If you're thinking of making a major purchase, and are deciding how to pay for it, don't forget to consider the best 0% APR credit cards. Pick the right card, and you can spread out your payments over time without paying interest or fees, and it can actually be cheaper than dipping into your savings account, because that money remains untouched and still earns interest.
Of course, as with any form of borrowing, you need to think these offers through carefully. If you fail to pay down the balance before the introductory period ends, the standard rate kicks in, and standard credit card rates are rarely cheap forms of a loan. And, if you're seriously late making a monthly payment, you could find the whole deal scrapped and standard or even penalty rates applied. But, if you're a good money manager in a secure financial position, these products can provide exceptionally good value.
Just to be clear, our focus here is on what we think are the most attractive low introductory rate credit card offers featuring a 0% introductory APR on purchases. Many cards in this category also feature similar offers pertaining to balance transfers. If you're looking to cut costs while paying down debt, be sure to check out our comprehensive list of the best balance transfer credit cards!
Our editor's take:
All these cards are designed to save you money by eliminating interest charges for a fixed introductory period. But the Citi Simplicity® Card (Citi is a CardRatings.com advertiser) is arguably special -- not only because its introductory period is so long, but also because it's extremely light on fees.
The Citi Simplicity Card features a 0% introductory purchase APR for 21 months on purchases and balance transfers (there is a balance transfer fee of 3percent of the amount of each transfer, $5 minimum), giving you nearly two years to spread out your purchases without paying interest. This card charges no annual fee, but also promises no late fees -- ever, and no penalty rate -- ever. The Citi Simplicity Card may be inexpensive to own, but it has some welcome consumer-friendly features -- if you're into technology, this card has an EMV chip and allows you to set up automated email or smartphone account alerts to remind you of your card balance, if you've gone over your credit limit and when your next payment's due. Citi also promises fast, personal help, 24 hours a day.
Our editor's take:
The thing about credit cards is that different ones suit different people. Just when you were thinking nothing could possibly beat the Citi Simplicity Card, along comes Chase Freedom®. It's not that one's always better than the other -- it just depends on the needs of the individual.
So if you're an excellent money manager, you may not be interested in promises of no late fees or penalty rates: you're probably never going to pay those anyway. But you may be very interested to know you can earn a $150 bonus.
You may also be interested in this card's cash-back earning potential, in which you can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants, and wholesale clubs. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Depending on your spending habits, you may not care that the Chase Freedom® card's 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months is shorter than Citi Simplicity's 21 months. The balance transfer fee for both cards is either $5 or 5 percent of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Our editor's take:
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express offers an introductory APR of 0% on purchases for 12 months for purchases and balance transfers; after the introductory period a transfer fee of either $5 or 3 percent of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. And, like all others mentioned in this article, it has no annual fee.
What sets this card apart is the consumer protections and levels of service that have made American Express an industry leader for customer satisfaction. And its rewards program's not bad at all. Earn 2x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (after that, 1x) and 1x points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
Use your card to make purchases 20 or more times in any single billing period and get 20 percent extra points on those purchases (less returns and credits).
Right now, new cardholders can earn 10,000 Membership Reward® points after using his or her new card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first three months. If you're both an AmEx fan and a rewards lover, don't forget to check out the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which also offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 months. Yes, this card carries a $95 annual fee, but you can earn 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 3 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations and 1 percent cash back on other purchases. New cardholders also have the opportunity to get $150 back after spending $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months. Your cash back earned is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. Terms and conditions apply.
Our editor's take:
The rewards that come with that Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express may be great for families, but they could be useless for those with different spending patterns. If you want good rewards on all purchases and no annual fee, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer may suit you better. Citi, a CardRatings.com advertiser, is currently offering an 18-month 0% introductory APR on balance transfers (there is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3 percent of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater).
As its name implies, this Citi card delivers ... well, double cash. It's the only card that earns you cash back twice on every purchase, with 1 percent cash back when you buy plus 1 percent cash back as you pay for those purchases, whether you pay in full or over time. It's nice and simple, with no category restrictions, no caps and no need to enroll in rotating categories.
You can see from all the previous discussion how different 0% APR credit cards suit different people, according to their shopping habits and other needs. Chances are, there's one that perfect for you.