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The best 0% APR credit cards of 2020: Finance debt or new purchases interest-free for up to 21 months

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Credit cards can be a great asset for financing new purchases and consolidating old debt. Some of the best credit cards offer no interest on new purchases, balance transfers or both — for up to 21 months.

This can add up to substantial savings if you're carrying a balance on a high interest credit card, where a portion of your payment goes toward interest charges. If you have lingering debt on an existing card or plan on making a large purchase, it's financially smart to open an intro 0% APR credit card, if you use it responsibly.

Below, CNBC Select rounds up some of the best credit cards that offer no interest for at least 15 months, so you can maximize savings. Credit card recommendations are broken up by length of intro 0% APR period.

Best 0% APR credit cards

21 months

18 months

15 months

See how they all compare.

FAQs

  • How do 0% APR credit cards work?
  • What credit score is required for 0% APR credit cards?
  • How to get the most benefit from 0% APR cards
  • How to compare 0% APR and low-interest cards

Jump to FAQS.

Intro 0% APR for 21 months

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 21 months on balance transfers and 0% for the first 12 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

    16.24% to 26.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 21 months of no interest on balance transfers
  • No annual fee
  • Balances can be transferred within 4 months from account opening
  • 12 months of no interest on purchases

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No rewards program
  • Transfer timeline: Balances must be transferred within 4 months from account opening
  • Estimated total fees and interest on debt repayment: $480
read more
On Citi’s secure site

Intro 0% APR for 18 months

Discover it® Balance Transfer

  • Rewards

    5% cash back at different places each quarter after you activate bonus categories (on up to $1,500 in purchases, then 1%). Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

    At the end of your first year, Discover automatically matches all the cash back you earned

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% APR for the first 6 months on purchases; 0% APR for the first 18 months on balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    13.49% to 24.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • *See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 18 months of no interest on balance transfers
  • Cash-back program
  • No annual fee
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • Bonus categories must be activated each quarter
  • Cash-back program limits 5% cash-back earnings to $1,500 a quarter
  • Fee charged on balance transfers
  • Transfer timeline: Balances must be transferred by a specific date, refer to your cardmember agreement for the exact date
  • Estimated total fees and interest on debt repayment: $478
read more
On Discover's secure website.

Citi® Double Cash Card

  • Rewards

    2% cash back: 1% on all purchases and an additional 1% after you pay your credit card bill

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

    15.49% to 25.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 2% cash back on all purchases
  • Simple cash-back program that doesn't require activation or spending caps
  • One of the longest intro periods for balance transfers at 18 months

Cons

  • No welcome bonus, so you can’t maximize rewards during the first few months of card opening
  • Minimum cash-back redemption of $25
  • 3% fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $437
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,185
read more
On Citi's secure site

BankAmericard® credit card

  • Rewards

    This card doesn't offer cash back, miles or points.

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 18 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers made within 60 days of opening your account

  • Regular APR

    14.49% to 24.49% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • One of the longest intro periods

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No rewards program
  • Transfer timeline: Balances must be transferred within 60 days from account opening
  • Estimated total fees and interest on debt repayment: $404
read more
On Bank of America's secure site

Intro 0% APR for 15 months

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

  • Rewards

    2X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1X), 1X Membership Rewards® points per dollar spent on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    14.49% to 25.49% variable APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    $0

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 15 months of no interest on balance transfers
  • No balance transfer fee
  • No annual fee
  • Rewards program and welcome bonus, which is rare among no-fee balance transfer cards
  • 20% extra point bonus when you make 20 or more purchases in a billing period

Cons

  • 2.7% foreign transaction fee
  • Balances must be transferred within 60 days from account opening
  • Transfer timeline: Balances must be transferred within 60 days from account opening
  • Estimated total fees and interest on debt repayment: $452
read more
Information about the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Chase Slate®

  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    16.49% to 25.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    $0 on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, 5% ($5 minimum).

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • One of the longest intro periods for a no-fee balance transfer card

Cons

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • No rewards program
  • Transfer timeline: Balances must be transferred within 60 days from account opening
  • Estimated total fees and interest on debt repayment: $452
read more
Information about the Chase Slate® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

  • Rewards

    1.5% cash rewards on every purchase

  • Welcome bonus

    $150 cash rewards bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    15.49% to 27.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 120 days from account opening, with a $5 minimum. After, up to 5% ($5 minimum).

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Use your Wells Fargo Debit or ATM card to redeem rewards for cash at Wells Fargo ATMs ($20 increments)
  • Long intro 0% APR period for purchases and balance transfers
  • Generous welcome bonus

Cons

  • Below average 1.5% cash back
  • 3% fee charged on foreign transactions
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $527
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,838

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus and assumes you use eligible mobile wallets for 75% of purchases your first year.

read more
Information about the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.

Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Rewards

    3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% introductory APR for the first 15 months that your account is open

  • Regular APR

    15.74% to 25.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • 3% cash back on dining and entertainment purchases and 2% at grocery stores
  • Ability to redeem rewards at any amount, unlike some other cards with $25 minimums
  • Competitive special financing offer on both new purchases and balance transfers
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • 3% fee for promotional balance transfer offers
  • Only consumers with good to excellent credit typically qualify
  • Estimated cash back earned after 1 year: $550
  • Estimated cash back earned after 5 years: $2,152

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

read more
Information about the Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

FAQs

How do 0% APR credit cards work?

A 0% APR credit card offers no interest for a set amount of time, usually 12 to 21 months. During the intro 0% APR period, you won't be charged interest on new purchases or balance transfers. These cards can help you consolidate credit card debt with a balance transfer, pay for new purchases over time without incurring interest charges or both.

Balance transfer credit cards may set a limit on the amount of debt you can transfer, which is often less than your overall credit limit. Plus you may be charged a balance transfer fee, typically 3% per transfer.

Learn more: How to complete a balance transfer

What credit score is required for 0% APR credit cards?

Most 0% APR credit cards are reserved for consumers with good (670-739) or excellent (740 and greater) credit. If your credit score is fair (580 to 669) or poor (below 669) you may have trouble qualifying for a 0% APR card.

How to get the most benefit from 0% APR cards

A 0% APR card is most beneficial when you understand the terms of the offer and set up a plan to pay off your debt. Follow these tips to get the most benefit out of your card:

Read the fine print

Make sure you familiarize yourself with any fine print associated with the 0% APR offer, such as expiration date, timeline for completing a balance transfer, any balance transfer fees and the interest rate once the intro period ends.

Create a repayment plan

You'll need to come up with a plan to pay off credit card debt. The amount you need to pay each month in order to have a zero balance at the end of the intro period depends on the length of the intro period.

For example, if you have a $4,500 balance on the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, which offers no interest for the first 15 months on balance transfers and purchases (then 14.49% to 25.49% variable APR), you'll need to pay $300 each month to pay off your old balance before the intro period ends. But if you have the Discover it® Balance Transfer, with 0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers and purchases (then 13.49% to 24.49% variable APR), the monthly payment decreases to $250. Keep in mind the Discover it® Balance Transfer has a 3% intro balance transfer fee (up to 5% fee on future balance transfers).

Pay off your balance in full

It's very important to pay off any transferred debt or lingering new purchase balances before the intro 0% APR period ends. If you don't, expect to be hit with the regular purchase APR. And if you have a store card, you could be hit with a bill for all the interest you accrued since the date you made your purchase or transfer (known as deferred interest). None of the cards on this list charge cardholders deferred interest.

Learn more: 5 things to do once your balance transfer is complete.

How to compare 0% APR and low-interest cards

If you're not sure whether a 0% APR card or a low interest credit card is the right choice, ask yourself the following questions.

  • Are you carrying debt from a high interest credit card? Then you should consider a balance transfer credit card with up to 21 months no interest.
  • Do you plan on making a large purchase? A 0% APR card can provide you with a lengthy intro period that allows you to pay off debt for over a year with no interest.
  • Do you carry a balance month to month? A low interest credit card offers a relatively consistent APR every month, compared to 0% APR cards that typically charge high interest rates after the into period ends.

After you determined which credit card you want to apply for, compare cards by these key factors:

  • Length of intro APR period: Cards can have intro periods anywhere from three months to 21 months. Many popular rewards cards offer no interest for 15 months, and non-rewards cards can have 18- and 21-month intro 0% APR periods. For new purchases or lingering debt, the longer the better, but if you're completing a balance transfer, consider the cost of any balance transfer fees before applying.
  • Regular APR: Credit cards offering intro 0% APRs tend to have higher regular APRs than low interest cards. Consider the regular APR before settling on a card if you think you may carry a balance once the intro 0% APR period ends.
  • Balance transfer fee: Many balance transfer cards charge 3% to 5% fees per transfer. This fee can be outweighed by the amount you save on interest but make sure to do the math. Check out the best no-fee balance transfer credit cards.
  • Annual fee: Most 0% APR cards and low interest cards have no annual fee, but some may. Make sure to review the annual fees associated with the cards.
  • Rewards and added perks: The best 0% APR cards also offer cash back, points and miles, in addition to added perks, such as purchase protection and exclusive entertainment access. While these are nice benefits, paying off debt should be your primary goal.

Best 0% APR credit cards

Credit Card Intro APR Regular APR Balance Transfer Fee
Citi Simplicity® Card0% for the first 21 months on balance transfers; 0% for the first 12 months on purchases16.24% to 26.24% variable5%, minimum $5
Discover it® Balance Transfer0% for the first 6 months on purchases; 0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers13.49% to 24.49% variable3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Citi® Double Cash Card0% for the first 18 months on balance transfers; N/A for purchases15.49% to 25.49% variableEither $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
BankAmericard® credit card0% for the first 18 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers14.49% to 24.49% variableEither $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card0% for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers14.49% to 25.49% variable$0
Chase Slate®0% for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers16.49% to 25.24% variable$0 on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, 5% ($5 minimum).
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card0% for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers15.49% to 27.49% variable3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 120 days from account opening, with a $5 minimum. After, up to 5% ($5 minimum).
Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card0% introductory APR for the first 15 months that your account is open15.74% to 25.74% variable3% for promotional APR offers; none for balances transferred at regular APR

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2018 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $21,852 in retail spending. This budget is comprised of the most common spending categories, including groceries ($5,019), gas ($2,394), dining out ($3,365), travel ($2,154), utilities ($4,959) and general purchases ($3,961). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

Information about the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, Chase Slate®, Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card, and Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.

For rates and fees of the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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