Our Picks: Best 0% APR Credit Cards
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
Why this is one of the best 0% introductory APR credit cards: The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card provides a 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 billing cycles. After that, a variable APR currently 18.74% – 28.74%.. You will pay a balance transfer fee of either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater, but you won’t pay an annual fee for this card. There is no rewards program, but you’ll get up to $600 in cellphone protection if you pay your monthly bill with the card. See our full review.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Why this is one of the best 0% introductory APR credit cards: Pay no interest on purchases for 15 months with the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% back on dining (including takeout and delivery services) and drugstore, and 1.5% back on all other purchases. Additionally, you can earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. The card also offers a bonus of $200 after you spend $500 in the first three months. See our full review.
Discover it® Cash Back
Why this is one of the best 0% introductory APR credit cards: With Discover it Cash Back, you’ll get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (then a 15.74% – 26.74% Variable APR *Rates as of December 15, 2022 applies). Cash back rewards sweeten the deal. The card offers 5% cash back each quarter in rotating categories, such as Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. All other purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back. Cardholders pay no annual fee, and Discover matches your cash back earnings at the end of the first year. See our full review.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Why this is one of the best 0% introductory APR credit cards: While you earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 annually, then 1%), 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%, and 3% Cash Back on U.S. online retail purchases, on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%., and 1% back on other purchases, you also have 15 months of 0% APR on purchases to take advantage of. When the intro offer expires, the ongoing APR is 18.24% to 29.24% variable, based on factors such as your creditworthiness. Plus, you can earn up to $250 – Here’s How: Earn up to $150 back when you shop with PayPal. Earn 20% back as a statement credit on purchases when you use your new Card to check out with PayPal at merchants in the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $150 back. Plus, earn $100 back as a statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. See our full review.
Discover it® Miles
Why this is one of the best 0% intro APR credit cards: With the Discover it Miles card get a 0% intro APR rate on purchases for 15 months (then 15.74% – 26.74% Variable APR *Rates as of December 15, 2022 applies). The card has solid rewards, too. Earn unlimited 1.5 miles for every dollar you spend. Discover has a unique bonus and will match all the miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Plus, unlike most travel credit cards, it doesn’t charge an annual fee. See our full review.
Discover it® chrome
Why this is one of the best 0% introductory APR credit cards: Discover it chrome gives cardholders a 15-month 0% introductory annual percentage rate on purchases and balance transfers and charges no annual fee. After the intro period, there is a 15.74% – 26.74% Variable APR *Rates as of December 15, 2022 that applies. Gas and restaurant purchases earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and all other purchases get 1% back. See our full review.
Wells Fargo Reflect® Card
Why this is one of the best 0% introductory APR credit cards: The Wells Fargo Reflect card comes with a 0% intro APR for up to 21 months from account opening, and cardholders can extend the promotional period by three months as long as they make all of their minimum payments on time. You’ll have 120 days after opening your account to make balance transfers at the promotional APR, and the annual fee is $0. See our full review.
Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card
Why this is one of the best 0% introductory APR credit cards: The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards credit card offers a 0% intro APR on purchases for 18 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. It also offers a None. On top of the 0% APR offer, the card earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limits, and cash back never expires. There is a $0 annual fee. See our full review.
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card
Why this is one of the best 0% introductory APR credit cards: This card has a 0% intro APR on purchases for 18 billing cycles and 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days and balance transfers made within 60 days of opening the account. After that, the card charges a 16.99% to 26.99% variable APR. See our full review.
BankAmericard® credit card
Why this is one of the best 0% introductory APR credit cards: For the first 18 months of membership, cardholders receive a None. There is no penalty APR for this card and it doesn’t have an annual fee. See our full review.
U.S. News Survey
U.S. News Survey: Almost Half of Parents Are Very Worried Inflation Will Impact Back-to-School Shopping This Year
Additional Survey Insights
Most respondents expect the quality of the deals to impact where they do their back-to-school shopping a moderate (40.1%) or substantial amount (31.6%).
Almost a third (31.9%) of respondents plan to buy second hand products this year.
Physical stores are the shopping location of choice for a large number of respondents, with 41.8% planning to just shop in person and 37.7% planning to online and in-person an equal amount.
Inflation is causing people to cut back, with almost two-thirds (66.1%) of respondents planning to reduce back-to-school spending as a result of it.
U.S. News Survey Methodology
- U.S. News ran a nationwide survey of 1,210 respondents between July 13 and July 15, 2022, through PureSpectrum. Only parents of students in grades K-12 answered questions.
- The survey drew a sample from the American population aged 18 to 64 and was configured to be representative of this sample.
- The survey asked 10 questions related to back-to-school spending and inflation.
How Do 0% APR Credit Cards Work?
A credit card with a 0% introductory APR can give you an opportunity to make purchases and balance transfers without paying any interest for a set period of time. The amount of time varies by issuer, but it generally ranges from 12 to 21 months.
You’re still required to make monthly payments, but if you opt to carry a balance into the next month, you won’t be charged interest during the introductory period. But note that once the intro period ends, your remaining balance will be subject to interest at your new APR until you pay it off.
The good news is that the interest isn’t retroactive. So, if you have a $1,000 balance on your card and the intro period ends, you start paying interest from that point. You’re not liable for deferred interest, as is often the case on no-interest purchases advertised by big retailers. But the bad news is that credit cards use compound interest on balances, which means your balance can increase rapidly if you continue to revolve it.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you have a 19% APR on a $1,000 balance. If you make monthly payments of $50, it will take you around two years to pay off your $1,000 balance. You’ll end up paying $1,209 in total, which includes $209 in interest. So what was originally a 0% APR has cost you $209 because you revolved a balance after the 0% intro rate ended.
Bottom line: A 0% APR credit card can be a wonderful way to save money, but only if you aren’t carrying a balance when the intro rate ends.
- Interest-free period: For a set time, you get a 0% introductory APR. During that period, you don’t have to pay interest on purchases.
- Good for large purchases: You can carry a balance over a year or longer without being charged interest. This is ideal for purchases such as appliances, furniture and electronics.
- Ideal for paying off debt: If you have high-interest credit card debt, transferring the balance to a 0% interest credit card can save you interest expense while paying down debt.
- Earn rewards on purchases: Many 0% APR credit cards also offer rewards. So, you can earn rewards on purchases and avoid paying interest if you carry a balance.
- Time limit on the 0% APR: You do get to enjoy an interest-free credit card for the duration of the introductory period, which ranges from 12 to 21 months.
- Interest rate goes up: It’s important to know when the introductory rate ends and when your interest rate goes up. Ideally, you don’t want to have an outstanding balance when this happens.
- Balance transfer fees: If you’re using a 0% card for a balance transfer, you may have to pay a 3% to 5% fee.
- Late payments: With many of the 0% APR credit cards, you’ll lose the introductory rate if you make late payments. Then you’d have to pay off the remaining balance at a higher interest rate. In some cases, you might even be hit with a penalty APR, which is often around 29.99%.
How Can 0% APR Credit Cards Help You Save?
On a 0% APR credit card, your balance doesn’t accrue any interest during the introductory period as long as you make at least the minimum payment each month. This can offer significant savings if you’re paying off a balance over time. It’s like getting an interest-free loan.
Here are just a few ways a 0% APR credit card can save you money:
- When you have medical expenses, you can plan to use a 0% APR card and pay the debt off during the intro period. Medical credit cards are another option, but they typically have deferred interest.
- If you have multiple debts, you can get a 0% APR balance transfer credit card and pay no interest on the debt while you pay it off (or at least reduce it) during the intro period.
- When you have a big expense coming up, such as a new roof or car repairs, using a 0% card gives you an interest-free loan, as long as you can pay off your balance before the intro period ends.
Of course, the key is paying off the debt before the introductory period ends. Do the math and determine how much your monthly payment needs to be to pay it off within that time frame.
Example: You have $2,000 in medical expenses that you put on your 0% APR credit card. Your card has an 18-month 0% introductory APR. The calculation: $2,000 / 18 = $111.11 per month.
Note: It’s a little different if you make a $2,000 balance transfer to your card at a 0% transfer APR, because there could be a 3% to 5% transfer fee. In the above example, with a 3% fee, you’d include $60 ($2,000 x .03) in the amount to pay back: $2,060 / 18 = $114.44 per month.
How Can You Choose the Best No-Interest Credit Card?
Now that you know how you can benefit from 0% credit cards, you can choose which card is the best fit for you. It may seem like a daunting task, but all you need to do is focus on these factors:
- Length of offer. Zero interest introductory offers on purchases and balance transfers usually range from 12 to 21 months. There are some cards that only offer a 0% rate on purchases or on balance transfers. But some cards will offer a 0% intro rate on both, though the two intro periods can have different lengths.
- Balance transfer fee. Now and then, an issuer waives this fee. Usually, it’s between 3% and 5% of the total amount transferred. The fee is then added to the total amount you have to pay back.
- Annual fee. Some 0% APR cards don’t charge annual fees. But credit cards with great rewards often charge this fee. It varies by issuer, and some will waive the fee for the first year. When you’re choosing a card based on rewards, be sure you consider the cost of the annual fee.
- Credit score. The best credit card offers go to those who have good to excellent credit, so get your score as high as possible before you apply for a 0% APR credit card. And the higher your score, the lower the APR you’ll be granted after the intro period.
How Can You Make the Most of 0% APR Card Offers?
An interest-free credit card can be an exciting tool to have at your disposal, even though the perk is temporary. But it’s important to use 0% APR cards strategically and responsibly, remembering that the free ride doesn’t last forever and you still have to make payments during the promotional period.
- Make at least minimum payments. If your payment is late or is less than the minimum, you could lose your 0% rate and be charged interest at the regular APR. You may also have to pay a late fee, and your balance could start accruing interest at a penalty APR if you’re late by 60 days or more. Late payments can also decrease your credit score.
- Understand how payments apply. When you pay more than the minimum required, that money goes toward whatever balance has the highest interest rate first. If you take out a cash advance on your 0% APR card, any amount you pay over the minimum due will typically apply to your cash advance balance first. Since cash advances come with high APRs, fees and no grace period, it’s best to avoid cash advances altogether.
- Factor in other costs. Some 0% APR cards have an annual fee or a balance transfer fee, which is usually around 3% to 5% of the amount you’re transferring.
- Plan ahead. If you know you have a large purchase coming up, start shopping for 0% APR cards about three weeks before you need to make the purchase. Approval can take a few business days and getting the card in the mail can take about a week and a half, depending on the issuer.
- Know when your offer expires. Your goal is to pay off your balance before your introductory period expires, so make sure you know exactly when that is. Verify the date with your credit card company so you know when you need to pay your balance in full and can get the most value out of your interest-free offer.
How Does a 0% Credit Card Compare With a Low-Interest Card?
A low-interest credit card is not the same as a 0% credit card. With a 0% intro offer, you get that rate for a specified amount of time, usually 12 to 21 months. A 0% card is useful when you have a large expense and you’d like to have a year or more to pay it off. This is a less expensive approach compared with a personal loan or a credit card that charges interest on balances.
With a low-interest credit card, your low APR isn’t a promotional rate that will expire after a certain number of months. This is your rate, unless you miss a payment or your issuer decides to raise it for another reason.
A low-interest credit card is often an excellent choice for emergencies. There might be times when you face a crisis and need to use a credit card to float a balance for a month or two. It’s never ideal to carry a balance, but if you find yourself in a financial crisis, it’s good to have a low-interest credit card to help you get through it.
If you can’t get approved for – or decide not to get – a 0% interest credit card, here are a few other options:
- Personal loan: If you need a few years to pay for a big item, getting a loan could be much less expensive than using a credit card. A 0% rate lasts for a short time and then your balance must be paid off at the regular APR. Since credit cards usually have higher interest rates than loans, you’d pay less interest with a loan.
- Low interest card: There are credit cards that have low ongoing interest rates. With these cards, you don’t have to worry about going from 0% interest to a much higher rate after the introductory period ends.
- Peer-to-peer lending: As opposed to borrowing from traditional sources, such as banks, this type of lending is funded by individual and corporate investors. With a good credit score, you can get competitive interest rates.
- Debt consolidation loan: If you have debt on multiple cards, but your score isn’t high enough to qualify for a balance transfer card, debt consolidation might be the answer. You can combine your debts into one fixed-rate loan. Most likely, his will cost less than paying interest on several high-APR credit cards.
U.S. News has been helping consumers make money decisions for decades. For our Best 0% APR Credit Cards list, we considered overall issuer satisfaction rating, annual fee, APR, balance transfer offer length and introductory APR length for purchases. Satisfaction data is based on an annual nationwide U.S. News consumer survey.
To be eligible for the Best 0% APR Credit Cards list, a card must have a 0% APR offer of 14 months or more for purchases and balance transfers. Be sure to look at balance transfer fees as you compare 0% APR cards, and make a plan to pay down your balance before the introductory period ends.