Many of us use credit cards either to manage our debts or to pay for expensive items over time rather than have to save up money over many months. But if you aren’t careful, you could end up saddled with a credit card with a high interest rate or APR.
Fortunately, there are lots of excellent credit cards that have 0% APR on the market. The trick, of course, is determining which 0% APR credit cards are really worth your time.
Good news – we’ve already found five of the best 0% APR credit cards for 2021. Let’s break each card down in detail and explore why you might consider applying for a 0% APR credit card in the first place.
What is a 0% APR Credit Card?
A 0% APR credit card effectively adds no interest rate to your balance. Remember, APR stands for annual percentage rate. Practically speaking, the APR is the cost you pay for having a credit card or for taking out any other loan or borrowing money.
From the lender’s perspective, the APR works as a percentage of either the current balance of a loan or credit card or as a set percentage of the balance at a prior date. For instance, many credit cards or loans have APRs derived from yearly rates, so you pay the same APR throughout an entire year until the balance is updated at the same time next year.
For example, a credit card with a 10% APR will charge you 10% of the card’s balance each month, adding that amount to your total balance.
Say that you had a credit card with $200 on it and a 10% APR. The card also has a minimum payment amount of $25.
This means that your card will add another $20 to its total balance every month. You’d be wise to pay this $20 in addition to the $25 minimum limit each month to prevent the balance from growing over time or from taking too long to be paid off.
Why Are 0% APR Credit Cards Good?
Naturally, a 0% APR credit card sounds like a great deal. These cards don’t add any additional money to your balance, so you just need to pay off the minimum monthly amount each billing cycle.
Many people look into 0% APR credit cards since it allows them to manage their finances a little more flexibly (since they pay less on the card each month).
However, 0% APR credit cards usually come with several strings attached. Many 0% APR credit cards only offer 0% APR for “intro periods”. This is usually a number of months (often between 12 and 18), after which point the card will either have a regular APR for its class or an abnormally high APR.
In the latter case, such cards are often targeted toward financially vulnerable individuals who may not have the option to go for a more stable credit card. Additionally, many great 0% APR cards require high credit scores for you to be approved. If you aren’t sure, read our review to find out what and how credit score works!
This is why it’s important to read the fine print with any new credit card application. Alongside their 0% APR offer, most credit cards with these bonuses will also advertise their regular APR. This tells you the APR you’ll need to pay after the introductory period is over.
Other 0% APR credit cards only offer 0% APR under certain circumstances. Bottom line: there are good and bad 0% APR credit cards, and it’s important to know which is which when you’re signing up. If you want to know more about how to use credit cards effectively, check out our guide here.
The 5 Best 0% APR Credit Cards
With all this in mind, let’s take a detailed look at the 5 best 0% APR credit cards you can get in 2021.
1. Citi Diamond Preferred Card
The Citi Diamond Preferred Card is an excellent choice all around since it has an incredibly long 0% intro APR period. Indeed, you’ll enjoy 0% APR on any purchases and the overall balance for a total period of 18 months.
This means that you don’t have to pay interest both on any purchase value that you add to the card through using it and on its overall balance. This card also comes with no annual fee, so it’s incredibly affordable throughout its 0% APR timeframe.
However, it does have a variable APR between 14.74% and 24.74% after the introductory period. It also has a relatively high credit score requirement of 720 or above, so it may be difficult to qualify if you don’t have an excellent credit history. Keep this in mind when applying.
2. Blue Cash Everyday Card – American Express
This 0% APR credit card is from American Express. It has a reasonable 0% APR period of 15 months, though the 0% APR aspect only applies to purchases.
In other words, you still have to pay a regular APR between 13.99% and 23.99% on the overall balance of the card if you use it for things other than purchases (such as balance transferring). This makes it a poor choice for transferring credit card debt from another card to this one.
But it’s a good overall credit card for regular use, and it also doesn’t have an annual fee. Perhaps even better, you only need a “good” credit score of 690 or above to qualify in most circumstances. If you’re an Amazon shopper, you may prefer this card since you can get 20% back on any purchases at Amazon.com within the first six months or up to $200 back.
3. Discover It Cash Back
The Discover It Cash Back card is, as the name suggests, a decent choice if you appreciate credit cards that have great cashback rewards. Indeed, this card will let you earn 5% cashback on everyday purchases at a variety of different places each quarter. These include Amazon.com, certain gas stations, restaurants, and even most grocery stores. You’ll even get cashback when you use PayPal.
It does have a quarterly maximum, but Discover also automatically matches any cashback you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Talk about value!
Its 0% APR deal is also decent enough. You get 0% APR for an introductory period of 14 months on any purchases and balance transfers (so you can use this card to transfer debt from one card to another without any penalties). It comes with no annual fee and a decent APR after the introductory period of 11.99% to 22.9%.
As with the Blue Cash Card, you’ll only need a credit score of 690 or above to qualify, making this relatively accessible for folks with “good” credit.
4. U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card
Try the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card if you want to enjoy 0% APR for as long as possible. Its introductory period is 20 months in total and applies to both purchases and balance transfers, so you can use this card for whatever you like and enjoy 0% APR the whole time.
It doesn’t come with an annual fee and has a regular APR of 13.99% to 23.99%. It doesn’t come with cashback rewards or many other bonus perks, however, save for $600 worth of protection for your cell phone against certain types of covered damage. This only applies if you pay your monthly cell phone bill with the Platinum Card itself.
A credit score of 690 or higher is required to qualify on average.
5. Chase Freedom Unlimited
The Chase Freedom Unlimited Card combines both a great 0% APR period and good cashback rewards. You’ll get 0% APR on any purchases for 15 months in total, then switch to a regular APR of 14.99% to 23.74%, but you don’t have to worry about any annual fees.
The cashback rewards are pretty sweet overall. For instance, you’ll get a $200 bonus of credit if you spend $500 on the card on purchases within three months. Then you’ll also benefit from 5% cashback on any grocery store purchases outside of Target or Walmart up to $12,000 in your first year.
Other perks like 1.5% unlimited cash back on other purchases and 5% cashback on travel purchases round out this card’s offerings. It’s not even too difficult to get as you only need a credit score of around 690 to potentially qualify.
As you can see, there are lots of great 0% APR credit card choices already up and running for 2021. This should allow you to find at least one card that suits your needs and that you can qualify for, provided you have decent credit already.