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How to use a credit card for interest free purchases

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Written by Matt Fernell, Financial Content Writer

7 January 2020

0% credit cards do not charge you interest on your purchases for a set period of time. They're commonly used for buying big, expensive products so you can spread out the cost. They're sometimes called interest free credit cards.

credit card in a portable credit card reader machine

How does an interest free credit card work?

Cards that offer 0% on purchases do not charge you interest for several months. This is known as the 'interest free period'.

For example, with a 24 month interest free period, the credit card provider will not charge you interest for 24 months.

But you must keep up with your monthly repayments. If you miss a payment, you may have to start paying interest on your spending.

Why get a 0% deal?

You can use a 0% purchases card to spread the cost of a large purchase over several months. It's like borrowing money for free...provided you pay it back on time.

You will not need to pay interest or fees as long as you pay back the full amount within the interest free period. You must also comply with the card terms, like meeting the minimum repayments every month.

It could be a good option if you need a high price item, like a new fridge or TV, but cannot afford to pay the full amount upfront.

How much do 0% purchase cards cost

Interest free credit card providers often do not charge fees.

But if you do not pay off the balance in full before the 0% period ends, you'll be charged interest every month. As a result, it could take you longer to clear your debt.

How to choose a 0% purchases card

Compare 0% purchases credit cards to find one that offers the longest interest free period.

These are generally the best interest free purchases credit cards because they give you longer to pay off the balance without being charged interest.

Look for the representative APR when comparing credit cards. This is the interest rate the credit card provider will charge you once the 0% period is over.

What if you cannot get the 0% card you want?

If you cannot get the exact card you want, shop around to see what else is available.

It's unwise to apply for too many cards at once because it makes you look desperate for credit. This damages your credit score.

Check your credit file to make sure there are no discrepancies. Contact the credit reference agency to amend any errors before you apply again.

Find out your chances of getting a card with an eligibility checker. It does a 'soft credit search' which does not show up on your credit file, or damage your score.

Many card providers have specific criteria to meet, including:

  • Minimum salary

  • Good credit score

Make sure you meet these criteria before you apply to reduce the risk of being rejected.

Compare 0% purchases credit cards

Find the best credit card for you, whether you're looking for 0% card for balance transfers or purchases or day to day spending and rewards

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