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Best 0% Credit Cards

29 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 29 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 six 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 six 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?

  • Use our eligibility calculator before applying for a speedy check of which cards you're most likely to get - and protect your credit score

    Usually, the only way to know if you'll be accepted is to apply, but each application marks your credit file. But our 0% spending eligibility calculator quickly shows your odds of getting almost every top 0% spending card so you can find the ones most likely to accept you, thus minimising applications.

    Quick questions

    How does the eligibility calculator work?

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

  • Or join our Credit Club for a full credit health check, including free your Experian Credit Score, Affordability Score and Credit Hit Rate

    The new MSE Credit Club is a game-changer. For years the credit market has been shrouded in mystery but our revolutionary tool brings together the key components to give you the full picture, and crucially, what it means for your acceptance chances and how to boost your creditworthiness.

    A credit score alone isn't enough to borrow, as there are other factors at play (it's why many with perfect scores still get rejected). Credit Club shows you...

    1. Free Experian Credit Score - how lenders rate your past credit behaviour.
    2. MSE Affordability Score - how lenders assess if you can afford a product.
    3. Your Credit Hit Rate -
    how likely you actually are to be accepted when you apply.
    4. Credit Card & Loan Eligibility Calcs
    - what your odds are of getting specific top deals.
    5. How to improve your credit profile - we show where your profile's strong and weak, & how to improve it.

  • 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

New. Joint longest 0% plus 5,000 Nectar points if you spend £250 in Sainsbury's

Sainsbury's Nectar* – 29 months 0% (18.9% rep APR after)

This Sainsbury's* card offers the joint longest 0% period on spending, and you'll definitely get the full 29 months if accepted. You'll also earn Nectar points on all spending, plus if you spend £250 in Sainsbury's in the first month, you'll get 5,000 bonus Nectar points worth £25.

More of a Tesco shopper? See below for a similar card offering one month less at 0% that offers Clubcard points.

Need-to-knows
  • New customers applying by 26 March 2017 will get 5,000 bonus Nectar points if they spend £250 in Sainsbury's in the first month – 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 29 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 29-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: 29 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
MBNA - 29 MONTHS

New. Joint longest 0% spending card

MBNA* – up to 29 months 0% (18.9% rep APR after)

This MBNA* card offers the joint-longest 0% spending period. However, some may be accepted and offered fewer 0% months – though if our eligibility calculator shows you as pre-approved, you'll definitely get the headline deal.

If you shop at Sainsbury's or Tesco, you may be better off with the cards above and in the table below which also reward you for your spending.

Need-to-knows
  • We say 'up to' 29 months as some poorer credit scorers may get fewer months at 0%.
  • Make sure you fully clear the card(s) by the end of the 29 months or you'll be charged 18.9% interest on any remaining balance.
  • This card also offers balance transfers for up to 29 months at 0%, though you'll pay a 2.95% fee to transfer your debt to the card.
  • 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: Up to 29 months 0% | Card issuer: Visa | Min income: N/A
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (see Official APR Examples)
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £25
Virgin Money

New. Long 0% spending card

Virgin Money* – 28 months 0% (19.9% rep APR after)

This card from Virgin Money* offers a long 28 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 28 months or you'll be charged 19.9% interest on any remaining balance.
  • 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, 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%
  • 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
AA

Get £35 cashback when you spend £500 – and a long 0% period to boot

AA* – up to 26 months 0% (18.9% rep APR after)

The AA* Dual Credit Card offers a touch shorter 0% on purchases than the cards above, but if you spend £500 within 60 days, you'll also get £35 cashback – though don't use this as an excuse to spend more than you normally would.

Need-to-knows
  • You need to spend at least £500 on the card within the first 60 days of opening your account to trigger the cashback. It'll be paid as a credit into your card account within 90 days of meeting the £500 spend.
  • You won't get the cashback if you pay late, bust your credit limit or already have an AA or Bank of Ireland credit card product (this includes Post Office credit cards).
  • Some poorer credit scorers accepted for the card will be offered 20 months at 0%, rather than 26, which isn't as good a deal.
  • Make sure you fully clear the card by the end of the 0% period 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%, but if you've cleared it by the end of the 0% period then this won't matter.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • The card also offers up to 26 months at 0% on balance transfers, but charges a high 2.98% one-off fee if you use it for this.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending length: up to 26 months 0% | Card issuer: Mastercard | Min income: £8,000
  • Rep variable APR: 18.9% (See Official APR Examples)
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.5% of balance or £5
Barclaycard 25mths

More than two interest-free years plus get £20 cashback if you spend £500

Barclaycard* - up to 25 months 0% (18.9% rep APR after)

This Barclaycard* has a decent 0% period of up to 25 months on spending and also offers £20 cashback if you spend at least £500 in the first 60 days - though don't use this as an excuse to spend more than normal.

Be aware that you could be accepted for the card and offered fewer months at 0%, which wouldn't make it a good deal.

Need-to-knows
  • To be eligible for the £20 cashback, you need to apply by Mon 6 Feb and spend at least £500 within the first 60 days of opening the account.
  • The cashback will be credited to your account within two working days of the spend being processed.
  • You won't be eligible for the cashback if you already have a Barclaycard.
  • We say this card's 'up to' 25 months as some may get 12 months at 0% depending on credit score.
  • Always pay at least the minimum monthly repayment, or you'll lose the 0% deal.
  • Make sure you fully clear the card(s) by the end of the 25 months or you'll be charged 18.9% interest on any remaining balance. Poorer credit scorers may get up to 29.9%.
  • You can also do a balance transfer with this card, getting up to 25 months 0% for a 1.49% fee.
Eligibility Calculator
(MSE's free tool)
APPLY*
(at lender site)

Protect your credit score and check chances of getting card

Stats box
  • Spending length: 25 months 0% | Card issuer: Visa | Min income: N/A
  • Rep variable APR: 21.9% (See Official APR Examples)
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% of balance or £5

Best Buys Other long 0% purchase cards

Card 0% length Representative variable APR after Eligibility
Nuba*Nuba Up to 28mths (1) 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card – are you pre-approved?
TescoTesco Bank Up to 28mths 18.9% -
Post Office*Post Office 27mths 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
Santander*Santander 27mths 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
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
Halifax*Halifax Up to 26mths (1) 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card
M&S Bank*Marks and Spencer 25mths 18.9% You can use our eligibility calculator for this card.
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). These cards offer short 0% periods, and one offers cashback too.

barclaycard

New. Three months 0% spending & rebuild credit, plus up to £40 cashback

Barclaycard Initial*

Do you want to rebuild your credit, or get a short respite from other debts? Barclaycard Initial* is designed for both of these purposes as it has a 0% period on spending, which is rare for a card designed for people with a poor credit history.

Plus, if you apply by Mon 6 Feb you'll receive £10 cashback every three months for a year, so a possible total of £40. Just pay at least the minimum payments, on time, and don't bust your credit limit. If at any point you don't meet these requirements, you won't receive any further cashback so be careful.

Need-to-knows
  • Apply by 6 Feb and you'll get £10 cashback every three months for a year, provided you've made at least one purchase, stayed within your credit limit and made at least your min payments on time.
  • You won't get subsequent cashback payments if you fail to meet the meet min payments or you bust your credit limit.
  • The cashback will be credited to your account within 35 days of the end of each three month period.
  • There are two main uses of this card; either use it to rebuild credit or as a respite from payday loans or bank charges (see key questions for how to do this).
  • Even during the 0%, you MUST still make at least the monthly minimum repayments (preferably more) - 0% doesn't mean nothing to pay.
  • You'll pay 34.9% interest on any balance left over after the 0% period, so try to clear the card, or at least minimise the debt.
  • If you always pay on time and don't go over your limit, Barclaycard will reduce your interest rate by up to 5% over two years.
  • If your credit score's improved, see the 0% Spending Cards guide.
  • If you already have a Barclaycard you won't be able to get this one.

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: 34.9% representative APR (See Official APR examples)
  • Min income: £3,000 | Card issuer: Visa
  • Accepts defaults? Yes, provided they're a year or more old
  • Accepts CCJs? Yes, but only if settled, and not more than one in last six years
  • Accepts bankruptcies? Yes, provided it's six years old or more
  • Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% of balance or £5
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 26 March 2017 will get 5,000 bonus Nectar points if they spend £250 in Sainsbury's in the first month – 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 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: 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 29 months to pay off my purchase. Are there any other options?

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

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