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Last updated
August 15, 2022

What is an interest free credit card

Borrowing on a credit card can get expensive because of the interest charged on your spending. Luckily, there are cards that offer introductory interest-free spending periods during which you won’t be charged any interest.

These are often referred to as ‘interest-free credit cards’ or ‘0% interest cards’. The length of the interest-free period can range from just a few months to up to 30 months or more, depending on the type of interest-free credit card you get, and your credit score.

Having a 0% credit card could save you a lot of money in interest. It’s a good way to spread the cost of purchases, pay down debt, or borrow money and get cash transferred to your bank account.

Interest free credit can be tempting. These cards should be used responsibly or you could find yourself in debt."

How to choose an interest-free credit card

Our featured deals

Our editors have picked out three of our longest interest free credit card deals we have on offer

Editor’s pick
Our longest balance transfer card
Card
Santander All in One Credit Card
Balance transfer term0% for 26 months with no fee
Balance transfer feeNo fee
Rep APR24.7% APR

Representative example: The standard interest rate on purchases is 18.9% p.a. (variable), so if you borrow £1,200 the Representative APR will be 24.7% (variable).£3 monthly fee.

This card offers our longest interest free balance transfer period with no transfer fee. At 26 months, you get over 2 years to pay off your balance. There is, however, a £3 monthly fee for the card.

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Editor’s pick
Our longest 0% purchases credit card
Card
Barclaycard Platinum Balance Transfer & Purchase Credit Card
Purchase term0% for 25 months
Rep APR22.9% APR

Representative example: The standard interest rate on purchases is 22.9% p.a. (variable), so if you borrow £1,200 the Representative APR will be 22.9% (variable).

With this card you get 25 months of interest free purchases to spread the cost of your spending - our longest interest free period on offer. You also get £20 cashback when you spend £250 or more in the first 3 months.

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Editor’s pick
Our longest 0% money transfer card
Card
MBNA Money Transfer Card
Money transfer term0% for 18 months
Money transfer fee2.99%
Rep APR22.9% APR

Representative example: The standard interest rate on purchases is 22.94% p.a. (variable), so if you borrow £1,200 the Representative APR will be 22.9% (variable).

At 18 months, this card offers our longest 0% period on money transfers. You also get interest free balance transfers for 12 months on transfers you make in the first 60 days, but it comes with a 4% fee.

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Types of interest free credit cards

Types of interest free credit cards
Balance transfer
Balance transfer

Balance transfer cards let you to move debt from one or more cards to a new one and pay it off at a lower interest rate. Many offer lengthy interest-free periods, so all your repayments go towards paying off your debt, rather than interest, so you'll pay off your balance quicker and save on interest at the same time.

0% purchase cards
0% purchase cards

0% purchase cards offer lengthy introductory interest-free periods, so you can make large purchases with your credit card and spread the cost over several months. As long as you pay off the full balance before the end of the interest-free period, you won't pay any interest.

Money transfer cards
Money transfer cards

Money transfer cards allow you to move money from your new card directly to your bank account. You can then pay for goods and services using your debit card. These also often have long interest-free introductory periods, so you you can spread the cost of your spending over several months without paying interest.

Who can get an interest free credit card?

If you're looking to qualify for a credit card with lengthy interest free periods, you'll most likely need to have a good income and credit score.

This is why it's good to use an eligibility tool like CardFinder to find out which cards are more likely to accept you before you make an application. It'll save you from wasting time on applying for cards that you're not suited for.

You might find that you don't qualify due to your circumstances. For example, finding an interest-free credit card with bad credit can be particularly difficult.

Interest-free credit cards are typically aimed at what lenders call 'prime customers'. A prime customer is one with a good income and good credit rating.

If you're struggling to find a credit card that will accept someone with your credit history, you should try shopping around and perhaps consider credit cards with easier eligibility requirements.

% of Brits with an interest free deal[1]
31%

More importantly, every application you make leaves a mark on your credit record. Too many applications in a short period of time can make you look like you are desperate for credit. This isn't appealing to potential lenders as it suggests you're not financially stable.

How CardFinder works

CardFinder is an eligibility tool that matches you with the credit cards you're likely to get based on your needs and circumstances. It uses a 'soft search' credit check so your credit score will not be affected.

It's a good idea for most people to use CardFinder because it ensures that you only apply for the cards you can get, and thus avoid hurting your credit score from rejected applications.

CardFinder is a quick and low risk way to ensure you only apply for a card you're likely to be accepted for.
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How to compare interest free credit cards

With different types of interest free credit cards to choose from, it can be confusing to pick the right one for you. But don't worry, carefully considering the following key factors will make it much easier for you to pick the right one.
Why you need a credit card

The reason you're looking for a credit card is key to helping you decide which type of card you should compare. Different types of cards are designed for specific purposes - whether you want to pay off debt, make a large purchase, or need cash to pay for goods and services.

Once you know what you need, you can start comparing different providers to pick the best interest free credit card deal for you.

Compare interest rates

With interest-free credit cards, the interest rate kicks in once the introductory 0% period ends. This is known as the revert rate. If you intend to continue to use the credit card, then then interest rate is an important aspect to consider. This is especially true if you're more likely to carry over a balance, so you’ll want the card with the lowest APR you can get.

If you plan to pay off your statement balance in full every month, it shouldn't matter as much as you won't be charged any interest, so you could opt for high APR cards that may offer other benefits.

Compare additional fees

Many interest free credit cards also charge common fees such as balance transfer fees, money transfer fees, cash advance fees or foreign transaction fees. Whether these fees will affect you depends on how you use your credit card.

For example, if you don’t plan to use cash advances or do a balance transfer, you could consider a card that charges extra for those services. Or, if you plan to do a lot of international traveling, a no foreign transaction fee credit card might be a better choice.

Compare extra benefits

Many credit cards may offer additional benefits like mobile phone insurance, rental car insurance, airport lounge access, and roadside assistance, to name a few. But it’s not uncommon for extra benefits to come with a higher annual fee. When comparing a credit card’s extra benefits, consider your needs. Free airport lounge access sounds great, but it might not be worth it if you're only traveling once or twice a year.

Advantages and disadvantages of credit cards

Pros
You can borrow without paying any interest at all,
You can spread the cost of a large purchase
You get Section 75 protection on purchases
Cons
You could get into debt if you don't pay it off before the 0% period ends
It can be tempting to start making frivolous purchases during your 0% period
The longest 0% interest deals are aimed at those with good or excellent credit scores

Interest free credit card jargon buster

Interest free credit cards FAQ

About the author

Salman Haqqi
Salman Haqqi spent over a decade as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. Now as a personal finance expert, he helps people make informed financial decisions.

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References
1. money.co.uk credit card facts and statistics 2022 money.co.uk's report on credit card use, July 2022