With an interest-free credit card, you don't have to pay interest on your purchases for a set amount of time. The length of the interest-free period can range from just a few months to over two years.
Having a 0% credit card could save you a lot of money in interest. It can also be a good way to spread the cost of purchases. But be aware that they have to be used with care, or they could still leave you out of pocket.
What are the different types of interest-free credit cards?
There are a few different types of interest free credits cards. Each is suited for a different types of spending. Here are the most common ones:
0% interest purchase cards
With an interest free purchases card you can spread the cost of large purchases by repaying your balance in monthly instalments without paying any interest for up to two years or more.
0% interest balance transfer cards
With an interest free balance transfer card you can move your debt on other credit cards pay it off interest free in monthly instalments. Many balance transfer card charge a fee of up to 5% to transfer your balance, so make sure the fee is less than what you'd pay in interest on your debt.
0% interest money transfer cards
These cards allow you transfer money into your bank account. They're useful for paying off overdrafts or other kinds of debt. The interest free period allows you to pay off the balance without paying any interest, but make sure you pay off the whole balance before the interest free period ends.
What should I use my interest-free credit card for?
If you've got an interest-free credit card, it can be easy for your spending to spiral out of control. It's important that you don't let this happen.
Interest-free credit cards work best when you get them for a specific, planned purchase. They're best used for larger purchases, rather than everyday spending. For example, you might need new dining furniture. Ideally, you'd only borrow what you're spending on that furniture, and then you'd pay it back before the 0% period ends. You could also do the same for purchasing a holiday.
If you fall into the trap of using your 0% credit card to supplement your income, or to frivolously overspend, you could find yourself in deep debt.
How to select the best interest-free credit card
Lenders are always under great pressure to attract new customers. This has led to many companies offering attractive interest-free credit card deals.
It's a growing trend, and some lenders offer extended interest-free deals. For example, you could get an interest-free credit card deal lasting up to 29 months. That could mean any purchases you make won't attract interest until your introductory rate expires after 29 months.
There are lots of benefits to be had for savvy customers. For example, if you pick a 12 months interest free credit card, you'll have a year in which to settle your debts without incurring interest.
Who qualifies for 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.
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 different kinds of credit cards.
This is why it's good to use an eligibility checker 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.
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.
Is an interest-free credit card the cheapest way to borrow money?
An interest-free credit card certainly can be the cheapest way to borrow money. But this relies on you being organised and committed enough to making your repayments as agreed.
Don't forget that you'll also have a credit limit on a credit card. So, if you need to borrow more than your credit limit allows, an interest-free credit card might not work for you.
What are the pros and cons of an interest-free credit card?
As with anything, interest-free credit cards come with pros and cons.
You can borrow without paying any interest at all, if you use the card smartly and pay it off in time.
You can spread the cost of a large purchase.
You can get protection on purchases between £100 and £30,000 with most credit cards.
You could get into debt if you don't pay it off before the 0% period ends, because the interest rate on the card will increase significantly.
You'll be subject to a credit limit, so you can't always borrow as much as you'd like to.
If you miss repayments, you could lose your 0% benefit, or you could be charged a fee.
It can be tempting to start making frivolous purchases during your 0% period, but this could land you in unnecessary debt.