Gone are the days when you couldn’t walk to your mail box without a credit card offering 0% on balance transfers or 0% on purchases hitting you in the face (or one touting they had the best cash back credit card). With the recent credit crisis and all the bank failures, credit card issuers are holding onto their cards tighter and tighter. Despite the climate, there are still many 0% APR credit cards out there with attractive offers as long as you can find them and as long as you qualify. The credit requirements are higher than they once were but they are still reasonable as long as you have good credit. If you’re unsure about your credit, you can use one of the free credit score estimate tools to get a better idea of where you stand.
So, what makes a great 0% APR credit card and what justifies its inclusion on my lists?
- Brand name: I prefer working with brand name banks and issuers that I’ve heard of before. All of the cards I list are issued by banks that are publicly traded and well known in the banking community, if not the general population. For publicly traded companies, their reputation is crucial and that’s important to me. I need to know the company I work with will care about what I say about it. In addition to reputation, a larger brand name issuer often means I can get someone on the phone at anytime during the day. I don’t want to be calling some community bank and getting a voicemail box because it’s 5:01 PM. I have nothing against community banks, but I need to know I can get someone, even if they’re at a call center, when I have a problem at night.
- No annual fee: I never list a card that has an annual fee unless there is a very good reason for it. There is absolutely no reason why anyone should pay an annual fee to use a credit card, unless it offers a frequent flyer miles program, because the companies make so much money on the transaction fees it collects when you use the card.l
- 0% balance transfer for 12 months: Twelve month balance transfers are getting rarer and rarer but I think you have to get at least a year on your 0% APR transfer for it to be worth your while. Every time you apply for a new card, your credit score takes a hit. If you use 6 month offers, you double the number of applications you have to fill out just to get the same amount of credit.
- 0% on purchases for 12 months: Again, similar logic to the 0% balance transfer, though my love for 0% on purchases is fleeting. The only exception is the card that I profile as the best 0% on purchases card, it’s not for 12 months but it has a unique offer I’ve never seen before.
Below, I’ll list the card that I believe offers the best credit cards in their class for 0% APR balance transfers or 0% APR on purchases along with some “runners up,” with comparable offers.
Best 0% Balance Transfers Credit Card
Citi Platinum Select Card – 0% APR for purchases for 21 months and balance transfers for 21 months*. One nice thing about Citi cards is that they will send you a check directly, though the interest rates after the transfer expires aren’t as good; so it depends on your financial plan.
One word of warning about balance transfers, you must request a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Don’t fill out one of the checks they send you, that’s a cash advance. Cash advances do not have a 0% APR rate, they have the standard purchase rate plus the 3% cash advance fee (minimum of $5). Do not go to an ATM and withdraw money, that is also a cash advance. Call the credit card company and specifically request a balance transfer.
Best 0% Purchases Credit Card
The best 0% on purchases credit card right now is the Citi Platinum Select Card because it offers both a 0% on purchases for 21 months and a 0% on balance transfers for 21 months, based on your credit history. There is no annual fee and it has all the features you’ve come to expect from a Citi card including online account access, 0% liability on unauthorized charges, travel accident insurance, and car rental insurance.
Runner-Up 0% APR on Purchases Cards
- Citi Platinum Select Card – 0% APR for purchases and balance transfers.
- Blue from American Express – 0% balance on purchases for 12 months, Express Approval. Get a decision in less than 60 seconds., no annual fee.
- Blue Cash from American Express – 0% APR on Purchases for Up to 12 Months, No Annual Fee, plus 1% cash back on purchases
Not sure if you want a 0% balance transfer or a 0% on purchases offer? Get the Citi Platinum Select Card because it offers both!