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Best interest-free credit cards

Find out how an interest-free credit card can help you spread the cost of large purchases and the best 0%-on purchases credit card deals right now.

In this article
How does a 0% purchase credit card work? The best 0% purchase credit card deals Who are the best 0% purchase credit card providers?
Is an interest-free purchase credit card better than a personal loan? 0% purchase credit card: golden rules 0% purchase credit cards: FAQs

How does a 0% purchase credit card work?

If you're looking to make an expensive purchase but aren't in a position to cover the cost upfront, a credit card that offers a 0% deal on spending can be the ideal solution. 

These cards won't charge any interest on purchases for an initial period, of between three and 23 months, which means there's no immediate rush to pay off your balance.

However, to really benefit you need to be disciplined enough to steadily repay the debt before the promotional period ends; otherwise, you'll be charged interest on the remaining balance at the card's standard APR – typically around 20%.

This guide explains everything you need to know about 0%-on-purchases credit cards, and how to find the best deals.  

 

The best 0% purchase credit card deals

The table below shows the longest-lasting 0% credit card deals currently on the market. 

Please note that the information in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. Please refer to the particular terms and conditions of a credit card provider before committing to any financial products.

Card name  0% purchase term  Purchase APR (%) Representative APR
Tesco Bank Purchases Credit Card 23 months 20.9% 20.9%
Representative example: assumed borrowing of £1,200 for one year, at a purchase rate of 20.94% (variable), representative 20.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. Terms apply.
Sainsbury's Bank Dual Offer 22 months 20.9% 20.9%
Representative example: assumed borrowing of £1,200 for one year, at a purchase rate of 20.95% (variable), representative 20.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. Terms apply.
M&S Bank Shopping Plus Card 22 months 21.9% 21.9%
Representative example: assumed borrowing of £1,200 for one year, at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable), representative 21.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. Terms apply.
Barclaycard Platinum Purchase and Balance Transfer Credit Card 22 months 21.9% 21.9%
Representative example: assumed borrowing of £1,200 for one year, at a purchase rate of 21.9% (variable), representative 21.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. Terms apply.
Lloyds Bank 0% Purchase and Balance Transfer Credit Card 21 months 21.9% 21.9%
Representative example: assumed borrowing of £1,200 for one year, at a purchase rate of 21.94% (variable), representative 21.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. Terms apply.

 

Data correct as of 3 December 2021.

You'll need to have a good credit score to access the most competitive 0% deals; otherwise, you could be offered a shorter 0% period than the one advertised, or turned down altogether. 

Who are the best 0% purchase credit card providers?

It’s frustrating that you never know what you’re going to get with a credit card provider until after you’ve applied and taken out a deal.

Fortunately, Which? has reviewed 26 of the biggest credit card providers to help you discover what they’re like for customer service, cost, rewards and managing your account before signing up.

So you can check out customer scores of the major players in the 0% purchase credit card market such as Tesco Bank, Barclaycard, and more in the best and worst credit card providers before you make a decision.

The companies that combine great deals with top-notch customer satisfaction are awarded our coveted Which? Recommended Provider status. 

You can also check out our individual reviews of each provider to help you make your decision.

Below are the top 0% purchase credit cards on the market that are also Which Recommended Providers.

Please note that the information in this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute advice. Please refer to the particular terms & conditions of a credit card provider before committing to any financial products.

Card name  0% purchase term  Purchase APR (%) Representative APR
Tesco Bank Purchases Credit Card 23 months 20.9% 20.9%
Representative example: assumed borrowing of £1,200 for one year, at a purchase rate of 20.94% (variable), representative 20.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. Terms apply.
Tesco Bank Balance Transfer and Purchases Credit Card 20 months 20.9% 20.9%
Representative example: assumed borrowing of £1,200 for one year, at a purchase rate of 20.94% (variable), representative 20.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. Terms apply.
Tesco Bank All Round Credit Card 15 months 20.9% 20.9%
Representative example: assumed borrowing of £1,200 for one year, at a purchase rate of 20.94% (variable), representative 20.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. Terms apply.
Nationwide Member Credit Card - All Rounder Offer 15 months 19.9% 19.9%
Representative example: assumed borrowing of £1,200 for one year, at a purchase rate of 19.9% APR (variable). 5% Balance Transfer fee applies for the first 90 days from account opening, then reverts to 2.4% (min £5). Credit available subject to status. Terms apply.

 

Data correct as of 3 December 2021.

Is an interest-free purchase credit card better than a personal loan?

A 0% credit card may be better suited to your needs than a personal loan.

With an interest-free credit card, you don’t have to commit to anything higher than the minimum repayment each month.

It’s also a form of 'revolving credit', so what you pay back you can spend again.

In contrast, when you take out a personal loan you will need to make fixed monthly repayments for as long as you’ve asked to borrow for and won't be able to use that money again.

The best 0% purchase credit cards offer up to 23 months interest-free but even with the cheapest loan, you will have to pay interest.

The best deal for loans ranging between £7,500 and £15,000 is around 2.8% APR right now.

The amount you can borrow may also differ. You can choose to borrow smaller amounts with a credit card - even if you are given a big limit. In contrast, the smallest amount you can get with a personal loan is £3,000 and the rates aren't as competitive compared to borrowing larger amounts.

The table below sets out some of the main differences to consider.

Credit card Personal loan
You can borrow smaller amounts at competitive rates The smallest amount you can borrow is £3,000 and rates aren't as good compared to borrowing more
Repayments are flexible Repayments are fixed
You can avoid paying interest for a number of months on a 0% purchase deal You will have to pay interest on the money you borrow even on the cheapest personal loans
You get revolving credit so you can spend what you pay back You can’t spend any more than you originally borrow

0% purchase credit card: golden rules

If you’re planning to take out a 0% purchase credit card make sure you know the golden rules that will help you get the most of the deal.

1. Only borrow what you need

With a 0% purchase credit card it’s important to just borrow what you need and can afford to pay back.

So even if you get a credit card with a high limit of £10,000 there’s no point in spending £10,000 if you have no idea how you will clear the balance after the 0% period.

2. Make at least the minimum repayment each month

Even if you plan to delay repaying the bulk of what you borrow on a 0% purchase credit card you'll need to make at least the minimum repayment on time each month. 

If you don't, you'll not only incur a late payment fee (typically around £12) but could lose the 0% deal altogether. To avoid getting caught out, set up a direct debit to cover this amount. 

The minimum on a credit card is usually around 1% of the outstanding balance but can be more so double check your card’s terms and conditions. 

If you can afford to pay back more than the minimum repayment you should.

3. Have a plan to repay the debt

The key to making the most of a 0% purchase credit card is to ensure you have no remaining debt when the interest-free period comes to an end.

A simple way to do this is to divide the total you've spent on your credit card by the number of months that your 0% deal lasts for and set up a direct debit to pay off that amount each month, in the same way you would pay off a loan.  

Provided you don't make any more purchases, this will ensure you don't pay interest on what you've borrowed. 

If you have some debt remaining after your card's promotional period ends, consider shifting this to a card that offers a 0% interest deal on balance transfers.

You can use our 0% purchase credit card calculator to work out what your repayments should be: 

4. Don’t withdraw cash on your card

You should never withdraw cash using your 0% purchase credit card.

If you do you will be charged interest from the day you take the money out and usually at a much higher rate.

That’s because your 0% deal is only for new purchases you make with the card online, in shops, restaurants – not for taking cash out of an ATM or for any other cash advance such as buying travel money.

Some providers also report when you make a cash withdrawal on your credit record, as it suggests you may be in financial difficulty.

0% purchase credit cards: FAQs

Here are some common queries about 0% purchase credit cards. If you have any other questions please get in touch.

 

Can I get an interest-free credit card?

 

Your ability to get the best 0% purchase credit card deals will depend on the information in your credit report.

Credit cards providers only have to offer their advertised offer to 51% of applicants so the other 49% could get a worse deal.

Some lenders will allow you to do a soft search before you apply to see the likelihood of getting accepted.

Find out more in our guide to how to check your credit score for free

 

 

Can I do a money transfer to my bank account using a 0% purchase credit card?

 

A 0% purchase credit card shouldn’t be used to transfer money from your card to your bank account unless there is a 0% money transfer offer on the same deal.

The 0% purchase deal only applies to new spending you do in shops or online. So if your card provider allows you to do a money transfer double check what interest rate it is charging (it might be a 0% deal but for a shorter period than the purchase deal) and the fee for the money transfer.

 

Can I do a balance transfer on a 0% purchase credit card?

 

A 0% purchase credit card shouldn’t be used to transfer a balance from an existing credit card to your new card unless there is a 0% balance transfer offer on the same deal.

The 0% purchase deal only applies to new spending you do in shops or online. So if your card provider allows you to do a balance transfer double check what rate it is charging (it might be a 0% deal but for a shorter period than the purchase deal) and the fee for the balance transfer.

 

Which interest-free credit cards have the highest limits?

 

The limit you get will depend on your credit profile and a lender’s assessment of your credit report and affordability.

 

What if I have another question?

 

Email us using money-letters@which.co.uk.

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