
Together we’ve written more than 2,300 finance articles that have appeared on websites including Yahoo!, AOL, and USA Today. As credit card users, we’ve taken advantage of many of the best credit card offers on the market, ranging from 0% APR offers to sign-up bonuses on travel credit cards. In creating credit card rankings for The Ascent, we’ve reviewed more than 300 credit card offers on 6,000 data points to find the best cards for every need.
What is a 0% APR
An annual percentage rate (APR) measures the interest charged for carrying a balance on a credit card. When a card offers a 0% intro APR, it means that the card will not charge you interest on balances for a certain period of time (often six to 21 months) after account opening.
There are two types of 0% APRs offered by credit cards today:
- 0% intro APRs on purchases
- 0% intro APRs on balance transfers
Purchase balances refer to balances you incur by making purchases with the card. Balance transfer balances occur when you move a balance from one credit card to another. So, depending on whether you want to finance new purchases, or refinance existing credit card debt, you’ll want to be on the lookout for either a 0% purchase APR, 0% balance transfer APR, or a card that offers both.
How 0% purchase APRs work
When a card offers a 0% APR on purchases, that means it doesn’t charge interest on any balances you charge to the card, whether it’s paying for gas or buying a new refrigerator. This is why 0% credit card offers are particularly popular with people who have a purchase they’d like to finance.
Of course, the catch is that if you open a card that offers a 15 month 0% APR, any balances that remain after the 15 month period will begin to accrue interest at the card’s standard rate. Since credit cards typically carry interest rates in the double digits, you’ll want to be careful to pay down balances as quickly as possible to make the most of the 0% APR promo period. This is worth repeating: Cards that offer a 0% intro APR are not credit cards with no interest forever -- the 0% APR period is temporary.
Many people use 0% intro APRs to pay for unexpected car repairs, expensive medical bills, or other large charges that are more digestible when broken down into smaller monthly payments. Note, however, that a 0% intro APR doesn’t mean you won’t have to make payments. You’ll need to make at least the minimum payment (typically 3% of the balance) to avoid paying late fees or other penalties.
How to save money with a 0% purchase APR
A 0% intro APR on purchases can potentially save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest compared to carrying the same balance at an ordinary APR of 18%. The table below shows you how much you would save in interest by paying off a balance during a 0% intro APR period rather than paying off the same balance over the same time at an 18% APR.
|Time to pay off a $5,000 balance||Savings from 0% APR vs. 18% APR|
The amount you save varies based on the length of the 0% APR offer. Credit cards with no interest for 18 months offer more value than cards that offer 0% APRs for just six months, as the table above illustrates. But as long as you pay off the balance before the 0% intro APR period expires, you shouldn’t pay a dime in interest or fees.
How you can save money with a 0% balance transfer APR
If you have expensive credit card debt, it may pay to move the balance to a card that offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers. That’s because having a 0% intro APR allows you to pay down the balance faster since every payment is going toward paying down the balance, rather than paying pesky interest charges.
|Paying off a $5,000 balance over…||Monthly payment at 0% APR||Monthly payment at an 18% APR||Total savings|
One of the best things about a 0% intro APR balance transfer offer is that it can save you in interest while freeing up some of your monthly budget. Note that in our example above, a cardholder who moves a $5,000 balance at an 18% APR to a card with a 0% balance transfer offer can reduce their monthly payments by roughly $40 and save hundreds of dollars in interest along the way.
A word on balance transfer fees
One catch with balance transfers is that most cards charge a balance transfer fee to move a balance to them. The typical fee is equal to $5 or 3% of the amount transferred, whichever is greater, although others have fees that go up to 5% of the amount transferred.
The fee is added to the balance transfer, so if you move a $5,000 balance from one card to another at a 3% fee, the card you transferred the balance to will have a balance of $5,150 ($5,000 transfer plus a $150 fee). So, while you won’t pay interest during the promo period, you might pay a small amount in balance transfer fees to move the balance.
Paying a balance transfer fee can be justified by the amount you save in interest. You’d save more than $865 in interest if you move a $5,000 balance at an 18% APR to a card with a 21 month, 0% interest offer. Even after a 3% fee ($150), you’d still save more than $715 by moving your balance.
Helpful tip: Some balance transfer cards offer a 0% intro APR and waive their typical balance transfer fee when transfers are completed within 60 days from account opening. These cards are particularly good deals if you can pay off the balance transfer during the 0% intro APR period, since you’ll pay nothing in fees or interest to eliminate your debt for good.
0% APRs -- What’s the catch?
You have to be careful if you decide to use a card for balance transfers and purchases. That’s because some cards only offer 0% intro APRs on balance transfers, which means if you use the card for purchases, too, you could end up with a scenario where you build up high-interest purchase debt while your monthly payments go toward paying down the 0% APR balance.
You can avoid this problem by picking a card that offers 0% intro APRs on purchases and balance transfers for the same amount of time. This is by far the easiest solution, since many cards offer exactly that.
If your ideal card only offers a 0% intro APR on one type of balance, then there are two ways to avoid racking up a purchase balance and paying interest on it:
- Don’t use the card for another type of balance until the 0% APR balance is paid off, or until the 0% interest period expires.
- When your statement arrives, pay an amount equal to the minimum payment plus the high interest balance outstanding. To illustrate this point, suppose you have a $4,000 balance transfer at a 0% APR and a $500 purchase balance at an 18% APR. If your minimum payment that month is $150, you’ll want to pay $650 (minimum payment plus the $500 purchase balance) to avoid letting the purchase balance compound at a high interest rate.
Under the CARD Act of 2009, credit card companies are required by law to apply payments in excess of the minimum payment towards your highest APR balance. Knowing this rule can help you avoid building up high-interest balances while paying down a balance at a 0% intro APR.
Why you should say “no” to 0% APR store cards
Many retailers offer 0% intro APRs on store credit cards, but they rarely hold up to offers on ordinary general purpose credit cards (the technical name for credit cards that can be used anywhere). While 0% intro APRs on store cards may appear to match the offers you see on ordinary credit cards, there are a handful of reasons why it’s often a good idea to pass on store cards.
- Lower credit limits -- Store cards typically have lower credit limits since they’re meant to be used only at one store. Using store cards with low limits can harm your credit score, since carrying a balance greater than 30% of your credit limit is known to have a negative impact on your credit score.
- Shorter 0% intro APR periods -- While the best general purpose credit cards offer more than a year of 0% purchase APRs, store cards commonly offer intro periods that span only a few short months.
- No 0% balance transfers -- We’ve never seen a true store card offer a 0% APR on balance transfers, or balance transfers at all, for that matter.
- Higher ordinary interest rates -- When the 0% intro APR expires, a store card will typically revert to a higher interest rate than a general purpose credit card. Surveys show that more than half of store cards charge an APR in excess of 25%, well above the rate charged on general purpose credit cards.
- Retroactive interest -- Also known as “deferred interest,” store cards can charge you interest on the entirety of your balance (even the portion you paid off!) if you fail to pay off all of the balance during the 0% intro APR period. General purpose credit cards (the cards on this list) don’t charge retroactive interest on balances. Instead, no interest credit cards that can be used at more than one store only charge interest on balances that remain after the 0% APR period expires.
- Less utility -- A store card can generally only be used for purchases at one retailer, making it an unworkable solution for borrowing money to make multiple purchases from multiple vendors. It’s much easier to manage one card than several, making general purpose credit cards a “one-size-fits-all” solution to financing several major purchases.
How to use a 0% APR card offer
A few best practices can help ensure that you get the most value from a 0% intro APR and avoid costly mistakes (such as carrying a balance after the 0% APR expires). Here’s how to use a 0% intro APR card for best results.
- Ask when the 0% intro APR expires -- Call or send a secure message to your card company to find out the exact date when the 0% intro APR on your credit card will end and make a note of it. Seek to pay off your balance in full by this date. Don’t make the mistake of carrying a balance after the 0% period expires simply because you weren’t aware of the cutoff date.
- Avoid fees -- Some balance transfer cards waive balance transfer fees when you make a balance transfer within 60 days of account opening. To get the most benefit from these offers, you should make any balance transfers as soon as possible. Some cards let you make a balance transfer request at the time of application, ensuring that your balance transfer will be free of fees.
- Be smart about payments -- Remember, only payments in excess of your minimum payment will be applied to the highest APR balance. Therefore, if a card only offers a 0% intro APR on one type of balance (purchases or balance transfers), then make sure to pay an amount equal to your minimum payment plus the high APR balance each month. You’ll avoid a situation where you pay down a 0% intro APR balance while letting another type of balance build up at a double-digit APR.
- Keep your card open and active -- After the 0% intro APR period ends, it’s smart to use your card for a purchase every few months so it continues to report your good payment history to the credit bureaus. Having a card with a long history of 100% on-time payments can help boost your score over 800, a level where you’ll qualify for the best rates and terms on virtually any kind of financing.
- Weigh the value of rewards -- While rewards cards may give you cash back or travel value for using the card to make purchases, the longest 0% intro APRs are typically offered by cards that do not have rewards programs. Forgoing a rewards card may be smart if you need the extra time to pay down a balance before interest accrues.
To recap, here are the best 0% APR credit cards
- Best For…
Balance transfers and bonus cash back
0% intro APR for purchases and travel rewards
Big cash sign-up bonus
Long 0% intro APR offer
Unlimited cash rewards
Earn up to 5% cash back
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
No balance transfer fee and cash rewards
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
Long 0% intro APR offer