If you're about to make a big purchase that you need time to pay off, using a 0% introductory purchase offer on a credit card could be the cheapest way to spread the payment out over time.
- You can currently find 0% deals for as long as 21 months with no fees, but since rates after the intro period are high, only use these deals if you're sure you can handle paying off the debt before the period is up.
- When searching for 0% purchase cards, make sure you select a card that waives interest. Far too many cards, especially those offered by retailers only defer the interest which means you can get get a nasty surprise when the intro period is up.
Below we list the longest 0% purchase credit cards broken up by length of 0% intro period from our database of over 3,000 credit card products from banks and credit unions:
18 Months 0% Intro APR
Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever
The Citi Simplicity® Card - No Late Fees Ever offers a long 0% APR for 18 months on purchases. This provides you well over a year to pay off any purchases without accruing interest, and you receive great perks such as no late fees, no penalty rate and no annual fee. After the intro period ends, the standard APR applies. It’s 15.24%-24.24% variable, depending on your creditworthiness.
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card has a long period for you to pay off debt with a 0% intro APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers. Following the intro period, the variable APR on purchases will be 16.40%-26.24%. Besides the promotional APR, this card is fairly basic. It does have one other notable perk: You can receive up to $600 of cellphone protection (subject to $25 deductible) against eligible reasons when you pay your monthly cellphone bill with your card.*
TruWest Visa® Signature Card
At 18 months, the 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the TruWest Visa® Signature Card is one of the highest for a credit union. It also has a very low ongoing variable APR (after the intro period ends): 9.15%-10.15%. This card is restricted to people who live, work, own a business or go to school in select Arizona and Texas communities or who work for select employers. You can read more about membership eligibility on TruWest’s website. You can earn 1 point per dollar spent, and up to 10 extra points per dollar spent by taking advantage of bonus point offers with the Get Extra Points Rewards Program. You can also earn up to 1.5% cash back by redeeming rewards through the TruRewards program.
TruWest Visa® Platinum Card
Another card from TruWest that offers a long intro period is the TruWest Visa® Platinum Card, with 0% intro APR for 18 months on purchases. Again, this card is only available to TruWest Credit Union members. This card has one of the lowest starting variable APR ranges at 7.20%-21.20% variable, which is beneficial for anyone who qualifies for the low rate and may carry a balance after the intro period ends (though we recommend paying off debt beforehand).
TruWest Platinum Points Visa Rewards Credit Card
The TruWest Platinum Points Visa Rewards Credit Card has a competitive 0% intro period at 18 months on all purchases and balance transfers. After the intro period, the purchase APR is 9.15%-16.15% variable. As with the other TruWest cards, this one is only available to members. You can benefit from a rewards program where you automatically earn up to 1 point for every $1 you spend, and earn up to 10 extra points per dollar spent. However, this is a low rewards rate compared to other 0% intro purchase cards on this list.
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers a long 0% intro period at 18 months for purchases and balance transfers (variable APR is 11.24%-23.24% when the promotional period ends); however, this card offers few other benefits. There is no rewards program, but there is cellphone protection that can reimburse you for damage or theft up to $600 (with a $25 deductible), for up to two claims ($1,200) per 12-month period when you pay your cellphone bill with your card.
Bank of Hawaii American Express® Card with MyBankoh Rewards
With the Bank of Hawaii American Express® Card with MyBankoh Rewards, you can benefit from a long intro period of 0% APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers. After that, the standard purchase variable APR of 15.23% or 18.23% applies, based on your credit worthiness. Cardholders can earn one point per dollar spent, and a 20% annual year-end bonus of the points earned on purchases. If you’re not a resident of Hawaii, Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands, you must also have a deposit relationship with Bank of Hawaii to apply for this card. All U.S. residents (except those of Iowa and Puerto Rico) can apply.*
Bank of Hawaii Visa Signature® Card with MyBankoh Rewards
Similar to the other myBankoh Rewards card, the Bank of Hawaii Visa Signature® Card with MyBankoh Rewards offers 18 months 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers. Afterward, the ongoing APR is 15.23% or 18.23% variable. This card is open to most U.S. residents (details above), and cardholders earn one point per dollar spent, as well as a 10% annual year-end bonus of the points earned on purchases.* If you’re not a resident of Hawaii, Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands, you must also have a deposit relationship with Bank of Hawaii to apply for this card. All U.S. residents (except those of Iowa and Puerto Rico) can apply.*
15 Months 0% Intro APR
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® provides a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers — that is shorter than other flat-rate cash back cards. After those 15 months, purchases are subject to a standard APR of 16.24%-24.99% variable. With the cash back program, you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase – it’s automatic.
The 15 month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers that the Chase Freedom® offers is complemented with a cash back program that is great for those looking to maximize cash back in bonus categories. You can earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – it's automatic. After the promotional period, the purchase APR is 16.24%-24.99% variable.
The Chase Slate® has a decent 0% intro period for purchases (15 months, after which the purchase APR is 16.24%-24.99% variable), but you can find other cards with longer periods, and/or rewards. This card is predominantly known for its balance transfer offer where you get 0% intro APR for 15 months and an intro $0 balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 5% of the amount transferred with a minimum of $5, whichever is greater.
BankAmericard® Credit Card
The BankAmericard® Credit Card has an average intro period for purchases at 0% intro APR for 15 billing cycles (after that, the purchase APR is 13.24%-23.24% variable). There are no rewards; however, this card shines with its balance transfer period of 0% intro APR for 15 months and $0 intro balance transfer fee for transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% with a minimum of $10.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers an introductory 0% on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months. After that, your APR will be a variable rate, currently 14.24% - 25.24%. (See Rates & Fees). There is also a cash back program — earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, and 1% back on other purchases. Terms Apply.
Citi® ThankYou® Preferred Card
At 15 months, the Citi® ThankYou® Preferred Card offers a competitive 0% intro APR period on purchases when compared to other dining rewards cards. (After the intro period, the APR will be a variable 14.74%-24.74%, based on your creditworthiness.) The rewards program benefits frequent diners and those who enjoy entertainment — earn two points per dollar spent on dining out and entertainment, and one point per dollar on all other purchases.
PNC Core® Visa® Credit Card
The PNC Core® Visa® Credit Card is a basic card that offers 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases for the first 15 billing cycles, then 11.24% to 21.24% variable APR, based on your credit. There is no rewards program or noteable perks. However, there is U.S.-based customer service available 7 days a week.
Truly Simple® Credit Card from Fifth Third Bank
This card offers a decent intro period at 0% APR for 15 billing cycles, however this card is restricted to residents of Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. There is also no penalty APR if you miss a payment. The standard APR of 13.24%-24.24% variable applies after the intro period ends.
BB&T Bright Card
The BB&T Bright Card offers a good intro period from a community bank at 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers (variable 12.40%-21.40% variable APR after). Note that this card is restricted to residents of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia.
APGFCU Visa® Platinum Preferred Rewards Credit Card
This card offers a competitive 0% intro APR on purchases and qualified balance transfers compared to other credit unions at 0% intro for 15 months (11.74%-17.99% variable after). To qualify for this card you need to live, work, worship, attend school, or volunteer in Harford or Cecil County or certain areas in Middle River, Maryland. There is a subpar rewards program where you can earn one point for every dollar spent on purchases.
KeyBank Latitude® Credit Card
The KeyBank Latitude® Credit Card has a decent intro period at 0% on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 billing cycles (11.24%-21.24% variable APR after, based on creditworthiness). This card is restricted to people who live in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont and Washington. There is no rewards program.
Deferred versus Waived Interest
Not all 0% offers are created equally. Some credit card companies offer "deferred" interest, whereas others off "waived" interest.
Let's take a simple example. You spend $1,000 on a credit card with an APR of 18%. You will make payments of $75 every month. There is a special offer that gives you 0% interest for 12 months. On "Credit Card A" interest is deferred. On "Credit Card B" it is waived. After making 12 payments of $75, the remaining balance in month 13 would be $100.
Credit Card A: Deferred Interest
With a "deferred" interest offer, the bank does not forgive the monthly interest accrual. Instead, the bank just keeps track of the interest that would have accrued. If you do not pay the balance in full during the promotional period, you will get retroactively charged the interest at a high interest rate. In the example above, you would be charged approximately $117 in month 13. (I use "approximately" because credit card companies have slightly different ways of calculating and charging interest. But it is safe to assume that you would be charged more than $100 of interest on your remaining $100 balance.)
Credit Card B: Waived Interest
Waived interest is very different. For every month of the promotional period, the credit card company actually forgives the interest. There will never be a retroactive catch up after the promotional period ends. In our example, you would only be charged $3.26 of interest in month 13, compared to more than $100 in the deferred example.
Deferred interest products are surprisingly common. If you are being offered 0% financing by a retailer, you are probably being offered a deferred interest product.
How To Qualify For A 0% Purchase Credit Card
In order to qualify for a 0% intro purchase credit card, you will need to have good credit. If your credit score is above 700, you are highly likely to be approved by one of the issuers. If your score is between 650 and 700, you still have a good chance.
With a credit score below 650, it is highly unlikely that you would be approved, though you may want to check to see if you are pre-qualified for a card before applying. Many of the banks let you check to see what deals they are specifically targeting to you, and you can see a list of them here. Checking what you're pre-qualified for won't show up on your credit report or score.
In addition to your credit score, the credit card company will want to ensure that you are employed. And most credit card companies will look at your debt burden.
If your debt burden is more than 50%, it is unlikely that you will be approved.
The lower your debt burden, the better your chances. You calculate your debt burden by dividing the monthly payments on your credit report (which would include your mortgage, auto loans, student loans, personal loans and credit cards) by your monthly paycheck before taxes are taken out.
When Is A Personal Loan Better?
There is no lower interest rate than 0%. So, if you are able to use a 0% credit card to make a purchase, that is your best bet. However, there are a few circumstances where a personal loan might be a better option:
- Your credit score is too low for a 0% offer. Personal loan companies are offering increasingly competitive interest rates, especially for people with lower credit scores.
- You need to borrow money for a big cash expense. For example, you might need to pay a contractor who does not accept credit cards. If you need cash, a personal loan is always a better deal than a credit card.
- You don't trust yourself with credit cards. Some people feel nervous with credit cards. You might be tempted to spend more than you want. Or, you might be tempted to only pay the minimum due, extending the repayment term. A personal loan can be an easy way to borrow a set amount of money for a set period of time.
If you want to consider a personal loan, you can compare and apply using our personal loan comparison tool. You can check your interest rate and see if you are approved without hurting your credit score at most lenders.