Advertiser Disclosure

If you have credit card debt or plan to make a big purchase, a low-interest credit card can be a lifesaver. Many offer more than a year of 0% APR to pay down your debts, or a low ongoing interest rate for a longer-term debt reduction strategy. These cards are the best in the business, from waived fees to rewards and more. Transfer your balance, and you’ll get some room to breathe — and a chance to get out of debt.

NerdWallet’s best 0% and low interest cards

Best for … Card
Balance transfers Chase Slate®
Longest 0% APR period Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
Sign-up bonus Chase Freedom®
Rewards Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
Low fees Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer
Ongoing low interest Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Visa

Best for balance transfers

Chase Slate®

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • $0 annual fee
  • $0 Intro Fee on Transfers made within 60 days of Account Opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Qualify with Good credit

Cons

  • No rewards

Bonus Offer

Save with a $0 introductory balance transfer fee, 0% introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and $0 annual fee. Plus, receive your Monthly FICO® Score for free.

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

APR

  • APR: 13.24%-23.24% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Chase Slate named "Best Credit Card for Balance Transfers" three years in a row by MONEY Magazine
  • $0 Introductory balance transfer fee for transfers made during the first 60 days of account opening
  • 0% Introductory APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Monthly FICO® Score and Credit Dashboard for free
  • No Penalty APR - Paying late won't raise your interest rate (APR). All other account pricing and terms apply
  • $0 Annual Fee

$0 annual fee. No balance-transfer fee for the first 60 days. 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24%-23.24% Variable. 3% foreign-transaction fee

Benefits of the Chase Slate®:

  • Using the $0 introductory balance-transfer fee within the first 60 days makes it a lot easier to reduce debt. Most other balance-transfer cards charge a fee of 3% to 5% when you transfer your balance, making that move very expensive. No other card offers both a fee-free balance transfer and a long 0% APR period.
  • The relatively long 0% APR period on both purchases and balance transfers makes it easier to pay off big expenses or eliminate debt.
  • There’s no penalty APR, so paying late won’t raise your interest rate, but it can hurt your credit score.
  • You can access your FICO score monthly for free.
  • The annual fee is $0.

Drawbacks of the Chase Slate®:

  • The Chase Slate® offers no rewards, so it’s not the best card for everyday purchases.
  • You can’t transfer balances from one Chase card to another, so you’ll only be able to take advantage of Chase Slate®’s great balance transfer offer if you’re carrying debt on a card from another issuer.
  • You can’t transfer balances of more than $15,000.
  • The 3% foreign-transaction fee, while not uncommon, makes this card less than ideal for international travel.

Bottom line:

If you’ve got a significant credit card balance and want to get serious about paying it off, it’s pretty hard to beat the Chase Slate®. The introductory $0 balance transfer fee plus the long 0% APR period make this card a powerful weapon against debt.

Longest 0% APR period

Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever

Apply Now on Citibank's secure website

Pros

  • No late fee
  • No annual fee
  • 0% if you qualify for 21 mos on transfers

Cons

  • No rewards

Bonus Offer

0% on purchases and balance transfers for 21 months

Annual Fee

$0*

Intro APR Promotions

0% on purchases and balance transfers for 21 months

APR

  • Min APR: 13.24%, Variable
  • Max APR: 23.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • The ONLY card with No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee… EVER.
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers and Purchases for 21 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.24% - 23.24% based on your creditworthiness.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • The same great rate for all balances, after the introductory period.
  • Save time when you call with fast, personal help, 24 hours a day – just say “representative”
  • Enjoy the convenience of setting up your own bill payment schedule on any available due date throughout the month.

$0* annual fee. Balance-transfer fee of 3% (minimum $5). Intro APR of 0% for 21 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable . No late fees or penalty APR. 3% foreign-transaction fee.

Benefits of the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever:

  • The introductory APR period is the best in the business. For debts that won’t be paid off in just a year, this card is great.
  • The annual fee of $0* means you can put more money toward debt reduction.
  • There are no late fees or penalty APRs, which makes this card more forgiving than many of its competitors. But keep in mind that your credit score may take a hit if you pay late.

Drawbacks of the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever:

  • You’ll pay 3% in balance-transfer fees, so take that into consideration when you’re calculating how much interest you’ll save.
  • There are no rewards. Just because you’re in debt-reduction mode doesn’t mean you don’t want a few perks.
  • There’s a 3% foreign-transaction fee, so take another card with you abroad.

Bottom line:

The long 0% APR period on the Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever means you’ll have more time to recoup the 3% balance-transfer fee in savings, so in some situations, this card may be just what you need. It won’t cost you much to keep the card in your wallet, since there’s a $0* annual fee and you won’t get slapped with a lot of fees or a penalty APR if you miss a payment.

Best for sign-up bonus

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now on Chase's secure website

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Qualify with Good credit

Cons

  • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better

Bonus Offer

Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers

APR

  • APR: 14.24%-23.24% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 14.24-23.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants, and wholesale clubs
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee

Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. $0 annual fee. Introductory APR: 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 14.24%-23.24% Variable. 5% cash back on quarterly bonus categories on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, and 1% back on everything else.  

Benefits of the Chase Freedom®:

  • The introductory APR isn’t too shabby if you need a breather from interest to pay down your debt faster.
  • The 5% cash back on bonus categories is generous for a balance transfer card; earning 1% on all other purchases isn’t bad either.
  • Few balance-transfer cards offer a sign-up bonus; this one does.
  • The annual fee is $0.

Drawbacks of the Chase Freedom®:

  • The rotating bonus categories can be hard to keep track of; a flat-rate rewards card is simpler.
  • Foreign transactions will cost you 3%.

Bottom line:

If you have a manageable amount of credit card debt that can be paid off in 15 months or less, the Chase Freedom® is a solid option. You won’t have to give up earning credit card rewards while you’re paying down your debt — not even on new purchases. The Chase Freedom® should definitely be on your short list.

Best for rewards

Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

Apply Now on Citibank's secure website

Pros

  • High rewards rate
  • No annual fee
  • 0% if you qualify for 18 mos on transfers

Bonus Offer

Earn cash back twice on every purchase

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% balance transfers for 18 months*

APR

  • Min APR: 13.24%, Variable
  • Max APR: 23.24%, Variable
  • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.49%, Variable

Card Details

  • Earn cash back twice on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 13.24% - 23.24% based on your creditworthiness
  • Click 'Apply Now' to see the applicable balance transfer fee and how making a balance transfer impacts interest on purchases.
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*

Introductory APR of 0% for 18 months on balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 13.24% - 23.24% Variable . Earn 1% cash back on purchases, then an additional 1% back when you pay them off. $0 annual fee.

Benefits of the Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer:

  • The introductory 0% APR period for balance transfers is among the longest available for rewards cards of any kind.
  • The cash-back rate — 1% on purchases plus another 1% when you pay them off, with no limit — easily trumps the flat 1% offered by many other rewards cards.
  • You can qualify for this card with good credit.

Drawbacks of the Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer:

  • The card charges a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount transferred or $5, whichever is higher.
  • There’s a $25 minimum redemption for cash back. Some cards have no such minimum.

Bottom line:

Though it’s not often thought of as a 0% APR or balance-transfer card, the Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer gives you a long interest-free period to pay down your debt. And unlike some transfer cards, it gives you a great reason to keep using it even after the 0% period ends: a fantastic cash-back structure in which you get 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay it off. (You don’t earn these rewards on balance transfers, though.) What’s more, many of the best rewards cards require excellent credit to qualify; the Citi®Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer requires good credit.

Best for low fees

Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

Apply Now on Discover's secure website

Pros

  • Bonus cash back categories
  • No annual fee
  • 0% on purchases for 6 months and 0% on balance transfers for 18 months
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • Slightly less merchant acceptance for Discover in US - acceptance outside of US can be an issue
  • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better

Bonus Offer

You could turn $200 into $400 with Cashback Match™. We’ll automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. New cardmembers only.

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

0% on purchases for 6 months and 0% on balance transfers for 18 months

APR

  • APR: 11.24% – 23.24% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.24%, Variable

Card Details

  • You could turn $200 into $400 with Cashback Match™. We’ll automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. New cardmembers only.
  • Earn 5% cash back in new bonus categories like gas, restaurants, Amazon and more - up to $1500 every quarter you activate. Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • FICO® Credit Scores for free on statements and online.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

$0 annual fee. Introductory APR of 0% on purchases for 6 months and 0% on balance transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.24% – 23.24% Variable. 5% cash back on rotating categories, up to $1,500 spent per quarter, and 1% back on all other spending. No penalty APR or foreign-transaction fees. 3% balance-transfer fee.

Benefits of the Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer:

  • Generous quarterly rewards in bonus categories.
  • You’ll earn a flat 1% cash back on non-bonus categories.
  • The introductory APR is longer than most for balance transfers: 0% on purchases for 6 months and 0% on balance transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 11.24% – 23.24% Variable.
  • There are plenty of extras: free FICO scores, warranty protection, and a Freeze It℠ on/off switch that lets you prevent new transactions on your account if you misplace your card.
  • You’ll pay no foreign-transaction fees, a rarity among low-interest or 0% APR credit cards.

Drawbacks of the Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer:

  • The card comes with a 3% balance-transfer fee, which will take a bite out of your interest savings during the introductory period.
  • The 0% APR period on purchases is relatively short, compared with that for transfers. Once that period is up, you’ll pay interest right away on everything you buy, unless you pay your balance in full.
  • Discover isn’t as widely accepted as MasterCard and Visa, so this is probably not a good bet if you like to carry only one card.

Bottom line:

The Discover it®- 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer has generous rewards. And we like the looks of that lengthy 0% APR period for transfers. But this card requires cardholders to pay attention to the end of the promotional 0% APR period on purchases, as well as the rotating bonus categories. If you don’t mind keeping close tabs on your credit card and spending, this card is a great deal.

Best for ongoing low interest: Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Visa

Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Visa

Apply Now on Lake Michigan Credit Union's secure website

Pros

  • No annual fee

Cons

  • No rewards
  • Needs excellent credit

Bonus Offer

None

Annual Fee

$0

Intro APR Promotions

N/A

APR

  • Purchase: 6.25%, Variable

Card Details

  • Credit line of $500 - $25,000

The annual fee is $0. The ongoing APR is 6.25% Variable . Available to anyone who lives in lower Michigan or who makes a $5 one-time donation to the ALS Foundation.

Benefits of the Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Visa:

  • For debts that will stretch beyond even the most generous introductory 0% APR, the Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Visa’s ongoing low interest rate is an attractive one.
  • The annual fee is $0.

Drawbacks of the Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Visa:

  • There is no 0% APR period, which means you’ll pay interest on balance transfers and new purchases from day one.
  • The card offers no rewards and requires excellent credit.
  • You must be a member of the Lake Michigan Credit Union to get the card. Even though membership requirements are very flexible, even for people outside Michigan, that’s an extra hoop to jump through before you can apply for the card.

Bottom line:

The Lake Michigan Credit Union Prime Platinum Visa has an unusually low interest rate, so it’s a real contender if you expect to carry a credit card balance for the foreseeable future and you want to save on interest. You may be able to find a similar deal at a credit union in your area, but this rate is low even by credit union standards. If you expect to pay your balance off in 21 months or less, consider getting a card with a 0% introductory APR.

Methodology

NerdWallet’s credit cards team selects cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to win in multiple categories.

Last updated May 9, 2016. 

Virginia C. McGuire is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: virginia@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @vcmcguire.