15 Best Low-Interest Credit Cards — Compare 0% Intro Rates

By: Brittney Mayer • 5/24/2018

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According to a 2016 survey on credit card ownership commissioned by Bankrate, more than half of those over 30 own at least one credit card. Of those abstaining from card use, the main reason cited was the potential for accumulating debt.

They have a fair point; collectively, Americans owe around $762 billion in credit card debt. The fact is, however, that credit cards aren’t, on their own, inherently dangerous for your finances. The real culprit is actually the high interest rates and fees that often come with your new card.

Thankfully, choosing the right credit card can go a long way toward reducing the debt risks associated with card use, and, of course, personal spending restraint. For instance, paying your balance fully each month will let you avoid interest altogether. For necessary balances, find cards that charge low (or better, no) interest rates.

Balance Transfers | Excellent Credit | Good Credit | Fair Credit | Bad Credit

The Best No-Interest Introductory Balance Transfer Offers

While choosing the right low-APR offer can help you avoid accumulating a balance on a high-interest card in the first place, it’s not too late if you’ve already made a poor choice for your purchases. All you need is a shiny new balance transfer offer.

In essence, a balance transfer is what it sounds like: you transfer your credit card balance from one credit card to a second credit card with a lower interest rate. The best balance transfer credit card offers will actually come with a 0% introductory APR, meaning you won’t have to pay any interest on your transferred balance for the length of the introductory terms.

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On the down side, issuers aren’t going to give you a balance transfer entirely without cost. Most credit cards will charge a balance transfer fee, typically equal to 2% or 3% of the total transferred balance. That said, the interest rate savings over an 18-month period can more than make up for the fees.

This graphic from Select the Best shows the potential savings from a balance transfer.

Another thing to note is that you generally can’t transfer a balance between two cards if they are both from the same issuer. For example, you can’t transfer your Chase Freedom balance to a Chase Freedom Unlimited credit card (or vice versa).

You’ll also want to be careful to continue making payments on your original card until you’ve received confirmation from both your old and new cards that the balance has been transferred. A balance transfer can generally be completed within 10 days.

The Best No-Interest Card Offers for Excellent Credit

At the top of the credit food chain, those with excellent credit typically have credit scores north of 750. These consumers have demonstrated good credit behaviors, such as paying their bills on time every month, as well as maintaining low balances and being stingy about new accounts.

In the credit world, financial diligence gets rewarded, often in the form of low rates and fees. When it comes to credit cards, consumers with excellent credit can find a wide range of great no-interest offers on both new purchases and balance transfers, with many offers lasting 12 months or more.

For those with excellent credit, the choice of 0% APR cards may come down to comparing the non-interest-rate features, rather than simply the terms of your introductory offer. This includes looking at the card’s cash back rewards and signup bonuses, keeping your personal spending habits in mind when comparing rewards programs.

The Best No-Interest Card Offers for Good Credit

Consumers who are in the “good” credit category generally have credit scores of 700 and up. These applicants will qualify for a number of quality 0% APR offers, but may not receive terms as favorable as those offered to their excellent-credit counterparts.

For instance, offers for good credit consumers may have shorter introductory periods than offers for consumers with excellent credit. These offers may also specify the type of balances that qualify for the low introductory rates — new purchases versus balance transfers — rather than offering the same introductory rate for both.

One of the most important things to remember about 0% APR introductory offers is the “introductory” part. The rate (or lack thereof) being offered is, by nature, a temporary rate, and will expire at the end of the introductory terms.

Introductory offers providing 0% APR will revert to a higher APR at the end of the offer terms.

Because they are temporary rates, you’ll want to determine the interest rates you’ll be charged after the offer period ends when comparing offers. To avoid paying interest fees on your balances, be sure to pay it off completely before the end of the offer.

The Best Low-Interest Cards for Fair Credit

Possessing credit scores in the 600s, those with fair credit are likely in the process of building — or rebuilding — their credit. As such, the credit card offers these consumers receive will reflect the higher credit risk they represent.

Indeed, no-interest offers for fair-credit consumers will often have much shorter introductory offer terms than the 0% APR offers received by those with better credit. Fair-credit offers may also have other requirements, such as status as a student.

For some applicants, especially those on the lower end of the “fair” category, the choice may come down to selecting a card that simply has a lower all-around interest rate. The rates for these cards will vary based on your individual creditworthiness.

The Best Low-Interest Cards for Bad Credit

As most consumers with bad credit are likely already aware, few issuers are willing to offer low-interest cards to those who present the highest credit risk. In most cases, this means credit scores below 600, though each credit card issuer (and even each specific credit card) will have its own particular credit standards.

For those with bad credit, the lowest interest rates will likely be found on secured credit cards. Requiring a cash down payment to open, a secured credit card otherwise will act exactly like a regular unsecured credit card when you make purchases.

When it comes to choosing a card with bad credit, you’ll want to be sure your new card reports to all three major credit bureaus. This will allow you to build your credit and increase your credit score over time as you (responsibly) use your new card.

The Best Way to Avoid Interest is to Pay Your Bill in Full

For many, the idea of paying the average 16.6% APR on their credit card purchases (or worse, more) can be scary — but it doesn’t have to be. Today’s consumers have a variety of options available to avoid paying high interest rates on both new purchases and an existing balance.

Of course, the best way to avoid paying interest on your purchases is to completely pay your credit card balance every month. But qualified applicants can still find interest-fee-free ways to carry a balance on their cards with a little research and a sweet low-interest credit card offer.

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

About the Author

Brittney Mayer

Brittney is a Contributing Editor for Digital Brands, Inc., where she uses her extensive research background to develop comprehensive guides and in-depth company profiles for BadCredit.org and CardRates.com. Brittney specializes in translating complex ideas into readable, engaging content for B2C and B2B audiences.