We all carry a balance on our credit cards from time to time. Unexpected expenses come up, like medical bills and car repairs. And sometimes you just can’t find another way to get that big ticket item you want. Unfortunately, this can get expensive fast because of the high interest rates on most credit cards.
The good news is that you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by getting an interest-free credit card. These cards will give you a promotional 0% APR period for a year or more.
Let’s take a look at a few of the best cards that offer this valuable perk.
Zero Percent Credit Card That Earns 5% Cash Back: Chase Freedom
The excellent Chase Freedom is a zero interest credit card that does it all. You’ll get an introductory 0% APR period for both purchases and balance transfers for 15 billing cycles, and you’ll earn valuable cashback rewards at a fantastic rate. Plus, you’ll get a solid sign-up bonus and never have to pay an annual fee.
Chase Freedom® Card
- % 5% cash back each quarter on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in that quarter's bonus categories
- % 1% on all other purchases
- $150 bonus after you spend $500 in the first 3 months
$25bonus after you add your first authorized user and make your first purchase within this same 3-month period
- 3% foreign transaction fee
You’ll start with a quick $150 in your pocket thanks to the card’s sign-up bonus. You have to spend just $500 within the first three months to get the bonus.
You’ll keep earning at a fast pace thanks to the Freedom card’s quarterly bonus categories. Those purchases earn an impressive 5 percent back on up to $1,500 per quarter. Max that out and you’ve got $300 in your pocket every year.
The benefits of this interest-free credit card are many. You can use the card to spread the repayment of a large purchase over a long period of time. You can also transfer balances from your high-interest credit cards. In either case, you’ll get 15 months for interest-free financing.
Note that balance transfers incur a fee of $5 or 5 percent, whichever is greater. While there are a very few cards that offer no-fee transfers, most do. At any rate, that fee is nothing compared to the hundreds or even thousands of dollars you’ll save in interest charges.
Maximize Your Earning by Combining Freedom and Sapphire
If you have one of the premium Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can get even more. That’s because you can transfer the points you earn with the Freedom card to your Sapphire account before redeeming.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- 2x Points on Airfare, Hotels and Dining
- 1x Points on All Other Purchases
- 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
- Earn an additional 30,000 bonus points after you spend $30,000 on purchases within your first year of account opening
- Refer a friend and receive 10,000 points if they become a cardholder
- 25% bonus for points redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- No Foreign Transaction Fee
Doing that gives you the option to transfer points to Chase Ultimate Rewards program partners, like airlines and hotels, and redeem directly through them. That can yield a lot of value.
Alternatively, you can purchase travel from just about any hotel or airline through the Ultimate Rewards online travel portal and get more for your points. With the Sapphire Preferred, you’ll get 1.25 cents per point, and the Sapphire Reserve gets 1.5 cents per point. That’s a 25 percent and 50 percent bonus, respectively.
In other words, you could buy a $500 plane ticket through the travel portal for just 33,333 points with the Sapphire Reserve card. Those points are worth just $333 if you redeemed for cash back with the Freedom card. That’s like getting an extra $167 just for having both cards!
You can learn more about the Ultimate Rewards program here.
The Interest-Free Credit Card With the Longest Promotional Period: Citi Simplicity
The Citi Simplicity lives up to its name by simply offering a generous interest-free period of 18 months for both purchases and balance transfers. That’s one of the longest 0% intro APR periods in the industry. If you need a lot of time to pay off your balance, get this card.
Citi Simplicity® Card
- 3% foreign transaction fee
- % $5 or 5% balance transfer fee
While it’s not a rewards or cashback card, Citi Simplicity does not charge late fees or assess a penalty interest rate if you miss a payment. It also keeps costs down by not charging an annual fee. That could make this card a keeper beyond the special introductory interest-free period.
Keep in mind that while balance transfers do not incur interest during the promotional period, they do have a $5 or 3 percent fee, whichever is greater.
If you want a zero percent credit card with no bells and whistles that allows you to repay a large purchase or several purchases over the longest possible amount of time, the Citi Simplicity card is it.
VentureOne Is a Zero Interest Credit Card That Earns Free Travel
VentureOne® from Capital One®
- + 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
- + Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
- 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
- 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
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
- No Foreign Transaction Fee
With this no-interest credit card, you’ll earn miles for every purchase you make. Miles can be easily redeemed toward travel purchases at a rate of one cent each.
With this extremely flexible zero interest card, you can use your rewards to buy any travel you want. That includes airfare, taxi rides, train tickets, hotel stays, rental cars and more.
It even comes with a sign-up bonus. If you spend just $1,000 in the first three months after you’re approved, you’ll earn a nice 20,000-mile bonus. That’s $200 in your pocket.
You’ll continue to earn 1.25 miles per dollar for every purchase you make on the card. That’s a real plus for a no-annual-fee card.
Best of all, you’ll be able to take advantage of 12 months of interest-free financing for purchases. So you could pay for your next big adventure with this card and pay it off over the next year. Plus, you’ll earn 1.25 miles for every dollar you spent on that vacation. It’s hard to go wrong with that.
Unfortunately, this card does not have a promotional 0% APR period for balance transfers. If you’re looking to pay down existing debt, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
What You Could Save With a No Interest Card
You may be wondering exactly how much you could save with a 0% card. While the math can get complicated, we’ve simplified things to create an easy-to-understand example that shows just how much you might be spending on interest.
If you have a card with a relatively low interest rate of 15 percent and you carry an average balance of just $1,000 for a year, that’ll cost you $150. If you stretch that out to 18 months, which is the maximum interest-free period you can get with a new card, that $150 becomes $225.
Granted, those calculations assume that you are not paying off your card balance every month. If you do, you won’t accrue any interest. It also assumes that you aren’t adding to that balance, either. Remember, if you don’t pay off your interest, it will be added to your total balance and will then accrue interest the following month.
In any case, you can see just how much extra money you’re spending just to carry a balance on your card from month to month. You should get a zero percent credit card and start paying down that debt.
What to Look for When Choosing a 0% APR Credit Card
When applying for an interest-free credit card or any credit card for that matter, you should review the pricing and terms and conditions offered.
The financial institution that issues the credit card must disclose all of this information so it’s easily accessible prior to applying for the card. You’ll be able to review the APR charged for each type of transaction, a breakdown of fees you might incur when using the card and the terms and conditions you must follow to avoid incurring fees and interest.
To keep costs down, you’ll also want to select a card that does not charge an annual fee.
0% APR vs. Deferred Interest: What’s the Difference?
While some credit cards have an introductory period offering zero interest on purchases, others offer a deferred interest period. The later is usually offered with co-branded store credit cards. With those cards, interest on a specific purchase is deferred for a certain period of time.
With differed interest, all interest is waived if the purchase is paid off by the deadline. If the purchase is not paid off by the end of the period, interest is added retroactively on the entire purchase price going back to the date that you made the purchase.
As you can imagine, not paying off the balance by the deadline on a deferred interest purchase can cost you a bundle. With the average interest rate on credit cards currently running 16.87 percent, interest costs could be significant. Some cards charge significantly higher default interest rates on deferred interest purchases.
Cards with a promotional 0% APR do not incur interest during the promotional period and do not assess the interest retroactively if you do not pay off your balance by the end of the period. You would be charged the current APR on your balance after the promotional period expires.
Manage Your Zero Percent Interest Credit Card Wisely
You’ll want to manage your interest-free credit card responsibly by making timely payments as a late payment could trigger an end to the promotional interest-free period.
Know when your interest-free period expires and strive to pay off your balance before that date. The terms are very strict, and you will be assessed normal interest charges on any balance left on the account at that time.
Promotional interest-free credit cards offering 0% APR can help you manage your finances when used judiciously and even offer the additional bonus of earning rewards.
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- July 2018: Best 0% Credit Cards on Purchases
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While the Freedom, Simplicity and VentureOne are my personal picks for the best 0% cards, there are a lot more on the market. This is a complete list that includes Best 0% Interest Credit Cards picked by our experts’. Whichever interest-free credit card you choose, you’ll save a lot of money be taking advantage of a 0% introductory APR period.