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Low-Interest Credit Cards

9 min read
Brendan Harkness By Brendan Harkness Sep 20, 2018 | Updated May 07, 2020

What is a low-interest credit card? Put simply, it’s a credit card with a lower-than-average interest rate. That could be all the way down to 0%, or just lower than the average — which is about a 17% APR (annual percentage rate).

Most credit cards have an APR range, like 14%–24%. The APR you get in these cases will depend on your creditworthiness: The better your credit, the lower your interest rates will be. For cards like these, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the lower end of the APR range.

Some cards come with a specific APR rather than a range, like 19%. With these cards you’ll know exactly what your interest rate will be if you’re approved.

If you’re not quite sure what APR means, you can read all about what APRs are and how they work with credit cards. It’s also important to know that your APR actually doesn’t matter in many cases, when it comes to purchases you make.

Cards with very low interest rates, below 10% or so, are rare. In some cases, low APRs are used to entice people to apply for cards that have bad terms otherwise, like high fees and no rewards. Since you don’t actually have to accrue interest on your credit card purchases, as we explain below, these card offers are not very valuable and we suggest avoiding them.

This post is all about credit cards with low interest rates, rather than 0% interest rates (although some of the cards also have 0% rates).

If you’re specifically looking for 0% APR cards for making purchases, check out the best credit cards with a 0% intro APR offer.

Or, if you want a 0% APR promotional period on balance transfers, see the best balance transfer credit cards.

Insider tip

Take note that credit card APRs tend to change over time. We endeavor to maintain accurate reporting for every card, but occasionally you may find an APR that’s out of date. Be sure to check the card terms before applying for any credit card.

Low-Interest Credit Cards

With all that being said, there are some credit cards that can have lower-than-average interest rates, which are still higher than 0%. Low-APR credit cards may be useful for carrying a balance if you can’t qualify for a 0% card, but they’re not ideal for this purpose.

We’ve focused on the APRs for the cards selected on this page. But keep in mind that the best low-interest credit cards may have other valuable features as well, like rewards and cost-saving benefits.

Low Rate

U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR14.99%–24.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 0% introductory APR for 20 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers, then 14.99%–24.99% Variable
  • Savings at various retailers through Visa Discounts
  • Travel and shopping protections
  • Cell Phone Protection
  • Free VantageScore based on your TransUnion credit report
  • No annual fee

Key Terms & Features

  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.99%–24.99% Variable
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 14.99%–24.99% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.99% Variable

The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card also has a pretty low potential interest rate. But in this case there’s a range, which means you could wind up with the higher end depending on your creditworthiness.

 

USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum®

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR8.40%–25.40% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Enjoy USAA’s lowest rate card
  • No annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no penalty APR
  • USAA membership is available to active and former military and their eligible family members

Key Terms & Features

  • Regular Purchase APR: 8.40%–25.40% Variable
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 8.40%–25.40% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 8.40%–25.40% Variable

The USAA Rate Advantage Visa Platinum® (Review) can provide an exceptionally low rate, as the name implies. But it offers an APR range, so you could also get a rate over 20% depending on your creditworthiness.

USAA credit cards are only available to eligible members of the military and their families. Its cards tend to have lower potential interest rates than average, but they all come with APR ranges. The USAA Rewards™ Visa Signature® (Review) and USAA Rewards™ American Express® Card (Review), for example, each have a regular purchase APR of 9.90%–25.90% Variable.

Rewards

Discover it® Cash Back

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APRSee Terms

The information related to Discover it® Cash Back has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Key Terms & Features

  • Intro Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: See Terms for See Terms
  • Regular Purchase APR: See Terms
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: See Terms
  • Cash Advance APR: See Terms

The Discover it® Cash Back (Review) has an APR range that dips a bit lower than your average rewards credit card. This card offers 5% cash back in rotating categories that change every 3 months, and include different places like grocery stores, gas stations, and Amazon.com. There’s no limit to the total cash back rewards you can earn, but you’re limited to a quarterly maximum of $1,500 in spending at the 5% rate, and activation is required.

To get the intro offer, balance transfers must be completed within 3 months of account opening. Discover cards have no penalty APRs.

There are a couple other Discover cards that share this same APR range, in fact:

And you’ll get that same rate with a Capital One card, the Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card (Review).

American Express also has several reward card offers with APRs that could be on the low end, depending on your creditworthiness.

American Express Cash Magnet® Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.99–23.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee and no interest.
  • Amex Offers rewards you at places you like to shop, dine, travel, and more. You can add as many Offers as you’d like to your Card, then just use that Card to pay, and enjoy rewards directly on your statement.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR13.99–23.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
  • 2% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores.
  • 1% back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee and no interest.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
(Rates & Fees)
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR13.99–23.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee and no interest.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • $95 Annual Fee
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

American Express is a Credit Card Insider advertiser.

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR12.99%–23.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases, then a variable rate, currently 12.99%–23.99% Variable.
  • 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 1x points on other purchases.
  • Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

The information related to Amex EveryDay® Credit Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$95
Regular APR13.99%–23.99% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 15,000 Membership Reward® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 50% more points: Make 30 or more purchases with your Card in a billing period and get 50% extra points on those purchases less returns and credits. Terms and limitations apply.
  • 3x points at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 2x points at US gas stations; 1x points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • You can use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points to pay for all or part of your flight, hotel booked and paid in advance, vacation or cruise booking through amextravel.com.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months, then a rate of 13.99%–23.99% Variable, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Terms and limitations apply.
  • Visit our credit card partner’s site in order to learn more and securely apply for The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express

The information related to Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Student

Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR12.15%–22.15% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 3% cash back at gas stations, grocery stores, and drugstores for the first 6 months, then 1% back
  • 1% cash back for all other purchases
  • 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers for 6 months, and then your rates will be 12.15%–22.15% Variable
  • Free FICO Credit Score
  • Cell phone protection
  • Travel protections, including Roadside Dispatch and Travel Accident Insurance
  • No annual fee

Key Terms & Features

  • Intro Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 6 months
  • Regular Purchase APR: 12.15%–22.15% Variable
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 12.15%–22.15% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.99% Variable

Most student credit cards have relatively high interest rates, since students typically have limited or no credit. But the Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card, the lone student card issued by Wells Fargo, is an exception, with an APR range that includes a very low rate.

Bank of America also offers a couple of student cards with comparable APRs:

Bank of America Cash Rewards™ Credit Card for Students

Our rating
Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR16.24%–26.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • $200 cash rewards bonus for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days
  • New Offer: Maximize your cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement /furnishings
  • Now earn 3% cash back in your choice category and 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), and unlimited 1% on all other purchases
  • You can update your choice category for future purchases once each calendar month using the Mobile banking app or Online banking, or do nothing and it stays the same.
  • No changing categories and no expiration on rewards
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days, then, 16.24%–26.24% Variable APR. 3% fee (min $10) applies to balance transfers.
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25% – 75%. Click “Apply Now” to learn more about Preferred Rewards.
  • Now with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • No annual fee

Key Terms & Features

  • Intro Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 12 months
  • Regular Purchase APR: 16.24%–26.24% Variable
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 16.24%–26.24% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 19.24%–27.24% Variable

Bank of America Travel Rewards® Credit Card for Students

Our rating
Min. credit levelLimited Credit History
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR17.24%–25.24% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don’t expire
  • 25,000 online bonus points if you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days – that can be a $250 statement credit towards travel purchases
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want – no blackout dates and restrictions
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, or baggage fees
  • Now with chip technology for enhanced security and protection at chip-enabled terminals
  • 0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases, then 17.24%–25.24% Variable APR
  • Get an additional 10% customer points bonus on every purchase when you have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account
  • Access your FICO® Score, updated monthly, for free from TransUnion
  • If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25%-75%. Click “Apply Now” to learn more about Preferred Rewards

Key Terms & Features

  • Purchase APR: 0% for 12 months, then 17.24%–25.24% Variable
  • Balance Transfer APR: 17.24%–25.24% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 20.24%–27.24% Variable

Business

Bank of America® Platinum Plus® Mastercard® Business Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$0.00
Regular APR11.74% - 22.74%
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Get a $300 statement credit when you make at least $3,000 in net purchases within 90 days of your account opening.
  • Save on interest with a competitive purchase APR.
  • No annual fee.
  • 0% Introductory APR on purchases for your first 7 billing cycles.
  • Employee cards at no additional cost to you and with credit limits you set.

Key Terms & Features

  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 7 billing cycles
  • Regular Purchase APR: 11.74% - 22.74%
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 11.74% - 22.74%
  • Cash Advance APR: 25.74% Variable APR for Cash Advances and Convenience Checks

Business credit cards tend to have APRs that are pretty comparable to regular consumer cards. But the Platinum Plus for Business Credit Card by Bank of America has an APR that could be quite low, well below the average. But it’s possible to get the higher end of that range as well. This card offers no spending rewards, but it does feature a statement credit bonus for spending a certain amount.

Bank of America issues two other business cards, which each have an intro purchase APR of 0% for 9 billing cycles. But they may have slightly higher regular APRs than the Platinum card:

There are a few other issuers that provide business cards with relatively low APRs, as well:

Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelExcellent
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR14.74% - 20.74% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year
  • Earn 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other card purchases with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on purchases
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No Annual Fee

Key Terms & Features

  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% for 12 months
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.74% - 20.74% Variable
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 14.74% - 20.74% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: N/A

 

Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR14.49% - 22.49% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

The information related to Capital One® Spark® Cash Select for Business has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Key Terms & Features

  • Intro Purchase APR: 0% intro on purchases for 9 months
  • Regular Purchase APR: 14.49% - 22.49% Variable
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 14.49% - 22.49% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 24.49% Variable

 

Discover it® Business Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelGood
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APRSee Terms

The information related to Discover it® Business Card has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Key Terms & Features

  • Intro Purchase APR: See Terms for See Terms
  • Regular Purchase APR: See Terms
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: See Terms
  • Cash Advance APR: See Terms

Credit Union Credit Cards with Low Interest Rates

Credit unions are known for issuing cards with lower-than-average credit card interest rates and fees, although they’re usually lacking in rewards and benefits. If you can live with this trade-off, you may prefer to use a credit union card rather than a typical rewards card or travel card from one of the major card issuers.

There’s actually a federal law limiting most credit union interest rates to 18% APR, and this includes credit cards. So you can trust that your rates will be no higher than that for credit union cards.

Credit unions typically have some membership requirements, like living in a certain area or being a member in certain organizations. To join the Alliant Credit Union, for example, you need to live or work in specific parts of Chicago, donate to Foster Care to Success, or meet other criteria. You can use this credit union locator tool to find one you can join, although not all credit unions offer credit cards.

Here are a few credit union credit cards with exceptionally low rates.

Prime Platinum Visa

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APRAs low as 8.5% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • APRs as low as Prime + 3%
  • No balance transfer fees
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • Zero-liability fraud protection
  • Emergency card replacement
  • No annual fee

Key Terms & Features

  • Regular Purchase APR: As low as 8.5% Variable
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: As low as 8.5% Variable

This card’s full terms aren’t disclosed to non-members, but your interest rates could be very low with this card, depending on your creditworthiness. You aren’t guaranteed this low rate. There are no balance transfer fees with this card.

Lake Michigan Credit Union offers another low-rate card with rewards, the Max Rewards Visa. It has an APR that could be as low as 11.75% Variable, and offers 3% cash back on gas, with 2% back at grocery stores and restaurants.

DCU Visa® Platinum

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR10.00%–18.00% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • APRs from 10.00%–18.00% Variable for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee

Key Terms & Features

  • Regular Purchase APR: 10.00%–18.00% Variable
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 10.00%–18.00% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 10.00%–18.00% Variable

The Digital Federal Credit Union offers a few different cards, and the Visa Platinum has the lowest rate. It also issues the DCU Visa® Platinum Rewards, which has an APR as low as 13% Variable and offers one reward point per dollar for new purchases. DCU cards have no balance transfer fees and no foreign transaction fees.

NFCU Platinum Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR7.49%–18.00% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 0% introductory balance transfer APR for 12 months, for transfers requested within 30 days, then your rate will be 7.49%–18.00% Variable
  • Access to your FICO Score based on Equifax data
  • No annual fee
  • No balance transfer fee
  • No foreign transaction fee

Key Terms & Features

  • Intro Balance Transfer APR: 0% for 12 months, for transfers requested within 30 days
  • Regular Purchase APR: 7.49%–18.00% Variable
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 7.49%–18.00% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 2% above your Variable APR

The Navy Federal Credit Union offers several other credit cards too, although none of them have rates as low as the NFCU Platinum. All NFCU cards have no balance transfer fees or foreign transaction fees, and some of them have introductory APRs as well. They include:

NFCU GO REWARDS® Credit Card

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$0
Regular APR10.49%–18.00% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • Earn 3X points per dollar spent at restaurants
  • Earn 2X points per dollar spent on gas
  • Earn 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Option to choose Visa or Mastercard and potentially receive Visa Signature or World Mastercard benefits
  • Cell phone protection
  • Access one of your FICO scores
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No cash advance fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee

Key Terms & Features

  • Regular Purchase APR: 10.49%–18.00% Variable
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 10.49%–18.00% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 2% above your Variable APR

 

Key Terms & Features

  • Regular Purchase APR: 11.15%–18.00% Variable
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 11.15%–18.00% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 2% above your Variable APR

 

NFCU Visa Signature® Flagship Rewards

Our rating
Min. credit levelFair
Details
Annual Fee$49, $0 first year
Regular APR11.49%–18.00% Variable
Apply Now

securely on the issuer's website

  • 3X points per dollar spent on travel
  • 2X points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Cell phone protection
  • Access to one of your FICO scores
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $49 annual fee, waived the first year

Key Terms & Features

  • Regular Purchase APR: 11.49%–18.00% Variable
  • Regular Balance Transfer APR: 12.24%–18.00% Variable
  • Cash Advance APR: 2% above your Variable APR

Special Low-Interest Rates for Active Duty Military

Active-duty members of the military are eligible for special low interest rates due to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

The SCRA covers more than just interest rates, but when it comes to credit cards the main benefits are:

  • A cap of 6% APR for any credit card debts owed before entering active-duty service (debts incurred after beginning active duty are subject to the regular APR)
  • Credit card issuers are barred from reducing credit limits or dropping customers as a result of entering active-duty service

Take note that these benefits only apply to accounts and balances opened before entering active duty. If you’re already on active duty and you get a new card or build up new debt on existing accounts, the regular APR will apply.

You can check your SCRA eligibility here.

SCRA benefits can basically turn any credit card into a low-interest card. And some card issuers go even further for cardholders who qualify for the SCRA: Barclays and Citi both provide 0% APRs, while Chase, Capital One, and USAA all provide a 4% APR. Many card issuers will even waive the fees associated with their cards, including annual fees.

That means active-duty servicemembers could use the expensive The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) ($550 annual fee (Rates & Fees)) or Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review) ($550 annual fee) completely for free, taking advantage of all the rewards and perks those premium cards offer.

Learn more about the best military credit cards for active-duty servicemembers eligible for SCRA benefits.

If you’re on active duty or will be, take some time to review all the benefits that card issuers provide under the SCRA. Remember that these benefits don’t apply to accounts opened after beginning active duty, so you’ll need to plan ahead a bit.

Sub-Prime Credit Cards with Low Interest Rates

There are a few sub-prime credit card offers with low interest rates, although we generally recommend staying away from these.

Sub-prime cards are marketed to people with bad credit scores or limited credit history. Their most attractive feature is the fact that they’re easy to get. If you don’t have excellent credit you may find cards like these appealing, but they’re also known for having poor customer service and ancient payment processing systems.

Most sub-prime cards are expensive, with high annual fees, extra fees for opening accounts or increasing credit limits, and, in most cases, very high interest rates. Some are so egregious they even appear among our picks for the worst credit cards available. But there are also a few with lower-than-average APRs.

One example is the Green Dot primor® Secured Visa® Platinum Card (Review). This is a secured credit card, which means it requires a security deposit to fund the credit limit.

The Green Dot card has a purchase APR of 19.99% Fixed, which is quite low. There’s also an annual fee of $39.

We don’t recommend the Green Dot card because using a secured card to carry a balance doesn’t make much sense. You’ll need to provide a security deposit for the card — so why not just put that money towards paying off your balance?

If you have a $500 balance to deal with, for example, you’d need to put down a deposit of at least $500 to carry it from month to month, accruing interest as you go. So why not just use the $500 to pay off the debt? You won’t accumulate that extra interest, and it will get the debt off your credit reports more quickly.

A more typical example of a sub-prime card is the First PREMIER® Bank Credit Card (Review). It has a one-time $95 “program fee,” an annual fee as high as $125, monthly fees that can be more than $10 per month, and a whopping 36.00% Fixed APR!

Who would want that?

Do Interest Rates Really Matter?

If you carry a balance on your credit card from month to month you’ll be charged interest at your given APR. This is an easy way to get into credit card debt, so we recommend always paying your statement balance in full every month.

By paying your full statement balance each month you’ll be able to completely avoid interest charges on purchases. Credit cards usually have a “grace period” during which you won’t be charged interest on purchases, as long as you continue to pay the statement balance on every bill. Grace periods are not legally required, but almost every credit card has one; all of the major credit card issuers provide grace periods.

So, pay your statement balance in full each month to prevent interest from accruing on your purchases. Or, if you have a card with a 0% introductory purchase APR, you can revolve that balance from month to month without interest charges.

Balance Transfers and Cash Advances

Balance transfers and cash advances are a bit different, however. This is because credit cards actually have different APRs for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances (but the APR for purchases and balance transfers is usually the same).

Balance transfers and cash advances will start accruing interest at their given APRs immediately — as soon as you complete them.

Balance transfers can potentially be a great way to pay off a balance. If you have a $3,000 balance on a card with a 24% APR, for example, you may be able to transfer it to a card with a lower interest rate. The best balance transfer cards have 0% APR introductory periods, letting you pay off the balance over time without accruing any interest. However, if the card provides a balance transfer offer, there’s usually a fee for the transfer, like 3%, and minimum monthly payments are still required to avoid a penalty rate.

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Best 0% APR Credit Cards

Cash advances, on the other hand, should only be used in true emergencies when you absolutely have to get some cash quickly. Cash advance APRs are typically very high, even when it comes to credit cards: often around 25%. And interest will start accruing on the same day you take out the advance. We recommend avoiding them, but if you have to take out a cash advance try to pay it back as quickly as possible.

To sum up, you usually don’t have to worry about accruing interest on your purchases as long as you pay your statement balance in full each month. But if you do plan to maintain a credit card balance, you should aim to get the lowest interest rate possible — preferably 0%.

Insider tip

Charge cards are a special type of credit card, which have no interest rates. Instead you’re required to pay the full statement balance each month or you’ll be charged a late fee. In some cases charge cards also provide the option to carry a balance from month to month at a given APR.

Wrapping Up

Most credit cards come with a range of interest rates, and the APR you get will depend on your creditworthiness. In these cases there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a low rate.

Other cards have a specific APR that you’ll get if approved, although these are less common.

Interest rates don’t have to matter at all for purchases, as explained above. As long as you pay your statement balance in full each month, interest won’t accrue on your purchases and your APR won’t have any effect.

If you decide that you need a card with a guaranteed low APR, for whatever reason, we recommend looking into the credit union cards above. But whatever you do, be sure to avoid sub-prime credit cards.

You didn’t find the right card for you? That’s OK! Check out our picks for the best credit cards in a variety of different categories.

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For rates and fees of the American Express Cash Magnet® Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.

At a glance

If you absolutely have to carry a credit card balance and can’t get a 0% APR offer, a card with a low interest rate is your next best bet. Several options exist, though some feature APR ranges, so you may receive a higher APR depending on your creditworthiness.

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