Best 0% APR credit cards for June 2021 – CNET

A credit card with an introductory 0% rate can be an effective way to consolidate credit card debt, lower your credit utilization or finance a big-ticket item. At the moment, the best 0% APR credit cards feature a 15-month introductory APR period and a $200 or $250 welcome bonus. 

The optimal scenario with any credit card is that you’re paying off the balance each month. But if you need a longer timeline to pay off your debt, that 0% introductory interest period can offer a valuable reprieve. And unless you’re planning to carry a balance of $2,500 or more far beyond that period, the bonus should surpass what you’d save in interest with a card featuring a longer introductory period but no bonus. 

That noted, if your primary goal is to consolidate existing credit card debt, check out our list of the best balance transfer credit cards and our top picks for personal loans. Once you understand how much you can pay back each month, you can compare your options based on the total interest and welcome bonuses. Below are our current top picks — which we update regularly — as well as answers to frequently asked questions about 0% introductory APR credit cards.

Best 0% APR credit card overall

JPMorgan Chase

Annual fee: $0
Duration of introductory 0% APR: 15 months on purchases
Standard APR: 14.99% to 23.74% variable
Welcome bonus: $200 cash back
Bonus spending threshold: $500 on purchases in the first three months from account opening
Rewards: 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase; 3% on dining at restaurants; 3% on drugstore purchases; 1.5% on all other purchases

Our top pick for best 0% introductory APR credit card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited, checks all of the boxes: 15 months of introductory 0% APR on purchases (14.99% to 23.74% variable APR thereafter), a $200 bonus after spending only $500 in the first three months from account opening and competitive rewards.

The base reward rate is 1.5% cash back on purchases, and Chase offers 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase and 3% back on restaurant dining. Even if it’s not travel-related, you’re looking at 1.5% back on your purchase right off the bat, along with a $200 bonus.

Best 0% APR card for travel abroad

Capital One

Annual fee: $0
Duration of introductory 0% APR: 15 months on purchases
Standard APR: 15.49% to 25.49% variable
Welcome bonus: $200 cash back
Bonus spending threshold: $500 on purchases within three months from account opening
Rewards: 1.5% cash back on every purchase

The Capital One Quicksilver cash rewards credit card is a close runner-up to the Chase Freedom Unlimited. The highlights are virtually identical but the Quicksilver lacks the Chase card’s higher cash back rates for travel and restaurant dining. That noted, the Capital One distinguishes itself by having no foreign transaction fees — which can be as high as 3% with other cards (including the Chase Freedom Unlimited).

If you’re planning a big trip abroad, you might consider signing up for both cards: Use the Chase Freedom Unlimited for your plane tickets and the Capital One Quicksilver for your expenses overseas. 

Otherwise, both cards feature 15 months of intro 0% APR purchasing, a $200 welcome bonus (after spending $500 within the first three months) and 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Best welcome bonus for a 0% APR credit card

Bank of America

Annual fee: $0

Duration of introductory 0% APR: 12 months on purchases from date of account opening 

Standard APR: 13.99% to 23.99% variable
Welcome bonus: 25,000 online bonus points
Bonus spending threshold: $1,000 on purchases within three months from account opening
Rewards: Unlimited 1.5 points on all purchases

The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card is similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Capital One Quicksilver — but features a higher welcome bonus (as well as a modestly higher spending threshold) and a shorter introductory 0% APR period. The 25,000 bonus points can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit against travel and dining purchases, and the points never expire. Qualifying travel and dining purchases include taxis, ride shares, buses, trains, bars, fast food, flights, hotels, restaurants and more. For most people, that means redemption shouldn’t be a problem. 

The extra $50 worth of value from the welcome bonus will be worth more than the interest you’ll spend during those final three months (compared to the 15-month introductory periods offered by Chase and Capital One) when your average balance during those months is less than $1,000. If it’s more than $1,000, you’ll save more in interest with the Chase or Capital One card. This calculation assumes an APR of 20%. 

Take a look at your repayment plan and if you don’t expect having a $1,000 balance or more after 12 months, the Bank of America Travel Rewards card is a good choice. 

Longest introductory 0% APR period

US Bank

Annual fee: $0
Duration of introductory 0% APR: 20 months on purchases and balance transfers
Standard APR: 14.49% to 24.49% variable
Welcome bonus: None
Bonus spending threshold: N/A
Rewards: None

The US Bank Visa Platinum offers the longest introductory 0% APR period of any card we researched, with 20 months of interest-free balances after signing up (though remember you still need to make minimum monthly payments). The trade-off is a lack of welcome bonus and rewards. 

The extra five months of 0% interest (compared with the picks above) is only worth it if you plan on having an average balance over $2,400 during those months, and that doesn’t factor in the additional 1.5% of spending rewards.

0% APR credit cards, compared

Card Chase Freedom Unlimited Capital One Quicksilver Cash Bank of America Travel Rewards US Bank Visa Platinum
Annual fee $0 $0 $0 $0
Duration of 0% intro APR 15 months on purchases 15 months on purchases 12 months on purchases from date of account opening  20 months on purchases and balance transfer
Standard APR 14.99% to 23.74% variable 15.49% to 25.49% variable 13.99% to 23.99% variable 14.49% to 24.49% variable
Welcome bonus $200 $200 $250  none
Bonus threshold $500 in purchases in the first 3 months $500 in purchases in the first 3 months $1,000 in purchases in first 3 months n/a

What is a 0% APR credit card?

A 0% annual percentage rate (APR) credit card is a simplified term for credit cards with particularly long, introductory 0% APR periods. Most rewards credit cards offer at least 12 months of 0% APR after signing up, but many issuers also have extended offers for select cards. These cards can help you save money in interest payments during that introductory period. But they can also tempt you to carry a balance — which can accumulate into a longstanding debt over time. 

When does it make sense to apply for a 0% or low-APR credit card?

Ideally, you’re paying off your credit card balances every month to avoid paying interest. If you’re making a significant purchase that you’ll need to pay for over a period of time, using a 0% APR card could save you serious money.

These cards may also be useful when you’re in a financial pinch — if you’re between jobs or navigating a period of inconsistent cash flow. As long as the introductory APR period doesn’t lure you into spending beyond your means, a 0% credit card can be a helpful tool. 

More credit card recommendations

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