Best 0% credit cards

Best 0% Credit Cards

Up to 20 months' interest-free spending

Do it right and credit cards are the cheapest way to borrow – you can get 0% for up to 20 months on new purchases. Yet get it wrong and you'll be stuck in debt for years. Our guide has full info on what to watch out for, and best buys. Coronavirus financial worries have caused lenders to tighten acceptance criteria, but our Eligibility Calculator will show 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.

Want to shift card debt to 0%? See our 0% Balance Transfers guide.

Want to borrow £3k+? A cheap loan often beats a credit card.

Other related best-buy guides... 0% Money Transfer Cards | All-Rounder Cards | Debt Help | How Credit Cards Work

Other guides... What is buy now, pay later?

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How do 0% spending cards work?

A 0% spending card is simply a card you can use to make purchases that you pay no interest on for a set number of months (length varies by card). If you need to borrow, eg, to replace a worn sofa or old fridge, then used correctly, 0% cards are cheaper than loans. But make sure you read our golden rules below to prevent a debt nightmare.

The four golden rules

Get it wrong and you could be left counting the cost, so here's what you need to know about 0% spending cards...

Best 0% credit cards

Joint longest interest-free period + up to £37.50 in Nectar points, but you CAN'T get it if you're self-employed and could be offered fewer months at 0% 

This Sainsbury's Bank card (check eligibility / apply*) offers up to 20 months 0% for spending, though poorer credit scorers could be accepted and offered just 12 interest-free months. 

If accepted, you'll get 750 bonus Nectar points (worth £3.75) each time you spend £35+ at Sainsbury's (excl fuel), up to ten times in the first two months (max 7,500 points, worth £37.50). If you're doing a big shop, split it into smaller £35 chunks to max the bonus.

0% spending length: Up to 20 months
Important: Clear card in full by end of 0% period to avoid interest (always pay at least the monthly minimum repayment or you'll lose the 0% deal)
Min income: N/A
Representative APR (variable): 21.9% (see Official APR Examples)
Minimum repayment: Greatest of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.25% of balance or £5

Check if you'll get this card:

MSE's Eligibility Calculator

Or just go straight to the lender:

Apply*

Joint-longest 0% period, though you may be accepted and offered fewer months at 0%

This card from TSB (apply* – sadly not in our eligibility calculator) offers the joint-longest 0% period, though you could be accepted and offered 15 or 10 interest-free months on spending. 

0% spending length: Up to 20 months
Important: Clear card in full by end of 0% period to avoid interest (always pay at least the monthly minimum repayment) & don't withdraw cash on this card.
Min income: N/A
Representative APR (variable): 19.9% (some will pay up to 26.9%)
Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest or £5

More long 0% purchase cards

CARD 0% LENGTH REP VARIABLE APR AFTER
M&S Bank
Apply via eligibility calculator (i)
18 months 19.9%
Barclaycard
Check eligibility / apply*
18 months 21.9%
HSBC
Apply via eligibility calculator (i)
18 months 22.9%
See all Official APR Examples. (i) HSBC and M&S Bank have asked we direct people to our eligibility calculator, so only those more likely to be accepted will apply, reducing demand and enquiry calls, as they're over capacity and needs to prioritise coronavirus help for vulnerable people.

Best 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 score might not be in the best shape.

If so, the cards above aren't likely to be open to you (use our eligibility calculator first to check). Yet the cards below give an option if your problems are over a year old, though the 0% periods are a lot shorter. 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.  

Four months 0% while rebuilding your credit, but only see it as respite

The Capital One Classic Complete (check eligibility / apply*) is a good option for poorer credit scorers. It offers new customers a four-month 0% spending period. This is best used if you can pay off what you want to buy within four months.

However, there's also a way to use it to give a respite if you already have other debts, such as payday loans or an expensive overdraft – though be careful if doing this (see below for how).

  • We would caution anyone with past credit problems against new borrowing. Yet the 0% spending offer on this card 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 this 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: You've now got four months without any interest accruing in which 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 four months the rate jumps to 34.9% rep APR 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.

Representative APR (variable)34.9% (see Official APR Examples)
Minimum income: N/A
Important: Repay in full before the end of the 0% period to avoid interest, then pay off IN FULL every month. Don't miss a payment or bust your credit limit as you'll be charged a fee and get a mark on your credit file
Accepts CCJs? Yes, provided they're a year old or more
Accepts bankruptcies? Yes, provided it's a year old or more
Minimum repayment: Greater of 3% of balance plus interest or £5

Get three months 0% and a £30 Amazon voucher, though use carefully if you already have credit problems

This Amazon card (apply – sadly not in our eligibility calculator) is a good option for poorer credit scorers. It offers new customers a £30 Amazon voucher on acceptance and a three-month 0% spending period, which is best used if you can pay off what you want to buy within three months.

However, like the card above, this can also be used to get respite if you already have other debts, such as payday loans or an expensive overdraft – though, again, be careful if doing this (see below for how).

  • We would caution anyone with past credit problems against new borrowing. Yet the 0% spending offer on this card 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 this 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 repay payday loans or reduce your overdraft. In effect you've now got the debt on the card instead.

    Step 3: You've got three months without any interest accruing in which to reduce your overall debt – though you do need to still pay the minimum monthly repayments. Ensure you budget to work out how to do it.

    Step 4: At the end of the three months the rate jumps to 29.9% rep APR 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.

Representative APR (variable): 29.9% (see Official APR Examples)
Minimum income: N/A
Important: Repay in full before the end of the 0% period to avoid interest, then pay off IN FULL every month. Plus, don't miss a payment or bust your credit limit as you'll be charged a fee and get a mark on your credit file
Minimum repayment: Greater of 1% of balance plus interest, or £5

The Barclaycard Forward (apply*, sadly not in our eligibility calculator) is designed for poorer credit scorers and has a three-month 0% period on spending, so can be used as respite from other debts.

  • Step 1: Do normal spending on the 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: You've now got three months without any interest accruing in which to reduce your overall debt – though you still need to pay the minimum monthly repayments. Ensure you budget to work out how to do it.

    Step 4: At the end of the three months the rate jumps to 33.9% rep APR 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.

Representative APR (variable): 33.9% representative APR (see Official APR Examples)
Min income: £3,000 | Card issuer: Visa
Accepts CCJs? Yes, but no more than one in the last six years
Accepts bankruptcies? Yes, provided it's six years old or more
Minimum repayment: Greatest of 1% of balance plus interest, 2.5% of balance or £5

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 and cons in our Top Cashback Sites guide.

Coronavirus credit card help

If you're struggling to pay off debt on an existing credit card due to coronavirus, lenders should provide support. What's available depends on whether you've already had help:

For the latest updates and full information on the support available, see our coronavirus finance and bills help guide.

0% spending cards Q&A

  • The amount you save with a 0% card will obviously depend on how much you borrow, but here's a practical example to show what sort of savings you could make.

    Best used for planned, budgeted-for and needed purchases, if you paid £5,000 for a new kitchen on a standard credit card at 18.9%, repaying £150 a month, you'd pay £792 interest in year one. However on the joint-top TSB 0% card, you'd pay no interest for the first year (as it's 0% for 20mths).

    After two years making the same £150 monthly repayments, the standard card has cost you a massive £1,394 in interest, while the TSB card has cost you £111 – still sizeable as the rate jumps to 19.9% after the 0% period ends.

    That said, a good credit card tart taking advantage of another 0% deal would pay nothing in interest (though would need to pay balance transfer fees to keep the debt at 0%). This is the best way to keep interest costs down if you cannot afford to clear it at the end of the 0% period.

    CREDIT CARD INTEREST
    £5,000 INITIAL SPEND, REPAYING £150 PER MONTH (1)
    INTEREST COST AFTER...
        1 year 2 years
    Standard credit card 18.9% £792 £1,394
    TSB 20mths 0% then 19.9% £0 £111
    Credit card tarting (2) 0% (rotating cards) £0 £0
    (1) For ease of comparison, ignores minimum payments rules and credit limits. (2) Needs a good credit score.
  • Some, but not all. For many 0% purchase cards, it's a big no. There's a devious trick as some will allow you to shift debts to the card, but this then attracts interest. Repayments must go towards the most expensive debts first, but as you're unlikely to be able to repay in full, you'll still get charged.

    You're therefore better off using a separate balance transfer card instead, or get one designed for both purposes. These include the above cards from TSB and Sainsbury's Bank as all let you transfer a balance over to the same 0% period you would receive for spending, after a one-off fee (these vary from 2.9% to 3% of the balance you're transferring).

    If you need to transfer debts, see the Best Balance Transfers guide for the longest balance transfer cards or our Best All-Rounders guide for the full details of the above cards and others that are designed for 0% spending and balance transfers.

  • The cards listed in this guide are the market's top deals. Some of them require a good credit score. Where possible, all links take you via our quick eligibility calculator 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.

    Check your credit score for free

    Understanding why you may be rejected is crucial for picking the right card. So first use the Credit Scores 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 calculator, 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.

    Already been rejected for a card? Lenders determine their wish list for profitable customers – it's not all about risk. Read the Credit Scoring guide for a full explanation.

    Of course, you should check for errors on your credit report, but hard and fast reasons are difficult to come by. It may be as bizarre as a lender choosing to give credit cards to customers it's more likely to be able to flog a mortgage to.

  • ways to keep debt at 0% for longer?

    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 above.

    • 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%. At 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.

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