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For many rewards credit cards — particularly cash-back credit cards — an introductory 0% APR promotion is just one of the many benefits you'll get as a cardholder. But the longest 0% APR promotions often don't come with a standard welcome bonus or rewards program.

That may leave you wondering: is it worth it to get a few extra months of interest-free payments if it means you can't earn rewards? Ultimately, the right answer depends on your current needs and your preferences. Here's what to consider.

Recommended Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Credit Card Intro APR APR Rewards Rate Learn More
Citi Diamond Preferred

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

0% for 21 months on balance transfers and 12 months on purchases More Info

New cardholders receive 21 months of 0% introductory APR from the date of first transfer and 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases from date of account opening. After that the variable APR will be 18.24% - 28.99%, based on your creditworthiness. There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 5% of the transfer amount, whichever is greater.

18.24% - 28.99% (Variable) N/A
Citi Double Cash

Citi Double Cash® Card

0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers More Info

New cardholders enjoy 0% introductory APR on all balance transfers for the first 18 months of account opening. After that, the variable APR will be 19.24% - 29.24%, based on your creditworthiness. Balance transfers do not earn cash-back rewards and are charged an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first four months of account opening. After that, the fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).

19.24% - 29.24% (Variable) 2%Cashback More Info

Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time. Plus, for a limited time, earn 5% total cash back on hotel, car rentals and attractions booked on the Citi Travel℠ portal through 12/31/24.

Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

0% intro APR for 21 months More Info

0% intro APR for 21 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers. 18.24%, 24.74%, or 29.99% variable APR thereafter; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate, BT fee of 5%, min $5.

18.24%, 24.74%, 29.99% (Variable) N/A

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

0% intro APR for 15 months More Info

0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers. 20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% Variable APR thereafter; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a BT fee of up to 5%, min: $5.

20.24%, 25.24%, or 29.99% (Variable) 2%Cashback More Info

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.

How Do 0% APR Credit Cards Work?

Zero percent APR credit cards come with an incentive for new cardholders. Upon opening your account, you may get an interest-free period on new purchases, balance transfers or both. Depending on the card, this promotion could last anywhere from six months to almost two years.

For 0% APR purchase promotions, you can typically make purchases throughout the promotional period and avoid paying interest.

With balance transfer promotions, you may need to transfer your balance from another credit card or loan within a certain period after opening the account — typically within three or four months — and pay an upfront balance transfer fee, usually 3% to 5% of the transferred amount, which gets tacked onto your new balance.

As long as you pay the minimum amount due each month, you won't incur interest during your promotional period. However, if you miss a payment, you could lose the promotion entirely. And if you have a balance at the end of the 0% APR period, you'll have to pay interest on it going forward based on the card's regular APR. 

Pay No Interest for a Limited Time

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0% APR Credit Card With Rewards vs. 0% APR Credit Card Without Rewards

woman going over finances


Just because a 0% APR credit card doesn't offer rewards, it doesn't mean you'll automatically get a longer 0% APR promotion. However, let's assume the only reason you'd consider such a card is because you're getting a better deal on interest savings. 

With that in mind, deciding which type of 0% APR credit card you should choose depends on the math and your preferences. Here are some things to think about to determine the right option for you. 

The Math

Let's say that you're moving and need to buy some furniture for your new place. You apply for a credit card with a 0% APR promotion on purchases for 15 months. If you put $5,000 on the card, you could pay off the entire balance interest-free with a monthly payment of $333.33. 

If you'd put that balance on a credit card with a 21% APR and made the same monthly payment, it would take you 18 months to pay off the debt, and you'd pay $851.12 in interest. 

If you also got a $200 welcome bonus and 2% cash back on your purchases, that's an extra $300 in value, for a total of $1,151.12.

However, let's say you can't afford to make that high of a monthly payment, so you opt for a card with a 0% APR on purchases for 21 months instead. That reduces your monthly payment to about $238.10, and you'll still avoid interest charges, though you won't earn rewards or a welcome bonus on your purchases.

With that same monthly payment, a $5,000 balance on a credit card with a 21% APR would take you 27 months to pay off, and you'd pay $1,287.15 in interest — more than the value you'd get from the cash-back credit card with the shorter 0% APR promotion.

To understand the differences between the two options for you, run the numbers for your situation to get a better understanding of which one will offer more value.

Your Preferences

While the math may be heavily in favor of one or the other option, it's also important to consider your preferences. 

For example, while you may be able to get more value with a longer 0% APR promotion and no rewards, not having the ability to earn rewards on purchases made after the promotional period expires limits that card's long-term value. 

You can always apply for a different rewards credit card at that time, and if you don't mind having multiple credit cards, that can be a great way to go. But if you'd prefer to limit your exposure to credit cards, or you're concerned about how having multiple credit cards could impact your credit, it might be better to go with a card that offers the best of both worlds.

You may also want to consider whether you'd rather have a guaranteed welcome bonus or rewards at your disposal or potential interest savings in the future. 

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Pros and Cons of a 0% APR Credit Card With No Rewards

Before you apply for a 0% APR credit card solely for its 0% introductory APR benefit, it's important to understand both the benefits and drawbacks of such a decision.


  • Potential to save more on interest charges long-term
  • Monthly payments can be lower
  • Can help prevent additional debt


  • May offer less long-term value
  • You may miss out on other benefits
  • Longer APR periods may not be necessary for all situations

The Bottom Line: Which Type of 0% APR Credit Card Should You Choose?

In the end, there's no right or wrong answer to the question of which 0% APR credit card you should choose. Think carefully about your needs — whether for purchases or a balance transfer — and how much debt you'll be adding to your new card. 

Then, run the numbers for your specific situation and consider your general preferences on the matter. Shop around and compare low-interest credit cards to get an idea of what's available, and decide which set of features is best for you.


Ben Luthi

Ben Luthi is a personal finance and travel writer and credit card expert. He has a degree in finance from Brigham Young University and worked in financial planning, banking and auto finance before writing full-time for NerdWallet and Student Loan Hero. Ben is now a full-time freelance writer and enjoys traveling and spending time with his two kids. His work has appeared in several publications, including U.S. News & World Report, USA Today, Money, Success and Slickdeals.