Comparing Low Interest Credit Card Offers
Updated: March 25, 2020
Although it’s usually best to pay off the balance each month, sometimes that isn’t possible. That’s where low interest cards come in. If you want to look at how interest rates work on credit cards, look no further. 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 that and more.
Best Low Interest Credit Cards
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 13.49%-24.49% variable APR, ideal for the occasional balance.
The ongoing rewards and the first-year bonus feature are unsurpassed. Add to that, there is no annual fee.
There’s no sign-up bonus on this card, and the purchase and travel benefits are nonexistent.
Discover it® Balance Transfer
Why this card is the best low interest credit card for first-year bonus
With the Discover it Balance Transfer, earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 a quarter after signing up for the rotating categories (then 1%), then earn double that amount at the end of your first year.
The Discover it Balance Transfer not only has the same great rewards of the Discover it Cash Back, it also has a robust 0% intro APR on balance transfers of 18 months (it’s 13.49%-24.49% variable after that).
The 0% intro APR offer on purchases is rock-bottom in length at only 6 months, and like the Discover it Cash Back, the travel and purchase benefits are nowhere to be seen.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Why this card is the best low interest credit card for 0% intro APR
Not only does the Blue Cash Everyday offer 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 15 months, it offers the same for purchases. It’s 12.99%-23.99% variable after that.
The ongoing rewards on this card are strong for a cash back card with no annual fee, and the regular variable APR starts out low at 12.99%-23.99%.
The welcome offer on the Blue Cash Everyday can be beaten by some competitors, and its tiered ongoing rewards might make you hesitate if you don’t want to think about which card to pull out for specific purchases.
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 balance transfers and purchases, as well as a low regular low interest offer, it’s rather remarkable that the Cash Magnet has no annual fee.
Like the Blue Cash Everyday, the regular variable APR starts out low at 12.99%-23.99%. Also, the 1.5% back on purchases is quite convenient.
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.
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.
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 13.99% – 25.99% variable).
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%.
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.
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 and qualifying balance transfers for the first 12 months (13.99%-25.99% variable after that).
If you are really looking for a balance transfer or purchase offer with a long intro APR, this might not be the card for you.
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.
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 mid-year 2021.
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.
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.
You can take advantage of a 0% introductory APR on both qualifying balance transfers and new purchases for the first 18 months (15.49%-24.99% variable APR after that). 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.
The card offers no rewards program. Additionally, Wells Fargo customer service has failed to impress of late, ranking ninth out of 11 credit card issuers in J.D. Power’s 2019 customer satisfaction survey.
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 21 months to tackle your transferred balance without paying interest (the card’s APR is 13.74%-23.74% variable after that). Plus, the card’s low-end ongoing APR is lower than the average credit card APR.
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 12 months and 13.74%-23.74% 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.
The card charges a balance transfer fee of 5% (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 just 3%, or even more if you go with a card that charges no balance transfer fee at all.
BankAmericard® credit card
All information about Bank of America Cards has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. Bank of America Cards are no longer available through CreditCards.com
Why this card is the best low interest credit card for no penalty APR
Many credit cards will jack up your APR if you fail to pay your bill on time, often to a rate as high as 29.99%. While you should always do your best to pay on time, you won’t have to worry about a penalty APR with the BankAmericard – your ongoing APR isn’t impacted by late payments.
The card comes with a solid introductory APR period on balance transfers: Take advantage of a 0% intro APR for the first 18 billing cycles on balance transfers made in the first 60 days, after which the APR is 14.49%-24.49% (variable).
If you’re planning to transfer a balance and aren’t sure whether you’ll be able to pay it off in full before the promotional period ends, you may be better off with a card that carries a lower ongoing APR.
Compare the best low APR credit cards of 2020
||0% Purchase APR Period
|Discover it® Cash Back
||13.49% – 24.49% (Variable)
||3.7 / 5
|Discover it® Balance Transfer
||First year bonus
||13.49%- 24.49% (Variable)
||4.5 / 5
|Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
||0% intro APR
||12.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
||3.6 / 5
|American Express Cash Magnet® Card
||No annual fee
||12.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
||4 / 5
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
||Digital wallet purchases
||13.99% – 25.99% (Variable)
||2.8 / 5
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
||13.99% – 25.99% (Variable)
||3.5 / 5
|Citi® Double Cash Card
||13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)
||1.4 / 5
|Wells Fargo Platinum card
||15.49% – 24.99%
||4.4 / 5
|Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
||13.74% – 23.74%
||3.9 / 5
|BankAmericard® credit card
||No penalty APR
||18 billing cycles
||14.49% – 24.49% (Variable)
||3.6 / 5
Research methodology: how we picked the best cards
Low interest credit cards 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 the average interest rate on a credit card?
The national average interest rate for credit cards is currently 17.25%. When the Federal Reserve dropped interest rates 3 times in 2019 and again in early 2020, it prompted many card issuers to in turn drop their rates, bringing the national average to the current level. The average interest rate for retail store cards is 26.01%, our October 2019 study found, which is even higher than the average rate of cards that allow bad credit, which is currently 25.37%.
What is considered a low interest rate?
Typically, a low interest rate is considered a figure that is below the national average. According to CreditCards.com’s weekly rates survey, the low interest average is currently under 14.10%.
How does your credit score affect your interest rate?
Card issuers in part look at your credit risk when deciding what interest rate to give you. One of those metrics is your credit score, which primarily looks at payment history and your balance-to-available-credit ratio. That’s one reason why it’s important to pay attention to your score.
What consumers know and don’t know about their cards’ APRs…
- Carried a balance on at least 3 cards
- Balance-carrying cardholders who knew the interest rate on all of their cards
- Were unsure or unaware of their cards’ APRs
- Men who weren’t sure about the interest rate on all their cards
- Women who weren’t sure about the interest rate on all their cards
- CreditCards.com poll
How does credit card interest work?
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.
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 will usually 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. But the bottom line is that if you don’t pay off your balance, you will 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, which allow you to figure out how long it will take you to pay off a balance with the minimum payment; 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 offer for a set time, in the case of the EveryDay, for 15 months. Then, the balance is charged at the go-to rate of 12.99% – 23.99% variable, which is usually the standard rate for the card.
- 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. Some cards, such as Discover products, don’t have this type of APR, while others do. It can be considerably high and some issuers reassess your payment history regularly to decide if this rate continues.
How to choose the best low interest credit card for you
Factors to consider
- 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, start with a super low APR – in the case of the Discover card, it’s 13.49%-24.49% variable.
- 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, such as the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, have an annual fee that may actually be worth your while because of the rewards offered.
- Are you planning a big purchase? – Low interest credit cards might offer a 0% intro APR on balance transfers, purchases or both. Some, such as the BankAmericard, offer extended 0% intro APR on both. In the case of the BankAmericard, it’s 18 billing cycles for purchases and balance transfers made within the first 60 days of opening your account (it’s 14.49%-24.49% variable after that).
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:
||Discover it Cash Back
|American Express Cash Magnet® Card
||Good – Excellent
||Good – Excellent
|0% intro APR period – Purchases:
|0% intro APR – Balance transfer:
||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%
As you can see, the cards’ lowest rates and annual fees are comparable. The Discover card has a shorter 0% intro APR period for purchases and balance transfers than the American Express card. If you are not transferring a balance and plan to pay off your balance each month, the rewards for either card can be worth your while, depending on your preferred spending habits.
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 124 months to pay the minimum amount, and you would end up paying $2,122 in interest alone.
Card debt rose by $13 billion in the third quarter of 2019 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 8.3% in 2019.
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…
||Months to pay off
||Interest to pay off
||3% or $25, whichever is greater
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?
The most direct way to lower your interest rate on your credit card is to simply ask. We found in a 2018 survey that 56% of consumers who asked for a lower interest rate got it. And it’s important to stay mindful of what your interest rate is, although another of our polls found that one-third of cardholders with a balance didn’t know their interest rate.
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%.
Figuring out your credit utilization ratio
||Credit utilization ratio
|Citi® Double Cash Card
|American Express Cash Magnet® Card
|Discover it Cash Back
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.
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.
† All information about The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer. The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is no longer available through CreditCards.com.
Laura is an editor and writer at CreditCards.com. She has written extensively on all things credit cards and works to bring you the most up-to-date analysis and advice. Laura’s work has been cited in such publications as the New York Times and Associated Press. You can reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @creditcards_lm.
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