Best 0% credit cards
Compare cards with up to 24 months' interest-free spending
We prefer you don't borrow, as it can lead to problems. Yet if you need to, 0% spending credit cards are the cheapest way to borrow, if you use them right. Our guide has full info on what to watch out for, plus our eligibility calculator will show you the cards you've the best odds of getting before you apply.
Who's this guide for? Anyone with a planned, budgeted-for purchase for a retailer that takes credit card.
How do 0% spending cards work?
Put simply, a 0% spending card offers a number of months where no interest is charged on new purchases. This can save you £1,000s compared with the same borrowing on a standard credit card (assuming you pay them off over the same period of time).
So done right, there's no cheaper borrowing over the medium term – though they're not an excuse to overspend. We'd only suggest using a credit card to borrow for a needed, planned, affordable, one-off purchase, for example, replacing a broken fridge. This means borrowing as little as possible and only an amount you can pay back during the 0% period.
Of course, with the cost of living crisis, it can be tempting to get one to fill gaps in your income. That's a mistake, as the need to repay it will just add to your future costs, and make life more difficult. Though if you are doing it anyway, borrowing at 0% is better than paying interest. Yet it's far, far better to avoid borrowing to fill gaps in your income if you can – do read our Debt help guide for more info.
The three golden rules
1. Pay at least the set monthly minimum and stick within the credit limit, or you may lose the 0% rate
Set up a direct debit for at least the minimum repayment as soon as you're accepted. Even though you pay 0% interest, you still need to make repayments each month.
If you miss one you may lose your 0% deal and get a £12ish charge. It may also be added as a missed payment on your credit report.
You'll also need to be careful not to spend more than your credit limit. If you do, the card provider may end the 0% offer, which means you'll start paying interest.
2. Aim to clear the card during the 0% period – it's best to repay a chunk every month so it acts as a 0% loan
There are no 0% loans, but there are 0% credit cards... so the trick is to turn a card into a loan.
Go even one month beyond the promotional 0% period and the interest rate rockets, so calculate the amount needed to clear the balance by then and remember that end date.
Divide what you spent by the number of 0% months and set up a direct debit to clear it in that time, so it works like a loan where you pay it back in full over a set period.
So £600 over a year is £50 a month to clear. If you've not cleared it in time, see our Balance transfers guide for full information on shifting the amount you owe to another 0% card.
3. Don't balance-transfer or withdraw cash on these cards – it's usually at an expensive interest rate
While purchases on these cards are interest-free for a number of months, you'll need to check if other uses, such as balance transfers, are as well.
Some cards let you transfer a balance over to the same 0% period you would receive for spending, after a one-off fee around 3% of the balance you're transferring. See our Best all-rounders guide for full info.
Cash withdrawals are a different case, and you'll usually pay interest from the date of making the cash withdrawal until it's paid off.
This means you'll most probably see an interest charge on the first statement after the cash withdrawal, which is the interest charged from the date you made the withdrawal until the date the statement was issued.
But you may also see interest charged on the following statement. There'll be a delay between your statement being drawn up, and you paying it. It may be a couple of days, it may be a couple of weeks, but you'll be charged interest on the cash withdrawal until you pay it off.
Compare which 0% credit cards you've the best chance of getting, in your own personal best-buy table.
Usually, applying is the only way to know if you'll be accepted for a credit card. Yet that marks your credit file, affecting your ability to get future credit. To help, our tool uses a 'soft search' to find your chances of acceptance before you apply.
Check your chance of acceptance
Top-pick 0% spending credit cards
Here are our top-pick cards with the next best below for you to compare, all with a long 0% period.
How do I apply for a credit card?
A few years ago, the only way to know if you'd be accepted for a credit card was to apply. But that leaves a mark on your credit report that lenders can see – affecting your ability to get credit in future.
However, our eligibility calculator uses a 'soft search' (which lenders can't use) to calculate and show your percentage chance of getting the top credit cards. This is the best route as it reveals which cards you're most likely to be accepted for WITHOUT impacting on your credit report.
Some cards even give a 100% acceptance chance, meaning you're 'pre-approved' to get them. This is particularly helpful for 'up to' cards – ones where poorer credit scorers may get a shorter deal than advertised. Be aware of these if you're not showing as pre-approved.
|Longest 0% period, though some could get fewer interest-free months. You'll get the full 24 months at 0% if you're showing as 'pre-approved' in our eligibility calculator, otherwise you could get just 12mths' 0%.|
|Longest definite 0% period – all accepted get the full 23 months at 0%. Also offered by sister banks RBS (check eligibility / apply*) and Ulster Bank (apply), these cards were previously only available to existing customers, but are now open to all to apply.|
- 23.9% rep APR
|Another long, definite 0% period – plus earn M&S points. All accepted get the full 21 months at 0%. You also get M&S points – one point per £1 spent at M&S and one point per £5 spent elsewhere – which convert into M&S vouchers.|
- 22.9% rep APR
- 23.9% rep APR
- 21.9% rep APR
|not in our eligibility calculator)|
Top 0% credit cards for poor credit scorers
If you have high levels of current debt, missed payments (recent or historic), bankruptcies, county court judgments (CCJs) or individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs), chances are your credit file might not be in the best shape.
Try our eligibility calculator first to check your chances of acceptance for the cards above, but if it shows no or low odds, then the cards below offer a short 0% period if your credit problems are over a year old. These cards can also help if you've existing, expensive debt...
First up, we would caution anyone with past credit problems against new borrowing. Yet the 0% spending period on these cards can be used to give you respite and save you money on costly debts, such as payday loans or overdrafts with high interest. Here's how...
Step 1: Do normal spending on the 0% spending card up to the credit limit. As you're using it instead of cash from your bank account your income should build up there.
Step 2: Use the money built up in your bank account to reduce your overdraft or repay lenders. In effect you've now got the debt on the card instead.
Step 3: No interest is added during the 0% period (up to 12 months, based on the cards below) so you've got until this ends to reduce your overall debt – though you do need to still pay the minimum monthly repayments. Do ensure you do a budget to work out how to do it.
Step 4: At the end of the 0% period the rate jumps to the expensive rep APR of the card (up to 33.9% based on those below) so ensure there's no debt on it by then – but in the worst case scenario it's still likely cheaper than payday loans. If the interest rate on the card's higher than the one you pay on your overdraft, use the overdraft to pay off any remaining debt on the card.
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, plus pros and cons, in our Top cashback sites guide.
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