What is a Good Credit Card APR? The 15 Best Low Interest Rate Cards

What is a Good Credit Card APR?

credit card advice

Ashley Dull
By: Ashley Dull
Posted: November 15, 2017
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

While credit cards are popular among consumers for their perks and convenience, it’s easy to forget that credit cards aren’t only popular with consumers; the card issuers and banks love them too — but for different reasons. For instance, credit cards are a consistent (and abundant) source of income.

In fact, according to the Federal Reserve, credit card interest fees account for nearly 10% of the income of credit card banks, and almost 3% of the income for the average commercial bank.

With so much money on the line, consumers, quite rightly, often look to get the lowest APR they can. But what constitutes a good APR — or a really bad one? As with many things in life, the answer to that question is: It’s relative.

APRs Explained | Best APR Deals

Your Card’s Interest Rate Depends on Your Credit Score

For the most part, the quality of a particular APR will depend more on your credit history than any hard-and-fast numbers. That said, a few generalizations can be made, starting with the fact that a lower APR is always better — and a zero APR is the best. On the other end of the range, double-digit APRs are common for credit cards, but an APR over 30% is always bad.

Outside those broad lines, whether a specific APR is a good APR will depend on both the card and your personal creditworthiness. Nearly all open-loop credit cards will have a range of possible APRs (e.g., 14.99% – 19.99%), typically spanning five to 10 percentage points. This range is determined by issuers based on their risk tolerance and the potential risk of the card’s intended audience.

The APR you are offered when you apply for a particular credit card will come from the predetermined range, but the exact number will depend on your individual creditworthiness. Lower-risk applicants — those with well-established credit profiles and high credit scores — will be offered an APR from the lower end of the range. Higher-risk applicants with lower credit scores will receive an APR from the higher end of the range.

Table of Estimated Credit Card APRs By Credit Score

Along these lines, a specific interest rate can be good for one card and applicant, but poor for another. For example, consider two credit cards, Card A and Card B, with APR ranges of 11% to 16% and 15% to 20%, respectively. Suppose Hypothetical Henry applies for both cards and is offered a 15% interest rate by both issuers. Relative to the possible rates for Card A, Henry’s 15% APR isn’t very good. For Card B, however, the 15% APR is the best possible rate.

The Best Low-Interest Credit Card Deals

In general, the only effective way to influence the APR you receive when you are approved for a particular credit card — other than improving your credit — is to be discerning during the card selection process. If you choose to apply for a credit card with a low APR range, then you are essentially guaranteed to get a low APR if you are approved.

Of course, it’s important to apply for a card for which you are actually likely to be approved, no matter how tempting the APR range of out-of-reach cards. If you have poor credit, for instance, you are likely to be rejected for a prime credit card with a low APR range and may need to settle for a card with a higher APR. Since each application will result in a hard credit inquiry, don’t apply for cards well outside your credit score’s reach.

Low Ongoing APR | 0% New Purchases | 0% Balance Transfers | Fair Credit | Bad Credit

Best Cards with “Low Ongoing” APRs

Although most of us know it’s best to avoid carrying a credit card balance because of the fees, sometimes — life happens. With a credit card that always has a low APR, you can avoid paying an arm and a leg — or any other body part — to your credit card issuer and ensure that life’s little problems don’t turn into big expenses. Our top-rated picks for low ongoing APRs offer rates as low as 11.99% to qualified applicants.

Discover it® - Cashback Match™ Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards instantly at Amazon.com checkout.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Discover it® chrome Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING
★★★★★
4.8
OVERALL RATING
4.8/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter - no sign-ups needed. Plus, 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

+See more Low Ongoing APR Cards

If you have made significant credit score improvements since you obtained your current card, you may be able to request an APR reduction from your issuer. Few issuers will grant decreases outside the advertised APR range, so check your card’s range to get an idea of what rate to ask for based on your credit profile.

Best Cards for “New Purchase” Intro 0% APR

Credit cards are an amazingly convenient way to make all kinds of purchases, especially large purchases that would be a hassle to make with cash. At the same time, the typical double-digit APR can make that purchase a whole lot less convenient.

Cards offering an introductory 0% APR deal are great for financing large purchases you may need a little time to pay off. The best cards, including our favorites, provide introductory periods of 12 months or more.

0% INTRO APR RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
4.7/5.0
  • $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
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.99%-24.74% Variable
$0
Excellent Credit
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

0% INTRO APR RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
4.6/5.0
  • 0% Intro APR for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 16.15%-25.99% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
  • Free access to your FICO® Credit Score with Wells Fargo Online®
  • Zero Liability protection for promptly reported unauthorized transactions
  • Convenient tools to help create a budget and manage your spending with My Money Map
  • $0 Annual Fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 18 months
0% for 18 months
16.15%-25.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good
0% INTRO APR RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • 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
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
  • 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 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.99% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

+See More New Purchase Intro APR Cards

When taking advantage of introductory APR deals, remember that introductory basically means temporary in this case. After your intro period ends, you’ll be charged the default purchase APR on your remaining balance and new purchases. To avoid sudden interest fees, be sure to pay off your balance before your terms expire.

Best Cards for “Balance Transfer” Intro 0% APR

It’s all well and good to get a new credit card with a low (or 0%) APR for new purchases, but what about the balance you’re already being charged double-digit interest on? That’s where the balance transfer card offer comes in. These introductory credit card offers provide 0% APR on transferred balances and more than 12 months to pay them off. The balance transfer options on our list won’t even charge an annual fee.

Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING
★★★★★
5.0
OVERALL RATING
4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.99% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
Discover it® - Cashback Match™ Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING
★★★★★
4.9
OVERALL RATING
5.0/5.0
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards instantly at Amazon.com checkout.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

+See More Balance Transfer Intro APR Cards

Before transferring your balance, check to see if your new card charges a balance transfer fee (hint: most cards do). Typically 3% to 5% of the transferred balance, these fees are often worth the cost to those currently being charged a 20%-plus APR. Depending on your credit, you may be able to avoid a fee, as a handful of cards, including the popular Chase Slate, offer fee-free balance transfers.

Best Low-APR Cards for “Fair” Credit

Although the exact credit score range will vary by model, those with scores in the mid-600s tend to be described as having “fair” credit. These consumers are often building (or rebuilding) their credit, which equates to a fairly substantial credit risk to an issuer — and, thus, relatively high APRs.

Overall, fair-credit consumers will generally be offered an APR at the high end of the range for prime cards, but may qualify for the low end of the range with a subprime card. On the plus side, those with fair credit can still find quality cards, even some that offer purchase rewards, such as some of our expert-rated options below.

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Building Credit Review

at Credit One'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • See if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score.
  • This fully unsecured credit card with no deposit requirement can be helpful in growing or building credit. Your account activity will be reported monthly to all three major credit bureaus.
  • All the features you want in a credit card are included. Get 1% cash back on eligible purchases, take advantage of free online credit score tracking, and enjoy credit line increase opportunities. Terms apply.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
16.99% - 24.99% Variable
$0 - $99
Fair
Discover it® chrome for Students Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING
★★★★
4.4
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter - no sign-ups needed. 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
13.99% - 22.99% Variable
$0
Fair
Discover it® for Students Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

FAIR CREDIT RATING
★★★★
4.4
OVERALL RATING
4.5/5.0
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
10.99% for 6 months
13.99% - 22.99% Variable
$0
Fair

+See More Cards for Fair Credit

A good way to ensure your new card helps build your credit profile in a positive way is to pay your balance on time every month, perhaps by setting up automatic payments. Since your payment history is 35% of your FICO score calculation, late or missed payments can sabotage any progress you’ve made on your rebuilding journey.

Best Low-APR Cards for “Bad” Credit

If there’s anything that scares a prime credit card issuer, it’s a bad credit score (typically defined as a FICO score below 580). As a result, these high-risk consumers instead need to focus on secured credit cards — which require a deposit — or unsecured subprime credit cards. Our list of bad-credit card options includes both secured and unsecured cards to get your search started off right.

Milestone® Mastercard® - Bad Credit Considered Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★
4.4
OVERALL RATING
3.9/5.0
  • Prequalify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Protection from fraud if your card is stolen
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
23.9%
$35 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit
Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★
4.1
OVERALL RATING
3.8/5.0
  • Pre-qualify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • All credit histories considered
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Fraud protection for stolen or lost cards
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
23.9%
$0 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit
Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★
3.9
OVERALL RATING
3.7/5.0
  • No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
  • Your Secured Credit Card requires a refundable security deposit up to the amount we can approve of at least $200 which will establish your credit line. You will need to provide your bank information when submitting your security deposit.
  • We will automatically begin reviewing your account starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at restaurants & gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% for 6 months
23.99% Variable
$0
Please refer to issuer's website

+See More Cards for Bad Credit

Many consumers avoid secured credit cards because of the initial deposit, but they may be more affordable than most people think. Not only can you add to your deposit over time if you can’t afford a large deposit upfront, but that deposit is completely refundable. Many unsecured credit cards require several hundred dollars worth of fees just to open the account, making unsecured cards more costly for some consumers.

Earn Better APRs As Your Credit Improves

Every year, large credit card companies and commercial banks rake in hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of interest fees from cardholders around the world. Consumers can do their part to fight back against interest fees by keeping their credit card balances paid off every month and using low-interest credit card deals.

If you’re not happy with the high APRs you’re currently being charged, the best solution is to improve your credit. Overall, the higher your credit score rises, the lower the APRs you’ll be charged for credit cards — or any other credit product. With a little research and some diligent credit building, nearly anyone can reduce or eliminate interest fees, keeping their hard-earned money out of the banks’ voracious vaults and in their own pockets.