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Tight on cash? These credit cards charge 0% interest on purchases

CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through The Points Guy affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective.

If you’re facing unexpected expenses or have doubts about the stability of your income because of the coronavirus crisis, you may need to temporarily carry some debt to make ends meet. One option for minimizing your exposure to costly interest is to consider a credit card with a 0% introductory Annual Percentage Rate on purchases for a number of months after you first get the card.

But with so many options, which card should you choose? CNN Underscored’s comprehensive credit card methodology compares every aspect of credit cards that offer introductory APRs on purchases against our “benchmark credit card” — the Citi® Double Cash Card — to determine which cards can potentially bring you maximum value in addition to lowering your interest rates.

So check out our list below of the best 0% interest credit cards to decide which one best fits your needs in these challenging times.

The best 0% interest credit cards of 2020

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card: Best for the longest introductory APR period.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Best for U.S. supermarkets.
Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for food delivery.
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for flat-rate cash back.
Chase Freedom: Best for flexible rewards.
Citi Simplicity® Card: Best for balance transfers.
Discover it® Cash Back: Best for everyday spending.
Wells Fargo Platinum® Card: Best for travel protections.

The information for the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum, Discover it Cash Back and Wells Fargo Platinum cards has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuers.

Why did we select these cards as our best 0% interest credit cards for 2020? Dive into the details of each card with us, and see how they stack up.

Best for the longest introductory APR period: U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

Why it’s great, in one sentence: For those who’d rather pay no interest on purchases for as long as possible, instead of earning cash back or travel rewards, the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card offers 0% interest on all purchases for the first 20 billing cycles you have the card. (The interest rate rises to a variable 13.99% to 23.99% after the introductory period ends.)

This card is right for: People who need a lengthy period of paying no interest on their purchases and would like a card that covers their cell phone in case of damage.

Highlights:

  • 0% interest on all purchases for the first 20 billing cycles (13.99% to 23.99% variable afterward).
  • 0% interest for 20 billing cycles on balance transfers made in the first 60 days after you open the card (13.99% to 23.99% variable afterward).
  • Cell phone protection.
  • No annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: None.

What we like about the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum: If you need extra time to pay your current bills, 20 billing cycles without interest is exceptional compared with other credit cards, and that long runway enables a peace of mind that you can weather a storm without a looming interest rate hike.

This card also pairs that great introductory interest rate on purchases with an identical offer on balance transfers, so long as they’re made within the first 60 days after you open the card. That means with a high enough credit limit, you can use the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum to consolidate all your debt if you need to.

There’s also an added perk on this card: ongoing cell phone protection. When you pay your cell phone bill with the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum, you’ll be covered for damage or theft to your cell phone up to $600, with a $25 deductible, for up to two claims per 12-month period.

You’ll be covered for up to $600 if your cell phone is damaged when you pay your bill with the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum.

One thing that could be better: The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum isn’t a long-term credit card. It doesn’t earn any rewards at all, doesn’t come with a sign-up bonus and doesn’t have any other significant perks. It has no annual fee but charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, so you definitely won’t want to use it overseas.

In other words, its utility is limited beyond the introductory rate period, although you might consider using it on an ongoing basis to pay your cell phone bill to get the included cell phone protection.

Where it beats our benchmark card: An introductory interest rate on purchases, a longer period of 20 billing cycles for no interest on introductory balance transfers, cell phone protection.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash earns easy-to-redeem cash back on all purchases and has a longer four-month period to complete any introductory balance transfers.

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Best for U.S. supermarkets: Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express

Why it’s great, in one sentence: The Blue Cash Everyday card offers a generous introductory interest rate on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, while also earning 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 annually, then 1%) and 2% back at U.S. gas stations, all with no annual fee.

This card is right for: People who want to temporarily avoid high interest rates on their purchases, but who also spend a significant amount of their budget at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations.

Highlights:

  • 0% interest on all purchases for the first 15 months (12.99% to 23.99% variable afterward).
  • 0% interest for 15 months on balance transfers made in the first 60 days after you open the card (12.99% to 23.99% variable afterward).
  • Earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • Earn 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores.
  • Earn 1% cash back on everything else.
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance included.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms apply.

Welcome bonus: Earn $150 back as a statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months.

What we like most about the Blue Cash Everyday: For many Americans, a significant portion of the monthly family budget goes to supermarket and gas station expenses. The Blue Cash Everyday card dials up the bonus cash back on those two categories, creating a go-to in your wallet for two routine purchases.

The card also pairs its bonus categories with an introductory 0% interest rate on purchases for the first 15 months, making it a solid choice. But you’ll want to make sure your debt is paid off by the end of the intro period, as the interest rate jumps to a variable 12.99% to 23.99% afterward.

You’ll also find a similar introductory offer for balance transfers on the Blue Cash Everyday, and a welcome bonus of $150 cash back after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months, to top off a fairly complete package.

Earn 3% at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 a year, then 1%) with the Blue Cash Everyday card.

One thing that could be better: Bonus cash back isn’t earned on purchases outside of the US with the Blue Cash Everyday, and there’s a 3% foreign transaction fee on top of that. Plus, there’s no way to convert your cash back to American Express Membership Rewards points, which are potentially more useful for those who want maximum flexibility in redeeming credit card rewards for free travel.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Welcome bonus, an introductory interest rate on purchases, a longer period of 15 months on introductory balance transfers, car rental damage coverage.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has a longer four-month period to complete any introductory balance transfers, and its cash back can be converted to Citi ThankYou travel points when combined with the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier℠ Card.

Learn more about the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express.

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Best for food delivery: Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards

Why it’s great, in one sentence: The no-annual-fee Capital One SavorOne card offers an introductory interest rate on both purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, plus an outstanding 3% cash back on dining and entertainment.

This card is right for: People who spend a significant amount on entertainment and dining — including food delivery services — but who also need a long introductory interest period on their purchases.

Highlights:

  • 0% interest on all purchases for the first 15 months (15.49% to 25.49% variable afterward).
  • 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers (15.49% to 25.49% variable afterward).
  • Earn 3% cash back on dining and entertainment.
  • Earn 2% cash back at grocery stores.
  • Extended warranty protection.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • No annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: Earn $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.

What we like most about the Capital One SavorOne: Even after you’ve taken advantage of its introductory interest rate period, having a card that earns 3% back on two highly important categories — dining and entertainment — means that it will remain a useful part of your card arsenal.

But more importantly given the current worldwide situation, most food delivery services will also code as “dining” on the Capital One SavorOne, meaning if you’re staying at home and order from a service like GrubHub or Seamless, in most cases you should get the same 3% cash back that you would if you were physically dining at the restaurant.

If you’re using food delivery services, you’ll earn 3% cash back on many of them with the Capital One SavorOne card.

One thing that could be better: There’s no cell phone insurance on the Capital One SavorOne card, which is becoming a common feature even on some no-annual-fee credit cards. You can also find cards with somewhat longer introductory periods if you need extra time to carry debt.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Sign-up bonus, introductory rate on purchases for 15 months, no foreign transaction fee.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has a longer introductory interest rate period of 18 months on balance transfers.

Learn more about the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card.

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Best for flat-rate cash back: Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards

Why it’s great, in one sentence: You’ll get an introductory interest rate for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers with the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards card, coupled with 1.5% cash back on every purchase, a respectable $150 welcome bonus, and no annual fee.

This card is right for: People who want to earn cash back on everything they buy via a simple, no-frills approach, but also need a temporary respite from interest on their purchases.

Highlights:

  • 0% interest on all purchases for the first 15 months (15.49% to 25.49% variable afterward).
  • 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers (15.49% to 25.49% variable afterward).
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
  • Extended warranty protection.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • No annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within three months from account opening.

What we like most about the Capital One Quicksilver: If you don’t spend a lot of money in specific categories like dining or groceries, the Capital One Quicksilver could be a good fit. With a simple 1.5% back on everything you buy, it can be a go-to card for all your purchases.

The introductory interest rate offer is good for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers, which is a useful feature, and the card even offers extended warranty protection, so eligible purchases are covered for extra time beyond the manufacturer’s warranty if they break.

Spend less on repairs if purchases break with the extended warranty coverage on the Capital One Quicksilver credit card.

One thing that could be better: While 1.5% cash back on everything is easy to remember, there are cards like our benchmark Citi Double Cash Card that offer a higher cash-back rate. However, you won’t get any introductory interest rate on purchases with the Citi Double Cash, so you’re trading slightly less cash back on the Capital One Quicksilver for the ability to temporarily pay no interest on what you buy.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Sign-up bonus, introductory rate on purchases for 15 months, no foreign transaction fee.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash earns a higher cash-back rate on all purchases and has a longer introductory interest rate period of 18 months on balance transfers.

Learn more about the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

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Best for flexible rewards: Chase Freedom

Why it’s great, in one sentence: Beyond the generous introductory interest rate on purchases, the Chase Freedom earns 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in rotating bonus categories each quarter, and the cash back you earn can be converted to Ultimate Rewards travel points when combined with certain premium Chase credit cards.

This card is right for: People who want a card that earns bonus cash back along with having an introductory interest rate on purchases, but who also want the option to convert their cash back to travel rewards down the line.

Highlights:

  • 0% interest on all purchases for the first 15 months (16.49% to 25.24% variable afterward).
  • 0% interest for 15 months on balance transfers made in the first 60 days after you open the card (16.49% to 25.24% variable afterward).
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in rotating bonus categories each quarter you activate.
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Cash back can be transferred to airline and hotel travel programs when combined with select Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
  • No annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: $150 cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.

What we like most about the Chase Freedom: This is a card that’s beneficial for the long haul. While you may sign up because of the Chase Freedom‘s introductory interest rate on purchases, it’ll likely become a staple in your purse or wallet thanks to its perpetual rotating 5% bonus categories on useful sectors like fuel and dining.

Plus, the Chase Freedom grows with you. If you apply for a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card down the road, you can convert the cash back you earn with the Chase Freedom into Ultimate Rewards points, which can be redeemed for travel at the Chase travel portal, or transferred to Chase’s airline and hotel partners to extract potentially even more value from them.

Convert Chase Freedom cash back to Ultimate Rewards points by pairing it with a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.

One thing that could be better: It’s hard to gripe about the Chase Freedom, but you should be mindful of its pesky 3% foreign transaction fee, and the fact that you must remember to activate the bonus categories each quarter in order to earn 5% cash back on them.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Sign-up bonus, introductory rate on purchases for 15 months.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has a longer introductory interest rate period of 18 months on balance transfers and a longer four-month period to complete any introductory balance transfers

Learn more about the Chase Freedom.

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Best for balance transfers: Citi Simplicity Card

Why it’s great, in one sentence: The Citi Simplicity offers an industry-leading 21-month introductory interest rate period on balance transfers, plus 12 months on purchases.

This card is right for: People who have large balances on other credit cards and want to reduce their interest burden for as long as possible.

Highlights:

  • 0% interest on all purchases for the first 12 months (14.74% to 24.74% variable afterward).
  • 0% interest for 21 months on balance transfers made in the first four months after you open the card (14.74% to 24.74% variable afterward).
  • Balance transfer fee of 5% or $5, whichever is greater.
  • No late fees and no penalty interest rates for late payments.
  • No annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: None.

What we like most about the Citi Simplicity: The first step to getting out of credit card debt is to stop bleeding interest. The Citi Simplicity comes with a lengthy 21-month introductory period, during which you’ll pay 0% interest on any balance transfers made during the first four months you have the card.

But you’ll want to make sure you pay off your entire balance transfer during those 21 months, because when that introductory period ends, the rate will jump to a variable 14.74%-24.74%, depending on your creditworthiness.

The Citi Simplicity also features a pair of consumer-friendly features in that it has no late fees and no penalty interest rates, meaning you won’t get hit with an extra fee for being a few days late. But if you’re utilizing the introductory balance transfer feature and miss a payment, you’ll lose your introductory interest rate, so you need to be extra careful in that case.

You won’t be charged a late fee if you miss a payment on the Citi Simplicity card.

One thing that could be better: Beyond its alluring introductory rates, there’s no reason to keep the Citi Simplicity in your wallet for the long term. It doesn’t earn cash back or rewards, and it imposes a 3% foreign transaction fee on international purchases.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Introductory rate for balance transfers for 21 months, no late fees and no penalty rates.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash earns easy-to-redeem cash back on all purchases and has a lower balance transfer fee.

Read our complete Citi Simplicity credit card review.
Learn more about the Citi Simplicity Card.

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Best for everyday spending: Discover it Cash Back

Why it’s great, in one sentence: In addition to an introductory interest rate for 14 months on purchases and balance transfers, the rotating categories and cash back match bonus on the Discover it Cash Back card mean you can earn a ton of cash back in the first year you have the card.

This card is right for: People who need an introductory interest period in the here and now, but don’t mind strategizing their purchases to maximize the card’s attractive rotating bonus categories.

Highlights:

  • 0% interest on all purchases for the first 14 months (13.49% to 24.49% variable afterward).
  • 0% introductory APR for 14 months on balance transfers (13.49% to 24.49% variable APR after that).
  • Earn 5% cash back in rotating quarterly bonus categories up to $1,500 each quarter (must enroll each quarter to earn 5% cash back).
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: Receive a match of all cash back earned at the end of your first year.

What we like most about the Discover it Cash Back: Discover’s rotating cash-back categories are actually useful, and if you don’t mind setting reminders of when to use it (and on what categories), the earnings can really pile up. Here are the categories for 2020:

January through March 2020: Grocery stores, Walgreens and CVS.
April through June 2020: Gas stations, Uber, Lyft and wholesale clubs.
July through September 2020: Restaurants and PayPal.
October through December 2020: Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com.

On top of that, all the cash back you earn will be matched at the end of the first year for new cardholders, making this an ideal card to have if you know you’ll be spending a lot on your credit card over the next year. This means those rotating bonus categories are worth 10% in the first year, and all your purchases outside of the bonus categories earn a solid 2% return the first year.

The Discover it Cash Back includes rotating bonus categories like restaurants.

One thing that could be better: You need to manually activate the categories on the Discover it Cash Back each quarter online or by phone before you make purchases in order to earn the bonus cash back. The card also has no travel insurance coverage and no cell phone protection.

Where it beats our benchmark card: No foreign transaction fees; the cash back match in the first year equals the earning rate of the Citi Double Cash for everyday purchases and beats it in the bonus categories.

Where our benchmark card is better: After the first year when the cash back match bonus ends, the Citi Double Cash earns a higher return on everyday purchases.

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Best for travel protections: Wells Fargo Platinum Card

Why it’s great, in one sentence: The Wells Fargo Platinum Card offers an impressive 18-month introductory interest rate period on purchases and balance transfers, as well as cell phone protection, travel accident insurance and an auto rental collision damage waiver.

This card is right for: People who need a long runway to pay off upcoming purchases or transfers, but also want basic travel protections.

Highlights:

  • 0% interest on all purchases for the first 18 months (15.49% to 24.99% variable afterward).
  • 0% interest for 18 months on balance transfers made in the first 120 days after you open the card (15.49% to 24.99% variable afterward).
  • Cell phone protection.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver.
  • Travel accident insurance and emergency assistance services.
  • No annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: None.

What we like most about the Wells Fargo Platinum: If you’re looking for a credit card with basic travel protections that also offers a generous introductory interest rate period on both purchases and balance transfers, the Wells Fargo Platinum card includes the one-two punch you’re seeking.

While 18 months isn’t the longest possible introductory period, it’s at the higher end of the scale, and since it applies to both purchases and balance transfers, you potentially have the option to consolidate all your debt onto this one card if your credit limit is high enough.

You’ll also get some standard travel protections with the Wells Fargo Platinum, including auto rental collision coverage, travel accident insurance and roadside dispatch. Plus, if you pay your cell phone bill with this card, your phone will be protected if it’s damaged or stolen, up to $600, with a $25 deductible, for up to two claims per 12-month period.

You’ll have access to roadside assistance with the Wells Fargo Platinum Card.

One thing that could be better: Beyond its introductory usefulness, there’s not much reason to keep using the Wells Fargo Platinum card for anything beyond your cell phone bill or travel charges, as other credit cards offer either cash back or travel rewards on most if not all of your purchases.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Travel protections, cell phone protection, an introductory interest rate on purchases, a longer period of 18 months for no interest on introductory balance transfers.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash earns easy-to-redeem cash back on all purchases.

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Looking for a new credit card, but don’t need 0% interest on purchases? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards of 2020.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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