What Is The Best Introductory Rate Available On A Credit Card?

What Is The Best Introductory Rate Available On A Credit Card?

March 1, 2017         Written By Jason Steele

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In the United States, the credit card industry is highly competitive. Each credit card issuer is trying to win new customers by offering all manner of promotions, sign-up bonuses, travel perks, shopping benefits, and including introductory financing offers.

And while these introductory financing offers feature interest rates that are lower than the standard rate, the best introductory rate that you can receive is 0% APR.

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What makes some introductory offers better than others?

Short of actually paying your to borrow money, there is no way to have an introductory rate that is lower than 0% APR. Since there are many credit cards that offer these interest-free promotional financing offers, how can you choose between offers at 0%?

Consider these suggestions:

1. Find cards that offer 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers. Some cards will offer interest-free promotional financing only on new purchases, while others offer interest-free balance transfers. If you only need one of these type of offers, then this might work for you. However, there are many cards that offer 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers.

2. Look for the longest promotional financing terms offered. According to the CARD Act of 2009, 0% APR offers must be valid for at least six months. However, there are some cards offered by major issuers that feature as much as 21 months of interest-free financing. For example, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card features a 0% introductory APR for 21 months on balance transfers (must be made within the first four months of card membership) and 12 months on purchases. There is no annual fee for this card.

3. Try to find the lowest balance transfer fee. Even if your card offers 0% APR financing on balance transfers, most cards will still impose a balance transfer fee. The standard fee for most cards is 3% of the amount transferred, which gets added onto your new card’s balance. However, there are an increasing number of credit cards that are imposing a 5% balance transfer fee.

4.  Consider cards with sign-up bonuses. While there is no such thing as a credit card with a negative interest rate, a card that has a 0% APR introductory finance offer and a sign-up bonus will offer you cash back and interest-free financing. For example, the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card features 15 months of 0% APR on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee. It also offers new applicants a one-time $150 cash bonus after spending $500 on purchases within three months of account opening. In addition, it features 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no limits. There is no annual fee for this card.

5. Look for the best cardholder benefits. While you can’t go lower than a 0% APR introductory financing offer, you can receive additional value from your card’s benefits. For example, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card features 0% introductory APR for 21 months on balance transfers (must be made within the first four months of card membership) and 12 months on purchases.

Bottom line

It is quite remarkable that there are so many credit cards that offer 0% APR introductory financing on new purchases, balance transfers, or both. And while you can’t do better than 0%, you can choose the best offers based on the length of the promotional financing period as well as the card’s rewards, benefits and sign-up bonuses.

Yet no matter which card you chose, the key to getting the most value from these offers will always be paying off your balance before the promotional financing period ends. By using the end date of these offers as a goal for paying off your debt, you can ensure that you pay the least interest possible.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of March 1, 2017. For up-to-date information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website. Many of the offers on this article are from our affiliate partners, and LowCards.com may be compensated if you take action with any of our affiliate partners.

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jasonsteele

About Jason Steele

Jason Steele is a journalist that covers credit cards, travel and consumer credit. As one of the nation's leading experts in credit cards, Jason has contributed to dozens of travel and personal finance outlets including NerdWallet, Credit Karma and the Points Guy, where he serves as the Senior Points and Miles Contributor. Jason has also been widely quoted in mainstream media in outlets such as the Washington Post, the USA Today and Bloomberg Business Week. Jason is also the founder and producer of CardCon, which is the annual Conference for Credit and Credit Card Media.