Best 0% credit cards

Compare cards with up to 21 months' interest-free spending

We prefer you don't borrow unless you NEED to, as it can lead to problems. Yet if you do need to, used right, 0% spending credit cards are the cheapest way to borrow. This 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 at a retailer that takes credit cards.

Other related guides... Credit cards for bad credit | 0% money transfer cards | All-rounder cards | Debt help | Getting your first credit card | Find all our credit card guides in one place.

How do 0% purchase cards work?

Put simply, a 0% purchase 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

Before applying for a 0% spending card, ensure you read the three golden rules.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Longest interest-free credit cards

Here are our top-pick cards with the next best below for you to compare, all with a long 0% period.

Top long-0% purchase cards for new cardholders 

MoneySavingExpert's 0% Spending Card Eligibility Calculator, with the up to 21-month Barclaycard selected

 

Barclaycard

Longest 0% period, but some could get fewer interest-free months. You'll get the full 21 months at 0% if you're showing as pre-approved in our eligibility calculator. If you're not, you could get just 10 months at 0%, so it might be better in that case to look at the cards below.

- Up to 21mths 0%

- 24.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*

 

MBNA

Only purchases made in the first 60 days are interest-free.

New. Decent 0% period + £20 cashback, but some could get fewer interest-free months. You'll get the full 20 months at 0% if you're showing as pre-approved in our eligibility calculator. If not, you could get just 12 months at 0%, so the cards below could be better options.

 

To get the cashback, you must apply via our eligibility calculator by 7 March (it's not available direct) and spend £1,000+ on the card in the first 60 days. It'll then be paid within 180 days.

- Up to 20mths 0% (though only only spending in first 60 days)

- 23.9% rep APR

Check eligibility (1)
MoneySavingExpert's 0% Spending Card Eligibility Calculator, with the 18-month M&S Bank card selected

M&S Bank

Same 0% period as MBNA above, plus earn M&S points on spending – but, again, some could get less time at 0%. You'll get 20 months at 0% if you're pre-approved in our eligibility calculator, otherwise you could get just 15 months. This could be a good option if you're not pre-approved for cards above, as the worst-case acceptance scenario is better.

You also get one point for every £1 spent in M&S and every £5 spent elsewhere. Points can then be converted to M&S vouchers.

- Up to 20mths 0%

- 24.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*


NatWest
A shorter 0% period than the above cards, but all accepted get the full 19 months at 0%. This could be a good option if you're not pre-approved for the cards above and have decent odds for this one as everyone accepted gets the full time at 0%. Also offered by sister banks RBS* and Ulster Bank*.

- 19mths 0%

- 24.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*
The next best 0% spending cards. Here are quick details of decent alternatives.
Lloyds

- Up to 19mths 0%

- 23.9% rep APR

Check eligibility (1)

HSBC

- Up to 18mths 0%

- 24.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*

(1) MBNA and Lloyds have asked us to link only to our eligibility calculator – as they don't have these cards available to apply for directly. See all official APR examples.

How do I apply for these credit cards?

Use our eligibility calculator to find which cards are most likely to accept you. It 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.

Once you've found one that's likely, click apply and you'll be taken to the lender's site. Then, you'll be able to fill in any extra details the lender needs and submit your application.

Top interest-free cards for bad credit

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...

  • How to use a 0% period to give a respite from existing debts

    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.

Top poor-credit 0% purchase cards for new cardholders 

MoneySavingExpert's 0% Spending Card Eligibility Calculator, with the 12-month Virgin Money card selected

Virgin Money
The longest 0% period designed for those with poor credit by far. Use our eligibility calculator to see if you're 'pre-approved' - all who are get the headline 12 months at 0%. You must have a recent history of managing credit, even if you've had CCJs or defaults in the past, and a yearly £15,000+ personal income

12mths 0%

- 29.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*
The next best poor-credit 0% spending cards. Here are quick details of alternatives.
Capital One

- 6mths 0%

- 37.9% rep APR

Check eligibility (i)
Barclaycard Forward - Up to 6mths 0%
- 33.9% rep APR
Check eligibility (i)

 

Post Office

 

- 3mths 0%

- 29.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*

(i) These providers have asked us to link only to our eligibility calculator – as the cards aren't available to apply for directly. | See all official APR examples.

If you can't get these cards, read our Credit cards for bad credit guide for more help to build or rebuild your credit history.

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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