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 guides... 0% Money Transfer Cards | All-Rounder Cards | Debt Help | How Credit Cards Work | What is buy now, pay later?

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How do 0% spending cards work?

0% spending cards

Put simply, a 0% spending card offers a number of months where no interest is charged on new purchases, so done right there's no cheaper borrowing – 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 (eg, replacing a broken fridge). The real danger is using them willy-nilly to supplement your income, and that can result in a vicious cycle.

Follow our golden rules below to ensure you don't get caught out, but first here's two key things to watch out for.

What to watch out for

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. 

  • 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 Best Balance Transfers guide to move it to another 0% card.

  • While purchases on these cards are interest-free for a number of months, other uses such as balance-transfers and cash withdrawals are usually not  – and will incur charges and interest. 

    For cash, 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.

Best 0% credit cards

Here are our three top-pick cards with the next best below, all with a long 0% period. However these include 'up to' cards, so you may get a shorter deal than advertised – unless you're showing as pre-approved in our eligibility calculator. This is the best route as it shows which cards you're most likely to be accepted for.

Top long-0% purchase cards for new cardholders



Virgin Money
Longest definite interest-free spending period – all accepted get the full 20mths 0%. It's then 21.9% rep APR after. Full card spec
20mths 0% Check eligibility
Apply*



Sainsbury's Bank
 
Sadly won't accept anyone self-employed
Joint-longest 0% period + poss £37.50 in bonus Nectar points, though it's 'up to' 20mths at 0%. So some accepted could get 12mths at 0%. It gives 750 Nectar points for each £35+ spend at Sainsbury's (excl fuel) in the first two months (max 7,500pts, worth £37.50). The card has a 21.9% rep APR. Full card spec
Up to 20mths 0% Check eligibility
Apply*



M&S Bank
Free '£30' plus all accepted get 18mths at 0%. Get £25 cashback on £100+ spent within 90 days and collect 500 M&S points on a no-min spend at M&S via a coupon it sends, worth £5 in M&S vouchers.The card has a 19.9% rep APR. Full card spec
18mths 0% Check eligibility
Apply*

The next best 0% spending cards. Here are quick details of four alternatives.

TSB

Up to 20mths 0%

20.9% rep APR

Apply
MBNA

0% only on purchases made in the first 60 days
Up to 20mths 0%
20.9% rep APR
Check eligibility
Apply*
Barclaycard 18mths 0%
21.9% rep APR
Check eligibility
Apply*
HSBC (i) 18mths 0%
22.9% rep APR
Check eligibility

Important: (i) HSBC has asked we send people to our eligibility calc, to reduce demand on its call centres at this crucial time.|See all official APR examples

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.

Top poor-credit 0% purchase cards for new cardholders 

igd-Capital-One-new-card-2020.png

Capital One

A four-month break from paying interest while rebuilding your credit. After the 0%, it's 34.9% rep APR. Full card spec, incl how to use it to provide a respite from existing debts.
4mths 0% Check eligibility
Apply*



Amazon
Three months at 0% and a £20 Amazon voucher on acceptance, though use carefully if you already have credit problems. After the 0%, it's 29.9% rep APR. Full card spec, incl how to use it to provide a respite for existing debts
3mths 0% Apply
The next best poor-credit 0% spending cards. Here are quick details of two alternatives.
Post Office

3mths 0%

29.9% rep APR

Check eligibility
Apply*
Barclaycard

3mths 0%

33.9% rep APR

Apply*

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.

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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 & 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 Virgin Money, 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, there's a link to check your chances of acceptance via our Eligibility Calculatorbefore having to apply.

    However if you've already applied and been rejected, or if the calculator shows a low or no chance for all cards, try checking your credit score to identify any errors or problems – which you can do for free. See our Credit Scores guide for a full explanation and how to do it.

  • 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.

    1. Check your credit rating. Tarting requires a good credit score as you need to be as confident as possible that you'll be accepted for both the initial card and the new card you'll need when that 0% period ends. You can check your credit rating for free before you start. 

    2. Get a 0% purchases card. See the longest 0% deals above.

    3. 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.

    4. 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 pay off the balance in full, 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.

      Warning: Unless you shift before the 0% period ends, it only takes a couple of months before all the gain is lost.

    Tarting is without doubt the cheapest method, but it takes active management and you need to stay on top of it. Also remember the nature of repeated applications can have an impact on your score.

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