What True Low-Interest Credit Cards Are Available?

If you do have to carry a monthly balance, credit cards with low ongoing APRs can make that debt less expensive. But not everyone will qualify for these kinds of cards.
Funto OmojolaOct 13, 2021

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A credit card’s APR is irrelevant if you don’t carry a balance from month to month because you won’t be charged any interest. But life happens and sometimes it's necessary to carry debt, which can get expensive. As of May 2021, the average annual percentage rate for cards that accrued interest was 16.30%, according to the Federal Reserve.

Fortunately, there are credit cards — typically offered by regional banks and credit unions — that offer lower rates and make carrying a balance less costly.

Not everyone will be eligible for such cards, whether because of membership requirements, geographic restrictions on the product or the bank that issues it, or a credit history that's not good enough to qualify for a card's lowest rate. And in some cases, you'll owe a security deposit, an annual fee or both.

But if think you'll end up carrying a balance, here are some cards to consider that feature low ongoing interest rates.

Nerdy tip: Many credit cards feature 0% introductory APR offers that can help you avoid paying interest for a period of time. But once that interest-free window closes, the card's ongoing variable APR kicks in, and in most cases it'll be a steep double-digit increase. The cards below may not have 0% intro APR offers, but they may prove more predictable for you.

AFCU Platinum Visa Cash Back Credit Card 

Annual fee: $0.

APR: The ongoing APR is 4.90% Variable (as of May 2021).

In addition to a low potential ongoing rate, this card also earns competitive cash-back rewards on everyday spending, which puts it on par with some of the best rewards credit cards on the market.

But you must be a member of Aerospace Federal Credit Union to apply for the card. Being an employee of The Aerospace Corp. is one membership path, among other specific options. Immediate family members of those who are eligible to join the credit union can also apply for the card.

Aerospace Federal Credit Union Platinum Rewards Credit Card
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Aerospace Federal Credit Union also offers the AFCU Platinum Visa® Rewards Credit Card, and it, too, features relatively low interest compared with other cards on the market. The ongoing APR is 10.90% Variable.

The difference is that this credit card earns points rather than cash back.

But it also comes with a $0 annual fee.

Air Force Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Credit Card

Annual fee: $0.

APR: The ongoing APR is 7.75% - 14.75% Variable APR (as of May 2021).

While an Air Force Federal Credit Union membership is required, you don't have to be affiliated with the military to join and get the card. In addition to military association, you can become a member by being a volunteer at a number of eligible companies, living or working in certain Mississippi counties or donating to an eligible foundation, among other requirement options.

Nerdy tip: When you miss a payment or make a late payment, some cards will charge you a penalty APR for a period of time (typically six months). Penalty APRs are usually significantly higher than the card’s regular interest rate.

Andrews Federal Simplicity Visa Credit Card

Annual fee: $0.

APR: 6-month introductory rate of 0% on all purchases made within the first 90 days, and then the ongoing APR of 7.99% Variable APR (as of May 2021).

The introductory period isn't as long as what other cards offer, but the card's ongoing regular APR is still relatively low.

Andrews Federal Credit Union offers additional cards that feature low ongoing interest rates. These include the $0-annual-fee Andrews Federal Platinum Rewards Visa® Credit Card and the $0-annual-fee Titanium Rewards Visa Signature® Credit Card.

Despite potentially low rates, you may not qualify due to eligibility requirements. Andrews Federal Credit Union serves eligible members who live in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey only.

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card
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Annual fee: $0.

APR: The ongoing APR is 11.50% Variable.

This card is a good option for those with poor credit (FICO scores of 629 or lower), and unlike a lot of cards in its class, the ongoing APR is fairly low.

However, it's a secured credit card, meaning you'll owe a deposit upfront — and a high one at that ($500). Also, you must be a member of the Digital Federal Credit Union to apply. Membership requirement options include working for a participating employer of the Massachusetts-based credit union, being related to a current member or belonging to a participating organization.

First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

First Progress Platinum Prestige Credit Card
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Annual fee: $49.

APR: The ongoing APR is 9.99% Variable.

This is also a decent option for those with poor credit. And despite its annual fee, the card’s ongoing APR is comparatively lower than those of competing secured credit cards.

But on top of the annual fee, you'll also have to come up with a security deposit of at least $200. You'll also be required to have a qualifying Synovus Bank account to be approved. Additionally, the card isn't available to residents of Arkansas, Iowa, New York or Wisconsin.

First Progress also offers the $39-annual-fee First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit CardThe ongoing APR is 13.99% Variable.

Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Card

Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Visa Credit Card
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Annual fee: $0.

APR: The ongoing APR is 6.25% Variable.

As far as ongoing rewards and benefits go, the card offers none. But individuals who plan on carrying a balance from month to month will find its unusually low interest rate appealing.

Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need excellent credit (FICO scores of at least 720) to qualify for the card's lowest rate. And beyond that, you'll have to join Lake Michigan Credit Union to get this card, although doing so isn't that difficult.

NASA Federal Platinum Advantage Rewards Credit Card

NASA Federal Credit Union Platinum Advantage Rewards Credit Card
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Annual fee: $0.

APR: The ongoing APR is 9.40% - 17.99% Variable APR.

The card’s rewards are a bit lackluster (1 point for each $1 spent), but its lowest possible APR may make up for it, if you can qualify for that rate.

The NASA Federal Credit Union offers a number of other cards with reasonably low interest rates. These include the $0-annual-fee NASA Federal Platinum Cash Rewards Credit Card and the NASA Federal Classic Credit Card.

You must be a member of the NASA Federal Credit Union to qualify for these cards.

Navy Federal Credit Union® Platinum Credit Card

Navy Federal Credit Union Platinum Credit Card
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Annual fee: $0.

APR: 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 5.99% - 18.00%, Variable.

The card offers an introductory interest-free period, and even after that, you may be eligible for a low ongoing rate, too — depending on your creditworthiness.

Beyond its low regular APR, the card doesn't come with any rewards or ongoing benefits.

Navy Federal Credit Union offers additional cards that come with potentially low ongoing APRs. These include the Navy Federal Credit Union® More Rewards American Express® Credit Card and the Navy Federal Credit Union® cashRewards Credit Card.

Similar to other military-affiliated credit unions, Navy Federal Credit Union membership requirements can be tough to meet.

OakStone Platinum Secured Mastercard®

Oakstone Platinum Secured Mastercard
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Annual fee: $49*.

APR: The ongoing APR is 9.99%, Variable.

This card is a good option for those who want to build or rebuild credit. Its annual fee isn't ideal, and you'll also need to put down a security deposit of at least $200. But the low regular interest rate will make it less costly if you have to carry a balance.

The card doesn’t earn any rewards, but it does report to all three major credit bureaus, which is a key feature for cards designed to help with your credit.

OakStone also offers the $39*-annual-fee OakStone Gold Secured Mastercard®The ongoing APR is 13.99%, Variable. It, too, requires a minimum $200 security deposit.

Note that neither card is available to individuals located in New York, Iowa, Arkansas or Wisconsin.

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Pentagon Federal Credit Union Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card
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Annual fee: $0.

APR: 0% promotional rate for 12 months on balance transfers made between now and March 31, 2022, and then the ongoing APR of 17.99%.

In addition to an intro APR rate, you might also qualify for a fairly low ongoing APR. Beyond that, the card also offers fairly rich rewards.

You have to be a member of the PenFed Credit Union to apply, but you don’t have to be affiliated with the military. You can also join simply by making a $5 deposit into a PenFed savings account.

Simmons Bank Visa

Annual fee: $0.

APR: 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 12 Months, and then the ongoing APR of 8.25% Variable APR (as of May 2021).

You'll get a solid 0% introductory APR period, which can give you some breathing room while you pay down debt. And after the promotional period, you may qualify for a regular interest rate as low as 8.25%.

Unlike cards from credit unions, you don’t have to be affiliated with any group or be a member to get the Simmons Bank Visa.

SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card

SunTrust Rewards Card Credit Card
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Annual fee: $0.

APR: 3.25% for the first 36 months for all Balances transferred within 60 days of account opening, and then the ongoing APR of 11.24%–21.24% Variable APR.

The SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card offers a super-lengthy 36-month low-interest period, which is significantly longer than what other cards tend to offer. You’ll need to have good to excellent credit to get this offer (FICO scores of at least 690).

Once the promotional period ends, purchases and balance transfers will incur interest, but still at a relatively low rate, depending on your creditworthiness.

SunTrust also offers the SunTrust Travel Rewards Credit Card, which comes with a 0% Introductory APR for the first 15 months on balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 11.24% - 21.24% Variable APR. It charges an annual fee of $0 intro for the first year, then $89.

There are caveats to these SunTrust cards, though. You're eligible to apply for them from any state in the U.S. (except for Vermont) if you already have an account with SunTrust. However, if you’re not an existing account holder, you’ll be able to apply if you are from one of these 11 states only: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Frequently asked questions

As of February 2021, the average APR for cards that accrued interest was 15.91%, according to the Federal Reserve. However, the rate you'll be charged will depend on your creditworthiness, which indicates to the card issuer how risky of a borrower you might be. There are credit cards that feature 0% introductory APR offers, which allow you to avoid paying interest for a set amount of time. After the card’s interest-free period ends, you’ll be charged the card's ongoing interest rate.

Although specific score requirements will vary by issuer, you’ll typically need good or excellent credit (a score of at least 690 on the FICO scale) to qualify for cards that offer low or promotional interest rates. Generally, the higher your credit score, the better credit card options you’ll have.

A credit card's interest rate is irrelevant if you don't carry a balance from month to month, because you won’t be charged any interest. However, if you have to carry a balance, you can try requesting a lower interest rate from your issuer, opt for alternative credit card options that feature low ongoing interest rates or work on building your credit score.

The best way to avoid getting charged interest is to pay your credit card bill on time and in full every month. If factors like financial hardship make it necessary for you to carry a balance, there are credit cards — usually offered by regional banks and credit unions — that offer lower rates and make carrying debt less costly.

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