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 can be the ideal solution.
These cards won't charge any interest on purchases for an initial period, of between three and 30 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 19%.
You can compare the latest 0%-on-purchases deals on Which? Money Compare. 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 cards
Here are the longest-lasting 0% credit card deals at the moment. You can compare more 0%-on-purchases credit cards using Which? Money Compare.
Bear in mind that 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.
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.
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 29 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 reviews of the major players in the 0% purchase credit card market like Post Office, 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. In the table below, we show you the 0%-on-purchases deals on offer from our Which? Recommended Providers.
|0% deal |
|Tesco Bank Purchase Card||28 months||18.9%||18.9%|
|M&S Shopping Plus Offer Credit Card||25 months||19.9%||19.9%|
|Nationwide Select Credit Card |
For existing Nationwide customers only
|Nationwide Purchase Offer Credit Card |
For existing Nationwide customers only
|John Lewis and Waitrose Partnership Credit Card||9 months||18.9%||18.9%|
|M&S Bank Reward Plus Offer||6 months||19.9%||19.9%|
Is an interest-free purchase credit card better 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.
The best 0% purchase credit cards offer up to 30 months interest-free but even with the cheapest loan, you will have to pay interest. The best deals for loans ranging between £7,500 and £15,000 is around 2.9% APR right now.
The table below sets out some of the other main differences to consider.
|Credit card||Personal loan|
|You can borrow |
|You can borrow |
up to £25,000
|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 makes sure you know about 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 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 of £12 but will 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 of a loan.
For example, Joe buys a boiler for £810 with a credit card that offers 0% on purchases for 18 months. He should set up a direct debit for £45 a month (810÷18).
Provided you don't make any more purchases, this will ensure that 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 find the latest deals on Which? Money Compare.
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 like 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. Avoid doing so.
0% purchase credit cards: FAQs
Here are some common queries about 0% purchase credit cards. If you have any other burning 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?
You can put your question to our experts on the Which? Money Helpline or email us using email@example.com.