The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Friday, December 13, 2019

10 Best Purchase APR Credit Cards

10 Best Purchase APR Credit Cards

credit card advice

Eric Bank
By: Eric Bank
Posted: November 22, 2019

Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

You’d rather pay a low APR instead of a high APR, right? We completely agree! That’s why our experts have chosen to review the best purchase APR credit cards.

There are two aspects to low APRs. The first is the introductory purchase APR, typically 0%, for a set number of months after you open the account. The second is the ongoing APR after the introductory period expires.

The ongoing APR depends on your creditworthiness as indicated by your credit score. If you plan to keep your credit card over the long run (and you should!), your ongoing APR determines how much you’ll pay after the intro period when you don’t repay your full balance each month. If you are a consumer who likes to space out payments over several months, then this review should grab your full attention.

Introductory 0% APR | Low Ongoing APR | FAQs

Best 0% Purchase APR Credit Cards

Credit cards for consumers with good to excellent credit will frequently offer an introductory 0% APR promotion aimed at attracting new cardmembers. It must be working because introductory periods seem to be getting longer.

Naturally, the longer the introductory period, the more valuable the feature. If you have better uses for your money than paying credit card interest on purchases, check out these five cards.

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5
  • No annual fee
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card gives new cardmembers a full 15 months of 0% purchase APR after you open the account. Once the introductory period expires, you’ll have a variable APR, depending on your credit.

The same 15-month 0% APR promotion applies to balance transfers. Transfers you complete in the first two months cost a 3% fee (minimum $5), and a 5% fee after that. The card charges no annual fee and lets you earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

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!
  • 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 16.49 - 25.24%.
  • 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
16.49% - 25.24% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Chase Freedom® differs from the Chase Freedom Unlimited® mainly in how you earn rewards. Both cards share the same 15-month 0% purchase APR after you open the account, followed by an ongoing variable APR. They also share the same introductory 0% balance transfer offer and fee schedule.

This no-annual-fee card gives you 5% cash back on the first $1,500 of purchases each quarter on the quarterly-revolving merchant category that you activate. All other purchases earn 1% cash back.

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74%-25.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

The Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards card provides new cardholders with 15 months of 0% APR on purchases. The rate then becomes a variable APR after the intro period expires.

Balance transfers offer the same introductory offer, with a 3% transfer fee per transaction. You get unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and the card has no annual or foreign transaction fees.

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn a one-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 3% cash back on dining and entertainment, 2% at grocery stores and 1% on all other purchases
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months; 15.74% - 25.74% variable APR after that
  • 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months; 15.74% - 25.74% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
  • No foreign transaction fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.74% - 25.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

The Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card lets you earn unlimited 3% cash back on entertainment and dining, 2% at grocery stores, and 1% on all other purchases. You get an introductory 0% APR for the first 15 months on purchases and on balance transfers (3% fee applies).

The variable APR will kick in after the introductory period expires. This card charges no annual fee and delivers many travel and purchase benefits.

CITI® RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

0.0/5.0
  • No late fees, No penalty rate, and No annual fee... EVER.
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for the first 21 months (transfers must be made in the first 4 months)
  • 0% Intro APR on new purchases for the first 12 months
  • 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
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 21 months
16.99% - 26.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

The Citi Simplicity® Card offers a 0% introductory APR to new cardmembers. The introductory period for purchases is 12 months, and 21 months for balance transfers (a 5% or $5 fee applies).

The post-introduction variable APR will be based on your creditworthiness. The card does not charge annual, late, or penalty fees. You also get free access to your FICO score, $0 liability on unauthorized charges, and you can choose your recurring payment date.

Best Low Ongoing Purchase APR Credit Cards

Introductory rates are great, but eventually, they are replaced by the card’s ongoing APR. Over the long run, you’ll do best using cards with low APRs and small or no annual fees.

Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com and more up to the quarterly maximum, each time you activate.
  • Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards at Amazon.com checkout.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Discover it® Cash Back offers a range of ongoing purchase APRs. Your exact rate depends on your creditworthiness and varies with changes to the Prime Rate. The ongoing APR kicks in after the introductory 14-month 0% APR period for new cardmembers.

The card pays 5% on up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases at revolving merchants you activate each quarter. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. You also earn a Cashback Match for the first year after opening the account.

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 you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • 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.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Discover it® chrome offers a 0% introductory APR for 14 months after opening the account. The card has no annual fee and provides a free FICO Credit Score.

You earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 each quarter in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. You also earn an unlimited Cashback Match on all cash back you earn during the first year.

LOW APR RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day.
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates. Plus transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.49% - 24.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Excellent, Good

The Capital One® Venture® Rewards card is a miles card that charges an ongoing variable APR based on your creditworthiness. There is no introductory APR offer.

You earn unlimited 2X miles on all purchases, every day, and the annual fee is waived for the first year. You also get a statement credit of up to $100 to reimburse you for Global Entry or TSA Pre√ fees.

LOW APR RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates and fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • Transfer your miles to over 12 leading travel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
13.74% - 23.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

The Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards card has an ongoing purchase APR that is based on your creditworthiness. New cardholders get a 0% introductory APR for the first 12 months after opening the account.

All purchases with the card earn 1.25X miles. The Capital One® VentureOne® card charges no annual fee or foreign transaction fees.

Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • UNLIMITED BONUS: Discover will match ALL the Miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That’s $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

The Discover it® Miles has a standard variable APR that kicks in following the introductory 14-month period of 0% APR. All purchases earn 1.5X miles, and at the end of the first year, the card will automatically match all the miles you earned.

You can use your miles to pay for travel purchases (with no blackout dates) or redeem them for cash. The card has no annual fee and provides free Social Security number alerts and FICO credit scores.

What is the Best APR for a Credit Card?

Well, you can’t beat 0%, and that’s what you get if your card offers a 0% introductory rate. During the introductory period, any purchases you pay for over more than one month will not incur any interest charges.

This is great for when you make a big-ticket purchase. The cards with the longest 0% introductory period, 15 months, are the Chase Freedom®, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, and Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards cards. One card, the Citi Simplicity® Card, offers a generous introductory 21-month period of 0% APR on balance transfers.

In terms of ongoing APRs, the cards in this review with the lowest rates are the Discover it® Miles card and the Discover it® Cash Back. Only customers with excellent credit will get this rate.

Generally, credit unions offer low-interest credit cards with APRs below those offered by banks. The reason is that credit unions are nonprofit institutions run by and for their members.

You must qualify in some way for membership at most credit unions. The basis for membership can be where you live, work, or worship, among others. Members enjoy lower rates on credit and higher ones on savings.

What is a High APR for a Credit Card?

There are no hard and fast rules, but generally, you can consider APRs above 24% as high. A survey by U.S. News & World Report found that the average U.S. APR for credit cards is in the range of 16.68% to 23.7%. Most credit cards have variable APRs that can change over time as benchmark interest rates, such as the Federal Funds Rate, fluctuate.

Typically, folks with bad credit will have trouble qualifying for low-APR credit cards. Many credit cards for bad credit charge an APR of 29.99% or higher. If you have bad credit but want to lower your APR, you can try a couple of strategies:

  1. Become an authorized user: As an authorized user of someone else’s credit card, you can purchase items on the card at a relatively low APR if the primary user has good credit.
  2. Get a secured card: A secured card is backed by cash in a locked bank account. Since this reduces the risks of non-payment, secured credit cards offer lower rates than do comparable unsecured ones.

You can also take steps to improve your credit score, such as on-time bill payment and debt reduction, which may give you access to low-APR credit cards.

How Can I Avoid Interest on My Credit Card?

You need to know how credit cards calculate interest. Credit cards have billing cycles that last from 28 to 31 days. When you receive your credit card bill, it shows a balance as of the end of the billing cycle’s last day.

Most credit cards offer a grace period in which you can pay off your balance and avoid interest charges. The grace period extends about 21 to 24 days beyond the billing cycle’s end date.

By paying your balance in full before the end of the grace period, which is known as the due date, you avoid interest charges on your balance. Voilà, a 0% APR!

Charge cards usually require you to pay your balance each month or they will extract a late fee from you. However, some charge cards offer extended billing for balances above a set figure.

Many credit cards offer 0% APR on balance transfers during the first months after opening an account. You can transfer all your high-APR card balances to a new card with a 0% APR for the promotional period and thereby save on your interest costs.

Note that you will usually have to pay a fee for each balance transfer. A typical fee is the greater of $5 or 3% to 5% of the transferred amount.

Chart of Potential Balance Transfer Savings

Ideally, you will pay off your balance before the introductory period ends. Introductory periods for 0% balance transfers can run as long as 21 months.

Can I Ask My Card Company for a Lower Interest Rate?

You may indeed, and your chances are good that you’ll be approved. We’ve seen surveys in which the odds approach 70% that you’ll receive a lower interest rate.

The odds increase if you have exhibited creditworthy behavior, such as paying your bills on time and keeping your credit utilization in check. It also helps to make your request reasonable — don’t be asking for a 0% rate because that’s not in the cards, so to speak.

You have a couple of options if you are turned down. The first is to raise your credit score.

FICO Credit Score FactorsYou can do this by checking your credit reports for errors and having those errors removed. This can have an immediate and positive impact on your score.

Also, you should understand the five components of your credit score and how the score is calculated:

  1. Your payment history (35% of your score)
  2. The amounts owed (30%)
  3. Length of your credit history (15%)
  4. New credit (10%)
  5. Credit mix (10%)

By successfully addressing each of these components, you stand a good chance of raising your credit score to the point where your request for a lower interest rate won’t be denied.

Alternatively, you can seek out a credit card with a lower ongoing APR and a 0% introductory APR. Some folks even jump from one card to another when the introductory period is over, but that may not be a good long-term strategy.

In fact, Chase has a 5/24 rule that denies you a new Chase card if you’ve opened five credit accounts in the past two years. Other issuers may be wary about issuing you a new card if they see you constantly jumping around. Nonetheless, if you can find a low APR and stick with it, you’ll enjoy the long-term benefits of less interest paid without mucking up your credit history.

Don’t Overpay for the Convenience of Credit

Our review of the best purchase APR credit cards showcases 10 cards that offer you convenient credit without overcharging for it. Five have the best deals for new cardmembers who want a 0% introductory purchase APR, and five offer low ongoing APRs.

They all charge no annual fee in the first year and provide various additional benefits that may include introductory bonuses, cash, or mile matching after the first year, and generous rewards for purchases. If you like to stretch out payments over multiple billing periods, then one of these cards may be perfect for you.