Of all the perks you can get on a credit card, among the most valuable is, well, nothing: a 0% interest rate on purchases, balance transfers or both. To attract consumers and turn them into loyal longtime customers, many card issuers offer introductory 0% APR periods of six to 12 months. But some go all out and give you almost two years before interest starts accruing.
With a long introductory 0% APR period, you have plenty of time to pay off a major purchase interest-free. And by transferring high-interest credit card balances to a 0% card, you can whittle down what you owe more quickly because your entire payment will go toward erasing your debt rather than toward interest. Be aware, though, that most cards, but not all, charge a balance transfer fee of 3% to 5% of the amount transferred.
Ready to go long? Check out the 0% periods on these cards.
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
The super-long 0% APR period alone might be enough to recommend the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever, but this card offers even more. Although you should always make your payments on time, this card won’t penalize you for the occasional slip-up. It charges no late fees and has no penalty APR. The annual fee is $0.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card – 21 Month Intro Offer on BT and Purchases
The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card – 21 Month Intro Offer on BT and Purchases has a lot in common with its Citi stablemate, the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever. The 0% APR periods are identical, the ongoing APRs are similar, and this card, too, has an annual fee of $0.
The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card – 21 Month Intro Offer on BT and Purchases doesn’t offer protection against late fees, but it does come with extra perks: 24/7 concierge service for travel bookings and membership in Citi Private Pass, which gives you access to presale event tickets, preferred seating and more.
Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer
Discover has two versions of its flagship card, including this one with an extra-long 0% period for balance transfers and a more abbreviated period for purchases. Unlike most balance-transfer cards, however, the Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer offers a great rewards program. You get 5% cash back in everyday spending categories that change quarterly (see them in our full review). Plus, Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically. The annual fee is $0.
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer gets so much attention for its phenomenal rewards rate — 1% cash back on all purchases, plus another 1% back when you pay them off — that it’s easy to overlook its great introductory 0% APR period for balance transfers. It’s the Nerds’ favorite cash back card, and you can’t beat the $0 annual fee.
BankAmericard® Credit Card
The BankAmericard® credit card isn’t sexy, nor is it trying to be. The appeal of this card is simplicity. You get a nice long 0% APR period for balance transfers and purchases for an annual fee of $0. The card also offers a $0 introductory balance transfer fee for the first 60 days your account is open. After that, the fee for balance transfers is 3% (minimum $10).
Though it falls short of the longest 0% APR period by several months, the Chase Slate® stands tall for its balance-transfer trifecta: more than a year interest-free for both transfers and purchases, an annual fee of $0 and a $0 introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made in the first 60 days.
A perennial pick as one of the Nerds’ favorite rewards cards, the Chase Freedom® gives you 5% cash back in categories that change every quarter (see them in our full review), and 1% on everything else. There’s an easy-to-claim sign-up bonus, too: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. All that for an annual fee of $0.
» ALTERNATIVE: The Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers the same 0% APR period, sign-up bonus and $0 annual fee, but with a flat 1.5% cash back on everything.
Having a long 0% APR period doesn’t mean you can just forget about your credit card balance. If you fail to make your minimum payment, or if you pay late, your card issuer could cancel your 0% rate. And if you carry a balance past the end of the introductory period, interest could start stacking up fast. Used responsibly, however, a card with a long 0% introductory rate is a powerful ally in the fight against debt.
Updated Sept. 20, 2017.