Are you in the market for one of the numerous credit cards offering 0% APR introductory interest rates? Well, you have a bit of cost-comparison homework to do.
These tempting cards are ideal for helping consumers consolidate and pare down debt or make big-ticket purchases like televisions or furniture, but their terms and rewards programs are not the same. Each issuer crafts card-specific terms and conditions that result in different returns and costs, depending on your financial and living situation.
Some are better suited for consumers with fair credit who want minimal balance transfer fees. Others cater to travelers with meaty airline rewards and hotel discounts, although they often carry larger annual fees.
Here are eight credit cards that offer substantial 0% interest terms, but with significant differences in the fine print:
Pros: The Chase Slate card is among consumers' most highly rated credit cards offering 0% APR interest rates. It has a longer introductory term of 15 months both on purchases and balance transfers.
This card is particularly suited for cardholders with good credit who are trying to reduce their debt load because Chase waives its 3% balance transfer fee if you transition funds to the card within the first 60 days. The waived balance transfer fee is fairly unique among credit cards with 0% offers.
Chase Slate has no annual fee and an average APR range of 13.24% to 23.24%.
Cons: As a more simple credit card, Chase Slate does not offer bonus cash-back rewards like many other credit cards do. And it does not offer points toward Chase's Ultimate Rewards Program.
Also, those who have moderate credit scores are less likely to qualify.
Pros: Citi Simplicity offers one of the longest introductory offers with 21 months of no-interest on both purchases and balance transfers. An APR range of 13.24% to 23.24% follows.
Citi Simplicity's standout benefit is that it does not charge late fees, which is rare in the credit card world. And this card has no annual fee.
Cons: Balance transfers can enjoy the longer interest-free time period, but the fee is 3% of the transferred balance. Also, this card offers no rewards program and is geared for those with excellent credit.
Pros: Discover it's introductory 0% APR range is 18 months for balance transfers and six months for purchases. After that, interest rates range from 11.24% to 23.24% with no annual fee.
Discover it is known for its healthy cash-back rewards program, which offers unlimited rewards with 5% cash back in varying quarterly categories like restaurants, gas or home improvement stores. Cardholders earn 1% cash back in other purchases. Plus, as part of its introductory promotion, Discover doubles the cash you've earned in the first year.
Cons: Discover generally requires at least good credit. The card also has a 3% balance-transfer fee that can offset some of the savings during the introductory period.
Capital One QuicksilverOne
Pros:Capital One QuickSilverOne Cash Rewards card is one of the best balance transfer cards for those with fair credit, or credit scores from 650 to 699. It has no balance transfer fee, meaning that any money saved during the zero-percent interest period, which runs through November 2016 and includes purchases and transfers, is pure savings.
QuicksilverOne also has a 1.5% cash-back rewards program that can put more returns in your pocket.
Cons: While Capital One QuicksilverOne can save you a substantial amount with a balance transfer, it does carry a $39 annual fee. Its interest rate after the promotion period is a fairly high 23.4%.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
Pros: The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express has a 0% introductory period of 15 months that applies to both purchases and balance transfers. After that, expect an APR of 13.24% to 22.24% depending on your credit score.
The cash-back rewards program can be substantial with up to 6% in U.S. supermarket purchases returned to cardholders for up to $6,000, which is $360 per year. Users get 3% cash back on gas purchases and 1% back on all other purchases. New users also get $250 returned after their first $1,000 in purchases made within the first three months.
Cons: This card's benefits do have a cost - a $75 annual fee - and you must have excellent credit to qualify. The balance transfer fee is 3%.
Pros: The Chase Freedom card offers 15 months of breathing room from interest rate costs on both purchases and balance transfers. After that APRs on this card range from 14.24% to 23.24%, and there is no annual fee.
In the long-term, Chase Freedom provides a generous 5% cash-back rewards on up to $1,500 in purchases per quarter in varying bonus categories. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. Plus, cardholders score a $150 bonus statement credit after the first $500 in purchases made in the first three months.
Cons: Sure balance transfers are included in the 0% introductory period, but you'll have to pay 3% or $5, whichever is greater, to take advantage of it. So, if you have a $5,000 balance to move to Chase Freedom, it will cost $150.
Bank of America Travel Rewards
Pros:Bank of America Travel Rewards card, with no annual fee, has a 0% introductory offer of 12 months on both purchases and balance transfers.
This card is designed to reward the avid traveler with 1.5 points earned for every dollar you spend. Points can be used for travel on any airline, for any hotel and at any time with no blackout periods. And if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days, you score enough points for a $200 statement credit.
Cons: Brand-loyal travelers can likely find stronger rewards cards than Bank of America's brand-flexible travel program.
Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
Pros:Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard has a healthy 0% introductory period of 12 months and a competitive APR rate range of 16.24% to 20.24%. This card is geared for the traveler with its meaty rewards program that kicks back 5% of miles on redemptions.
Plus, in the first 90 days, cardholders get up to 40,000 in bonus miles with the first $3,000 in purchases, which is enough to redeem a $400 travel credit.
Cons: While Barclay Arrival's rewards are significant, the card carries an annual fee of $89, although that fee is waived the first year. And those with less-than-excellent credit scores are not likely to be approved.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor.