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Best 0% Credit Cards 19 mths' interest-free spending

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0% credit cards Do it right and credit cards are the cheapest way to borrow. You can get 0% for up to 19 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.

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 longest 0% spending card available is Tesco's* 19-month Clubcard Credit Card. This card's top for the longest 0% period plus you'll earn clubcard points on your spending.

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 Santander plus cashback (though has a £24 fee) 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.

Santander* - 18 months 0%Next longest term purchase card, fee-free

Santander
  • Spending length: 18 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (Official APR Example)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: £7,500
  • Min repay : Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £5

Second longest is the Santander* 18-month purchase card (you can use our eligibility checker for it). Unlike the Halifax card below, the 0% term won't vary according to your credit score - everyone accepted gets 18 months.

This card's fee free, unlike the Santander 123 card below, but it doesn't pay cashback. It's likely to be better if you're just using it for a one off purchase which you want to pay off over time. But if using for normal spending, see if you'd win with the cashback card.

Once the 18 months is up it switches to 18.9% representative APR, so make sure you've paid it off, or you're ready to shift the debt to a new 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).

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.

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.

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.

Clydesdale/Yorkshire - 17 months 0%Full 17 months on purchases if accepted

Clydesdale
  • Spending length: 17 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/ Yorkshire Gold credit card offers 17 months 0% on all spending. If you're accepted, you'll definitely get the full 17 months, as opposed to the Halifax card below, where some people will get fewer months if their credit score isn't so good.

Clydesdale and Yorkshire are part of the same banking group, which is why they have the same deal on this credit card.

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're after extra benefits or rewards on your credit card spending, look at the other cards listed in this guide, such as Tesco or Santander.

Halifax - 17 months 0%Some may get 12 or 9 months 0% on purchases

Halifax
  • Spending length: 17 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 16.9% (Official APR Example)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: N/A
  • Min repay : Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £5

This Halifax card has 0% on purchases for 17 months. But only a minimum of 51% of applicants will get the deal - the rest will either get 12 or 9 months 0%.

The promotional 17 months 0% will be given to "at least" 51% of those accepted. The rest will either get 12 or 9 months 0%. So only apply if you have a top credit rating, otherwise look at the other options here, like Tesco above.

The interest rate after is 16.9% representative APR. If you don't get the 17-month deal 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.

Sainsbury's* - 16 months 0% Plus get 16 months 0% on balance transfers

Sainsburys Credit Card
  • Spending length: 16 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 16.9% (Official APR Example)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: N/A
  • Min repay : Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% or £5

The Sainsbury's Nectar* credit card (you can use our eligibility checker for this card) gives 16 months 0% on new purchases and balance transfers.

When the 0% deal ends, the rate goes to 16.9% representative APR for both purchases and transfers, so make sure you've paid it off, or you're ready to shift the debt to a new balance transfer card. Some poorer credit scorers may get 19.9% or 22.9% APRs.

You also earn Nectar points when using this card for spending. It gives 2 points for every £1 spent in-store at Sainsbury's or at a Sainsbury's petrol station. Other spending earns 1 Nectar point for every £5.

M&S* - 15 months 0% Plus get 0.5% back in vouchers

M&S
  • Spending length: 15 months 0%
  • Rep variable APR: 16.9% (Official APR Example)
  • Card issuer: Mastercard
  • Min income: N/A
  • Min repay : Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.5% or £5

The M&S* credit card offers 0% on spending for a slightly shorter 15 months (you can use our eligibility checker for this card). After this, the rate jumps to 16.9% representative APR.

  • Spending rewards. You also collect points as you spend, which are converted into Marks & Spencer vouchers quarterly. You get 0.5% back on most purchases (50p per £100 spend) and 1% when you spend in M&S.

M&S, like many other banks, tries hard to sell you other products and memberships once you are a customer, so be wary. Make sure you really need something and can't get it cheaper elsewhere before parting with any cash.

Need a longer 0% period?

Spending using 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 normally and owe the new card.

You get longer at 0% (the top card has 31mths 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 (though use the eligibility checker first to confirm this). Barclaycard will accept people with previous CCJs or defaults, though only the Luma card will also accept people with previous bankruptcies. Both cards offer 0% on spending for a few months.

Barclaycard Initial*0% spending for 6 months + rebuild your credit

barclaycard
  • Promo rate: 0% for 6 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 checker 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 six-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.

Luma*For those with a limited history: 0% until October

Luma
  • Promo rate: 0% till October
  • Representative APR: 35.9% variable
  • Accepts defaults?: Yes
  • Accepts CCJs?: Yes
  • Accepts bankruptcies?: Yes, provided it's a year or more old
  • Required income: N/A
  • Rate example: Official APR example

The Luma* credit card (you can use our eligibility checker for this card) offers poor credit scorers 0% on all spending till October 2014, but remember it is only a respite - from these more expensive debts.

This card is designed for those with a limited credit history or past issues, so the interest rate is massive. It's vital you repay in full after the four months at 0% is up, otherwise you'll be charged 35.9% representative APR. Credit limits are fairly low, up to a maximum of £1,500.

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 checker 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 checker 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.

Think before adding the 'insurance'

Payment protection insurance is commonly sold with credit cards. The idea is it'll make some payments for you, usually for a year, if you are unable to (eg, if you lose your job).

But in many cases, it was mis-sold. In some cases, borrowers didn't realise they were signing up for it, or it was totally unsuitable for them. Some big lenders have been fined.

The protection isn't always bad. But policies sold with cards are often overpriced - you pay a monthly amount depending on the size of your balance. If you want it, compare the lender's cover with standalone providers such as Paymentcare or Best Insurance.

Always be vigilant and check you aren't getting more than you bargained for when you fill in the application. Then check your statement each month to check you aren't inadvertently paying for extras if you didn't ask for them.

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
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