Low Interest Credit Cards

A low interest credit card makes large balances a little more manageable. If you carry a balance from one month to another, a low APR credit card could be a good choice for you. Browse the best low interest offers from our partners and compare introductory rates, ongoing rates, annual fees, and rewards to find the right card for you.

A low interest credit card makes large balances a little more manageable. If you carry a balance from one month to another, a low APR credit card could be a good choice for you. Browse the best low interest offers from our partners and compare introductory rates, ongoing rates, annual fees, and rewards to find the right card for you.

Editor: Laura Mohammad | Writer: Garrett Yarbrough

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January 19, 2021

Best low interest credit cards of 2021:

Citi® Double Cash Card

Excellent

Credit Recommended (740-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

2%
Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
0% intro for 18 months on Balance Transfers
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

3%
3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
2%
2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.
1%
1% Cash Back on other purchases.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% variable
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Excellent

Credit Recommended (740-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

This card doesn't offer cash back, miles, or points

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers
Regular APR
14.74% - 24.74% variable
Discover it® Miles

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

1.5X
Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
10.99% for 14 months
Regular APR
11.99% - 22.99% variable
Citi Rewards+® Card

Excellent

Credit Recommended (740-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

2X
Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter.
1X
Earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
0% intro for 15 months on Balance Transfers
Regular APR
13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)
Petal® 2

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

1.5%
Up to 1.5% cash back after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
1%
1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
12.99% - 26.99% variable
Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards

Fair to Good

Credit Recommended (580-740)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

1.5%
Earn 1.5% unlimited cash back on card purchases every time you make a payment

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
8.99% - 29.99% APR
American Express Cash Magnet® Card
See Rates & Fees, Terms Apply

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

1.5%
Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
N/A
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% variable
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Good to Excellent

Credit Recommended (670-850)

CreditCards.com credit ranges are a variation of FICO® Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.
Apply Now

Rewards Rate

3%
Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases)
2%
Earn automatic 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases)
1%
Earn unlimited 1% on all other purchases.

At A Glance

Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Intro APR
0% Intro APR for 12 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days
Regular APR
13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank's website for the most current information.

All information about The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express and Citi Simplicity® Card have been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.


Comparing Low Interest Credit Card Offers

Although it’s usually best to pay off your credit card balance each month, sometimes that isn’t possible. That’s where low interest cards come in. Credit card interest rates can usually fall within a specified range, depending on your credit score. Low interest credit cards are known for ranges that fall below the average credit card interest rates. We crunched the numbers on more than 800 credit cards to determine the best credit cards with low interest rates, and also included information on how to best utilize these cards. Whether you want to understand the mechanics of our best low interest cards or the difference between interest and APR, we can help. Here, we look at:

Wondering if you qualify? Want to understand how your score affects your interest rates? We look at those topics and more.


Best Low Interest Credit Cards

best low interest credit cards of 2021

Discover it® Cash Back

Why this card is the best credit card for low interest

The Discover it Cash Back, like several other Discover cards, offers a super-low regular interest rate of 11.99%-22.99% variable APR, ideal for the occasional balance.

Pros

The ongoing rewards and the first-year bonus feature are unsurpassed: 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories (up to $1,500 in quarterly purchases in various categories upon activation, then 1%) and Discover will match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year. Add to that, there is no annual fee.

Cons

There’s no traditional sign-up bonus on this card, and the purchase and travel benefits are nonexistent.

Read our full review of the Discover it Cash Back card.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for cash back

The Double Cash’s ongoing rewards of 1% cash back when you spend, then another 1% when you pay for the purchase make it top-of-line among flat-rate cash back cards.

Pros

This card possesses one of the longest BT intro APR offers, with 0% for 18 months, then 13.99%-23.99% variable after that. This means balance transfers at 0% can be carried into 2022.

Cons

As superior as the Citi Double Cash’s rewards are, its lack of a 0% intro APR on purchases may give you pause. Also, there’s no sign-up bonus.

Read our full review of the Citi Double Cash Card.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for 0% intro APR

The Blue Cash Everyday offers 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases. It’s 13.99%-23.99% variable after that.

Pros

The welcome offer on this card is strong for a cash back card with no annual fee: Earn 20% back on purchases at Amazon.com in the first 6 months, up to $200 back, and earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first 6 months. Terms apply.

Cons

While it’s tough to match this card’s welcome offer, its ongoing rewards can be beaten by the Blue Cash Preferred. For example, with the Everyday, you can earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 annually, then 1%), while with the Preferred, you can earn 6% cash at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 annually, then 1%), which might make the Preferred the better choice for the larger family.

Read our full review of the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for balance transfers

It offers one of the longest promotional APR periods on balance transfers currently available: You’ll get a whopping 18 months to tackle your transferred balance without paying interest (the card’s APR is 14.74%-24.74% variable after that). Plus, the card’s low-end ongoing APR is lower than the average credit card APR.

Pros

In addition to a long intro APR period on balance transfers, the card offers a solid introductory rate on new purchases: The APR is 0% for the first 18 months and 14.74%-24.74% variable thereafter. Having the option to pay off new purchases over time without drowning in interest could come in handy if you need to cover unexpected expenses.

Cons

The card charges a balance transfer fee of 3% (or $5, whichever is higher). As our Diamond Preferred card review breaks down, you can save a significant amount if you opt instead for a balance transfer card that charges no balance transfer fee at all.

Read our full review of the Citi Diamond Preferred Card.

Discover it® Miles

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for airline miles

This Discover travel card earns 1.5 miles per dollar on all purchases. Also, Discover will match the miles you’ve earned at the end of your first year – all without an annual fee.

Pros

You can temporarily avoid interest on new purchases, thanks to this card’s 14-month 0% introductory APR offer on purchases (11.99%-22.99% variable APR after). If you’re planning overseas travel, you’ll appreciate the lack of foreign transaction fees.

Cons

Miles can’t be transferred to frequent flyer loyalty programs, and there are no annual bonuses beyond the first year Cashback Match.

Read our full review of the Discover it Miles card.

Citi Rewards+® Card

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for everyday purchases

The Citi Rewards+® offers something unique: Not only will you earn 2X ThankYou points at supermarkets and gas stations (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1 point per dollar) as well as 1X points on all other purchases, but every purchase you make will be rounded up to the nearest 10 points. This feature helps you get more rewards out of every purchase, no matter how small.

Pros

Cardholders can earn 15,000 ThankYou points after spending $1,000 in their first 3 months. As an annual bonus, you earn 10% points back on any ThankYou rewards you redeem (up to 100,000 per year). The card’s 13.49%-23.49% variable APR is solid on the low end, and there’s no annual fee.

Cons

When it comes to redeeming rewards, the high-value options are limited to gift cards and travel purchases. Plus, you can book travel only through the ThankYou Travel Portal.

Read our full review of the Citi Rewards+ Card.

Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for no fees

The Petal 2’s lack of fees makes it a fine option for the cardholder looking for a low interest card: There’s no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee and no late fee.

Pros

Earn 1% cash back your first year with this card, then 1.5% cash back after 12 on-time monthly payments, which makes it competitive with the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.

Cons

This card has no sign-up bonus, which limits its possibilities as a cash back card. Also, although the regular APR starts out low, it goes quite high at 12.99%-26.99% variable.

Read our full review of the Petal 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa Credit Card.

Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash Rewards

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for managing payments

This card has a special feature designed to help with making regular, on-time payments. Your balance is automatically put into an installment plan with a fixed monthly payment so that you know exactly how much you’re paying.

Pros

With a regular APR of 8.99%-29.99%, cardholders who qualify for the low end may see some benefit. There are no fees of any kind, and you’ll earn 1.5% cash back on your purchases when you make a payment.

Cons

This card doesn’t come with an introductory 0% interest window and does not allow for balance transfers, making it a less-than-stellar option for those looking to manage debt from an existing credit account.

Read our full review of the Upgrade Visa Card with Cash Rewards.

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for no annual fee

With its rewards, low introductory interest offer on purchases, as well as a low regular low interest offer, it’s rather remarkable that the Cash Magnet has no annual fee.

Pros

Like the Blue Cash Everyday, the regular variable APR starts out low at 13.99%-23.99%. Also, the 1.5% back on purchases is quite convenient.

Cons

If you want to maximize your rewards depending on the purchase, another card may be a better choice due to this card’s flat rate offer.

Read our full review of the American Express Cash Magnet card.

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for flexible cash back categories

This card offers cash back rewards that are guaranteed to fit your spending: Earn 3% cash back in a category of your choice (gas, dining, travel, drug stores, online shopping or home improvements and furnishings), 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs – with a $2,500 combined spending limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter – and 1% cash back on all other purchases. A rare perk, this level of flexibility lets cardholders match their rewards to fit their regular purchases.

Pros

Coming along with top-tier rewards, this card offers an introductory 12 billing cycle 0% interest period for both balance transfers made within the first 60 days and purchases (13.99%-23.99% variable APR after). A 3% fee (minimum $10) applies to all balance transfers. Also, cardholders can earn $200 in online cash rewards after spending $1,000 in their first 90 days, a solid sign-up bonus for a no annual fee card.

Cons

The card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, so it may not be the ideal choice for international travel or online shopping with overseas merchants.

Read our full review of the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for U.S. supermarkets

It’s tough to beat the phenomenal rewards rates on everyday, practical purchases: 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1%), 6% on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, and 3% at U.S. gas stations and transit. Then, 1% back on general purchases.

Pros

The low end of the 13.99%-23.99% variable APR is quite low, which you may be able to secure if you have excellent credit. Before the interest rate kicks in, you’ll have 12 months of intro 0% APR on purchases.

Cons

Compared to other low interest cards, 0% intro APR for 12 months on purchases isn’t a competitive introductory period length. It’s 13.99%-23.99% variable after that.

Read our full review of the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express.

ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard®

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for unlimited rewards

The card earns 5x rewards on categories such as groceries, dining and travel, capped at $1,500 per quarter. By strategically spending in the bonus categories as well as earning 1X points on all purchases, cardholders can see significant rewards earnings.

Pros

After spending $1,200 on purchases within their first 90 days, cardholders can earn a $150 statement credit. Plus, there’s no annual fee and an intro 0% APR offer on purchases for 12 months (12.90% – 22.90% variable APR after).

Cons

Despite the offer for purchases, there’s no introductory window for balance transfers. Also, if paying a little extra attention to rotating categories isn’t your style, there are better choices for you.

Read our full review of the ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard®.

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for digital wallet purchases

In addition to the Cash Wise’s flat rewards rate, you can earn 1.8% cash rewards on qualified digital wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Google Pay™, during the first 12 months from opening your account.

Pros

This card is competitive in all sorts of ways, from the sign-up bonus to the ongoing rewards to the 0% intro offer on both purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months (then 14.49% – 24.99% variable).

Cons

The balance transfer fee heads into the upper range of 5% (with a minimum of $5) if you make the transfer after 120 days from opening your account. It’s 3% or $5, whichever is greater, up to 120 days. Also, there’s a foreign transaction fee of 3%.

Read our full review of the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa card.

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for sign-up bonus

The Propel offers 20,000 points after a $1,000 spend within the first 3 months of card membership, a solid offer for a low interest card with no annual fee.

Pros

Along with its solid 3X rewards rate on dining, travel and select streaming services, this no annual fee card offers a 0% intro APR on both new purchases, as well as 0% for 12 months on qualifying balance transfers, then 14.49% to 24.99% variable.

Cons

Although it comes with generous earnings, your points can’t transfer to outside loyalty programs and any travel rewards must be redeemed through Go Far Rewards.

Read our full review of the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card.

Wells Fargo Platinum card

Why this card is the best low interest credit card for good credit

The card comes with a suite of tools that should help you manage your finances and protect the good credit you’ve worked so hard to achieve. You get access to My Money Map, which you can use to track your expenses, create a personalized budget, set monthly spending goals and monitor your progress toward your savings goals.

Pros

You can take advantage of a 0% introductory APR on new purchases for the first 18 months, as well as 0% for 18 months on qualifying balance transfers, then 16.49% to 24.49% variable. That’s more than a year to chip away at debt or pay down new expenses. The card also stands out for its included cellphone insurance: As long as you pay your phone bill with the card, you can be reimbursed up to $600 per claim should your cellphone be damaged or stolen. You’ll only have to pay a $25 deductible.

Cons

The card offers no rewards program. Additionally, Wells Fargo customer service has failed to impress as of late, ranking eighth out of 11 credit card issuers in J.D. Power’s 2020 customer satisfaction survey.

Read our full review of the Wells Fargo Platinum card.

Compare the best low APR credit cards of 2021

Credit CardBest For:0% Intro Purchase APR PeriodRegular APRCreditCards.com Rating
Discover it® Cash BackLow interest14 months11.99% – 22.99% (Variable)3.7 / 5
Citi® Double Cash CardCash backN/A13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)1.4 / 5
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express0% intro APR15 months13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)3.6 / 5
Citi® Diamond Preferred® CardBalance transfers18 months14.74% – 24.74%(Variable)3.9 / 5
Discover it® MilesAirline miles14 months11.99%-22.99% (Variable)4.0 / 5
Citi Rewards+® CardEveryday purchases15 months13.49% – 23.49% (Variable)3.0 / 5
Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit CardNo feesN/A12.99% – 26.99% (Variable)4.8 / 5
Upgrade Visa® Card with Cash RewardsManaging paymentsN/A8.99% – 29.99% (Variable)4.2 / 5
American Express Cash Magnet® CardNo annual fee15 months13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)4.0 / 5
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit cardFlexible cash back categories12 billing cycles A 3% fee (minimum $10) applies to all balance transfers 13.99 – 23.99% (Variable)4.0 / 5

Research methodology: How we chose the best low interest credit cards:

It’s no surprise that when deciding the best low interest credit cards, we chose cards with low APRs. We also took the length of the introductory period into account, since a longer 0% APR period may reduce the total amount of interest accrued on a large purchase.

Number of low interest cards we analyzed: 869

Criteria used: Regular APR, intro APR, other rates and fees, rewards rates, rewards categories, redemption options, miscellaneous features and benefits, customer service, security, credit needed, ease of application

What is a low interest credit card?

Low interest credit cards can be cards with intro offers for purchases and balance transfers, usually at 0%, or they can be simply a card with a low regular interest rate, as in the case of some of the Discover cards. Here, we answer your most common questions about interest rates and credit cards.

What is credit card interest?

Credit card interest is the amount that you are charged when you don’t pay your credit card balance in full at the end of each month. Your interest rate will be stated as an APR, or “annual percentage rate.” This is the yearly cost of borrowing money, and consists of your interest, fees, and other charges represented as a percentage amount. The amount that you pay in interest each month can vary based on things like creditworthiness and the type of credit account that you have; however, if you pay off your balance in full, you won’t be charged interest. If you don’t pay off your balance each month, the interest rate you pay can be one of the most important features of a credit card.

To help alleviate the problems interest can create, low interest credit cards can come with intro offers for purchases and balance transfers, usually at 0%, or they can be simply a card with a low regular interest rate, as in the case of some of the Discover cards.

What is the average interest rate on a credit card?

Typically, a low interest rate is considered a figure that is below the national average. Currently, the national average interest rate for credit cards is 16.05%. This is one of the lowest interest rates in nearly two years due to our current economic slowdown. When the Federal Reserve dropped interest rates in March 2020, many lenders cut interest rates on new credit cards. This sudden rate change could be beneficial to those who have an outstanding credit card balance (but you may need to ask for a lower rate) or are interested in a card with a lower interest rate.

Average credit card interest rates…

What is considered a low interest rate?

According to CreditCards.com’s weekly rates survey, the low interest average is currently at 12.77%.

How does your credit score affect your interest rate?

You probably know that if you carry a balance on your credit card, at some point you will pay interest. Here, we explain how that works and why a low interest card can be important.

Your interest is expressed in APR, or annual percentage rate. According to Discover, you divide that rate by 365 (days of the year) to calculate your daily rate. So, if your card has an APR of 15%, it will have a daily rate of .041096%. So, with a balance of $1,000 at 15%, you add the interest, and the new balance the next day is $1,000.41. This continues, with compounding, until the end of the month when your balance is $1,013.

You might get a grace period of roughly a month to pay your bill off and avoid interest, and of course you can take out a 0% intro APR card as well to avoid paying interest. Depending on your card, you’ll likely have a few different APRs to sort through, so it’s important to read the details and understand the different rates. Bottom line: If you don’t pay off your balance, you can eventually get slammed with interest, and your monthly charges can drag on for years if you only pay the minimum.

To calculate interest on a credit card, use our handy-dandy interest calculators. They allow you to figure out how long it will take you to pay off a balance with the minimum payment, how much you are paying in interest each month, how much you can save by speeding up the payment process and more.

Types of APRs

Here are the typical APRs charged by card issuers:

  • APR for purchases. The most common APR, this rate is applied when you carry a balance. Some cards, such as The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, offer a 0% intro purchase offer for a set time. In the case of the EveryDay, the balance is charged the go-to variable rate of 12.99%-23.99% after 15 months.
  • APR for balance transfers. Similar to the purchase APR, balance transfer cards will usually offer a 0% intro APR for a set amount of time, then revert to the go-to rate.
  • Cash advance APR. This rate usually kicks in immediately after you take out the cash.
  • Penalty APR. This is typically a considerably higher interest rate that’s triggered when you violate issuer terms – usually for late monthly payments. After 6 consecutive on-time payments, the issuer may lower your rate again. Some cards, like Discover products, don’t carry this type of APR.

All information about the Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy.

How does your credit score affect your interest rate?

Card issuers look to your credit score to determine how risky it is to lend to you. Since your credit score is primarily derived from your payment history and your balance-to-available-credit ratio, it’s a good predictor of credit behavior.

If your credit score is low, it signals that you’re less likely to pay back the money you borrow. To make up for the risk of a borrower not repaying debt, issuers charge higher interest rates to those who pose the most risk. You can think of interest rates as a safety net for issuers. Read our full article for more information about how credit scores affect interest rates.

Why are credit card interest rates so high?

Even with an excellent credit score, the current average low-interest credit card APR clocks in at 12.77% – over double the 5.99% you commonly see for personal loan APRs. So why are credit card interest rates that much higher with the same financial records?

Why loans have lower rates than credit cards can be chalked up to cards’ higher cost to lenders due to risk, regulations, and the economy.

Higher credit card interest rates largely account for the cost to banks if you can’t repay them or a fraudster strikes. Credit cards don’t typically require collateral like loans do.

Which kind of cardholder are you?

The level of consideration you give to a credit card’s interest rate depends on the way you will be using the card. The American Bankers Association’s Credit Card Industry Monitor divides cardholders into 3 types: transactors, revolvers and dormants. Transactors usually pay their balance in full each billing cycle, while revolvers tend to carry a balance from month to month. Dormants, who make up nearly a quarter of accounts, don’t use their credit card at all. Here are the statistics as of Q1 2020:

  • Revolvers
  • 44.6%
  • Transactors
  • 31.6%
  • Dormants
  • 23.8%

Source: ABA Q1 2020 Credit Card Market Monitor

Since you won’t accumulate any interest by paying your balance in full each month or not using your card at all, having a credit card with low interest is only important for revolvers, who make up the largest segment of cardholders.

Want to learn more? Click here to learn more about credit card APRs.

Which is best: low interest, balance transfer or 0% intro APR purchase credit card?

Although any of these types of cards can help you financially, your specific circumstances are what determine the best option for you. Each type has a slightly different impact: Low interest credit cards generally focus on providing a lower ongoing APR, zero interest cards don’t tack on interest charges for a set period and balance transfer cards are designed to help move credit card debt. Depending on the type of cardholder you are, there may be a clear-cut best choice:

The credit-builder: If you’re starting from a healthy financial situation, but still are looking to improve your credit score, a low interest card or 0% intro APR purchase card may be the choice for you. These cards often come with features designed to boost your credit, plus any early mistakes made will be softened thanks to the lower APR.

The traveler: Credit score permitting, those looking to take advantage of their card’s reward system to earn free flights, hotels and similar benefits should look toward travel credit cards. Another savvy saving option: Strategizing with a card offering a 0% intro APR on purchases is the perfect opportunity to pay for a trip up front and cut away at the balance over time.

The debt-holder: For those with credit card debt or any other outstanding movable balance, a balance transfer card can be a no-brainer. By moving debt to an interest-free account, you can declutter your financial situation and make right of past mishaps. This can provide huge savings by avoiding ongoing charges on your debt, likely more useful than earning rewards or a low ongoing APR.

The renovator: Anyone with plans to upgrade their home or yard may want to explore their credit card options and take note of any welcome offers ahead of time. A zero interest card giving freedom on purchases will allow you to buy expensive items interest-free, so you can plan to pay off their cost over the time of the offer. Plus, some options will reward you with cash back or points for your early spending.

The consistent cardholder: You don’t have any transferable debt, and you’re not planning on making a large purchase anytime soon. As long as you pay your balance on time and in full, a low interest card is likely the best choice for you. That way, you won’t have to worry about interest charges and you may even get some extra benefit out of your card by foregoing intro APR offers.

Still unsure of where you stand? Let’s look at some key components of finding the right card:

Factors to consider for low interest credit cards

  • What is your credit score? Our top low interest cards require good or excellent credit, and it’s important to apply for a card that matches your credit. If you don’t have good credit, a low interest card is probably not a good option.
  • How does the regular APR compare to other cards? If you plan to carry a balance month to month, note the regular APR. Some, such as the Discover it Cash Back (11.99%-22.99% variable), start with a super low APR.
  • Are you interested in rewards? Most of our top low interest credit cards offer travel or cash back rewards.
  • What is the annual fee? The bulk of our low interest cards offer no annual fee, but some have an annual fee that may actually be worth your while because of the rewards offered.
  • What’s next for you? Think about your finances in the upcoming months. If you’re looking to cut down on debt or know you have a large purchase to make, it’s easier to get a sense of direction on the type of card to get.

Comparing two low interest card offers

Here we look at a side-by-side comparison of two low interest cards with the features listed above. As you can see, the cards’ APR rates and annual fees are comparable:

Card:Discover it Cash Back
Discover it Balance Transfer card
American Express Cash Magnet® Card
American Express Cash Magnet Card
Credit Recommended:Good – ExcellentGood – Excellent
0% intro APR period – Purchases:14 months15 months
0% intro APR – Balance transfer:14 monthsN/A
Regular APR:11.99%-22.99% (Variable)13.99%-23.99% (Variable)
Annual fee:$0$0
Rewards rate:5% on rotating categories each quarter*1.5% unlimited cash back on purchases

*On up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter after enrollment, then 1%

How to save money with a low interest credit card

A high interest rate is one of the biggest culprits in attaining card debt. If you owe $3,000 and you are paying a rate of 16.5% APR, then it would take you 45 months to pay the minimum amount, and you would end up paying $1,041 in interest alone. Low interest cards can help lessen the extremes and avoid fighting an uphill battle.

Due to a decrease in spending this year, total outstanding credit card balances have seen the sharpest quarter-to-quarter decline in the data’s history. U.S. household credit card debt decreased by $76 billion in the second quarter of 2020 when compared to the previous period, according to the New York Fed, while seriously delinquent credit card accounts (more than 90 days past due) leveled off to 5.05%.

How can I avoid paying interest on a credit card?

To avoid that debt, the best thing you can do is to pay in full each month. Also, avoid putting charges on your card that you can’t pay in full by the due date. Want that big-screen TV but don’t have the cash? Start setting aside the money rather than paying with your card without a plan.

If you’re already stuck in debt, you can avoid paying some interest by paying more than the minimum amount. Remember that $3,000 at a 16.5% rate, in which you end up with more than $2,000 in interest charges because you paid the minimum? Well, if you paid $200 a month, those interest charges would drop to $383.

If you pay more than the minimum…

RateMonthly paymentMonths to pay offAmount owedInterest to pay off
16.5%3% or $25, whichever is greater124$3,000$2,122
16.5%$20017$3,000$383

Another way to save money on interest is to transfer an existing balance to a balance transfer card or a low interest card.

With a lower interest rate, and even better, 0% intro APR, you can pay off that card debt at a faster rate. Also, you save hundreds of dollars in interest charges.

Can you ask for a lower credit card interest rate?

There are several ways to lower your interest rate, the most direct being to simply ask. In most cases, you can call your card provider and work with them to negotiate a better rate. There’s even a chance you can work with your card issuer and come to an agreement on a new payment plan altogether. It’s important to stay mindful of what your interest rate is; that way there’s no surprises if you ever carry a balance.

Why you should avoid keeping a balance on your credit card

In addition to interest incurred when carrying a balance, there’s another reason why you should avoid card debt. The second most important factor of your credit score is your credit utilization ratio, or how much you owe on your cards compared to how much credit you have available. So, if you owe $500 and you have $5,000 in available credit, then your utilization ratio is 10%, which is a good ratio.

Figuring out your credit utilization ratio

CardCredit availableAmount owedCredit utilization ratio
Citi® Double Cash Card$2,000$200$200/$2,000=10%
American Express Cash Magnet® Card$2,000$300$300/$2,000=15%
Discover it Cash Back$1,000$0$0/$1,000=0%
TOTAL$5,000$500$500/$5,000=10%

As you can see, there is a ratio for each card and a total ratio for all cards combined. Both matter. The industry standard is to keep the ratios under 30%, but it’s best to keep them as close to 0% as possible, partly to avoid paying interest and partly to keep your credit healthy.

Additional Resources

With our picks for the best low interest credit cards on this page, we cover a unique selection of credit cards with low regular interest rates. We have also curated and compiled a list of the best credit cards with long 0% APR offers and for balance transfers specifically — check them out:

You can read some individual reviews for low interest credit cards at our reviews section. You can use these to get a better idea of how products compare to one another and decide which offer is the best for your needs.