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Best 0% Credit Cards

28 mths' interest-free spending

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Martin

Updated Daily

0% credit cards

Do it right and credit cards are the cheapest way to borrow. You can get 0% for up to 30 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.

The five golden rules

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.

Before you get a 0% purchases card, there are five things you need to know. Get this wrong and it can cost you large, so please read the following (even if you only have time to read and remember the headlines it should help protect your pocket).

  • Debt's like fire. Used well, it's great. 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).

    If you definitely need a card, 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?

  • Make AT LEAST the monthly minimum repayments (preferably more)

    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'll lose your 0% deal, so the rate will jump and you'll get a £12 charge.

    However, don't almost clear your card in full – clear it IN FULL if you can. For example, if you've £1,000 debt from spending on a credit card and pay off £999, the fact it's not cleared IN FULL means you pay a month's interest on the whole amount.

    So if you can nearly clear your card, do what you can to totally clear it (even if it's a 0% spending card it's a good habit to get into).

  • 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.

    It may seem obvious, but it's incredibly vital you make a note of the 0% end dates 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.

    Quick questions

    What can I do if I can't pay off my debt within the 0% period?

  • Protect your credit score using our eligibility calculator before applying to find which cards you're most likely to get

    You'll see that most cards in this guide have a link to our 0% Spending Eligibility Calculator tool, which we've designed to allow you to see the probability of getting the card.

    When you apply for a card, you get a mark on your credit report even if you're not accepted. We do a 'soft' credit search which you can see, but lenders can't use, so it has no impact on your future creditworthiness – and lets you see your chances of getting the card before you apply.

    Quick questions

    How does the eligibility calculator work?

    Will credit scoring affect the deal I get and my credit limit?

  • Know 'up to' deals mean you might not get the headline deal you apply for

    There's a catch to watch out for. Some card firms give those with lesser credit histories fewer months at 0% than they advertise. You could, say, apply for a 25-month 0% spending deal, be accepted but given a fewer 12 months at 0%.

    We highlight cards that do this by putting 'up to' before their headline offer, and tell you the other 0% lengths they may offer in the write-ups of the products below.

    Quick question

    Is there any way to know what deal I will get before I apply?

    Why do lenders give some applicants worse deals?

Best BuysLong 0% deals

The main aim is to find the card which will give you the longest 0% introductory deal without charging an annual fee. The 'go to' rate that cards jump to after the 0% periods are also listed. But as it's best to pay these cards off by the time the 0% ends, or balance transfer any remaining debt to another 0% card, this shouldn't affect you.

Sainsbury's card

Joint longest 0% and you get Nectar points on spending

Sainsbury's Nectar* – 28 months 0% (18.9% rep APR after)

This Sainsbury's* card offers the joint-longest 0% spending period of 28 months (which you'll definitely get if accepted). Plus you'll earn Nectar points at a rate of one per £5 spent anywhere using the card, and two points per £1 on spending in Sainsbury's.

More of a Tesco shopper? See below for a similar card that offers Clubcard points.

Need-to-knows
  • New customers applying by 29 December 2016 will get 5,000 bonus Nectar points if they spend £800 in Sainsbury's in the first three months – but don't use this as an excuse to spend more than you normally would.
  • You get two points per £1 spent on Sainsbury's shopping and fuel, and one point per £5 spent elsewhere.
  • Make sure you fully clear the card(s) by the end of the 28 months or you'll be charged 18.9% interest on any remaining balance. Poorer credit scorers may get 21.9% or 28.9%.
  • You'll either get the full 28-month deal or you'll get rejected, unlike some cards in this guide where you may be accepted for the card, but given a shorter period at 0%.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending length: 28 months 0% | Card issuer: Mastercard | Min income: N/A
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (see Official APR Examples)
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% or £5
Tesco* - 35 MONTHS, 2.7% FEE

Joint longest 0% and you get Clubcard points

Tesco Bank – up to 28 months 0% (18.9% rep APR after)

For Tesco shoppers looking for a long 0% period, this Tesco card gives you Clubcard points on all spending. However, not all those accepted will be offered the full 28 months – some may be offered fewer months at 0%, which won't make it as good a deal so do bear that in mind.

More likely to shop at Sainsbury's? See above for a similar card that gives you Nectar points.

Need-to-knows
  • We say 'up to' 28 months as some poorer credit scorers may get 25 or 22 months at 0%.
  • You get Clubcard points on your spending – one point for every full £4 spent at Tesco stores or petrol stations, one point for every £8 elsewhere.
  • Make sure you fully clear the card(s) by the end of the 28 months or you'll be charged 18.9% interest on any remaining balance.
  • Some poorer credit scorers could be given interest rates up to 23.9%.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
Stats box
  • Spending length: Up to 28 months 0% | Card issuer: Mastercard | Min income: £5,000
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (see Official APR Examples)
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25
Post Office

Long 0% spending card

Post Office* – 27 months 0% (18.9% rep APR after)

This Post Office* card offers a decent 0% period, though you have to make at least one purchase in the first three months. If you don't, you'll only get the 0% deal for the first 16 months, which won't make it a good deal – so bear that in mind when you're picking a card.

Some of you have told us that when you apply it looks like there's a 0% period of just 16 months on spending but we've confirmed with the Post Office that as long as you make a purchase in the first three months, you'll get the full 27 months 0%.

Need-to-knows
  • You'll either get the full 27 month deal or you'll get rejected, unlike some cards in this guide where you could be accepted, but given a shorter period at 0%
  • Make sure you fully clear the card by the end of the 26 months or you'll be charged 18.9% interest on any remaining balance. Some poorer credit scorers may get a 22.9% interest rate.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending length: 27 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (see Official APR Examples)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: £8,000
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.5% or £5
Virgin Money

Long 0% spending card

Virgin Money* – 27 months 0% (19.9% rep APR after)

This card from Virgin Money* offers a decent 27 months 0% on spending, which you'll definitely get if you're accepted for the card – great if you need to spread out the cost of a big planned purchase.

Need-to-knows
  • Our eligibility calculator can tell you if you're pre-approved for this card.
  • Make sure you fully clear the card(s) by the end of the 27 months or you'll be charged 19.9% interest on any remaining balance.
  • You'll either get the full 27-month deal or you'll get rejected, unlike some cards in this guide where you may be accepted, but given a shorter period at 0%.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending length: 27 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 19.9% (see Official APR Examples)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: N/A
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £25

Best Buys Other long 0% purchase cards

Card 0% length Representative variable APR after Eligibility
Clydesdale*Clydesdale 26mths 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Yorkshire*Yorkshire 26mths 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
MBNA*MBNA Up to 26mths (1) 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card – are you pre-approved?
Halifax*Halifax Up to 26mths (1) 18.9%
AA*Halifax Up to 26mths (1) 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Nuba*Nuba Up to 26mths (1) 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card – are you pre-approved?
M&S Bank*Marks and Spencer 25mths 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card.
Barclaycard*Barclaycard Up to 25mths (1) 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card – are you pre-approved?
See all Official APR Examples. (1) Poorer credit scorers could get fewer months.

Best Buys 0% Purchase Cards for poor credit

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

Tesco Foundation

0% spending for six months, plus rebuild your credit

Tesco Foundation*

This card from Tesco* is designed to help you rebuild your credit if you have a poor history. And unlike some of the other cards designed for this, it has six months 0% on spending, which can give you respite from other debts.

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.
  • 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 six-month 0% interest period ends, you'll be charged a hefty 27.5% representative APR on any balance left. Poorer credit scorers could get APRs up to 39.9%.
  • Credit limits start from £250 and are reviewed regularly, so you may have your credit limit increased if you manage your account well.
  • You'll also earn Clubcard points with this card – one point per full £4 spent in Tesco and one point per full £8 spent elsewhere, though don't use this as an excuse to spend more than normal.
  • You get free credit reports/alerts with this card, helping you keep track of your credit rating.
  • You won't be able to get this if you already have a Tesco Bank card, or if you've applied for a Foundation card in the last month.

How to use this card for respite from bank charges and payday loans

Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Rate: 27.5% representative APR (see Official APR Example)
  • Min income: £5,000 | Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Accepts defaults? Yes, provided they're 18 months old or more
  • Accepts CCJs? Yes, provided they're 18 months old or more
  • Accepts bankruptcies? Yes, provided it's 18 months old or more
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25
Key questions

What is the free credit report? Tesco has partnered with Noddle to give you access to its online credit report, giving free access for three years to its 'Noddle Improve' and 'Noddle Alerts' services. Noddle does offer free access to a limited credit report, but the ones included with the Tesco card cost £50 per year.

Noddle Alerts highlight any significant changes to your credit report, sending you an email alert, and Noddle Improve is a credit score with added tips on how you can improve it if it comes up a little low.

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 every few months, and know you've got a deal for the long term.

MBNA Low Rate

Low interest rate for five years, good loan alternative

MBNA* 5 – 4.9% interest for 60 months, 0.5% balance transfer fee

The MBNA 5* credit card offers a low interest rate of 4.9% for five years on purchases made within 60 days of account opening. If you've a big purchase to make, it's a good alternative to a loan as the APR beats the best buys up to around £5,000 – just make sure you budget to pay it off by the end of the 60 months.

Need-to-knows
  • You must make purchases within the first 60 days to get the low 4.9% rate.
  • After your low rate ends, you'll pay 8.9% interest a year on any debt leftover.
  • Some poorer credit scorers getting this card may be given initial interest rates of 8.9%, jumping to 10.9% at the 60 months' end.
  • This card also offers balance transfers and money transfers at 4.9% interest for five years, with a 0.5% fee.
Stats box
  • Spending rate: 4.9% for 60mths then 8.9% (see Official APR Examples)
  • Min income: £20,000
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £25
Sainsbury's Low Rate

Joint-cheapest long-term, low-rate card

Sainsbury's* 5.9% rep APR, no balance transfer fee

The Sainsbury's* Low Rate credit card offers a low 5.9% representative APR on all spending, and offers Nectar points. It's a good option if you want a guaranteed low rate for the life of the card.

Need-to-knows
  • New customers applying by 29 December 2016 will get 5,000 bonus Nectar points if they spend £800 in Sainsbury's in the first three months – but don't use this as an excuse to spend more than you normally would.
  • You'll earn two points for every £1 spent in Sainsbury's and on Sainsbury's fuel, and one point for every £5 spent elsewhere.
  • Not everyone will get the low 5.9% APR. Some poorer credit scorers will get a higher APR of 12.9% or 15.9%.
  • Sainsbury's can increase the rate after a year. But you can reject this rate hike.
  • Always pay at least the monthly minimum payment or you'll get a penalty for late payment and a mark on your credit file.
  • Don't withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
  • The card also offers balance transfers with an APR of 5.9% for the life of the balance.
ELIGIBILITY CHECK NOT AVAILABLE
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending rate: 5.9% 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
Tesco Low Rate*

Joint-cheapest long-term, low-rate card

Tesco* 5.9% rep APR, no balance transfer fee

The Tesco* Low APR credit card offers 0% on spending for one month, and then a low 5.9% representative APR on all spending after that. It's a good option if you want a guaranteed low rate for the life of the card, plus you can earn Clubcard points on purchases.

Need-to-knows
  • Not everyone will get the low 5.9% APR. Some will get a higher APR of 10.9%.
  • You get Clubcard points on your spending – one point for every full £4 spent at Tesco stores or petrol stations, one point for every £8 elsewhere.
  • Tesco can increase the rate after a year. But you can reject this rate hike.
  • Always pay at least the monthly minimum payment or you'll get a penalty for late payment and a mark on your credit file.
  • Don't withdraw cash on this card. It usually isn't at the cheap rate and cash withdrawals hit your credit file.
  • The card also offers balance transfers at 0% for one month, followed by a rate of 6.054% for the life of the balance.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending rate: 5.9% APR (see Official APR Examples)
  • Min income: £5,000
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min repayment : Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £25

Cashback sites may pay you for signing up

As an extra boon, members of specialist cashback websites can be paid when they sign up to some financial products. Do check that it's exactly the same deal though, as terms can be different. And remember the cashback is never 100% guaranteed until it's in your account. 

Full help to take advantage of this and pros & cons in our Top Cashback Sites guide.

0% spending cards Q&A

  • How much could I save?

  • Can these cards be used for balance transfers too?

  • What should I do if I'm worried about being or have been rejected for these cards?

  • I need longer than 28 months to pay off my purchase. Are there any other options?

  • Is there another way to keep my debt at 0% for longer?