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How much faster could you pay down your credit card bills if you didn’t have to pay all that interest? Credit cards with 0% introductory APR provide an opportunity to take a break from interest charges. That break can help you pay down an existing balance, save for the future, or get ahead on future payments. By law, these interest-free promotional financing offers must last at least six months. But the most competitive offers go well beyond this legal requirement to offer 0% introductory APR financing for 14 months or longer. The majority of the major credit card issuers offer at least one card with 0% introductory APR promotional financing, but that doesn’t mean that the cards are all equal. Factors like the length of the promotional financing period, balance transfer offers, and other bonus factors were important to us when we were choosing the top 0% introductory APR credit cards.
How We Chose the Best 0% Intro APR Credit CardsTo determine the top no intro APR credit cards, we first divided the market into the following six categories:
Next, we looked at over a dozen major card issuers and credit unions to find the cards that best fit each of these subcategories. We included only cards that are offered to all applicants, leaving out products offered by credit unions that not everyone can join.Finally, we looked at the factors that were likely to be most important to someone choosing a card from each subcategory. For example, when looking for a card with the longest duration financing offer, the number of months of 0% APR financing was obviously the most important factor, while rewards were not an important factor in that case. However, when looking for the best competitive 0% introductory APR cards with strong cash back offers, we had to balance both the length of the promotional financing and the value of the cash back offered. Of course, credit card terms may change from time to time, but the following rankings reflect information that was accurate in May 2022.
- Longest duration 0% APR promotional financing offers
- Competitive 0% APR cards with strong cash back offers
- Zero percent APR cards that also feature travel rewards
- Cards that offer 0% APR on both new purchases and balance transfers
- Zero percent APR cards with very low standard interest rates
- Small business cards with 0% APR
The Longest Duration 0% APR Promotional FinancingHaving as much time as possible to pay off your balance without accruing additional interest can help you save a lot of money. That’s why having a card that offers the longest duration for no-interest financing can be such a huge value. When looking at cards with the longest duration 0% introductory APR financing offers, the most important factor was obviously the number of months of the offer, but we felt that it was also important to look at cards without an annual fee.
If You Want the Best 0% APR Card With a Long Duration of Promotional Financing: U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum CardThe U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers a relatively long duration for 0% promotional financing. With this card, an applicant can get 18 billing cycles of 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers. Taking advantage of the 18 billing cycles of 0% APR promotional financing offer on this card could help you buy time to pay off existing balances on other cards or on other kinds of loans.After the introductory APR offer ends, the variable APR of between 18.99% and 28.99% will apply, depending on your creditworthiness. If you’re planning on taking advantage of the 0% APR offer for balance transfers, just note that it only applies to balances transferred within 60 days from account opening. There’s also a 3% balance transfer fee, with a $5 minimum balance transfer. There is no annual fee for this card, and this card doesn’t offer a new account bonus or rewards for spending (updated as of Feb. 3, 2023).
Best Competitive 0% APR Cards With Strong Cash Back OffersApplicants shouldn’t have to choose between a card that includes 0% APR introductory offer and a card that earns a strong rate of cash back rewards. When looking at top 0% introductory APR credit cards with strong cash back offers, balancing the length of the promotional financing with the value of the cash back offered was important. We also looked for cards with a strong new account bonus, no annual fee and valuable benefits.
If You Want a 0% APR Card With Competitive Rates of Cash Back: Wells Fargo Active CashThe Wells Fargo Active Cash is a great option for those who want to avoid accruing interest while still earning cash back on new purchases. The card offers 0% introductory APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers. After the introductory period, the standard APR will be 15.74%, 20.74%, or 25.74% variable, depending on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers made within 120 days from account opening qualify for the introductory rate and the 3% balance transfer fee.The card also earns an unlimited 2% cash reward on purchases, with no rewards category limitations or quarterly activations. New applicants can earn $200 when spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. As an added bonus, this card comes with up to $600 of cell phone protection against damage or theft when the monthly cell phone bill is paid with this card (subject to a $25 deductible). There’s no annual fee for this card.
Best 0% Intro APR Offers on Cards That Also Feature Travel RewardsAlthough it’s rare, some cards do offer both 0% introductory APR and competitive travel rewards for spending. For people who love to travel, saving money on interest while earning travel rewards may sound like an ideal combination. For this category, we looked at both good 0% introductory APR terms and strong travel rewards to find the top choices.
If You Want a Top 0% APR Card With Valuable Travel Rewards: Chase Freedom Unlimited®The Chase Freedom Unlimited® not only features a 0% introductory APR, but also a 0% APR on balance transfers, strong cash back options, and added benefits like purchase protection and trip insurance, too. The card offers new cardholders 15 months of 0% APR financing on both balance transfers and new purchases, while also earning cash back on those new purchases. After the introductory APR offer ends, a variable APR of between 19.49% and 28.24% will apply, depending on the cardholder’s creditworthiness (updated as of March 6, 2023).For balance transfers, there’s a transfer fee of the greater of $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer made within 60 days of account opening. After that, the transfer fee will be $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. The total amount of the transfer balance, including interest and fees, cannot exceed the available credit limit or $15,000, whichever is lower. Transferring balances from another Chase account is not allowed. Award travel enthusiasts will appreciate the fact that this card’s cash back rewards come in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® (UR) points. Chase UR points can be combined with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, or Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card, to offer even more value when redeemed for travel reservations or transferred to airline and hotel programs. As for the rewards component of the card, new cardholders receive $200 in cash back after spending $500 on new purchases, as well as 5% cash back on up to $6,000 spent in gas during their account’s first 12 months. Cardholders also receive 5% cash back on Chase travel, 3% cash back on drugstore and restaurant charges, and 1.5% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, new applicants receive an additional 1.5% cash back on purchases up to $20,000 spent in the first year (worth up to $300 cash back).This card even comes with purchase protection, extended warranty protection, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, and an auto rental collision damage waiver benefit. This card’s rewards don’t expire as long as the account is open, and there is no minimum for redeeming cash back. There is no annual fee for this card.
Best Cards With 0% Intro APR Offers on New Purchases and Balance TransfersFor someone who has a lot of purchases coming up but also wants to pay off existing debt, a card that offers 0% APR on both new purchases and balance transfers may be the way to go. Such a card lets you transfer a balance from another card, and then work toward paying down the balance without incurring interest on previous or future purchases. So, for evaluating these cards, we focused on cards that offered 0% APR on both for the best terms.
If You Want a 0% APR Card That Also Includes a Balance Transfer Offer: U.S. Bank Visa PlatinumThe U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card offers 0% APR on new purchases and balance transfers. With this card, applicants get a full 18 billing cycles of 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers. Eighteen billing cycles of no interest is one of the longest promotional financing offers on this list, which is why this card ranked as a top card in that category as well. After the introductory APR offer ends, the variable APR rate of between 18.99% and 28.99% will apply, depending on the cardholder’s creditworthiness at the time of application. If you’re planning on taking advantage of the 0% APR for balance transfers, just note that it only applies to balances transferred within 60 days from account opening. There’s also a 3% balance transfer fee, with a $5 minimum balance transfer. This card does not have an annual fee (updated as of Feb. 3, 2023).
Best 0% APR Cards With Low Standard Interest RatesZero interest rate financing periods don’t last forever. After the introductory period ends, many cards go back to charging high interest rates. A card that has 0% introductory APR plus a very low standard interest rate may be appealing for those who are looking to pay down existing debt but who also want to know they’ll incur interest charges at a lower rate if they need to carry a balance in the future. Those are the two elements we balanced in choosing the top card in this category.
If You Want a 0% APR Card With a Low Standard Interest Rate: Discover it® Cash BackThe Discover it Cash Back credit card has both a great introductory APR offer and a fairly low standard interest rate. The card offers a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on new purchases and balance transfers. If you’re taking advantage of the balance transfer offer, there’s a 3% introductory balance transfer fee. Afterward, the standard variable purchase APR will be between 12.04% and 23.24%, and the balance transfer fee increases to 5%. For the most qualified applicants, this can result in a standard interest rate that’s well below the national average of about 16.00% (as of the week of February 2022). The card not only offers 0% APR, 0% balance transfers, and low standard interest rates, but it’s also a solid cash back card as well. You can earn 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories like groceries or gas stations, up to $1,500 spent each quarter. That’s up to $75 back each quarter. Plus, you can earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. As an added bonus, this card offers an unlimited dollar-for-dollar match of cash back earned at the end of the first year. There’s no annual fee for this card.
Best 0% APR Cards for Small Business OwnersIt’s not just individuals who could benefit from 0% introductory APR offers; small business owners may want to take advantage of these offers as well. There are a few small business cards with 0% APR offers, and we looked for the one with the longest promotional financing period and no annual fees.
If You Want a 0% APR Card for Small Business Owners: U.S. Bank Business PlatinumThe U.S. Bank Business Platinum card is a relatively simple small business credit card that offers 0% introductory APR on new purchases and on balance transfers for 20 months. This includes 0% APR for the first 20 billing cycles for new purchases, as well as for balances transferred within 30 days of account opening. After the introductory APR offer ends, the variable APR rate of between 14.24% and 23.24% will apply. If you’re taking advantage of the balance transfer offer, make sure to transfer balances right away due to the short window of opportunity. There is a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater. There is no annual fee for this card, but there are also no rewards currently available.
The TakeawayWhether you’re trying to pay off existing debt or avoiding future debt, a credit card with 0% APR interest financing can help. Interest charges can add up very quickly, making paying off debt feel impossible. But with 0% APR interest financing in effect, every dollar of your credit card payment will go toward paying down your balance, making it easier and quicker to get out of debt.Finding the top credit card for your needs is easier when you know what choices are available to you. Lantern by SoFi can help you find the right credit card option for you from one of our lending partners.
Photo credit: iStock/Nodar Chernishev
About the Author
Jason SteeleJason Steele has been writing about credit cards and award travel since 2008. One of the nation's leading experts in this field, he has contributed to dozens of personal finance and travel outlets and has been widely quoted in the mainstream media.