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Best 0% APR credit cards for December 2021

Save money in interest this holiday season with the right 0% APR credit card.

If you're purchasing big-ticket items this holiday season, a credit card with a 0% introductory rate can help you avoid interest. Most 0% introductory APR cards offer 15 to 20 months of no interest, and some offer between $200 and $250 in welcome bonuses.

As with any credit card, we always advise paying off your balance in full each month. If you can't, a 0% introductory interest period offers you extra time to pay off your debt. Once you have a good understanding of how much you can pay back each month, you can compare your options based on the introductory period and regular interest rate. 

A 0% APR card can also be used to consolidate credit card debt through a balance transfer, saving you money on interest, while offering some breathing room to make payments.

Here are our current top picks for the best 0% introductory APR credit cards, along with answers to frequently asked questions. We'll update this list periodically as new credit card options become available. 

Best overall introductory APR credit card

Card Highlights
Intro Bonus$200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
APR14.99% - 24.74% Variable
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services and on drugstore purchases.
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Balance Transfer APR14.99% - 24.74% Variable
Foreign Transaction Fees 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Penalty APR Up to 29.99%
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
  • 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 3% cash back on dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services and on drugstore purchases.
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Our Take

Our top pick for best 0% introductory APR credit card, Chase Freedom Unlimited, checks all of the boxes: 15 months of introductory 0% APR on purchases (14.99% to 24.74% variable APR thereafter), a $200 bonus after spending only $500 in the first three months from account opening and competitive rewards.

The base reward rate of the Chase Freedom Unlimited card is 1.5% cash back on purchases, and the card issuer offers 5% cash back on travel booked through Chase and 3% back on restaurant dining and drugstore purchases. Plus, you can earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. Even if it's not travel-related, you're looking at 1.5% back on your eligible net purchases right off the bat, along with a $200 bonus (after spending $500 in the first three months).

Best introductory APR card for travel abroad

Card Highlights
Intro BonusOne-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
APR14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Recommended Credit Excellent, Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% intro on purchases for 15 months
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0% intro on balance transfers for 15 months
Balance Transfer Fee 3%
Balance Transfer APR14.99% - 24.99% (Variable)
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR None
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day

Our Take

The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card* is a close runner-up to the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. The highlights are virtually identical but the Quicksilver lacks the Chase card's higher cash-back rates for travel and restaurant dining. That noted, the Capital One card distinguishes itself by having no foreign transaction fee -- which can be as high as 3% with other cards (including the Chase Freedom Unlimited).

If you're planning a big trip abroad, you might consider signing up for both cards: Use the Chase Freedom Unlimited card for your plane tickets and the Capital One Quicksilver for your expenses overseas. 

Both cards feature 15 months of intro 0% APR on purchases (14.99% to 24.74% variable APR thereafter for Chase Freedom Unlimited; 14.99% to 24.99% variable APR thereafter for the Capital One Quicksilver), a $200 welcome bonus (after spending $500 within the first three months) and 1.5% cash back on general purchases.

Best introductory APR credit card with a welcome bonus

Card Highlights
Intro Bonus25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
APR13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Recommended Credit Excellent/Good
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases
Additional Details
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Balance Transfer APR13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Late Payment Fee Up to $40
Foreign Transaction Fees None
Penalty APR up to 29.99% APR
Rewards & Redemption Details
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire

Our Take

The Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card* is similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited and Capital One Quicksilver cards -- but features a higher welcome bonus (as well as a modestly higher spending threshold). The card also offers a solid introductory 0% intro APR period on purchases for 15 billing cycles (13.99% to 23.99% variable APR thereafter). The 25,000 bonus points (after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days) can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit against travel and dining eligible purchases, and the points never expire. Qualifying travel and dining purchases include taxis, ride shares, buses, trains, bars, fast food, flights, hotels, restaurants and more. For most people, that means redemption shouldn't be a problem. 

Longest introductory APR period

See Rates and Fees
Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR14.49% - 24.49%* (Variable)
Recommended Credit Good/Excellent
Reward RatesN/A
Annual Fee$0*
Intro Purchase APR0%* for 20 billing cycles on purchases*
Additional Details
Intro Balance Transfer APR0%* for 20 billing cycles on balance transfers*
Balance Transfer Fee Either 3% of the amount of each transfer or $5 minimum, whichever is greater
Balance Transfer APR14.49% - 24.49%* (Variable)
Foreign Transaction Fees 2% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in U.S. Dollars. 3% of each foreign purchase transaction or foreign ATM advance transaction in a Foreign Currency

Our Take

The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card offers the longest introductory 0% APR offer of any card membership we researched, with 20 billing cycles of 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (though remember you still need to make minimum monthly payments; 14.49% to 24.49% variable APR thereafter). The trade-off is a lack of welcome bonus and rewards. 

What is a 0% intro APR credit card?

A 0% introductory annual percentage rate credit card is a simplified term for credit cards with particularly long, introductory 0% APR periods. Most rewards credit cards offer at least 12 months of 0% APR after signing up, but many issuers also have extended offers for select cards. These cards can help you save money in interest payments during that introductory period. But they can also tempt you to carry a balance -- which can accumulate into a longstanding debt over time.

When does it make sense to apply for a 0% or low introductory rate credit card?

Ideally, you're paying off your credit card balance every month to avoid paying an interest charge. If you're making a significant purchase that you'll need to pay for over a period of time, using a 0% intro APR card could save you serious money.

These cards may also be useful when you're in a financial pinch -- if you're between jobs or navigating a period of inconsistent cash flow. As long as the intro APR period doesn't lure you into spending beyond your means, a 0% intro APR credit card can be a helpful tool.

What's a good spending limit for a 0% intro APR credit card?

These cards are optimal for helping to finance a purchase that's between $2,000 and $6,000. Anything less and you'll be better off with a cash rewards credit card or travel rewards credit card. For big-ticket items priced above $6,000, you're better off exploring a personal loan -- especially because credit lines on these cards often top out between $5,000 and $6,000 for new customers, according to data from Equifax.

Are 0% intro APR credit cards good for consolidating credit card debt?

Maybe -- but that's not what they're designed for. Our picks for the best balance transfer card include a number of options well-suited for consolidating credit card debt -- and it may be worthwhile to explore a personal loan, too.

Our methodology

CNET reviews credit cards by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each major category, including cash-back, welcome bonus, travel rewards and balance transfer. We take into consideration the typical spending behavior of a range of consumer profiles -- with the understanding that everyone's financial situation is different -- and the designated function of a card. 

For cash-back credit cards, for example, key factors include the annual fee, the "welcome bonus" and the cash-back rate (or rates, if they differ by spending category). For rewards and miles cards, we calculate and weigh the net monetary value of a card's respective perks. And with balance transfer credit cards, we analyze specs such as the duration of the introductory 0% APR period and the balance transfer fee, while acknowledging secondary factors such as the standard APR and the length of time you have to make a balance transfer after you open the account.

More credit card recommendations

*All information about the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and the Bank of America Travel Rewards credit card has been collected independently by CNET and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.