A 0% APR means that you pay no interest on new purchases and/or balance transfers for a certain period of time. The best 0% APR credit cards give 15-18 months without interest. But the average 0% APR intro period is about 10.5 months for cards offering 0% purchases. And it’s around 12 months for the average card with 0% on transfers.… read full answer
A 0% APR does not keep you away from monthly payments, nor does it completely remove interest out of the equation. You still have to make monthly minimum payments to keep your 0% APR. And if you don’t pay off your balance by the end of the 0% intro period, you’ll have to pay interest on whatever balance remains. The penalty is even worse with many retailers’ 0% financing offers. If you don’t pay off your full balance in time, interest will retroactively apply to your entire original balance – as if the 0% APR was never there.
There are a few other things you should keep in mind when thinking about 0% APRs, too.
0% APR Key Takeaways:
You pay no interest on your purchases and/or balance transfers for 2 to 21 months, depending on the card.
0% APRs make debt cheaper to pay off, which helps you get out of debt faster.
A 0% APR does not free you from the responsibility of making monthly payments. You must pay at least your monthly minimum to avoid being classified as late. Late payments damage your credit score.
Zero percent credit cards tend to have fairly high regular APRs. So you should strive to bring your balance to zero by the end of the 0% APR period, when regular rates take effect.
It’s also important to note that you won’t only find 0% APRs on credit cards. You may see auto loans with them, for example. Just be sure to always read the terms in detail before signing. You don’t want to end up with deferred interest instead of a true 0% APR.
There are no 0% interest credit cards for 36 months on the market right now – at least among Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover offers. The longest 0% interest period for purchases is 20 months, with the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card. And the longest 0% period for balance transfers… read full answer is 21 months, with the Citi Simplicity Card. It’s much more common to see 0% interest offers of 12 to 18 months.
Some store credit cards offer 0% interest for 36 months or even more. But there’s a catch called deferred interest. If you don’t pay the balance off within the 0% promotional period, interest is applied to the original balance – like it was there from the start. That means you owe all the interest you would have owed since the date of purchase. That said, if you can make a plan to pay everything back before the intro period ends, some store cards with deferred interest are decent.
The JCPenney Credit Card gives 0% interest for 12-60 months, depending on the item and amount spent. You also get 1 reward point per $1 on all JCPenney purchases. Similarly, the Newegg Store Card has 0% interest for 6 to 36 months on expensive electronics. Both use deferred interest, so be careful.
While there aren’t any traditional 0% APR credit cards with no interest for 36 months, there are plenty of attractive alternatives.
Here are the longest 0% interest credit cards right now:
U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card: 0% for 20 months on purchases and balance transfers. 3% transfer fee (min $5).
Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card: 0% for 18 months on purchases and balance transfers. 3% transfer fee for 18 months.
Discover it Balance Transfer Card: 0% for 18 months on balance transfers and 0% for 6 months on purchases. 3% transfer fee.
Citi Simplicity: 0% for 21 months on balance transfers and 0% for 12 months on purchases. 5% transfer fee (min $5).
Chase Slate: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. $0 transfer fee for the first 60 days.
JCPenney Credit Card: 0% deferred interest for 12-60 months, depending on the type and amount of the purchase.
Newegg Credit Card: 0% deferred interest for 6 or 12 months on purchases of $199+ and $499+, respectively. 0% interest equal monthly payment financing for 24 or 36 months on select items.
Credit card companies make money off of consumers paying interest, so a 0% interest credit card for 36-months is like the bigfoot of credit cards. In other words, you won’t find one now and you probably won’t in the future. You’re much more likely to see 36-month terms on personal loans, auto loans, and deferred interest.
If you need to borrow money for an extended period of time, such as 36 months, then a personal loan might be a reasonable alternative. While you won’t find a zero interest offer for 36 months on a loan, you could pay an APR as low as 5%, depending on your creditworthiness. And you might even be able to get longer repayment terms.
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