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Best 0% Credit Cards

23 mths' interest-free spending
0% credit cards

Do it right and credit cards are the cheapest way to borrow. You can get 0% for up to 23 months - yet get it wrong and you'll be stuck in debt for years.

This is a step-by-step guide, updated daily, to the cheapest credit cards for new borrowing and how to use them, saving you £1,000s.

Is a credit card right for you?

With recent memories of the credit crunch and recession, many people now shy away from borrowing. Lose your income and debt will leave you in a nightmare. So before choosing which card is right for you, watch out for the following...

Want to cut existing debt costs?

Don’t use cards to supplement day-to-day spending

Have you budgeted and planned repayments?

Don’t borrow your way out of debt

Watch out, lenders bite!

Is it worth getting a card?

Debt is like fire. Used well, it’s a great tool. Used badly, you’ll get burned. Unless you’re financially disciplined and doing it tactically for stoozing, it's always worth borrowing as little as you need, and where possible, using savings instead of borrowing. Man holding warning sign

The worst thing to do with a credit card is to use it to fill the gaps your income doesn’t meet each month. That will see borrowings constantly grow and can leave you in a debt spiral (see the Stop Spending guide for more).

Ensure your borrowing stays free

However, if you need to borrow for a defined purchase, then used correctly, credit cards are cheaper than loans. This may be for a football season ticket, where it works out cheaper than forking out for individual matches; you may need a new sofa as the old one's kaput; or it might be to pay for a year’s car insurance as the insurer’s interest rate for paying by the month is huge.

Done right, it's possible to borrow at no cost.

  • Make at LEAST the minimum repayments

    Ensure you set up a direct debit for at least the minimum repayment as soon as you are accepted. Even though you're paying 0%, you still need to make repayments. If you miss one, you will lose your 0% deal, so the rate will jump and you'll get a £12 charge.

  • Clear the card within the 0% period

    Go even one month beyond the promotional period and the rate rockets, so calculate the amount needed to clear the balance by then. For example, borrow £600 on a year’s 0% card, divide the spend by the number of months (£600 / 12) to get the monthly repayment - in this case £50 - and set up a direct debit to do that.

  • Diarise the end dates

    It's incredibly vital you make a note of the 0% end dates (or use the Tart Alert) to make sure you pay off the debt in time, or be ready to switch to a new Best Balance Transfer deal. If you forget to switch when the deal ends, the interest cost will swiftly outweigh the card's benefit.

To do this properly isn't just a question of getting the right card. It's about understanding how it works, and how to avoid the massive pitfalls.

Pick the right type of card

To find out the best way for you to borrow, answer the questions below. They'll assess how you spend, and direct you to the relevant part of the guide.


Will you pay your card off in full EVERY month?
Select NO even if you only rarely fail to do this

No
Yes
This tool won’t work in printouts, please come to moneysavingexpert.com

The cheapest cards for new borrowing

The choice is simple. Those who can pay off in under 20 months, or are willing to tart, should go for a 0% deal. Everyone else should pick the cheapest long-term low rate. All the following deals only apply to NEW cardholders.

If your application's rejected, check your credit rating immediately. If you're accepted and the credit limit is too low, don't chuck the card as it's already on your credit file. Simply apply for a second card to use alongside it. See the Low Credit Limit guide.


Pre-apply to check eligibility with NO credit file mark

You'll see that most cards in this guide have a link to our Eligibility Checker tool, which we've designed to allow you to see the probability of getting the card.

We do a 'soft' credit search which YOU can see, but lenders CAN'T, so it has no impact on your future creditworthiness - and lets you see the chance of you getting the card without applying for it.

We map the details you give us against lenders' criteria, and show your chances for all the cards on this page that we can do so for. A new development allows us to check without you following a link from a specific card.

Best BuysThe longest 0% deals

The main aim is to find the card which will give you the longest 0% introductory deal. The 'go to' rate that cards jump to after the 0% periods are also listed. But as these cards are only for tarts/quick repayers, this shouldn't affect you.

These cards are getting more competitive, so now you may also pick based on extra perks, such as cashback or store points.

Santander

Longest 0% period. Plus up to 3% cashback, but £24 annual fee

Santander 123* - 23 months 0%

The Santander 123* credit card, which was already a cashback best-buy buy offering up to 3% cashback on certain spending, now also offers a whopping 23 month 0% spending period. But the card comes with an annual fee of £24, so carefully weigh up whether your planned spending would earn you enough cashback to cover this.

Need to Knows
  • The 123 card pays 3% cashback on fuel & rail spending (max £9/mth), 2% in major department stores & 1% in major supermarkets. See a full review of the cashback you can earn.
  • It has a £24 annual fee, though new and existing Santander 123 bank account holders get year one's fee refunded.
  • After the 23 months 0% is up you'll pay 12.7% interest on spending (16.5% representative APR, including the annual fee).
  • You'll either get the full 23 month deal or be rejected.
Stats box
  • Spending length: 23 months 0%
  • Annual fee: £24/year
  • Interest on spending: 12.7% (16.5% representative APR incl. fee: Official APR Example)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: £7,500
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £5
Halifax

Second longest 0% - though some may get fewer 0% months

Halifax* - 20 months 0%

If you don't want a card with an annual fee then the Halifax* card has the next longest 0% spending period on the market. But only a minimum of 51% of applicants have to get the top deal - the rest may get 16 months (worse, but still not a bad deal). There's also no spending perks on this card - fortunately the cards below only offer one month less at 0% but rewards too if that's what you want.

Need to Knows
  • If you already have a Halifax card you won't be able to get this one.
  • Poorer credit scorers may get 16 months, instead of the market-leading 20 months.
  • After the 0% period ends, you'll be charged interest at 18.9%, but poorer credit scorers might get 21.9% or 25.9%.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending length: 20 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (See Official APR Examples)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: N/A
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £5
Tesco

Full 19 months if accepted, plus collect Clubcard points on spending

Tesco* - 19 months 0%

The Tesco* card gives one month less than the Halifax card above, but if you're accepted for this card, you'll definately get the full 19 month 0% deal. Plus, when you spend on this card you'll earn Clubcard points which can be converted into Clubcard Rewards.

Need to Knows
  • You'll earn five points for every £4 spent in Tesco stores/fuel and 1 for every £4 spent elsewhere. Tesco often has special deals where you can collect extra Clubcard points, and sometimes even make a profit. For more details, read Boost Tesco Clubcard Points.
  • After the 0% period is up you'll be charged interest at 18.9%, so ensure you've repaid in full or switch to a top balance transfer card.
  • Some poorer credit scorers may get a higher interest rate, up to 23.9%.
Stats box
  • Spending length: 19 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (See Official APR Examples)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: £5,000
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £25
M&S

Good alternative if you're an M&S shopper - earn 0.5% in M&S vouchers

M&S* - 19 months 0%

If you're more of an M&S shopper than Tesco shopper, then the M&S* credit card also gives the same length 0% period, but you'll earn M&S points on your spending instead.

Need to Knows
  • You'll earn 1 point for every £1 spent in M&S stores, and 1 point for every £2 spent elsewhere. These points are then converted into M&S vouchers every three months.

  • You'll either get the full 19 month deal or you'll get rejected.

  • Make sure you fully clear the card by the end of the 19 months or you'll be charged 18.9% interest on any remaining balance.

  • Poorer credit scorers could get a higher interest rate, up to 22.9%
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending length:19 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (See Official APR Examples)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: N/A
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.5% or £5

Best Buys More 0% purchase cards

Card 0% length Representative variable APR after Eligibility
Lloyds Platinum* 19mths 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Bank of Scotland* 19mths (1) 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card.
Yorkshire*/
Clydesdale*
19mths 18.9%

Yorkshire eligibility calculator / Clydesdale eligibility calculator

Sainsbury's Nectar*
(2)
18mths 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card.
See all Official APR Examples (1) Poorer credit scorers could get 16 months. (2) Reward points: 8 pt per £1 in Sainsbury's stores/fuel. 1 pt per £5 elsewhere.

Need a longer 0% period?

If you want longer at 0% than the 20 months on offer, there is a way to do it, but it's not with a purchases card. You need a whole different type of card.

Spending on a money transfer card allows you to transfer money from the credit card into your current account (usually for a fee of around 4%). You spend the cash and owe the new card.

You get longer at 0% (the top card has 29 mths 0%), but you pay a fee, and you don't get section 75 protection for the purchase. Consider if this is better for you than the cards in this guide.

Read the money transfers guide for a full how-to, plus a list of which cards allow it (most don't, or at least not at a cheap rate).

Best Buys0% Purchase Cards for poor credit

If you've a history of poor credit, then the cards above aren't likely to be open to you (use the eligibility checker first to check). This card offers 0% on spending for a few months.

Halifax

0% spending for 3mths, plus £20 cashback

Barclaycard Initial*

If you've got payday loans or you're teetering on the brink of an unauthorised overdraft, Barclaycard Initial* gives a respite - but remember it is only a respite - from these more expensive debts. And, used right, it could help rebuild your credit.

Need to Knows
  • Even during the 0%, you MUST still make at least the monthly minimum repayments (preferably more) - 0% doesn't mean nothing to pay.
  • If you pay your minimum balance on time in the first three months and stay within your credit limit, Barclaycard will credit £20 to your card within 35 days of your third statement.
  • You need to be super-organised and repay the card in FULL BEFORE the 0% ends. If you don't clear the card before the three-month 0% interest period ends and you'll be charged a hefty 34.9% representative APR on any balance left.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Promo rate: 0% for 3 months
  • Representative APR: 34.9% variable
  • Accepts defaults?: Yes, provided they're a year or more old
  • Accepts CCJs?: Yes, but only if settled, and not more than 1 in last six years
  • Accepts bankruptcies?: No.
  • Required income: N/A
  • Rate example: Official APR example
Key Questions

What's the best way to use this card?

If you already have debt problems, beware of borrowing more, especially where the go-to APR is 34.9%. This card's a good short-term emergency tool if you're organised but you're facing repeated bank charges or are considering payday loans. But, budget to ensure you clear the card before the 0% ends.

How do I use this card as a respite from other debts?

Do normal spending on this card rather than from your bank account (don't overspend, make sure you do a budget). Then use the money that builds up in there to pay off expensive overdrafts or repay payday lenders. However, still aim to clear the Barclaycard within three months, or you'll end with pricey debt on it instead.

I've had past credit problems. Can I get this card?

It's aimed at borrowers who've had credit issues in the past, including defaults on debts or CCJs. Defaults must be more than a year old, and as long as your CCJ's been settled & you don't have more than one outstanding in the past six years, you're likely to be accepted.

I don't have other debts. Can I still use this card?

Just because it's got a 0% offer doesn’t mean you need to use it. If you’re just looking to rebuild your credit, repay it in full each month anyway.

Beware balance transfers

Balance transfer credit cards and balancing the books

There's a devious trick some cards play if you have a 0% for purchases deal. Often they also allow you to shift debts to the card, but this can be at a higher interest rate.

Repayments must go towards the most expensive debts first, under rules introduced in 2011. But as you're unlikely to be able to repay in full, you'll still get charged interest.

So if you need to transfer debts, it's best to use a separate card instead. See the Best Balance Transfers guide.

Simple reminders for card tarts!

Enter the date your 0% (or other intro rate) expires in the Tart Alert Tool and you'll be sent a text or e-mail reminder to ditch and switch. Of course, like everything else on this site, it's completely free.Try it now →

Best Buys Cheapest long-term low rate deals

Here, the aim is to get a card where the low rate is for the long term, not just an introductory offer. While it's not 0%, it does mean that you don't have to remember to shift from card to card, and know you've got a deal for the long term.

lloyds

Cheapest long-term, low-rate card

Lloyds Platinum*

The top card offering a long-term low rate is the Lloyds* Platinum card, which gives 6.4% representative APR on all spending. Technically, the rate is variable but regulations mean that Lloyds can't hike the rate in the first year, and if it tries after that, you can just pay the card off at the same rate, provided you don't spend more.

Need to knows
  • Not everyone will get the low 6.4% APR. Some will get higher APRs of either 10.9% or 14.9%.
  • You must at least make the monthly minimum repayments or you could lose the low rate.
  • You'll also get the same rate on debts shifted to the card. There is no fee to do a balance transfer n the first 90 days (3% fee after).
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending rate & fee: 6.4% APR (see Official APR Examples)
  • Min income: N/A
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min repayment : Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5
mbna

Slightly costlier, but good alternative if you can't get the Lloyds card

MBNA*

Second best is the MBNA* card which gives 6.6% representative APR on all your spending. The rate is ever so slightly more than Lloyds, so is a good alternative if you can't get that card. Like the Lloyds card, the rate is variable, so it could rise in time, but regulations mean it can't in the first year.

Need to knows
  • Slightly poorer credit scorers will be given higher rates of 8.9% or 11.9%.
  • You must make at least the monthly minimum repayments or you could lose the low rate.
  • You'll also get the same rate on debts shifted to the card with no fee, though if you need this it may be better to look at the Best Balance Transfer cards.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending rate: 6.6% APR (see Official APR Examples)
  • Min income: N/A
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25
Sainsburys

Higher rate, but also gives Nectar points on spending

Sainsbury's Nectar

Another long term low rate card is the Sainsbury's Nectar Low Rate Card which gives 6.9% representative APR on all your spending - slightly higher than the cards above, but you'll also earn reward points on spending. Though not a deal breaker, it's a small perk, so if you can't get the cards above this is a good alternative.

Need to knows
  • The rate is variable, but can’t rise during the first year.
  • Most will get 6.9% APR, some slightly poorer credit scorers will be given higher rates of 9.9% or 12.9% APR.
  • You must make at least the monthly minimum repayments or you could lose the low rate.
  • You'll earn 2 points for every £1 spent in Sainsbury's and on Sainsbury's fuel, and 1 point for every £5 you spend elsewhere.
  • You'll also get the same rate on debts shifted to the card with no fee, though if you need this it may be better to look at the Best Balance Transfer cards.
Stats box
  • Spending rate: 6.9% APR (See Official APR Examples)
  • Min income: N/A
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% of balance or £5

Can these cards be used for balance transfers too?

On these cards, often - but not always - the rate applies to debt that is shifted to the card. If that's the case, and you're looking for long-term cheap debt, it's likely to be reasonably competitive and there's nothing wrong with doing it. Though always compare with the Best Balance Transfers first.

Yet don't assume the rate automatically applies for all transactions. For example, the Sainsbury's low rate card charges a big 24.93% rate for cash withdrawals. So never, ever, ever use it - or any credit card for that matter - for withdrawing cash.

Worried about being rejected?

Rejected Stamp

The cards listed above are the market's top deals. Some of them require a good credit score. If you're worried about this, then use the eligibility checker before you apply. If it shows that you aren't likely to get these cards if you apply, then you can take steps to improve your credit.

  • Check your credit score for free

    Understanding why you may be rejected is crucial for picking the right card. So first use the Free Credit Check guide for a full explanation and how to do it.

  • If you've only limited/minor issues

    Some of the cards above should still be accessible to you, especially those that rate for risk (they give some poorer credit scorers fewer months).

    However, if all score low on the eligibility checker, then see if any credit cards for poorer credit are suitable. But beware, deals don't tend to be as good for poorer credit scorers.

Should you tart? Keep your debt at 0%

While disloyalty is frowned upon in relationships, it's lauded for consumers. Credit card tarts shift debt from 0% deal to 0% deal to ensure the minimum possible cost for their debts. This is the cheapest way to use credit cards, but it takes discipline and a good credit score.

How to tart

If you're a new tart, the process is pretty simple.

  • Get a 0% purchases card

    This is a card that you can spend on, and all the spending will be at 0% for a set period. See the longest 0% deals below.

  • Ensure you make the repayments

    All "0% interest" means is there is no cost to the borrowing; it still needs to be repaid. Ensure you make at least the minimum repayments to avoid being fined, or worse, having the 0% deal withdrawn, meaning you need to pay the expensive standard rate.

  • Move or repay the debt BEFORE the 0% period ends

    At the end of the 0% period the rate will jump to the standard APR, which will usually be around 20%. Man Pushing Question MarkAt this point you either need to have the card cleared, or shift it to a new card with a 0% balance transfer deal. If you still haven't repaid the debt when that deal closes, shift it again.

To tart or not to tart?

Tarting is without doubt the cheapest method, but it takes active management and you need to stay on top of it. If not, there's a big warning...

Unless you shift the debt before the 0% period ends, it only takes a couple of months before all the gain is lost.

The other thing it's important to understand is that to tart, you're going to need a good credit history. So it's important to check your credit rating, which can be done for free before you start. Plus the nature of repeated applications can have an impact on your score.

So if you're going to take well over a year to repay and aren't good with money, or have a poor credit score, then it's best to stick with the best long term low rate deal instead.

The size of the saving

If you spent £400 each month and repaid £150 each month on an AA Visa card at 17.9%, you'd pay £310 interest in year one. On the Tesco card, you'd pay nothing in the first year (as it's 0% for 19mths), and with the MBNA card you'd pay £115.

After three years, the AA card charges a massive £2,810 in interest, while the Tesco card charges £1,960 – it’s high because the rate jumps to 18.9% after the 0% period ends.

But it's after three years that the MBNA card comes into its own. Yes, there's no 0% period, but it also charges the least in interest (£970) of the three cards.

That said, a good credit card tart taking advantage of 0% deals would pay nothing in interest (though would need to pay at least £31 in balance transfer fees to keep the debt at 0%). This is the best way to keep interest costs down.

Credit card interest
£400 spending/month, repaying £150 per month (1)
Interest cost after...
1 year 2 years 3 years
AA Visa card 17.9% £310 £1,210 £2,810
Tesco 19 mths 0% then 18.9% £0 £420 £1,960
MBNA 6.6% £115 £1430 £970
Credit card tarting (2) 0% (rotating cards) £0 £0 £0
(1) For ease of comparison, ignores minimum payments rules and credit limits.
(2) Needs a good credit score.