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Thursday, September 29, 2022

What is APR on a Credit Card? 9 Best Low-Interest & 0% APR Cards

What Is Apr On A Credit Card

credit card advice

Linsey Knerl

Written by: Linsey Knerl

Linsey Knerl

Linsey Knerl is a finance author and public speaker with a passion for helping everyday families earn more and live better. Her work can be seen in Investopedia, PC Mag, The Christian Science Monitor, TIME, Wise Bread, Next Avenue, MSN Money, and numerous other leading outlets. Her expertise lies in business economics, credit scores and reports, and saving and budgeting. Linsey has shared her financial knowledge with audiences at SXSW, FinCon, and the ASJA annual NYC convention.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Florida. Today, she edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Advertiser Disclosure

If you’ve been considering applying for a new credit card, you’ve likely heard a lot about the term “APR.” So, exactly, what is APR on a credit card? This term is perhaps the most critical factor in deciding which card to get, and it can be used to put you in a better overall financial situation – if handled correctly.

Here are the facts about APR, why it matters, and what you can do to make it work for you.

Low APR | 0% Intro APR | 0% Balance Transfer APR

APR Stands for “Annual Percentage Rate”

One of the most important features in deciding which credit card to apply for is the APR. This term refers to the “annual percentage rate” you’ll pay in interest for anything you purchase with that card. When calculating your actual interest payments, your APR will be divided by the days in the year to determine your daily periodic rate, since credit card interest compounds daily.

Each issuer may have its own specific method of determining your exact interest fees, which should be laid out in your cardholder agreement. In general, most cards offer an interest-fee grace period after each purchase before the rate goes into effect. Once the grace period is over (commonly between 20 and 30 days), the total balance of your card’s purchases is subject to this additional APR fee.

APRs are Variable, Meaning They Change Often

It is very important to keep an eye on your accounts over time, as the interest rate (or APR) can and will change. There are many reasons why a percentage rate will go up. Some of these may not be your fault, such as when the FED (Federal Reserve) raises prime rates. This is a standard rate for all lending institutions, and your card may have no choice but to pass that rate change on to you. When this happens, your card will send you a notification, usually 45 days or more in advance, to warn you of the change.

You may also see your APR go up if a special low-rate offer has expired. Many balance transfer offers, for example, start you at a low rate and then bump you back up to your normal rate after the offer is over. Anything not paid off before the promotional offer expires will be charged the higher APR. Your credit card company does not have to notify you in advance of this promotion expiration, so it’s up to you to keep track and pay your balances before they become more expensive.

Screenshot of APR Types

Consider the types of APR when selecting a new credit card. Photo credits: bettermoneyhabits.com

Other actions can negatively affect your Annual Percentage Rate. They include making late payments to your account. If you go more than 60 days without paying your minimum due, your card can impose what is called a “Penalty APR.” This may be as high as 29.99%! It’s always in your best interest to make every attempt at paying your minimum and always communicate with your card company if you find it difficult to do so.

Additionally, cards are allowed to raise rates after 12 months of your being a customer. While this doesn’t happen as often, it is perfectly legal. Your card issuer will need to notify you in advance of the change, however, and allow you to pay your balance before the change kicks in.

How Your Credit Score Affects Your APR

Another way that APRs often change is directly related to your spending and payment habits. As a result, a credit score is one of the most common influencing factors in card interest rates. The banks see it as the most important piece of information they can obtain to decide your ability to pay back charges.

A significant positive change in your score can open doors to rates as low as 0% for promotional offers, and 13.99% after. A negative credit score will likely make it difficult to get such great rates. Expect to pay the high end in this situation; 22% or more is not unheard of for less-than-stellar credit.

If you’ve been taking good care of your finances, and have earned a good credit report, you are likely eligible for one of these three top low-APR offers. Use them to pay less interest on your purchases!

USAA Rate Advantage Visa® Platinum Credit Card Review

at Usaa Savings'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • Get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on Balance Transfers and Convenience Checks that post to your account within 90 days of account opening. After this time, the Variable Regular APR will apply to your balance.
  • Our lowest-rate card: Pay less in interest if you carry a balance from month to month
  • Travel benefits include Auto Rental Coverage, Travel Accident Insurance, Baggage Delay and Reimbursement, and Trip Cancellation and Interruption Coverage
  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • This offer is only open to members of military-affiliated groups and their families
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
0% for 15 Months
9.15% - 26.15% (Variable)
$0
Good to Excellent
Discover it® Cash Back Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

LOW APR RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Every $1 you earn in cash back is $1 you can redeem.
  • Get a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. Then 14.24% to 25.24% Standard Variable Purchase APR applies, based on credit worthiness.
  • No annual fee.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 15 months
0% Intro APR for 15 months
14.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good

LOW APR RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • Start off strong with 0% Intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers. A variable APR of 17.24% - 25.99% on balance transfers and purchases after the introductory period ends.
  • Lower your interest rate by 2% each year. Automatically be considered for an APR reduction when you pay on time, and spend at least $1000 on your card by your next account anniversary.
  • Raise your credit limit. Get an automatic, one-time review for a higher credit limit when you pay on time, and spend $500 in your first six months.
  • All for no annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Slate Edge℠ card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health - Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 18 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 18 months
17.24% - 25.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

+See More Low APR Offers

If You Have Good Credit, You May Qualify for a 0% Intro APR

One of the perks of having good credit is that you will have some amazing opportunities to use zero-interest promotional offers. New cards are always giving responsible consumers the chance to apply for cards with 0% APR on purchases, balance transfers, or both! These are limited-time offers, meaning they don’t last forever. (Remember that you are responsible for tracking their end dates, as well.)

Expect to see these excellent offers last between 12 and 18 months for new cardholders.
The following cards are top-rated by consumers for their 0% APR offers. They could be just what you need to pay off high-balance cards or invest in your home, auto, or other important expense.

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • Start off strong with 0% Intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers. A variable APR of 17.24% - 25.99% on balance transfers and purchases after the introductory period ends.
  • Lower your interest rate by 2% each year. Automatically be considered for an APR reduction when you pay on time, and spend at least $1000 on your card by your next account anniversary.
  • Raise your credit limit. Get an automatic, one-time review for a higher credit limit when you pay on time, and spend $500 in your first six months.
  • All for no annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Slate Edge℠ card
  • Keep tabs on your credit health - Chase Credit Journey helps you monitor your credit with free access to your latest score, real-time alerts, and more
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR on Purchases 18 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 18 months
17.24% - 25.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • INTRO OFFER: Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!
  • Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year).
  • After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back. You can choose to receive a statement credit or direct deposit into most U.S. checking and savings accounts. Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open!
  • Enjoy 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24% - 25.99%.
  • No annual fee - You won't have to pay an annual fee for all the great features that come with your Freedom Unlimited® card
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
17.24% - 25.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

0% INTRO APR RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $200 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
  • $0 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • 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 and balance transfers for 15 months; 16.49%-26.49% variable APR after that; 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
16.49% - 26.49% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

+See More 0% Intro APR Offers

If You Carry Debt, Utilize 0% APR Balance Transfer Offers

A great intro offer, like the 0% APR many cards offer, is perfect for transferring the balances from high-rate cards. If you have found that your existing card issuer won’t work with you to bring down your APR, you can move some or all of that balance to your new card and watch the interest rate fall to nothing!

You can use an online calculator to see how much you’ll save by switching to a 0% interest rate over time. It can mean savings of up to hundreds of dollars. Just be sure to pay off that balance before the promotional rate expires to get the best value.

It’s also important to read the terms for any 0% APR offer. Most all will charge a balance transfer fee of 3-5% of the total amount transferred. That fee will be charged immediately upon transfer and will be added to your total due. Compare card offers to see if you can get the lowest transfer fee for additional savings.

The following cards are top-rated by consumers for their 0% APR offers. Use them to pay off high-balance cards and get rid of debt at a much lower rate.

Discover it® Balance Transfer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Every $1 you earn in cash back is $1 you can redeem.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "Apply Now" to see terms and conditions.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR for 6 months
0% Intro APR for 18 months
14.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
$0
Excellent/Good

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 16.74% - 26.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
  • Get free access to your FICO® Score online.
  • With Citi Entertainment®, get special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% 12 months on Purchases
0% 21 months on Balance Transfers
16.74% - 26.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

Additional Disclosure: Citi is a CardRates advertiser.

0% BALANCE TRANSFER RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

  • No Late Fees, No Penalty Rate, and No Annual Fee... Ever
  • 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 17.74% - 27.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.
  • There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Stay protected with Citi® Quick Lock and $0 liability on unauthorized charges
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% Intro APR Period 12 months on Purchases
0% Intro APR Period 21 months on Balance Transfers
17.74% - 27.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good Credit

Additional Disclosure: Citi is a CardRates advertiser.

+See More 0% Balance Transfer Offers

Pay Your Balance Each Month to Avoid Paying Interest

No matter how low your APR is, it’s important to pay your balance each and every month. If you have a low introductory offer that includes a balance transfer, additional purchases may not be subject to that low rate. That’s why you must pay any new balance in full to avoid paying the higher interest rate. (Check your statement monthly to see each interest rate category and work to always pay off the amounts subject to interest first.) Making timely monthly payments is also one of the most important factors in determining your credit score.

It is also common for people to allow their intro offer to expire before they have paid off their card. Use your card statement to determine how many payments you have left before the 0% offer is over, and pay extra – if needed – to beat the clock. The goal is to use the intro offer as a tool to paying off debt, without interest. Once that is paid, continue paying your full balance monthly, and never pay an APR again!

 

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