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 even more time 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 quicker because your entire payment will go toward erasing 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.
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers a long 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, earning it NerdWallet’s 2019 award for best 0% intro APR card. The card doesn’t offer rewards, but that’s not your priority when attempting to pay down debt. And it’s one of only a handful of cards that offer cell phone insurance, which can make it worth keeping around for the long haul. The annual fee is $0.
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
The long 0% APR period for transfers 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.
Discover it® Balance Transfer
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® Balance Transfer offers a great rewards program. The card earns 5% back in rotating quarterly categories on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter (activation required). All other purchases earn 1% back. Past bonus categories have included things like restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and more. (See our full review for current categories.) Plus, Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched. 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 among NerdWallet’s favorite flat-rate cash-back cards, 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 qualifying balance transfers and purchases for an annual fee of $0. The fee for balance transfers is 3% (minimum $10).
HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card
The HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card won’t earn you rewards, but it does offer a lengthy 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers, not to mention a couple of distinctive features. For instance, you get a one-time late fee waiver if you happen to forget a payment. The card also doesn’t charge a penalty APR. The annual fee is $0.
A perennial pick among NerdWallet’s 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 and $0 annual fee, but its rewards structure is different. Double Cash Back: Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
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.