When you are ready to consolidate debt, or if you have a major expense coming up, it may be an option to look for a credit card that offers 0% APR. You can then spread out your payments without paying massive interest fees.
But how can you get the best 0% credit card offers? Here are some tips to help find the best options.
Tip #1: Get your financial house in order.
Many credit cards that offer a 0% introductory APR require applicants to have good or excellent credit. A good credit score ranges from 700 to 749, and excellent is considered anything above 750.
Everyone is entitled to a free credit report each year, so the first step is to request yours through a website such as annualcreditreport.com. Once you have the report, review it for inaccurate information. If you do not recognize an account, or if you notice any incorrect information, you will want to report this immediately. The credit bureau will launch an investigation, and if they verify the information is incorrect, they will remove it from your report within 60 days. If you can get incorrect, negative information removed, your credit score could increase.
Another way to increase your credit is to lower your debt-to-available credit ratio. If you are using more than 30% of your available credit, your credit score will suffer. Thus, revisit your budget to see where you can cut expenses and put this additional money toward paying down your debt. After six months, your score may increase enough to qualify for a 0% APR credit card.
Tip #2: Do your homework.
You do not want to accept the first 0% APR credit card offer to arrive in your mailbox or via email. Find the card that offers the introductory interest rate for the longest period of time, has a low ongoing APR, and rewards the type of spending you do most often.
The Citi Simplicity® Card fulfills many of these criteria. New cardholders get 0% APR on purchases for 12 months, and on balance transfers for 21 months if the transfer is completed within four months of opening your account. After the introductory period, the APR ranges from 16.74% - 26.74%* (Variable), depending on the cardholder’s creditworthiness. There is a balance transfer fee, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. But this Citi card does not charge late fees, penalty fees or annual fees. There is a 3% foreign transaction fee.
The BankAmericard® credit card also offers a long introductory period. Both purchases and balance transfers will enjoy 0% interest for 18 billing cycles. After that, the interest rate will increase to 14.99% - 24.99% Variable APR on purchases. The balance transfer fee is either 3% or $10, whichever is greater, and balance transfers must be made within the first 60 days of opening your account. There is no annual fee, and your APR won’t increase if you miss a payment. Additionally, you can monitor your credit score for free with their online or mobile banking apps.
The Citi® Double Cash card gives cardholders the opportunity to earn cash back twice: 1% cash back at the time of purchase and another 1% when payment is made, for a total of 2% cash back. This card offers 18 months of 0% APR introductory financing on balance transfers, with a $5 or 3% balance transfer fee, whichever is greater. After the promotional financing rate expires, cardholders will have an APR of 15.99%– 25.99% (Variable) on the remaining balance, depending on your creditworthiness. The card comes with Citi’s Price Rewind service, which refunds the difference in price when an eligible purchase undergoes a price decline within 60 days. Other benefits include a trip cancellation and interruption policy, worldwide travel accident insurance, rental car coverage, and a 24/7 concierge service.
If you often travel, you may want to consider the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card. Not only will you enjoy 0% APR on purchases made within the first 12 months, you will also earn 20,000 miles when you spend $1,000 within the first three months of opening your account, which equates to $200 in travel. You will pay no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees, and you earn 1.25X miles on every purchase, every day. You can also earn 10X miles on hotel stays booked through hotels.com/venture through January 2020. The ongoing APR on this card is 14.24% - 24.24% (Variable).
Tip #3: Pick a card within your reach.
After you have done your research, make sure you apply for a credit card that matches your credit score. While getting declined for a credit card will not affect your credit score, credit card companies make a hard pull on your credit each time you apply for a new account. If you have several of these in a short period of time, it will negatively impact your credit score for up to two years. Thus, it is important to only apply for the card you want and are likely to get.