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Summary of the Best 0% APR Credit Cards

Card name

Unique features

Rewards

Intro APR on purchases

Citi Custom Cash℠ Card $200 bonus after you spend $750 on purchases in your first three months after account opening 5% cash back on your top spending category each billing cycle ($500 spend cap) plus unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases 0% for 15 months on purchases & 0% for 15 months on balance transfers; standard APR is 15.49% – 25.49% (Variable)
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Intro offer: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back!

5% back on travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3% on dining and drugstore purchases; 1.5% cash back on all other purchases

0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and on Balance Transfers; regular APR of 15.74% – 24.49% Variable

Citi Rewards+® Card

Automatic roundup to 10 points back on every purchase

2x ThankYou® Points (worth $0.01 in cash/gift cards or $0.01+ in travel) on gas station and supermarket purchases ($6,000 annual spend cap), plus 1x back on everything else

0% intro for 15 months on Purchases; regular APR of 14.99% – 24.99% (Variable)

Chase Freedom Flex℠

$200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months

5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter + other cash back benefits

0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months and on Balance Transfers; regular APR of 15.74% – 24.49% Variable

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers. The ongoing rate of 15.24% – 25.24% (Variable) applies after.

N/A

0% for 12 months on Purchases. The ongoing rate of 15.24% – 25.24% (Variable) applies after.

Discover it® Cash Back

Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year

5% cash back at different places each quarter*
1% cash back on all other purchases

0%

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*5% cash back categories have a $1,500 max spend and require quarterly activation

How 0% APR Credit Cards Work

Credit card companies use promotional interest rates (also called “teaser” rates or introductory rates) to attract new customers. The premise is simple: For a designated period of time (usually between six months and 18 months), any charges on the card will not accrue interest as long as you make timely minimum payments.

(Often, these promotional 0% APRs apply to balance transfers, too, but here let’s focus on using the 0% credit cards for new purchases).

Let’s say you charge $5,000 to a credit card with the intention of repaying the balance over a year. Ordinarily, at a 15% APR, you would pay $416 in interest paying the card off in 12 payments of $451.

With a 0% introductory APR, you could make minimum payments as low as $100 each month and not pay any interest in the first year. Of course, you would then need to have the cash to pay the entire balance before the promotional APR expires—otherwise interest would begin to accrue at the card’s regular APR.

The Pros and Cons of 0% Credit Cards for Purchases

Pros of Making Purchases with 0% Credit Cards

  • Make a major purchase with a temporary interest reprieve. You could make a significant purchase with your credit card, such as a home improvement project, and it won’t cost you a dime of interest as long as you repay the balance before the promotional interest rate expires.
  • Earn extra money through cash back and sign-up bonuses. Some credit cards offer not only a low intro APR, but also cash back on your purchases and a bonus for spending a certain amount on the card in the first few months. So if you can pay off your purchase before the intro 0% APR expires, you’ll actually earn money for having purchased something you were going to buy anyway.
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Cons of Making Purchases with 0% Credit Cards

  • It’s still a financial risk. There’s the chance you’ll have trouble making payments and actually not be able to pay the card off before the 0% period comes to an end, costing you interest after all.
  • The 0% rate is conditional. Miss a payment — even by just a day — and the bank may nullify the 0% promotional rate.
  • There are credit implications. You’ll typically need very good credit to be approved for a new card. And taking on a sizable credit card balance will increase your credit utilization, which may hurt your credit score until the balance is paid off.

Summary

If you have no other credit card debt, a solid credit score, and an emergency fund big enough to last for several months’ expenses, you might be in a good position to use a 0% purchase APR promotion. But think about what purchase(s) you plan to make with the card.

  • Are the purchases absolutely necessary? For example, did your refrigerator die, or do you just want a new fridge because you’re tired of the old one? Does your pet have a veterinary emergency?
  • Are the purchases investments in yourself, your career, your business, or your home?

If you can answer yes to the above, you can feel pretty good about using a 0% credit card as a tool for buying something interest free and then paying off the balance over the course of the card’s promotion length. If not, you may want to reevaluate why you’re willing to take on debt to buy things that aren’t entirely necessary.

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