If you’re struggling with some credit card debt or need to make a large purchase, a low-interest credit card with 0% APR for up to 18 months might be right for you. In theory, you should be paying off your balance in full each month, but sometimes things happen, or you want a longer timeframe to pay off big-ticket items. If you’re interested in an interest-free credit card, check out our list, apply online in minutes, and start responsibly enjoying 0% APR today.
The Simple Dollar’s best low-interest credit cards for 0% APR
- Best for balance transfers
Discover it® Balance Transfer
- Best for business purchases
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card (currently unavailable)
- Best for everyday purchases
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Best for cash back rewards
Discover it® Cash Back
Best for balance transfers
If the reason you’re looking at low-interest credit cards is to do a balance transfer, then the best card to consider is the Discover it® Balance Transfer. As a cardholder, you’ll benefit from a year and a half of introductory 0% APR on balance transfers giving you a nice, long window to pay down credit card debt without incurring more interest charges. Additionally, you can take advantage of six months of 0% intro APR on new purchases with the card and then the ongoing APR of 14.24% – 25.24% Variable APR.
Another great perk is the rewards. With the card, you’ll earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, you’ll earn 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases.
There’s a lot to love about the Discover it® Balance Transfer — 18 months of 0% introductory APR on balance transfers and six months interest-free payments on new purchases (then ongoing 14.24% – 25.24% Variable APR), as well as lots of cash back opportunities!
Best for business purchases
As a small business owner, you may need to make large business purchases time and again, and with the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card you can take advantage of introductory 0% APR for 12 months on both purchases and balance transfers. If you use the card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first three months, you’ll also enjoy a $500 signup bonus.
Cardmembers can take advantage of 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year. You’ll also earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent on combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year, plus earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
If the thought of incurring interest is holding you back from growing your small business, then the Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card may be an interest-free credit card to consider.
Best for everyday purchases
Anyone with a large family or who makes a lot of everyday purchases — such as groceries and gas — will benefit from the perks of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, including low interest (See Rates & Fees).
Cardholders will also have the opportunity to earn a lot of cash back. You’ll earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. The high-rates rewards for grocery shopping mean that spending just $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn you more than $180 in cash back per year.
With the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express you’ll benefit from low interest when doing balance transfers (See Rates & Fees) or making large purchases, but then you’ll also benefit from high-rate rewards as you continue to use the card.
Best for cash back rewards
If your goal is to pay off a balance or large purchase and earn cash back rewards, then the Discover it® Cash Back may be the best option for you. With the second-longest low-interest period on our list, card members will enjoy 14 months of introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers allowing you to pay off balances or large purchases without extra interest costs (then ongoing 14.24% – 25.24% Variable APR).
In addition to the extended low-interest period, cardholders will also enjoy earning 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, you’ll earn 1% unlimited cash back automatically on all other purchases. What’s even more exciting is that Discover offers a dollar-for-dollar match of all of your cash back earnings at the end of your first year for new cardmembers.
Anyone wanting to pay off balances with an interest-free credit card while also earning rewards quickly should look into the Discover it® Cash Back as an option.
How does a 0 (zero) interest credit card work?
A 0 (zero) interest credit card works to help you pay off a balance or large purchase by extending introductory 0% APR for a set amount of time, typically between 12 and 18 months. This lengthy interest-free window allows you to make payments without incurring extra costs.
For instance, if you were paying $250 a month toward a $3,000 balance on a 15% interest card, it would take you about 14 months to pay it off and cost an extra $268.59 in interest. However, with an interest-free credit card, you could make the same $250 payment a month and pay off the balance in 12 months without paying any extra interest. You can use our debt payoff calculator to explore how different interest rates may affect your debt and payments.
The key is to have a plan to pay your balance off in full before the extended 0% APR period ends. Additionally, you’ll want to keep an eye on balance transfer fees to ensure they won’t cost you more than you’d pay in interest on the original card.
What are balance transfer fees and APR rates?
Balance transfers are among the common reasons for obtaining a low-interest credit card, so APR and its corresponding fees are other key factors. During the introductory 0% APR period, most of the recommended low-interest cards offer 0% APR on balance transfers and purchases. And during the introductory period and after, most of the cards also charge a balance transfer fee. This fee is usually a percentage or set amount — for instance, either $5 or 3% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater.
What is APR and how is it determined?
Credit cards’ interest rates — the price you pay for borrowing money — are generally listed as a yearly rate or annual percentage rate (APR). Upon examining the terms and conditions of each card, you’ll notice that within each APR category, there are often several potential percentages listed, and those percentages are wide-ranging. That range of numbers represents the interest rates you may be charged based on your credit score. In general, the better your credit score, the lower your APR.
Generally, credit card companies calculate their variable interest rates based on the Federal Reserve’s Prime Rate. You should also know that according to 2009’s Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act, your credit card company must notify you 45 days in advance of changing the terms of your agreement, such as updates to interest rates and fees. You must have the opportunity to cancel the card before changes go into effect.
The bottom line
If you have some debt you want to pay off or plan on making a large purchase soon, a low-interest credit card with 0% APR may be an option to give you a longer period of time to make payments without incurring extra costs. The two most important things to consider are the balance transfer fees and the extended APR period. Make sure that the fee is less than you’ll pay in interest on your current card and that you have a plan to pay off the debt or the purchase within the set interest-free timeframe.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.
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