Are you on the lookout for a credit card account with zero interest? While companies sometimes offer zero interest introductory offers, there is no such thing as a credit card that is interest-free forever (or even indefinitely).
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Suggested as a good option on CreditCards.com, the Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers zero interest on purchases and balance transfers to new card members for 15 months. There is a balance transfer fee, which is the greater of $5 or 5 percent. After the introductory period, the card has a variable annual percentage rate (APR) ranging from 16.24 to 24.99 percent.
The word "unlimited" in the account refers to the fact that there is no limit on the cash back rewards cardholders can earn, and they never expire. With this account, you will automatically earn 1.5 percent cash back on all of your purchases with no cap. This card does not require an annual fee.
You'll also receive a $150 cash back bonus if you spend $500 on the card within three months of opening the account. You'll also get a $25 bonus if you make at least one purchase and add an authorized user to your account within the first three months.
If you're looking for a higher cash back bonus for certain types of purchases, you may find the Chase Freedom card to be better than the Chase Freedom Unlimited card. The introductory zero interest offer and bonus programs are identical to Chase Freedom Unlimited, as is the APR once the initial 15-month period has passed. This account also does not have an annual fee. The difference comes in with how cash back rewards are earned.
With this account, you will always earn at least 1 percent cash back. However, you can earn 5 percent cash back on certain categories of purchases. The categories change from quarter-to-quarter, and the higher earnings rate applies to your first $1,500 in purchases across the designated categories during that quarter. Additionally, you have to activate your rewards each quarter. It isn't difficult (just a few clicks!), but you do have to remember to do it.
The opportunity to earn 5 percent can be very appealing, but as The Points Guy mentions, you have to keep track of quarterly categories, and there may be months where the higher earnings categories don't represent things you purchase.
PNC Core Visa
Bankrate.com recommends the PNC Core Visa as one of the top credit cards with an interest-free introductory period. Like the Chase cards listed above, this account has a 15-month introductory period during which there is no interest on purchases or balance transfers. It has a balance transfer fee of 3 percent, with a minimum charge of $5.
One of the reasons Bankrate likes this card has to do with its interest rate following the introductory period. The APR varies depending on the account holder's creditworthiness, but it starts at just 11.24 percent and can go as high as 21.24 percent. As Bankrate points out, "The lowest available interest rate is below the industry average, significantly lower, in fact, than the typical variable interest rate credit card, which has an APR above 16 percent."
This account does not have an annual fee or a rewards program. However, for cardholders who plan to keep the account open beyond the introductory period, the lower than average interest rate can be a significant benefit.
U.S. Bank Platinum
The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum card offers zero interest on purchases and cash advances for the first 18 billing cycles the account is open. It is WalletHub's pick as the best "overall" credit card that offers a period with no interest. After the introductory period, this account has a variable APR rate between 11.24 and 23.24 percent. As with the PNC account, this is well below what most credit card issuers charge.
This account does not have an annual fee, which is also an advantage. However, even though the zero interest offer extends to balance transfers, a 3 percent balance transfer fee applies at the time the transfer is initiated. This is not waived during the introductory period.
This card does not offer any kind of rewards program, but it does offer a longer term with no interest fees. To a cardholder seeking to make a large purchase and pay it off without incurring interest, the extra time before interest charges kick in can be much more valuable than purchase-based rewards. A unique feature of this card is that it provides account holders with a cell phone protection plan.
Citi Simplicity Card
Also offering 18 months of no interest on purchases and balance transfers, the Citi Simplicity Card is very highly rated on ValuePenguin and is listed in WalletHub's top three credit cards with zero interest offer. After the introductory period, the account's variable APR ranges from 15.24 and 25.24 percent.
An important caveat to have in mind if you open this account is that balance transfers have to be completed within the first four months you have the account in order to qualify for the zero interest introductory period. As with the U.S. Bank account, there is a fee for balance transfers. With this account, the fee is the greater of 3 percent or $5.
This card doesn't have a rewards program, but it does offer a unique benefit: it is fee-free. Not surprisingly, it does not have an annual fee. However, it also does not have a late fee and does not charge penalty rates. If you're one who sometimes forgets to pay your bills on time, this might be very beneficial. Of course, keep in mind that your credit will be impacted if you habitually fail to pay your bill on time.
A Word of Caution
Credit cards that offer zero interest for a period of time can be great if you are sure you pay off the balance before the introductory offer expires. However, if you aren't able to do that, interest charges will accrue from the original time of purchase. It's important to make sure you understand the fine print before you choose a credit card. Beyond that, you should always be diligent when it comes to using credit cards wisely and taking steps to protect your credit score.