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Best 0% Intro APR Credit Cards to Keep Holiday Debt Under Control

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By Karen Axelton
October 7, 2020

Buying holiday gifts for friends, family and (let's face it) yourself is one of the joys of the season. Not so joyful: Getting your credit card bill in January. You can make the post-holiday blues a little less painful by using a credit card with an introductory 0% annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases. Put your holiday purchases on one of these cards and as long as you pay off the balance before the promotional financing period ends, you won't pay any fees or interest.

To help you make the most of your holiday budget, we've sorted through the offers to uncover the credit cards with the best promotional financing. Some even offer an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers, for even more savings potential. Here are four credit cards that can help keep you out of holiday debt.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Apply

on Citi Credit Cards's website

Rates and Fees

Apply

on Citi Credit Cards's website

Rates and Fees

APR

14.74% - 24.74% (Variable)

Intro APR: 0% for 18 months on Purchases and Balance Transfers

Rewards

None

Annual Fee

$0

If you're looking for plenty of time to pay off your holiday purchases, the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card from our partner could be your card. The lengthy 18-month 0% intro APR on purchases could potentially save you a lot of money if you use the card wisely. Once the 0% intro APR period ends, your APR will range from 14.74% to 24.74% variable depending on your creditworthiness.

If you make a late or bounced payment before the 18 months are up, your 0% intro APR may expire and a penalty APR of up to 29.99% variable will apply—possibly indefinitely—so it's important to stay on top of your payments. To help in that area, Citi lets you choose a payment due date that's convenient for you.

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card offers no rewards or introductory bonuses, but it has security benefits that are especially useful this time of year, including $0 liability on unauthorized purchases. The Citi Entertainment feature gives you special access to tickets for thousands of events, including concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more. There's also the option to use contactless pay or add the card to a digital wallet, so you don't have to touch potentially germy keypads.

Chase Freedom Flex℠

Apply

on Chase's website

Apply

on Chase's website

APR

14.99% - 23.74% Variable

Intro APR: 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months

Rewards

5% cash back on Rotating Categories

5% cash back on Travel

3% cash back on Dining

1% cash back on All Other Purchases

Intro Bonus

Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.

Annual Fee

$0

With a 15-month 0% intro APR on purchases, the opportunity to earn bonus cash, and solid cash back rewards in a variety of categories, the new Chase Freedom Flex℠ card has a lot to offer at any time of year—but especially right now. If you're planning to do your holiday shopping at Walmart or pay for your purchases with PayPal, you're in luck: Those are the rotating rewards categories for October through December 2020, earning you 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases when you activate the offer. Spend $500 on the card in the first 3 months, and you'll get a $200 bonus to help with that holiday shopping. Through March 31, 2022, you'll also earn 5% cash back on Lyft rides. Keep in mind, once the intro APR period ends, your rate will change to 14.99% to 23.74% variable depending on your creditworthiness.

Purchases made with the card are protected against damage and theft for up to 120 days up to $500 per claim by purchase protection, and you can extend the manufacturer's warranty on eligible purchases for an additional year—nice perks for your gift recipients. Since the holidays are prime time for credit card fraud and identity theft, it's good to know the Chase Freedom Flex℠ card protects you with 24/7 monitoring, fraud alerts and $0 liability for unauthorized purchases. If your identity is compromised, Chase provides no-cost identity restoration services.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ continues to deliver long after the holidays end. The intro bonus allows you to earn 5% cash back on up to $12,000 or 12 months of grocery store purchases (excluding Target and Walmart). You'll also get 3% cash back on restaurant purchases, including takeout and delivery. Use the card to sign up and get a complimentary three-month access to DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service, for unlimited deliveries with no delivery fee on eligible orders over $12 when you activate by December 31, 2021. Once your complimentary subscription ends, you're eligible for a 50% discount on DashPass for the next nine months.

Is holiday travel in your plans? You'll earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Use the card on your trip to get auto collision damage waiver coverage, trip cancellation insurance of up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip, and travel and emergency assistance services away from home. Chase Freedom Flex℠ also gives you access to the perks of the World Elite Mastercard® benefits program, including cellphone insurance of up to $800 per claim and $1,000 per year for each phone whose monthly bill is paid with the card.

If you're not planning to shop at Walmart or with PayPal for the holidays, consider the Chase Freedom Unlimited® card. It features the same 15-month 0% intro APR on purchases (14.99% to 23.74% variable once the intro period ends) and most of the same benefits, but without the rotating quarterly categories. Instead, it bumps the 1% cash back on all other purchases that the Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers up to 1.5%.

Discover it® Cash Back

Apply

on Discover's website

Rates and Fees

Apply

on Discover's website

Rates and Fees

APR

11.99% - 22.99% Variable

Intro APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 14 months

Rewards

5% cash back on Rotating Categories

1% cash back on All Other Purchases

Intro Bonus

Unlimited Cashback Match. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Annual Fee

$0

Use the Discover it® Cash Back card for your holiday shopping and you'll have over a year to pay off your bills, thanks to the card's lengthy 14-month 0% introductory APR on purchases. (Once the intro APR ends, your standard rate will be 11.99% to 22.99% variable depending on your credit.)

With 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in rotating quarterly categories, you can earn money back simply for doing your holiday shopping. October through December 2020, the 5% categories are Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com—retailers that can handle everything from your gift list to your holiday cards and feasts. Quarterly bonus categories typically include grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations; be sure to activate your rewards each quarter to receive them. You'll also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases. In addition, there is also a dollar-for-dollar cash back match at the end of the first year for new cardmembers, with no maximum.

Aside from the matched cash back you receive at the end of your first year, you don't have to wait to get your cash back. It can be redeemed at any time, for any amount, in various ways. Use it to make holiday purchases at eligible merchants (including Amazon.com on a dollar-for-dollar basis), charitable donations, credit to your Discover account or electronic deposit into your bank account.

You'll enjoy $0 fraud liability plus a couple of cool tools to protect your account and identity. If your card is lost or stolen, use the Freeze it feature to instantly freeze your account. Turn on Discover Identity Alerts and get free daily monitoring of your Experian credit report, an alert when a new inquiry or account is listed on your report, and daily monitoring and alerts if your Social Security number is found on the dark web.

Discover it® Student Cash Back

Apply

on Discover's website

Rates and Fees

Apply

on Discover's website

Rates and Fees

APR

12.99% - 21.99% Variable

Intro APR: 0% on Purchases and 10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Rewards

5% cash back on Rotating Categories

1% cash back on All Other Purchases

Intro Bonus

Unlimited Cashback Match. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Annual Fee

$0

Students 18 and up who are new to credit will find the Discover it® Student Cash Back card can help them save on holiday gift-giving and celebrating. An introductory 0% APR on purchases for 6 months may not be the longest introductory offer out there, but it's nothing to sneeze at, especially if you're a student who is new to credit and haven't yet established a good credit score. Once the intro period ends, you'll pay a variable 12.99% to 21.99% APR depending on your credit.

Each quarter, you'll earn 5% cash back on purchases in different rotating categories, such as Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations. For the quarter ending December 31, 2020, earn rewards at Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Target.com. You'll earn bonus rewards on the first $1,500 spent with those merchants per quarter; you must activate the rewards each quarter to earn them. You'll also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases and any spending beyond the cap automatically—no need to activate anything.

At the end of your first year, new cardmembers receive a dollar-for-dollar cash back match of all the rewards you earned. You can redeem your rewards at any time in several ways: as an electronic deposit into your bank account, credit to your Discover account, charitable donation or by paying with Discover rewards at eligible merchants.

The Discover it® Student Cash Back card has no annual fee or foreign transaction fees. Students still learning how to manage credit cards will appreciate that there's no penalty APR for late payments—in fact, you even get one late payment without a late fee.

How to Use 0% Intro APR Credit Cards for Holiday Spending

Credit cards offering 0% intro APR on purchases can help you make the most of your holiday budget without racking up interest on your purchases. If the card also offers an introductory 0% APR on balance transfers, you can save some money by transferring high-interest balances from other credit cards.

The key to saving money with these cards is to pay off the balance before the introductory period expires. After that, your APR rises to the standard rate, and you'll start accruing interest on any balance. The APR on some of these cards is fairly high, so if you've let a large balance build up on the card, interest will start adding up quickly.

Qualifying for credit cards offering introductory 0% APR usually requires good to exceptional credit. You can use the Experian CreditMatch™ tool to see credit card offers matched to your credit profile. If you don't see any 0% intro APR offers, it could be a sign that your credit score needs improvement. Signing up for Experian Boost , a free service that gives you credit for your on-time utility, telecom and Netflix® payments, can help to increase your credit score quickly.