The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Saturday, November 28, 2020
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2020's Best Low APR Credit Cards

Below are our staff picks for 2020's best low-interest credit cards. These cards feature the lowest annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases and transfers for qualified applicants.

Average APR
14.90%
Average Annual Fee
$0.00
Rate Trend
-0.08%
since last month
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Advertiser Disclosure

The credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which CardRates.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers.

Review Breakdown: Best Low APR Credit Cards

Finding the lowest interest rate on a credit card can be tricky, especially when low-interest offers mix an ongoing APR rate with a special introductory rate. Below is a simply summary table to help you better determine the best low interest credit card for your financial needs.

Here are 2020's best low APR credit cards:

Top Low APR Interest Credit Cards
Rank Card Name Regular APR Intro Rate (Purchases) Expert Rating
1 Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card 9.99% N/A ★★★★★ 4.8
2 Platinum Plus® Mastercard® Business Card 10.24% to 21.24% Variable 0% for 7 billing cycles ★★★★★ 4.7
3 Wells Fargo Cash Back College℠ Card 11.15% - 21.15% Variable 0% for 6 months ★★★★★ 4.7
4 Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® 12.24% - 22.24% Variable 0% for 9 billing cycles ★★★★★ 4.7
5 Business Advantage Cash Rewards Credit Card 12.24% to 22.24% Variable 0% for 9 billing cycles ★★★★★ 4.7
6 Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card 13.99% N/A ★★★★★ 4.7
7 Citi® Double Cash Card 13.99% - 23.99% Variable N/A ★★★★★ 4.6
8 Citi Rewards+℠ Card 13.49% - 23.49% Variable 0% for 15 months ★★★★★ 4.6
9 Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card 14.74% - 24.74% Variable 0% for 18 months ★★★★★ 4.6
10 Apple Card 10.99% - 21.99% (Variable) N/A ★★★★★ 4.6
11 Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card for Students 13.99% - 23.99% Variable 0% for 12 billing cycles ★★★★★ 4.6
12 Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card 12.49% - 25.49% Variable 0% for 15 months ★★★★★ 4.6
13 Wells Fargo Rewards® Card 12.49% - 25.49% Variable 0% for 15 months ★★★★★ 4.6
14 Amex EveryDay® Credit Card 12.99% - 23.99% Variable 0% for 15 months ★★★★★ 4.5
15 Ink Business Cash® Credit Card 13.24% - 19.24% Variable 0% Intro APR on Purchases 12 months ★★★★★ 4.5
16 Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card 13.99% - 23.99% Variable 0% for 12 billing cycles ★★★★ 4.4
17 Chase Freedom Unlimited® 14.99% - 23.74% Variable 0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months ★★★★ 4.4
18 Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card 14.99% - 22.99% Variable 0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles ★★★★ 4.2
19 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 15.99% - 22.99% Variable N/A ★★★★ 4.1
20 Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card 15.99%-20.99% Variable N/A ★★★★ 4.1

15 FAQs About Low APR Credit Cards

Aaron Crowe
By: Aaron Crowe
Finance Expert
Updated:
15 FAQs About Low APR Credit Cards
CardRates.com Guide: Low APR

Having one of the best low APR credit cards can make carrying a balance on a credit card a lot less expensive with lower interest charges you’ll pay over a year.

A better solution, of course, is to not carry a balance at all by paying the bill in full each month. But if you regularly don’t pay your credit card off when the bill comes due, then a low interest credit card can save you a lot of money.

How does a low interest card work and how can you get one? Exactly how much money can you really save in credit card interest? We answer those questions and more below:

1. What is a Low APR Credit Card?

Low APR credit cards have low interest rates, which is what credit card issuers charge for allowing you to borrow money on credit and carry it over from month to month, which is called revolving credit.

Banks make money off customers who have a credit card balance. A low APR, which stands for annual percentage rate, can make it easy to carry over balances each month by giving you the idea that you’re not paying too much for the privilege. These costs add up over the course of a year, which we’ll get to later.

Credit cards with low interest rates are offered to lenders’ best customers, meaning people with excellent credit. A high credit score means it’s less likely, in the eyes of creditors, that you won’t pay your bills on time or at all.

Nonpayment is the last thing they want. They want the money you owe on your credit cards, including interest due.

Rates can change all of the time, but basically, a good APR for a credit card is 14% and lower. The average credit card interest rate in the United States is 14.52%, according to the Federal Reserve.

The lowest rate on a credit card is 0%, which is only offered for a limited time as a way to entice new customers. Buying a big-ticket item such as a new bedroom set can make switching to a 0% APR introductory credit card worthwhile if you pay it off during the intro period.

2. How Does a Low APR Credit Card Work?

A low APR card works about the same as any other card, except it offers a low interest rate to consumers with excellent or at least good credit scores. Rates can be around 12%.

They can also be as low as zero for a while, making them the lowest rate you’ll ever find. A 0% APR credit card charges no interest for a certain amount of time, usually six to 18 months. Some go as long as 21 months.

Example Card Terms for Introductory Offer

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

No interest is charged during this introductory period, including on new purchases, balance transfers, or both, depending on which card you get. This can give you more time to pay off credit card debt and to consolidate your debt by moving it from a high-interest card to one with 0% interest.

How often the interest rate changes on a credit card is also important. A low fixed rate is best. This means the rate stays the same and won’t go up even if you’re late making a payment.

A variable rate can change monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on the card’s terms. It can also change if you miss a payment, known as the penalty APR.

3. How Do I Get a Low APR Credit Card?

Having an excellent credit score is the easiest way to qualify for a low APR credit card, especially if it’s a 0% APR card. A good credit score of 670 to 739 can also get you approved for a 0% or other low APR card.

Generally, the higher your credit score, the longer the 0% introductory period will be. However, low APR credit cards exist for consumers of all credit types.

Some secured credit cards have low ongoing APRs for those with bad credit, and even students with limited credit histories can qualify for low APR cards. You can even get a business credit card with a low APR. All of these cards can be obtained easily by applying online.

Be sure to check your local credit union for a credit card with a low APR as well, because these institutions generally offer lower rates and fees than most big banks.

4. What is a Low Introductory APR?

A low introductory APR is a low interest rate, usually 0%, that runs for a certain amount of time, usually six to 15 months.

A low introductory APR can be used to consolidate credit card debt by transferring balances from high-interest cards, or can be a way to make big purchases without paying interest on them.

The key is to pay off the balance before the introductory period ends. If you don’t, you’ll pay interest at the regular APR. That counteracts any savings from the interest-free period.

Being charged 0% interest doesn’t mean no payments are required during the intro period. You’ll still have to make the minimum payment on time or risk having the 0% APR canceled. A penalty APR may be charged if you don’t pay at least the minimum payment due.

5. How Does Your Credit Score Affect Your Credit Card Interest Rate?

Banks set interest rates based on the risk you pose. A higher credit score gives the lender confidence that you’ll make payments on time, and thus pose less risk for them. They’ll generally give you a lower interest rate than someone with a low or middling credit score.

Credit card issuers provide a range of potential interest rates with their offers, but they don’t say which score leads to a specific interest rate.

People with the highest credit scores pay the least to use a credit card. A 2019 report by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, found the average total interest paid by consumers increases with lower credit scores.

This is measured with an effective interest rate: the total amount of interest charged per year divided by the total balance at the end of the year. The highest credit scores lead to the lowest effective interest rates and vice versa:

Average APR by Credit Score

6. What are the Different Credit Card APRs?

APRs can be all over the map for credit card offers. The best ones that we recommend range from 9.99% to 17.99%. The lowest rates are offered to people with good credit.

There are five general APRs that all cards charge:

  • Regular purchase APR: This is the APR you’ll be charged for everyday purchases made with the card. You can avoid this interest charge altogether by paying your balance in full each billing cycle.
  • Balance transfer APR: The balance transfer APR is a promotional rate you’ll be charged on any balance that is transferred from another credit card account. The rate is usually 0% for up to 18 months, sometimes longer.
  • Introductory APR: This is another promotional rate used by credit card issuers to entice new customers, but it applies to new purchases, not balance transfers. These are great for financing large purchases with no interest for six months or more, after which the rate will change to the regular purchase APR.
  • Cash advance APR: This is the APR you’ll be charged if you withdraw cash from your credit line. It is almost always higher than your regular purchase APR, there is also a cash advance fee you may be charged, and your transaction will begin to accrue interest immediately because cash advances do not qualify for the grace period.
  • Penalty APR: This is the rate you’ll be charged for making late payments. The average penalty APR is around 25%.

Carefully read the terms and conditions of each card offer you’re considering before applying.

7. Which Card Issuer Offers the Lowest APR Credit Card?

Of the cards we recommend, the card issuer with the lowest APR card is Applied Bank.

The Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card has a low fixed APR that won’t go up even if you’re late making a payment. One of the best things about it is that applicants with poor, fair, limited, or damaged credit can be approved for the card.

It’s a secured credit card, meaning your credit limit is secured by a refundable security deposit you pay upfront. Your charged balance can be as high as the credit limit you’ve created by making the deposit. Most cards allow you to make additional deposits anytime to increase your credit limit.

The interest rate is low because you’re basically paying a deposit to give yourself credit. If you don’t pay your credit card bill, the deposit can be used to pay the lender.

But why pay a security deposit so you can use a credit card? Why not just use that money to buy what you were going to buy with a credit card?

Because if you have fair or bad credit, a secured credit card allows you to improve your credit score by using it and making payments on time. Your payments are reported to the three national credit bureaus, which should improve your score.

8. What is a Good APR for a Credit Card?

A good APR for a credit card is anything lower than the average credit card APR, which is 14.52%. Find a low interest card at a rate lower than 14.52%, and you’re doing good.

Such cards may not have the benefits you’d expect from a rewards card, though if you have excellent credit, you should still be able to qualify for such cards. Low APR cards are meant to save you money when carrying a balance, and paying out high rewards is less likely with such cards.

9. What is the Cheapest Credit Card Interest Rate?

The cheapest credit card interest rate is 0%. It will be an introductory rate for a set number of months, usually six to 15, and then the rate will go up to about 13-23%, depending on your creditworthiness.

But don’t expect to get that unless you have good credit, and preferably excellent credit. If you belong to a credit union, you may be able to find a low-rate card more easily since the main goal of credit unions is to help their members.

10. How Do I Choose the Best Low APR Credit Card?

The best low APR credit card may be one with a 0% intro rate, but be sure to check what the rate will rise to when the 0% offer ends.

Regardless of the type of low APR card you’re looking for, other things to look for include:

  • No annual fee
  • Rewards such as cash back, points, or miles
  • What the APR range is
  • Whether a security deposit is required
  • No late fees or penalty APR

Some benefits you would expect from a credit card may not be as strong on a card with a low, regular APR that doesn’t change. Rewards or 0% intro rates may not be offered on low APR cards with a set interest rate.

If you don’t carry a balance often, then a 0% balance transfer card or one that doesn’t charge interest on purchases for a year may not appeal to you.

11. Can a Low Interest Credit Card Help Me Save Money?

Yes, paying lower interest on a credit card balance is a big way to save money. The biggest is to pay the balance off in full each month so that you’re not carrying a balance or any interest charges.

But if that doesn’t work for you, then switching to a credit card with a lower rate will save you money.

Here’s an example: Suppose you owe $3,000 on a credit card that you’re paying 15% interest on. If your goal is to pay off the balance in a year, and you don’t add any more debt to it, your monthly payment will be $271. The interest you’ll pay over that year totals $249.

Now drop the interest rate to 10%. Two great things happen: Your monthly payment drops to $264 and the overall interest you pay in a year falls to $165.

That’s $84 saved in interest. But remember that your monthly payment also dropped, by $7 per month, or $84 per year. That adds up to $168 saved when added to the interest saved.

Use a debt repayment calculator to run the numbers for your revolving debt to get an idea of how much money you can save with a low interest credit card.

12. What is a Variable APR?

A fixed interest rate normally doesn’t change, though it can with enough warning. Fixed rate cards, however, aren’t offered as much by credit issuers because the CARD Act of 2009 required them to notify customers before changing rates.

In most circumstances, the higher rate can only be applied to purchases and other transactions after you get the notice, according to the CFPB.

A variable APR changes with the index interest rate, such as the prime rate published in The Wall Street Journal. The cardholder agreement on your card issuer’s website will detail how a card’s APR can change over time. Or you can request a copy from your card issuer.

A variable rate can change whenever the prime rate changes, but your rate could change in other circumstances too. Being 60 days late on a credit card payment can trigger an automatic rate increase and a drop in your credit score.

13. Do Secured Cards Offer Low APRs?

Yes, secured cards offer low APRs. But not all secured cards have low APRs.

Some, like the Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card and First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card have low APRs. Others, like the Bank of America® Cash Back Secured Credit Card and Secured Mastercard® from Capital One, charge higher APRs.

You’re borrowing money from yourself by paying a refundable deposit on a secured card, so you should search for the lowest APR you can find.

14. Do Credit Unions Offer Low APR Cards?

Compared to traditional bank cards, credit unions cards often offer lower fees and interest rates. Why? Because credit unions pass their profits to members in the form of low interest rates and low fees.

Banks vs Credit Unions

Credit union cards work just like other credit cards. They run on major networks, including Visa and Mastercard, and your credit card payments will be reported to the credit bureaus.

Federal law restricts credit unions from charging more than 18% interest on loans, and that applies to credit cards too. The average interest rate of a credit union credit card is 11.27%, compared to 12.61% for bank credit cards, according to the National Credit Union Administration.

15. How Do I Maintain a Low APR?

Having a low APR credit card is a good thing to have if you carry a balance, and it’s something you don’t want to lose. To make sure your balance stays low, there are a few things you can do.

  • Pay your credit card bill on time. This will ensure you avoid a penalty APR. It’s usually much higher than your normal purchase APR. The CARD Act of 2009 makes it difficult for penalty rates to be charged, though they can still occur if you miss at least two payments. The law allows a penalty rate to be charged if you’ve missed payments for 60 days or more.
  • Avoid variable rates. Staying away from variable-rate cards can also help you keep your APR low. Interest rates are low for now, but a card with a variable rate will go up whenever the prime rate moves up. A card with a fixed rate can make it easier to budget.
  • Negotiate your rate. You can call your credit card company and ask for a lower APR. It will help to have been a customer for years, and one who pays their bill on time, but it’s worth asking. Let them know of competing credit card offers from other banks with much lower APRs. Mention how you’d like to stay loyal to them and ask for a lower APR. If they say no or do not offer a low enough rate, ask to speak to a supervisor or someone in the retention department.
  • Transfer your balance. Sometimes the best way to save on interest fees is to skip the middleman and simply transfer your balance to a new card that charges a lower interest rate. Be sure to read the fine print so you know what interest rate to expect once the introductory period ends. If it’s higher than your current rate, it may not be a great deal unless you make major progress on your balance during the 0% introductory period. Additionally, be aware of any applicable balance transfer fees. Most credit cards will charge a fee — typically 3% to 5% of the total transferred amount — to transfer a balance to the card. While this fee can be well worth it for a good 0% APR offer, crunch the numbers to see if it’s worth paying for lesser APR decreases.

Maintaining a low credit card APR is easy if you follow some basic steps, and always use your card responsibly.

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

The information on this page was reviewed for accuracy on .

About the Author

Aaron Crowe Aaron Crowe Finance Expert

Aaron Crowe is a seasoned journalist who specializes in personal finance writing and editing. Aaron has written for a variety of websites, including AOL, Learnvest, U.S. News & World Report, Wells Fargo, WiseBread, AARP, and many insurance and investing sites. He is a self-proclaimed storyteller who enjoys explaining — in layman's terms — personal finance and how it affects consumers’ lives. Aaron has several years’ experience working as both a reporter and editor in newspapers where he won several awards, including a Pulitzer Prize.

Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which CardRates.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. See the credit card issuer's website for specific terms and conditions of each card.