Credit cards offering introductory 0 percent APR don’t charge interest for a specific time period on purchases or balance transfers, usually six months to a year. That could mean big savings on interest if you plan to carry a balance during the introductory period, or transfer a balance from another card.

But should you apply? Here’s what to keep in mind while you decide:

What to Look for in an Introductory 0% APR Credit Card Offer

When you’re comparing introductory 0 percent APR credit card balance transfer offers, it’s important to look at the length of the introductory period and the  standard APR just in case you aren’t able to pay off your transferred debt before the promotional rate expires.

Make sure you understand what the APR is as well as any other features like a rewards program. Also, make sure to take into account any balance transfer fees, which can range from 2 percent to 5 percent of the transfer amount. By taking the time to research your options, you’ll find the introductory 0 percent APR offer that’s right for you to get out of debt and get one step closer to financial freedom.

5 Reasons to Apply for an Introductory 0% Interest Credit Card

Here are five ways a credit card with a 0 percent intro APR can come in handy:

  1. To pay down high-interest credit card debt. When you’re in debt, interest payments and late fees can make paying off your credit card balance seem impossible. However, making a balance transfer to a credit card with an introductory 0 percent APR can be a great way to quickly reduce your debt. By consolidating your debt with a new credit card that has an introductory 0 percent APR period, you can simplify your payments and focus your efforts on paying off your card as soon as possible. Not only will you have more time to pay down your debt interest-free, but making regular payments on time will also help build your credit history.
  2. To buy a big-ticket item or several one-time purchases. Whether you’re planning a vacation, buying a major appliance or facing several one-time purchases following a recent move, a credit card with an introductory 0 percent APR can make your life easier. Instead of using a regular credit card and paying for those items plus interest, an introductory 0 percent interest credit card can help you stretch out your payments over time – without paying extra for your purchases during the specified introductory period.
  3. The holidays. Using an introductory 0 percent interest credit card during the holidays is a great way to lessen the financial strain from gift shopping, travel and entertaining. Plus, several credit cards offering an introductory 0 percent APR also offer generous cash rewards, with added perks during the holiday season, such as bonus rewards at major online retailers and the ability to pay with rewards you may have accumulated at Amazon.com.
  4. To pay down other loans. Unknown to most cardholders, you can use introductory 0 percent APR balance transfer offers for many reasons, including to get ahead on larger loans like college student loans, car loans and even home equity lines of credit. The best time to use an introductory 0 percent APR balance transfer for this purpose is when you are close to paying off a particular debt. However, if you are not certain that you can completely erase the balance during the introductory period, you might face a high APR at the end of the introductory period.
  5. As an emergency fund backup. Accidents and emergencies happen. When you’re facing substantial medical bills or car repairs, an introductory 0 percent interest credit card offer can be a lifesaver. Having a credit card that is reserved for unexpected expenses beyond your day-to-day budget is a good way to be prepared for financial emergencies. Since you won’t be using it on a regular basis, you want to find a credit card with a high enough limit to cover the average sudden expense (car trouble, home repairs, airplane tickets, a hotel stay), but with a low enough standard interest rate so you can pay the card off quickly once life returns to normal.

Originally published February 10, 2015

Updated January 12, 2021

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