Personal Finance 

Best 0% APR Credit Cards

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

Citi® Platinum Select® MasterCard®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

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!


0% Credit Cards: No Interest Purchases & Balance Transfers Offers

Smiling Girl, Happy with 0% Credit Cards0% credit cards are all the rage these days and this list will help you identify the best deals out there. Consumer spending is down, fears of a recession are up, and retailers are scrambling to entice regular people like you and me to enter their stores and buy more stuff. One group of companies you’ll also find lining up to offer you special offers is the credit card industry.

Credit card companies don’t necessarily want you to go into debt to them, though that doesn’t hurt their bottom line. They want you to keep on spending because they earn money on processing transactions. If you review the annual statements of any credit card issuer, most of the income they derive from credit cards comes in the form of data processing and service fees. So, in order to keep spending up as long as possible, more and more are offering great offers such as 0% APY for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers.

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Turn 0% on Purchases into 0% on Balance Transfers

If you’ve been in the market for cards that offer 0% on balance transfers, you’ll probably see that a lot of cards now have decided to instead only offer 0% on purchases instead (such as this 0% on purchases for 15 months offer by Blue from American Express). Now, I don’t know what has led to this increase other than the cards wanting to end the whole 0% balance transfer arbitrage game but here’s a little way to turn your offer of 0% APR on purchases into a 0% balance transfer offer.

  • Sign up for Google Checkout as a vendor. You will need a website with a privacy policy, you can just start a site with Blogspot.
  • Send an invoice to yourself.
  • Pay the invoice with your 0% on purchases card.
  • Laugh at the card company’s feeble attempts to stop 0% balance transfer arbitrage gaming.

This will only work until February 2008 because Google Checkout has waived all the processing fees until then. If you’re concerned about reporting this an income, Google doesn’t track payments from the perspective of reconciling income (just like eBay doesn’t care how much you sell), and since in theory you’re paying yourself, it’s not really income. If you’re concerned about the tax and legal ramifications, I recommend you contacting a tax attorney on that.

Here are some good no annual fee, 12+ month 0% on purchases offers (if you’ve exhausted all the 0% balance transfers, which is pretty hard to imagine):

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