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Credit cards with 0% intro APR’s on purchases or balance transfers are a low-cost option for financing major purchases and offer an alternative to personal loans. But it’s essential to repay the balance on the card before the promotional interest rate expires, or you may wipe out any gains you’ve made.
When the unexpected hampers your typically faultless financial planning, and you find yourself carrying a balance on one of your credit cards, taking advantage of a 0% balance transfer can stem the losses when high credit card interest starts biting into the thin margins of collecting points and miles.
A 0% intro APR credit card can also help when you want to make a significant purchase that would otherwise require a personal loan. You can take on a home improvement project or a vacation and not have to pay interest on the balance as you pay it down.
This strategy can even spin a profit if you apply for the right credit card. The Chase Freedom Unlimited®, for example, offers 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent (after, earn 1.5% on all purchases). As long as you pay your balance down before the promotional interest rate expires, you won’t pay a cent in interest, and you’ll be earning valuable rewards on every purchase.
Are There Downsides to Using a 0% Intro APR Card?
Reaping the benefits of a 0% APR card comes down to discipline. The first rule of collecting points and miles is never to carry a balance on your cards. When you are dealing with returns of 1-2%, getting slapped with interest on a $3,000 balance quickly wipes out any gains you may have made.
When you take on a 0% intro APR card with the intention of carrying a balance, you need to reinforce your habits and ensure you are aware of the rules. If you’re late on a payment, the bank may nullify the 0% rate, again, eliminating any gains you have made.
Cards with $0 Annual Fee, 0% Intro APR & $0 Balance Transfer Fee
Purchase APR: 0% on purchases for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 14.99% - 25.99%.
Balance Transfer APR: 0% on balance transfers for 15 months, then a variable rate, currently 14.99% - 25.99%.
Balance Transfer Fee: $0 balance transfer fee . Balance transfers must be requested within 60 days from account opening.
Annual Card Fee: $0
- Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
- Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 20% more points on those purchases, less returns and credits
- 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases
Amex has another similar option (you'll have to pay a balance transfer fee though) — the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.
Purchase APR: 0% for 15 months then a variable rate of 16.99%–25.74%
Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 15 months then a variable rate of 16.99%–25.74%
Balance Transfer Fee: $0 for transfers made in the first 60 days after account opening
Annual Card Fee: $0
- No penalty APR for late payments
- $0 annual fee, 0% intro APR for 15 months, $0 balance transfer fee for first 60 days
Credit Cards with No Annual Fee and 0% Intro APR
Some providers offer several cards with no fee and a 0% intro APR; these are some of our top picks.
Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: Enjoy 0% Intro APR on purchases for 15 months from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months from date of first transfer; after that, the variable APR will be 15.49% - 25.49% based upon your creditworthiness
Balance Transfer Fee: 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum.
Annual Card Fee: $0
- Earn 2X Points on Dining Out & Entertainment. Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases
- Combine with Citi Premier℠ Card or Citi Prestige® Card and transfer points to travel partners for a higher return.
Special mention also goes out to the Citi Simplicity, which has an intro APR period of 0% for 12 months, and 0% for 21 months, then a variable rate of 16.74% - 26.74%. It also charges no late fees and doesn’t have a penalty APR, a great card to have in your wallet for large or unexpected expenses.
Purchase APR: 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months then a variable rate of 16.99% - 25.74%
Balance Transfer APR: 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months then a variable rate of 16.99% - 25.74%
Balance Transfer Fee: Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Annual Card Fee: $0
- Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent (after, earn 1.5% on all purchases).
- Unlimited 1.5 points on all purchases, when combined with the points earned from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card can be redeemed in the Chase Travel Portal or transferred to travel partners for a higher return.
The Chase Freedom® is also an option if you can maximize the rotating 5% bonus categories each quarter. However, we recommend the Freedom Unlimited if you want a simple earning structure and maximizing return on non-bonus spending.
Purchase APR: 0% for 12 months then a variable rate of 15.49% to 25.49%
Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 12 months on balance transfers made in the first 60 days then a variable rate of 15.49% to 25.49%
Balance Transfer Fee: 3% fee (min $10)
Annual Card Fee:$0
- $100 online cash rewards bonus after you spend at least $500 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening
- 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and now at wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas up to the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter
- Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America® checking or savings account
- If you're a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% – 75%.
If you’re looking for a 0% intro APR card for a balance transfer, you can’t go past the Chase Slate®. With no annual credit card fee and no fee for balance transfers executed in the first 60 days, it's hands-down the card to beat.
If you want to earn rewards as part of the process, the Freedom Unlimited offers a higher earning rate during your first year.
The main thing to remember is to avoid carrying a balance past the promotional 0% APR, or you risk losing any gains made by having a 0% card.
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