What Are The Best 0% Interest Credit Cards in 2021?

What Are The Best 0% Interest Credit Cards in 2021?

The Citi Simplicity® Card gets our vote for the best 0% intro APR card, thanks to its long introductory offer that is matched by few other cards.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Citi is an advertising partner

There are two ways to escape interest on a credit card: Pay your bill in full every month, or snag a zero-APR offer.

A 0% intro APR can be a great tool for two groups of consumers: Those who want to erase existing credit card debt faster and save money, and those who want to finance a big purchase — for example, an appliance, a new laptop or a relaxing beach vacation — without forking over interest.

Many major credit card issuers offer these special promotional deals on purchases or balance transfers — or even both. If you plan to look for a 0% APR offer, it's important to compare deals, read terms carefully and watch out for common pitfalls.

Need help choosing a 0% intro APR card? Start with our list of the best zero APR credit cards of 2021. To choose our picks, we looked at offers on ValuePenguin and top issuer sites (including the length of the cards' introductory periods, balance transfer offers, rewards and other card benefits) to select the most valuable 0% APR offers for different types of users.

Best 0% APR Credit Cards in September 2021

Recommended card
Best for
Introductory purchase APR
Citi Simplicity® Card
Citi Simplicity® Card18-month introductory periodIntro APR of 0% for 18 months on Purchases from date of account opening (then 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable) APR)
Apply Now
  • On Citibank's Secure Website
unavailable credit card
American Express Blue Business Cash™ CardBusinessIntro APR of 0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening (then 13.24% - 19.24% Variable APR)Read Review
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Chase Freedom Unlimited® cardCash back0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR)
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit CardDining0% intro on purchases for 15 months after opening the card (then 14.99% - 24.99% (Variable) APR)
Apply Now
  • On Capital One's Secure Website
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressGroceriesIntro APR of 0% on purchases for 15 months from account opening (then 13.99%-23.99% Variable APR)
Apply Now
Recommended cards
Citi Simplicity® Card
Apply Now
  • On Citibank's Secure Website
American Express Blue Business Cash™ CardRead Review
Chase Freedom Unlimited® card
Apply Now
  • On Chase's Secure Website
Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Apply Now
  • On Capital One's Secure Website
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Apply Now

Methodology

To make choosing the right card easier, we've looked at credit cards reviewed on ValuePenguin as well as cards on major issuer sites to compile a list of the best rewards credit cards available right now. Our recommendations are based on the additional value you can earn with the cards — including the rewards value, cost of ownership and value of benefits such as travel and purchase protections, lounge membership and airline companion passes. Our choices are not influenced by our advertisers. Learn more on how we calculate rewards.

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Other good 0% APR cards | What does 0% APR mean? | How much can you save with a 0% APR offer? | How to choose a 0% APR credit card | How to make the most of a 0% APR credit card

Best 18-month 0% intro APR credit card

Citi Simplicity® Card

  • On Citibank's Secure Website

$0

14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)

Excellent/Good

  • No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer. After that the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
  • Stay protected with Citi® Quick Lock and $0 liability on unauthorized charges

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Citi Simplicity® Card is a great choice for a cardholder who wants a simple, no-fuss card with a 0% APR offer and a long introductory period. This $0-annual-fee card offers a long introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases, so it's ideal for someone who wants to transfer a balance and doesn't have the cash on hand to make a big purchase (but wants or needs a costly item now). It also has one of the longest introductory periods on the market.

There are a few big downsides, though. First, the card doesn't offer a sign-up bonus; second, you don't earn any rewards for spending on the card. Fans of points and miles will need to decide whether it's worth it to apply for a card just to get the zero-interest deal if they'll later set the card aside or close the account.

Introductory purchase APR: 0% for 18 months on Purchases from date of account opening (then a 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable) APR applies)
Introductory balance transfer APR: 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers (then a 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable) APR applies). Balance transfer fee – either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. Transfers must be completed within four months of opening the account.
Welcome bonus: None
Rewards: None

Best 0% intro APR business credit card

American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

ValuePenguin's verdict

The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card is one of the best 0% APR credit cards available for businesses. It offers a great option for freelancers, entrepreneurs and other small business owners who want to finance a big business purchase without a big interest charge. The card has No annual fee and an introductory APR of 0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening (then a 13.24% - 19.24% Variable APR applies). It also offers a solid cashback rewards structure, so you'll end up with money in your pocket from the items you finance.

The card may not be right for everyone, though. There’s no 0% APR balance transfer offer, so it won't be a good fit for business owners who need to get out from under a high-interest balance on another card.

Introductory purchase APR: 0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening (then a 13.24% - 19.24% Variable APR applies)
Introductory balance transfer APR: None
Welcome bonus: None
Rewards: Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1% on all purchases after that. Rewards are redeemable for statement credits toward your purchases.

Best cashback 0% intro APR credit card

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

  • On Chase's Secure Website

$0

14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card is an all-around great cashback card that also has an attractive introductory 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases (then a 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR applies). Unlike some other cards, the 0% APR offer isn't the main draw — the card also provides a welcome bonus and generous rewards with a $0 annual fee. It’s a card that could serve you well, long after you pay off the purchases you financed through the offer.

The main "minus" of this card is that there's no balance transfer offer, so you can’t use it to refinance your debt from another card. It also might not be a great choice for a cardholder who prefers points or miles over cash back.

Introductory purchase APR: 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases after account opening (then a 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR applies)
Introductory balance transfer APR: None
Welcome bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases.

Best 0% intro APR credit card for dining

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • On Capital One's Secure Website

$0

14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)

Excellent/Good

  • Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, popular streaming services and at grocery stores (excluding superstores like Walmart® and Target®), plus 1% on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023
  • 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; 14.99% - 24.99% variable APR after that
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No annual fee

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is designed to tempt foodies with higher earning on restaurants and groceries. There's a $0 annual fee, and the card offers a nice cash welcome bonus for a low minimum spending requirement.

However, the 0% introductory APR applies only to purchases. The no-balance-transfer-fee offer might sound good, but keep in mind that you'll pay a regular interest rate on the amount you transfer. That takes a huge bite out of the appeal of this offer, since the main point of a balance transfer is to get a break on interest.

Introductory purchase APR: 0% intro on purchases for 15 months after opening the card (then 14.99% - 24.99% (Variable))
Introductory balance transfer APR: None
Welcome bonus: Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
Rewards: Unlimited 3% Cash Back on dining and entertainment; 3% Cash Back on popular streaming services; 3% Cash Back at grocery stores; 1% Cash Back on all other purchases. Plus, earn 8% cash back on tickets at Vivid Seats through January 2023

Best 0% intro APR credit card for groceries

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

$0

13.99%-23.99% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card membership, up to $150 back.
  • Plus, earn $100 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months of card membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is one of the best 0% intro APR credit cards for consumers who don't want to pay an annual fee and are looking for a competitive 0% intro APR offer only on purchases. The card also offers cashback rewards and a decent welcome bonus.

The downsides are that rewards aren't stellar, since the highest-earning bonus category (U.S. supermarkets) is capped at just $6,000 a year of spending. After that, you earn just 1% back on the rest of your supermarket food purchases that year. Plus, it has only meager travel perks — car rental insurance and a 24/7 global assist hotline.

Introductory purchase APR: 0% on purchases for 15 months from account opening (then 13.99%-23.99% Variable)
Introductory balance transfer APR: None
Welcome bonus: $100 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
Rewards: Earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% cash back on other purchases. Terms apply. Rewards are redeemable for statement credits toward your purchases.

For rates and fees of Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.

Other good 0% intro APR credit cards

Wells Fargo Platinum card

$0

16.49%-24.49% (Variable)

Excellent/Good

  • 0% intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, then a 16.49% to 24.49% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a BT fee of up to 5%, min: $5
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 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 card
  • Easy access to your FICO® Credit Score with Wells Fargo Online®
  • Monitor your spending, purchases and any suspicious activity with text and email alerts and notifications
  • Convenient tools to help create a budget and manage your spending with My Money Map
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Wells Fargo Platinum card is great for cardholders seeking simplicity and a great zero-APR offer. It has no rewards or welcome bonus, but offers one of the longest introductory periods of any card on both balance transfers and purchases.

Introductory purchase APR: 0% intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases (then 16.49%-24.49% (Variable))
Introductory balance transfer APR: 0% intro APR for 18 months on qualifying balance transfers with a balance transfer fee of 3% intro for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%; min: $5 (then a 16.49%-24.49% (Variable) APR applies)
Welcome bonus: None
Rewards: None

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

  • On Citibank's Secure Website

$0

13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)

Excellent/Good

  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR for 18 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer. After that the variable APR will be 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
  • With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
  • Shop with confidence knowing that you have dependable protection benefits, including $0 Liability on Unauthorized Purchases and Citi® Identity Theft Solutions.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.74% - 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card is another great choice for consumers looking for a zero-percent APR offer with a long introductory period for both balance transfers and purchases with a $0 annual fee. The card lacks fancy perks and rewards, but could work well for those focused primarily on the interest rate offer.

Introductory purchase APR: 0% for 18 months on Purchases after opening the account (then a 13.74% - 23.74% (Variable) APR applies)
Introductory balance transfer APR: 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers from date of first transfer (then a 13.74% - 23.74% (Variable) APR applies). A Balance transfer fee applies with this offer: 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. Transfers must be completed within four months of account opening to qualify.
Welcome bonus: None
Rewards: None

Chase Freedom Flex℠

  • On Chase's Secure Website

$0

14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 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!
  • Earn 5% on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open.

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ card has a good 0% introductory APR on purchases, combined with a welcome bonus and generous rewards in both fixed and rotating categories. This makes it a good choice for consumers looking for flexibility, along with benefits and features beyond just a simple 0% intro APR card offer.

Introductory purchase APR: 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months (then a 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR applies)
Introductory balance transfer APR: None
Welcome bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
Rewards: Earn 5% cash back on eligible purchases in rotating categories, 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.

Citi Rewards+® Card

  • On Citibank's Secure Website

$0

13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)

Excellent/Good

  • FOR A LIMITED TIME, earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $200 in gift cards at thankyou.com
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer and on purchases from date of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfer fee — either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The Citi Rewards+® Card - the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase - with no cap.
  • Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 13.49% - 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Citi Rewards+® Card offers a solid 0% intro APR offer on both balance transfers and purchases with an average introductory period. However, it has only a modest welcome bonus and a so-so rewards structure, with bonus point spending capped at $6,000 a year before you get kicked back to 1 point per dollar spent. Still, its unique rounding-up-points feature may be a draw for some cardholders.

Introductory purchase APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases (13.49% - 23.49% (Variable) APR thereafter)
Introductory balance transfer APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from date of first transfer; transfers must be done in the first four months after account opening to qualify (13.49% - 23.49% (Variable) APR thereafter)
Welcome bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $200 in gift cards at thankyou.com
Rewards: Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

13.99%-23.99% Variable

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership, up to $200 back.
  • Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more).
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • Terms Apply.

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers an introductory APR of 0% on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening (then 13.99%-23.99% Variable) and offers a decent welcome bonus with a reasonable spending requirement. However, unlike most cards we’ve featured, this one charges a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95 annual fee.

Introductory purchase APR: 0% on purchases for 12 months from account opening (then 13.99%-23.99% Variable APR)

Introductory balance transfer APR: None

Welcome bonus: Earn a $150 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Rewards: 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more), 1% Cash Back on other purchases. Terms apply. Rewards are redeemable for statement credits toward your purchases.

For rates and fees of Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • On Capital One's Secure Website

$0

14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)

Excellent/Good

  • One-time $200 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; 14.99%-24.99% variable APR after that
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees

ValuePenguin's verdict

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card has one of the longest introductory periods available on the market for its 0% APR offer. It doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee, but its high APR may defeat the purpose of doing a transfer for most cardholders.

Introductory purchase APR: 0% intro on purchases for 15 months from account opening (then a 14.99% - 24.99% (Variable) APR applies)
Introductory balance transfer APR: None (though you can transfer balances for a $0 at this Transfer APR fee)
Welcome bonus: One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Rewards: Earn unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on every purchase, every day

What does 0% APR mean?

Credit card interest rates typically are expressed as an APR. An APR is the annual percentage rate of interest you pay on a credit card or loan. A single credit card typically has different types of APRs, including a promotional APR, a purchase APR, a balance transfer APR, a cash advance APR and a penalty APR.

A 0% intro APR is a promotional APR that major credit card issuers may offer on either balance transfers, purchases or both. This promotional APR is offered for an introductory period, typically between 12 and 18 months. After that, the APR goes back up to a standard balance transfer APR or purchase APR, which may be quite high.

Considering applying for a new card to get a zero-percent-APR deal? Start with our list of the best 0% intro APR credit cards. Or, you can see if a specific card has a 0% offer by checking the card information on the issuer's website.

Want to see if a card you already own has a balance transfer deal? Contact your card issuer to ask or log into your account online to check the current offers available to you.

It’s important to understand the details of how zero-percent-intro APR offers work before you apply. Here's a brief overview of the two types of offers:

  • 0% intro APR purchase offers — You open a new card that offers a 0% APR offer on purchases, then use it to buy one or more items. The card issuer does not charge you any interest on those purchases during the introductory period. As long as you abide by the terms, such as making the minimum payment each month, you can pay off the purchase during the set time frame and not pay a penny of interest.
  • 0% intro APR balance transfer offers — Once you have a card with a 0% APR balance transfer offer, you'll fill out a balance transfer request online. You agree to a balance transfer fee: This fee is commonly 3%, but can sometimes be as high as 5%. Your request may take a week or two to process. The card issuer then pays your other card issuer, transfers the amount to the 0% APR card and tacks on the balance transfer fee. You get charged no interest on the amount transferred during the introductory period. If you abide by the terms and pay it off before the regular balance transfer APR kicks in, you’ll pay zero interest.

You can qualify for one of the best 0% intro APR credit cards by having a credit score that meets the lender's requirements, and by making sure your current accounts are in good standing.

What does 0% APR mean
Example of a 0% APR offer

Common terms around 0% intro APRs

Here's some common credit card lingo that can help you understand the wording of 0% offers:

  • Introductory APR — The interest rate you pay during the promotional period, typically 12 to 18 months. This is usually a 0% APR.
  • Purchase APR — The APR the card normally charges on purchases you make when you don't pay your balance in full each month.
  • Balance transfer APR — The interest rate the card charges you for balances you transfer from another credit card. This may be a 0% APR to start with and change to a much higher number after the introductory periods ends.
  • Penalty APR — The interest rate you pay when you fail to follow certain terms in the cardholder agreement. For example, a penalty APR may be one of the consequences of a late payment on a credit card.
  • Variable APR — An APR that changes over time based on changes in the federal prime interest rate (expressed as the issuer's base rate based on your creditworthiness plus the federal prime rate).

Deferred financing vs. a true 0% intro APR offer

It's important to read the fine print carefully before you apply for a 0% intro APR offer. There are two main types of offers — deferred financing and a true 0% APR intro offer — and you’ll want to know which one you’re getting, as well as the specific terms.

Here are the differences in how these two types of offers generally work:

  • True 0% intro APR offer — These typically are offered by major credit card companies and are considered more consumer friendly. If you pay off the entire amount during the introductory period, you’ll pay no interest. If not, the standard purchase or balance transfer APR will begin to be charged only on the remaining balance.
  • Deferred financing offer — If you don't pay the entire balance off during the introductory period, you’ll be charged a high standard interest rate retroactively on the entire amount you financed, including the part you already paid off. This often means a large amount gets tacked onto your bill, getting you deeper into debt.

As you can see, it's very important to read the fine print so you don't get hit with an unpleasant surprise after you've locked in the deal.

How much can you save with a 0% intro APR offer?

A 0% intro APR offer can add up to significant savings. The average credit card APR on a cashback credit card is 20.90%. Using this APR and the ValuePenguin credit card payoff calculator, we estimate that an 18-month 0% intro APR offer can save you:

  • $2,500 purchase — you can save $433
  • $5,000 purchase — you can save $867
  • $10,000 purchase — you can save $1,735

Of course, your savings could be higher or lower depending on the APR on the card with which you'd have otherwise financed your purchase if you didn't have a 0% deal.

How to choose a 0% intro APR credit card

Here’s our criteria for choosing the best 0% intro APR offer. On each card you're considering, look at these specifics before you apply:

Length of the introductory period

It's generally best to choose the card with the longest introductory period. This allows you to stretch out your payments over more time and reduces the amount you’d need to pay each month to pay off your balance before interest kicks in.

Balance transfer offer

If you're paying high interest on a balance on an existing card, you'll want to look for a card that has a 0% APR balance transfer offer, so you can pay down your debt without interest charges. Look at the balance transfer fee — 3% is typical — and crunch the numbers to find the dollar amount you'll pay. For example, if you have a $2,000 balance and the fee is 3%, you'll pay $60.

Regular APR

Check to see how much you’ll pay in interest after the 0% intro APR offer ends. Look for the regular purchase APR and the balance transfer APR — these are the interest rates you’ll pay after the promotional period.

Rewards

Look at the rewards structure on the card to make sure it fits your financial goals and spending habits. While it's generally a good idea to refrain from spending on a card while you're paying down a balance with a 0% APR offer, you'll want a card that's a good match for you after you've obliterated your debt. See whether the card earns miles, points or cash back, and how much you get for every dollar you spend in different categories.

Annual fee

Look for a no-annual-fee card. While trying to pay down debt or finance a purchase, you'll want to minimize the annual fees you pay.

Other card features

Check any other features the card offers. If there's a perk that's important to you, such as purchase protection or travel insurance, that could be the deciding factor between two cards that are both good matches for you.

Tip: Always read the fine print of a 0% intro APR carefully before you apply and make a big purchase or transfer a balance. Watch out for phrases like "no interest if paid in full within 12 months" — these are commonly used to describe deferred interest deals, in which interest is charged retroactively on the entire balance if you don’t pay off your debt in the specified time.

How credit card interest is calculated

Knowing how credit card interest is calculated can help you better understand credit card offers. Credit card issuers typically use a "daily periodic rate" to calculate your interest. A daily periodic rate is your APR divided by 365 (the number of days in a year.) The amount of interest you pay in a month equals your balance times the daily periodic rate times the number of days in the billing cycle.

Note that different banks have different ways of determining your balance. A common way is "average daily balance," which means they add up your balance at the end of each day, add that number to a running tally during a billing cycle, then finally divide that total by the number of days in that billing cycle.

How credit card interest is calculated
Screenshot of a credit card's pricing details page that shows how your balance (including your interest) is calculated.

Total credit card interest for month = Balance x Daily Periodic Rate x Number of days in billing cycle

Total Interest = Balance x (APR / 365) x Number of days in billing cycle

Total interest = Sum of daily balances X (APR / 365)

How to make the most of a 0% intro APR credit card

It's important to plan ahead and take the right steps to make a 0% intro APR offer work to your advantage. Here are our tips on how to make the most of a 0% intro APR card:

  1. Have a plan in mind. It pays to have a clear purpose in mind before shopping for a 0% intro APR offer. There are two good reasons to get a 0% intro APR card: You want to transfer a balance to get out of debt, or you want to finance a major purchase without also having to pay interest. Some cards offer a 0% intro APR only for balance transfers or only for purchases, though some include both.
  2. Find the best deal for your situation. Don’t take the first deal you're offered, especially if it's a dicey deferred interest offer from a retailer. With deferred interest deals, one misstep (such as a late payment or failure to pay the entire balance in time) can cost you lots of money and stress. Check with major card issuers to find a true 0% intro APR offer with the longest introductory period and best terms for you.
  3. Crunch the numbers. Check to see how much you'll have to pay monthly to get your balance paid off with no interest. It's smart to give yourself a cushion by planning to have your balance paid off a few months before the end of the introductory period.
  4. Assess the fees. If you plan to make a balance transfer, you'll probably have to pay a balance transfer fee. Do the math to find the dollar amount you'll pay and compare that to the interest you'll pay with your current card company. By knowing exactly how much you'll save, you can decide if a 0% intro APR offer is worth it for you.
  5. Avoid deal hopping. Don't pay the minimum each month and then look for a new deal when the introductory period ends. This kind of "balance transfer roulette" can cost you money with repeat balance transfer fees. It can also be nerve wracking when you realize you suddenly need to find a new deal.

What is a regular purchase APR?

A regular purchase APR is the interest rate a credit card normally charges you on purchases when you don't pay your bill in full each month. This is the APR that applies to purchases when a 0% promotional APR period ends.

Can you get a 0% APR on an existing card?

Some credit card issuers offer 0% intro APR balance transfers to cardholders on existing credit cards. These are special offers that might be targeted to certain individuals and aren't always available. Still, it's worth contacting your card issuer or checking the "current offers" section when you log in to your account.

Why do credit cards offer 0% APRs?

Credit card issuers make 0% introductory APR offers to try to attract new cardholders by enticing them to transfer a balance from an existing card or to finance a new purchase. Card issuers hope that once you become a customer, you’ll keep using the card for years. Card issuers also make money on 0% intro APRs by charging interest if you fail to pay off the balance in full during the introductory period. They may also profit from late fees and other fees, and they can terminate the 0% intro APR and start charging interest, if you make a late payment.

Can you extend the 0% introductory period on a credit card?

Credit card issuers put a time limit on 0% introductory APR. After that time is up, a higher interest rate kicks in. The best way to get more time to pay off your balance is to find another offer and do another balance transfer, though you should keep in mind that you'll likely have to pay another balance transfer fee. Another option would be to look for a low-interest consolidation loan.

Should I pay off a 0% APR credit card?

To take full advantage of a 0% intro APR, you should calculate the amount you'd need to pay each month to pay off your entire balance before the 0% APR promotional period ends. To be on the safe side, try to pay it off a few months early. Otherwise, you'll end up paying interest on the remaining balance or, in the case of a deferred interest deal, on the entire amount you financed.

What is the best 0% intro APR credit card?

The best 0% intro APR card is one that suits your financial goals and offers enough time for you to pay off the entire balance before the introductory period ends. We've listed our picks for the best 0% introductory APR credit cards above, but the one you choose will depend on your own situation and goals.

For rates and fees of Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

The information related to American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).