Pros and Cons of a 0% Interest Credit Card

A fee-free interest rate credit card can be helpful in certain situations, but make sure you understand the terms before you jump in.
Emily Starbuck Crone
By Emily Starbuck Crone 
0% interest credit card

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Tired of wasting money on high credit card interest rates? Consider applying for a 0% interest credit card. Not only do these handy pieces of plastic give you a set introductory period of no interest on purchases, but some also offer 0% interest on balance transfers for a limited time.

Pros of a 0% interest credit card

First, let’s take a look at some of the many ways a zero-interest credit card can benefit you:

  • No interest for a set window: You’ll pay zero interest on purchases for the duration of the introductory period. Most credit card offers range from six to 18 months without interest on purchases—and sometimes on balance transfers, too.

  • Ideal for large purchases. If you want to make a hefty purchase, such as a television or vacation, but need some time to pay it off, a 0% interest card is a huge asset. For a limited time, you get to carry a balance and space out repayments with no interest charges.

  • Helpful for lowering high-interest balances. If you are carrying high-interest credit card debt, you can transfer it to a credit card offering a 0% introductory APR on balance transfers. This gives you a window of time where interest won’t accrue on your balance, so all of your payments will go toward the debt itself. This allows you to make faster progress on reducing debt.

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Cons of a 0% interest credit card

Despite their obvious perks, 0% interest cards have some downsides you should be aware of before you apply:

  • The APR doesn’t last forever. Enjoy it while you can, because once your 0% introductory period is over, it’s over. The 0% interest only lasts for the duration of the introductory period, and once it ends, the card will revert to its regular APR (the exact rate is determined based on your creditworthiness). This regular rate may not be low, so be careful about carrying a balance if you’re nearing the end of your introductory period.

  • Balance transfers are not always included. Just about every 0% APR offer is for new purchases made with the card. Some of these introductory offers also feature 0% on balance transfers, but not all do. Read the terms closely and ensure balance transfers are also eligible for the 0% rate before you pull the trigger.

  • You’ll still pay a balance transfer fee. Even if you do find a card with a 0% introductory offer on balances, you will usually still have to pay a balance transfer fee. This is typically around 3% of the transferred balance, so if you’re bringing over a large balance, it could be significant. Do the math and make sure this still works out in your favor.

  • You can lose it for bad behavior. If you make a late payment, you’ll find in the disclosures that the card issuer has the right to end the introductory period. If this happens, some issues don’t just give you the regular APR; you might get slapped with the penalty APR, which is usually close to a mind-boggling 30%.

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