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Home News Best zero interest credit cards of 2021

Best zero interest credit cards of 2021

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(CNN) —  

CNN Underscored reviews financial products such as credit cards and bank accounts based on their overall value. We may receive a commission through the LendingTree affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our reporting is always independent and objective. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Even as life returns to normal thanks to vaccines, the pandemic and economic downturn have done a lot of damage to the finances of many Americans. If you’ve lost your job in the last year and are having trouble finding enough money to pay your vital expenses, one temporary low-cost solution is to get a credit card with a 0% introductory interest rate on purchases.

Some 0% interest credit cards come with long introductory periods, while others offer cash back or travel rewards on the items you buy. But with so many options, which card should you choose? Our list of the best credit cards with zero interest on purchases can help you decide which one best fits your needs in these challenging times.

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card: 0% APR for 20 billing cycles (then 14.49%-24.49% variable)
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card: 0% APR for 18 months (then 14.74%-24.74% variable)
Wells Fargo Platinum® Card: 0% APR for 18 months (then 16.49%-24.49% variable)
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: 0% APR for 15 months (then 13.99%-23.99% variable, see rates and fees)
Chase Freedom Unlimited: 0% APR for 15 months (then 14.99%-23.74% variable)
Citi Rewards+℠ Card: 0% APR for 15 months (then 13.49%-23.49% variable)
Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card: 0% APR for 15 months (then 15.49%-25.49% variable)

The information for the Wells Fargo Platinum card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

CNN Underscored’s comprehensive credit card methodology compares every aspect of credit cards that offer introductory APRs on purchases against our “benchmark credit card” — the Citi® Double Cash Card — to determine which cards can potentially bring you maximum value in addition to lowering your interest rate. So dive into the details of each card with us, and see how they stack up.

20 billing cycles at the introductory rate for both purchases and balance transfers

Why it’s great in one sentence: If your top priority is to pay no interest on purchases for as long as possible, the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card offers a 0% APR on all purchases for the first 20 billing cycles you have the card. (The APR rises to a variable 14.49% to 24.49% after the introductory period ends.)

This card is right for: People who need a lengthy period of paying no interest on their purchases and would like a card that covers their cell phone in case of damage.

Highlights:

  • 0% APR on all purchases for the first 20 billing cycles (14.49% to 24.49% variable afterward).
  • 0% APR for 20 billing cycles on balance transfers made in the first 60 days after you open the card (14.49% to 24.49% variable afterward).
  • Cell phone protection.
  • No annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: None.

What we like most about the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum: If you need extra time to pay your current bills, 20 billing cycles without interest is exceptional compared to other credit cards, and that long runway enables a peace of mind that you can weather a storm without a looming interest rate hike.

This card also pairs that great introductory interest rate on purchases with an identical offer on balance transfers, so long as they’re made within the first 60 days after you open the card. That means with a high enough credit limit, you can use the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum to consolidate all your debt if you need to.

Ongoing cell phone protection is also an added perk on this card. When you pay your cell phone bill with the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum, you’ll be covered for damage or theft to your cell phone up to $600, with a $25 deductible, for up to two claims per 12-month period.

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You’ll be covered for up to $600 if your cell phone is damaged when you pay your bill with the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum.

One thing that could be better: The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum isn’t a long-term credit card. It doesn’t earn any rewards at all, doesn’t come with a sign-up bonus and doesn’t have any other significant perks. It has no annual fee but charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, so you definitely won’t want to use it overseas.

In other words, its utility is limited beyond the introductory rate period, although you might consider using it on an ongoing basis to pay your cell phone bill to get the included cell phone protection.

Where it beats our benchmark card: An introductory interest rate on purchases, a longer period of 20 billing cycles for no interest on introductory balance transfers and cell phone protection.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash earns easy-to-redeem cash back on all purchases and has a longer four-month period to complete any introductory balance transfers.

Learn more and apply for the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum.

18-month introductory rate on both purchases and balance transfers

Why it’s great in one sentence: The Citi Diamond Preferred Card offers an impressive 18-month introductory APR period on both purchases and balance transfers.

This card is right for: People who have large balances on other credit cards and want to reduce their interest burden for as long as possible.

Highlights:

  • 0% APR on all purchases for the first 18 months (14.74% to 24.74% variable afterward).
  • 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers made in the first four months after you open the card (14.74% to 24.74% variable afterward).
  • Balance transfer fee of 3% or $5, whichever is greater.
  • No annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: None.

What we like most about the Citi Diamond Preferred: The first step to getting out of credit card debt is to stop bleeding interest. The Citi Diamond Preferred comes with a lengthy 18-month introductory period, during which you’ll pay a 0% APR on any purchases, and also a 0% APR on any balance transfers made during the first four months you have the card.

But you’ll want to make sure you pay off your entire debt during those 18 months, because when that introductory period ends, the APR will jump to a variable 14.74% to 24.74%, depending on your creditworthiness.

Related: Pay off your debt faster with these balance transfer credit cards.

The Citi Diamond Preferred card also comes with a free FICO credit score online and allows you to choose your payment due date, which is extremely helpful for those who pay their credit card bills around their paycheck schedule and need maximum flexibility.

You can choose a payment date that's convenient for you with the Citi Diamond Preferred Card.

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You can choose a payment date that’s convenient for you with the Citi Diamond Preferred Card.

One thing that could be better: Beyond its alluring introductory rates, there’s no reason to keep the Citi Diamond Preferred in your wallet for the long term. It doesn’t earn cash back or rewards, and it imposes a 3% foreign transaction fee on international purchases.

Where it beats our benchmark card: An introductory rate on purchases for 18 months.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash earns easy-to-redeem cash back on all purchases.

Learn more and apply for the Citi Diamond Preferred Card.

18-month introductory rate, plus travel protections

Why it’s great in one sentence: The Wells Fargo Platinum Card offers an 18-month introductory interest rate period on purchases and balance transfers as well as cell phone protection, travel accident insurance and an auto rental collision damage waiver.

This card is right for: People who need a long runway to pay off upcoming purchases or transfers, but also want basic travel protections.

Highlights:

  • 0% APR on all purchases for the first 18 months (16.49% to 24.49% variable afterward).
  • 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers made in the first 120 days after you open the card (16.49% to 24.49% variable afterward).
  • Cell phone protection.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver.
  • Travel accident insurance and emergency assistance services.
  • No annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: None.

What we like most about the Wells Fargo Platinum: If you’re looking for a credit card with basic travel protections that also offers a generous introductory interest rate period on both purchases and balance transfers, the Wells Fargo Platinum card includes the one-two punch you’re seeking.

While 18 months isn’t the longest possible introductory period, it’s at the higher end of the scale, and since it applies to both purchases and balance transfers, you potentially have the option to consolidate all your debt onto this one card if your credit limit is high enough.

You’ll also get some standard travel protections with the Wells Fargo Platinum, including auto rental collision coverage, travel accident insurance and roadside dispatch. Plus, if you pay your cell phone bill with this card, your phone will be protected if it’s damaged or stolen, up to $600, with a $25 deductible, for up to two claims per 12-month period.

You'll have access to roadside assistance with the Wells Fargo Platinum Card.

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You’ll have access to roadside assistance with the Wells Fargo Platinum Card.

One thing that could be better: Beyond its introductory usefulness, there’s not much reason to keep using the Wells Fargo Platinum card for anything beyond your cell phone bill or travel charges, as other credit cards offer either cash back or travel rewards on most if not all of your purchases.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Travel protections, cell phone protection, an introductory interest rate on purchases and a longer period of 18 months for no interest on introductory balance transfers.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash earns easy-to-redeem cash back on all purchases.

15-month introductory rate, plus rewards at US supermarkets

Why it’s great in one sentence: The Blue Cash Everyday card offers a generous introductory interest rate on purchases for 15 months while also earning 3% cash back as a statement credit at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 annually, then 1%) and 2% back at US gas stations, all with no annual fee.

This card is right for: People who want to temporarily avoid high interest rates on their purchases, but who also spend a significant amount of their budget at US supermarkets and gas stations.

Highlights:

  • 0% APR on all purchases for the first 15 months (13.99% to 23.99% variable afterward, see rates and fees).
  • Earn 3% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • Earn 2% cash back at US gas stations and select US department stores.
  • Earn 1% cash back on everything else.
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance included.
  • No annual fee (see rates and fees).
  • Terms apply.

Welcome bonus: Earn $100 cash back as a statement credit after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first six months, plus earn 20% back on Amazon purchases in the first six months of card membership, up to $150 back.

What we like most about the Blue Cash Everyday: For many Americans, a significant portion of the monthly family budget goes to supermarket and gas station expenses. The Blue Cash Everyday card dials up the bonus cash back on those two categories, creating a go-to in your wallet for two routine purchases.

The card also pairs its bonus categories with an introductory 0% APR on purchases for the first 15 months, making it a solid choice if you’re trying to make ends meet right now. But you’ll want to make sure your debt is paid off by the end of the intro period, as the interest rate jumps to a variable 13.99% to 23.99% afterward.

You’ll also find a nice welcome bonus of up to $250 on the Blue Cash Everyday, with $100 cash back in the form of a statement credit after spending $2,000 on the card in the first six months after opening the account, plus 20% back on Amazon purchases in the first six months of card membership, up to $150 back. The card even has car rental loss and damage insurance, to top off a fairly complete package.

Earn 3% at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 a year, then 1%) with the Blue Cash Everyday card.

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Earn 3% at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 a year, then 1%) with the Blue Cash Everyday card.

One thing that could be better: Bonus cash back isn’t earned on purchases outside of the US with the Blue Cash Everyday, and there’s a 3% foreign transaction fee on top of that (see rates and fees), though that’s unlikely to be an issue at the moment with international travel restricted due to the pandemic.

However, you can earn twice as much cash back at US supermarkets if you’re willing to forgo a few months of the introductory offer on purchases by getting the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express instead of the Blue Cash Everyday.

The Blue Cash Preferred normally has a $95 annual fee, but for a limited time it’s offering a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year (see rates and fees). The card also earns 6% cash back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year (then 1%). The downside is that its introductory offer on purchases runs for only 12 months instead of 15 months.

Related: Amex Blue Cash Preferred vs. Blue Cash Everyday: Which is best for you?

Where it beats our benchmark card: Welcome bonus, an introductory interest rate on purchases and car rental damage coverage.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has an introductory interest rate on balance transfers, and its cash back can be converted to Citi ThankYou travel points when combined with the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier℠ Card.

Learn more about the Blue Cash Everyday card.

15-month introductory rate, plus earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases

Why it’s great in one sentence: Beyond the generous introductory interest rate on purchases, the Chase Freedom Unlimited comes with three bonus categories and also earns 1.5% cash back on everything else you buy, plus your cash back can be converted to Ultimate Rewards travel points when combined with certain premium Chase credit cards.

This card is right for: People who want a card that earns bonus cash back along with having an introductory interest rate on purchases, but who also want the option to convert their cash back to travel rewards down the line.

Highlights:

  • 0% APR on all purchases for the first 15 months (14.99% to 23.74% variable afterward).
  • Earn 5% cash back on travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and 3% at drugstores.
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Cash back can be transferred to airline and hotel travel programs when combined with select Chase Ultimate Rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
  • No annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $500 on purchases in your first three months after opening the account.

What we like most about the Chase Freedom Unlimited: This is a card that’s beneficial for the long haul. While you may sign up because of the Chase Freedom Unlimited’s introductory interest rate on purchases, it’ll likely become a staple in your purse or wallet thanks to its 1.5% cash back on everything you buy.

Even better, last year Chase added three permanent bonus categories to the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Both new and existing card holders now earn 5% cash back on travel purchases made via Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on dining — including takeout and delivery — and 3% cash back at drugstores.

Plus, the Chase Freedom Unlimited grows with you. If you apply for a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card down the road, you can convert the cash back you earn with the Chase Freedom into Ultimate Rewards points, which can be redeemed for travel at the Chase travel portal, or transferred to Chase’s airline and hotel partners to extract potentially even more value from them.

Related: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which is best for you?

Convert Chase Freedom Unlimited cash back to Ultimate Rewards points by pairing it with a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.

Chase

Convert Chase Freedom Unlimited cash back to Ultimate Rewards points by pairing it with a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.

One thing that could be better: It’s hard to gripe about the Chase Freedom Unlimited, but you should be mindful of its pesky 3% foreign transaction fee. Also, the card’s 1.5% flat earning rate falls short of some other no-annual-fee cards, which top out at 2%.

However, the ability to potentially transfer cash back to points might be worth the tradeoff, especially since Chase Ultimate Rewards is one of the better flexible rewards programs, and the newly added bonus categories further increase the card’s value.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Sign-up bonus, purchase protections and introductory rate on purchases for 15 months.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash offers a higher overall cash back rate and an introductory interest rate on balance transfers.

Learn more and apply for the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

15-month introductory rate, plus rewards round up to the nearest 10 points on each purchase

Why it’s great in one sentence: If you use your credit card for a lot of small purchases — meaning under $10 — then the “round up” feature of the Citi Rewards+ will earn you extra rewards, and its introductory offer on new purchases can lower your costs if you have to carry debt.

This card is right for: People looking to earn more points for small purchases while also needing to pay for some expenses over time.

Highlights:

  • 0% APR on all purchases for the first 15 months (13.49% to 23.49% variable afterward).
  • 0% APR for 15 months on balance transfers (13.49% to 23.49% variable afterward).
  • Earn 2 ThankYou points for every dollar you spend at supermarkets and gas stations for the first $6,000 per year (1x ThankYou point thereafter).
  • Earn 1 ThankYou point for every dollar on all other purchases.
  • All purchases automatically round up to the nearest 10 points.
  • 10% points back for the first 100,000 points you redeem per year.
  • Points can be transferred to airline and hotel partners when combined with the Citi Prestige or Citi Premier card.
  • No annual fee.

Welcome bonus: Earn 15,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in your first three months.

What we like most about the Citi Rewards+: There are three features of the Citi Rewards+ that make it worthy of consideration. First, the rewards you earn for every purchase made with the card round up to the nearest 10 points. That won’t make a huge difference on expensive items, but a $2 pack of gum earns 10 points instead of 2 points, a 400% improvement. Lots of these little transactions can add up quickly.

Second, when you redeem points, you’ll get 10% of your points back on up to 100,000 points every year. That means if you use 2,500 points to redeem for a $25 gift card, you’ll soon see 250 points back in your account to redeem again down the line. Since you can get up to 10,000 points back each year, that’s effectively up to an extra $100 in points to spend on gift cards.

And third, although the Citi Rewards+ earns points that can be redeemed for gift cards, cash back or through Citi’s Shop with Points program, if you also have a Citi Premier or Citi Prestige Card you can move your points to your other card and open up a whole new world of options, including redeeming points for travel down the line or transferring them to Citi’s airline partners.

Move points from the Citi Rewards+ to one of the premium Citi ThankYou cards and redeem them for a future vacation getaway.

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Move points from the Citi Rewards+ to one of the premium Citi ThankYou cards and redeem them for a future vacation getaway.

One thing that could be better: If you’re not pairing the Citi Rewards+ with one of the premium Citi ThankYou cards, the most value you can get for your points is 1 cent apiece when redeeming for gift cards. If you redeem points for cash back, the value is only 0.5 cents per point, in which case you’d be better off with the flat-rate cash back of our benchmark Citi Double Cash card or one of the other 0% interest cards on our list.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Valuable sign-up bonus, 10% points back on redemptions up to 100,000 points per year and 15-month introductory offer on purchases.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has a longer introductory interest rate period of 18 months on balance transfers.

Learn more and apply for the Citi Rewards+ Card.

15-month introductory rate, plus earn 3% cash back on food delivery

Why it’s great in one sentence: The no-annual-fee Capital One SavorOne card offers an introductory interest rate on purchases for 15 months, plus an outstanding 3% cash back on several everyday categories.

This card is right for: People who spend a significant amount on entertainment and dining — including food delivery services — but who also need a long introductory interest period on their purchases.

Highlights:

  • 0% APR on all purchases for the first 15 months (15.49% to 25.49% variable afterward).
  • Earn 3% cash back on dining, entertainment, streaming and at grocery stores.
  • Extended warranty protection.
  • No foreign transaction fee.
  • No annual fee.

Sign-up bonus: Earn $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months after opening the account.

What we like most about the Capital One SavorOne: Even after you’ve taken advantage of its introductory interest rate period, having a card that earns 3% back on four highly important categories — dining, entertainment, streaming and grocery stores — means that it will remain a useful part of your card arsenal.

But more importantly, if you’ve gotten used to having food delivered in the last year, most food delivery services also code as “dining” on the Capital One SavorOne, meaning if you’re staying at home and order from a service like Grubhub or Seamless, in most cases you should get the same 3% cash back that you would if you were physically dining at the restaurant.

If you're using food delivery services, you'll earn 3% cash back on many of them with the Capital One SavorOne card.

Grubhub

If you’re using food delivery services, you’ll earn 3% cash back on many of them with the Capital One SavorOne card.

One thing that could be better: There’s no cell phone insurance on the Capital One SavorOne card, which is becoming a common feature even on some no-annual-fee credit cards. You can also find cards with somewhat longer introductory periods if you need extra time to carry debt.

Where it beats our benchmark card: Sign-up bonus, introductory rate on purchases for 15 months and no foreign transaction fee.

Where our benchmark card is better: The Citi Double Cash has an introductory interest rate period of 18 months on balance transfers.

Click here for rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday card.
Click here for rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred card.

Looking for a new credit card, but don’t need 0% interest on purchases? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards of 2021.

Get all the latest personal finance deals, news and advice at CNN Underscored Money.

http://rss.cnn.com/~r/rss/cnn_topstories/~3/mO1wkowoQL8/index.html

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