Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

The MoneySaving Forum: join to chat & swap tips with other MoneySavers. Learn how in the Forum Introduction Guide

Best 0% Credit Cards 20 mths' interest-free spending

A quick message from Martin

All the latest deals, guides and loopholes go in MoneySavingExpert's
free weekly email. Don't miss out!

Get Martin's Money Tips email now!


0% credit cards Do it right and credit cards are the cheapest way to borrow. You can get 0% for up to 20 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...

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 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 a year, 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.

The 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.

Halifax* - 20 months 0%Longest 0% deal EVER - though some get fewer 0% months

Halifax
  • Spending length: 20 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (Official APR Example)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: N/A
  • Min repay : Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £5

This Halifax* card (you can use our eligibility calculator for this card) has 0% on purchases for a market-leading 20 months. 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).

You can't apply for this if you already have a Halifax card, so if that's you, then you need to look for another card. Fortunately, the Tesco card below is 0% for 19 months - just one month less.

The interest rate after is 18.9% representative APR. If you don't get the 20-month deal, but if you can only get 16 months, it'll be either 21.9% or 25.9%, so make sure you've paid it off, or you're ready to shift the debt to a new balance transfer card.

Tesco* - 19 months 0% Plus collect Clubcard points on spending

tesco
  • Spending length: 19 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (Official APR Example)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: £5,000
  • Min repay : Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £25

The second-longest 0% spending card available is Tesco's* 19-month Clubcard Credit Card. Spend on this, and you also earn Clubcard points.

After the 0% rate ends, it's 18.9% representative APR, so ensure you've repaid in full or switch to a top balance transfer card.

  • Spending rewards. Every time you spend you get Tesco Clubcard points - five for every £4 spent in Tesco stores/Tesco fuel and one for every £4 spent elsewhere. If redeemed for Tesco's Clubcard Rewards, they're worth about 3p each, making this equivalent to a 0.75% cashback card.

If the length of the 0% period is not important, you can get 18 months with American Express plus cashback or 16 months with Sainsbury's, plus nectar points to spend in its store - good if you shop at Sainsbury's more than Tesco.

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.

Bank of Scotland* - 19 months 0% Though some will get 16 months

BankofScotland
  • Spending length: 19 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (Official APR Example)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: N/A
  • Min repay : Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £5

The Bank of Scotland* card (check if you're eligible) is a decent alternative if you already have a Halifax card, as it's only one month shorter at 19 months 0% on purchases. Some poorer credit scorers could get 16 months 0% - but this isn't too bad a deal either.

This card doesn't come with extra perks, so if you aren't too fussed about the number of months, there are other cards which will reward you for spending as well. If you're a Tesco shopper you can get the same 19 months 0% plus you'll earn Clubcard points on spending. Or American Express gives 18 months 0% and up to 1.25% cashback on all spending.

If you're on the 19 month deal, the interest rate after is 18.9% representative APR. But if you're given 16 months, it'll be either 21.9% or 25.9%, so make sure you've paid it off, or you're ready to shift the debt to a new balance transfer card.

Clydesdale/Yorkshire* - 19 months 0%Full 19 months on purchases if accepted

Clydesdale
  • Spending length: 19 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (Official APR Example)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: N/A
  • Min repay : Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £5

The Clydesdale* (check eligibility) and Yorkshire* (check eligibility) Gold credit card offers 19 months 0% on all spending. If you're accepted, you'll definitely get the full 19 months, as opposed to the Halifax and Bank of Scotland cards above, where some will get fewer months if their credit score isn't so good.

Clydesdale and Yorkshire are part of the same banking group (National Australia Group), which is why they both offer the same credit card deal.

When the 0% deal ends, the rate goes to 18.9% representative APR on any balance you have left over, so make sure you've paid it off by then, or you're ready to shift the debt to a new balance transfer card.

The card doesn't offer any other perks, so if you want rewards on your credit card spending, look at the other cards listed in this guide, like Tesco or Santander.

American Express* - 18mths 0%Plus up to 1.25% cashback on all spending

Amex
  • Spending length: 18 months 0%
  • Interest on spending: 19.9% (Official APR Example)
  • Card issuer: American Express
  • Min income: £20,000 household income
  • Min repay : Greater of 2% of balance plus interest or £25

The Amex Platinum Everyday* card has two perks - not only does it offer 18 months 0% on purchases, but it also gives up to 1.25% cashback on all spending. Plus it's free to get. You can check if you're eligible for this card.

  • Spending rewards. The amount of cashback you earn depends on how much you spend. You'll earn 0.5% on all spending up to £3,500, 1% on spending between £3,500 - £7,500 and 1.25% for anything over £7,500.

Think about how much you spend and where you spend it, as the Santander 123 cashback card below offers the same 0% period - although it has different rates of cashback and a £24 annual fee.

Don't use the extra cashback as a reason to overspend - only spend what you normally would. But of course, do it all on this to maximise cashback.

Once the 18 months 0% is up, you'll pay 19.9% interest on spending. So make sure you've paid it off by then, or you're ready to shift the debt to a balance transfer card.

British Airways Amex* - 18mths 0% Plus earn Avios points on spending

Amex
  • Spending length: 18 months 0%
  • Interest on spending: 15.9% (Official APR Example)
  • Card issuer: American Express
  • Min income: £20,000 household income
  • Min repay : Greater of 2% of balance plus interest or £25

If you're a regular flyer and collect Avios points, then the British Airways Amex* card now gives 18 months 0% on purchases, as well as Avios points on all your spending. You can check if you're eligible for this card.

  • Spending rewards.You'll earn one Avios point for every £1 spent. Plus, if you spend £500 in the first three months, you'll receive 1,000 bonus Avios points.

If you're not a frequent flyer and Avios points aren't for you, consider the other cards in this guide, which also offer a similar number of months at 0% but with different perks, such as Tesco and American Express.

Once the 18 months 0% is up, you'll pay 15.9% interest on spending. So make sure you've paid it off by then, or you're ready to shift the debt to a balance transfer card.

Santander 123* - 18 months 0%Plus up to 3% cashback on some spending, BUT £24/yr fee

Santander
  • Spending length: 18 months 0%
  • Annual fee: £24 a year
  • Interest on spending: 12.7% (16.5% representative APR incl. fee: Official APR Example)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: £7,500
  • Min repay : Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £5

The Santander 123* credit card, which was already a cashback best-buy buy offering up to 3% cashback on certain spending, also offers 18 months 0% on spending (plus you can use our eligibility checker to see if you'll get the card).

  • Spending rewards. 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 get with Santander 123.

But it has a £24 annual fee, so you need to carefully weigh up if your planned spending would exceed this in cashback terms - you'd likely need to be a big petrol spender to 'win', though existing Santander 123 bank account holders get year one's fee refunded.

Once the 18 month 0% is up you'll pay 12.7% interest on spending (16.5% representative APR, including the annual fee), so make sure you've paid it off by then, or you're ready to shift the debt to a balance transfer card.

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
Sainsbury's Nectar*
18mths
18.9%
You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Santander*
18mths
18.9%
You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
M&S*
15mths
16.9%
You can use our eligibility calculator for this card.

Reward points: 1 pt per £1 in M&S stores. 1 pt per £2 elsewhere.
See all Official APR Examples

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 32 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).

0% 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.

Barclaycard Initial*0% spending for three months + rebuild your credit

barclaycard
  • 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

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

You need to be super-organised if you want to repay BEFORE the 0% ends. Keep to a tight budget and be careful.

Fail to 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. It's cheaper than a payday loan (see the payday loans guide for further alternatives) or unauthorised overdraft, but costs will soon mount up if you don't clear the debt quickly.

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 →


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.

MBNA Rate for Life* 6.6% rep APR, NO fee

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

The top card offering long-term spending at a low rate is the MBNA Rate for Life* card (you can use our eligibility calculator for this card) which gives 6.6% representative APR on all your spending.

Is the rate fixed? The card is variable rate, meaning MBNA is allowed to increase it. But credit card regulations mean it's not allowed to increase it within the first year.

After that, as long as you agree not to borrow more, you have a right to reject any rise and pay off your balance at the current rate. See the Rate Jacking guide for the full rules.

Like all credit cards, to get it you'll be credit scored. While 51% of accepted applicants will get 6.5%, some slightly poorer credit scorers will be given higher rates of 8.9% or 11.9%. It also has 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.

Sainsbury's Nectar*Long-term low rate on spending + Nectar points

Sainsburys
  • Spending rate: 6.9% APR (see official rate example)
  • Min income: N/A
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min repayment : Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% of balance or £5

The Sainsbury's Nectar Low Rate Card* (you can use our eligibility calculator for this card) gives 6.9% representative APR on all your spending, plus you can earn Nectar points with your spend.

Is the rate fixed? While the card is variable rate, credit card regulations mean it's not allowed to increase within the first year. After that, as long as you agree not to borrow more, you have a right to reject any rise (see the Rate Jacking guide for full rules).

Like all credit cards, to get it you'll be credit scored. While 51% of accepted applicants will get 6.9%, some slightly poorer credit scorers will be given higher rates of 9.9% or 11.9% APR. It also has 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.

Tesco* Long-term lower rate on spending

Tesco
  • Spending rate: 7.8% APR, no fee (see official rate example)
  • Min income: N/A
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £25

The Tesco* credit card offers a long-term low rate at 7.8% representative APR on purchases, plus you can clubcard points.

You'll earn one Clubcard point for every £4 spent on the card, in addition to the points you'd usually earn shopping in a Tesco store. However, if you're a bigger Sainsbury'sshopper, the card above could be a better option.

Is the rate fixed? While the card is variable rate, credit card regulations mean it's not allowed to increase within the first year. After that, as long as you agree not to borrow more, you have a right to reject any rise (see the Rate Jacking guide for full rules).

Like all credit cards, to get it you'll be credit scored. While 51% of accepted applicants will get 7.8%, some slightly poorer credit scorers will be given higher rates of up to 12.8% APR. It also has 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.

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?

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.

Rejected Stamp
  • 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.

Join in the Forum Discussion:
Best 0% Credit Cards
If you haven't already

What the * means above

If a link has a * by it, that means it is an affiliated link and therefore it helps MoneySavingExpert stay free to use, as it is tracked to us. If you go through it, it can sometimes result in a payment to the site. It's worth noting this means the third party used may be named on any credit agreements.

You shouldn’t notice any difference and the link will never negatively impact the product. Plus the editorial line (the things we write) is NEVER impacted by these links. We aim to look at all available products. If it isn't possible to get an affiliate link for the top deal, it is still included in exactly the same way, just with a non-paying link. For more details, read How This Site Is Financed.

Duplicate links of the * links above for the sake of transparency, but this version doesn't help MoneySavingExpert.com: BA Amex 18 mths, Bank of Scotland 19 mths, Barclaycard Initial, Clydesdale 19 mths, Halifax 20mth, Lloyds 19 mths, M&S, MBNA rate for life, MoneySupermarket, Sainsbury's 18 mth, Sainsbury's 6.9%, Santander 123, Santander 18mth, Tesco 19mths, Tesco low rate, Yorkshire 19 mths

Cheap Travel Money

Find the best online rate for holiday cash with MSE's TravelMoneyMax.

Find the best online rate for your holiday cash with MoneySavingExpert's TravelMoneyMax.