To get a low interest credit card, start by checking your credit score and figuring out how long you expect to need a low interest rate for, in addition to why you need it. Low interest credit cards usually require good credit or better, and low rates are available for new purchases as well as balance transfers.
How to Get a Low Interest Credit Card
Check your credit score. To get a 0% APR credit card, whether for purchases or balance transfers, you’ll generally need good credit or better. And as a rule of thumb, the best credit scores get the lowest regular APRs.
Decide what you need to do with your low interest credit card. If you’re looking to finance a large future purchase, you’ll do best with a card offering 0% on purchases. A 0% APR balance transfer card will work better if you have existing debt. And a card with a low regular interest rate is best for people who don’t know when they’ll need to carry a balance but want a safety net that won’t break the bank in interest charges.
Apply for the card that best suits your credit score and your needs. Make sure you research (and meet) the card’s approval requirements before you apply.
Other Things to Consider When Shopping for a Low Interest Credit Card
You likely won’t know your regular interest rate until you’re approved. Most credit cards advertise their regular APRs as a range: 15% - 25% (V), for example. That means your assigned rate could be as low as 15%, as high as 25%, or somewhere in between. And the “(V)” indicates the rate could change over time as economic conditions evolve.
The exact interest rate you’re given (from within the advertised range) will depend on your credit history, income, and debt – your overall creditworthiness. Unless you apply for a card that has a set regular APR, rather than one advertised as a range, you won’t know exactly what regular APR you’ll get until your application is accepted. As a result, it’s best to consider both the high and low ends of the range when comparing credit card rates, even if you have good credit.
Using a 0% APR period to pay off debt is usually not free. If you have existing debt and need a break on interest to pay it down faster, the best option is usually a 0% balance transfer credit card. But most 0% APR balance transfer credit cards charge a balance transfer fee, which is a percentage of the amount you transfer. In this case, a balance transfer isn’t totally free. Cards with no balance transfer fee and 0% APR periods do exist, but they’re not common.
A 0% APR period will likely become a high regular rate. A no-annual-fee credit card with a 0% APR intro period on purchases is a great way to finance a big purchase for free. The intro period will allow you to pay off a hefty purchase without paying an extra dime, as long as you pay it off before the intro period ends. After that, the card’s regular interest rate will apply to any remaining balance, and regular rates tend to be pretty high on 0% intro APR cards.
Having a low interest credit card as a safety net isn’t a bad idea. If you want a low interest credit card just in case of emergency, look for a card with a low regular APR range or a single low rate listed.
Your existing APR may be open to negotiation. If you already have a high-APR credit card, and you don’t particularly need a 0% APR period, a better option might be to try calling your credit card company’s customer service line to ask for a lower regular rate. If you make a good case, citing your good and/or long history with your card and the company, you may get offered a lower interest rate. You will have better luck if your credit situation has improved since you applied for the card, too.
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