Best Interest-Free Credit Cards

Compare and learn about interest-free credit cards.

Updated: May 23, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

|
Rebecca Goodman

Edited By

Rebecca Goodman

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Credit cards can be used for many reasons and when used correctly they can help to increase your credit score, reduce existing debt, and you can use them to spread the cost of big-ticket items such as holidays.

Most people have at least one credit card, and between October and November 2023 credit card spending in the UK rose from £0.5 billion to £1.0 billion, according to the Bank of England.

To keep costs down, you’ll want a credit card with either 0% interest or the cheapest interest rate you can find. Interest rates are significant because they tell you how much it will cost to borrow on a credit card, so finding an affordable credit card is important.

An interest-free credit card is one of the best ways to buy big or small items without paying hefty extra fees. But with thousands of credit cards on the market, finding the one for you can be tricky.

In this article, you'll learn about interest-free credit cards and how they work including the fees to look out for, how to choose one, and six which we think are great.

Card NameScoreDetails
1. NatWest Purchase and Balance Transfer Card★★★★★Learn More
2. Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card★★★★★Learn More
3. Tesco Bank All Round Credit Card★★★★★Learn More
4. MBNA Balance Transfer Credit Card★★★★★Learn More
5. First Direct Gold Card for Purchases★★★★Learn More
6. M&S Bank Shopping Plus Credit Card★★★★Learn More

The three main interest-free credit cards

Before you start filling out any credit card applications, you need to learn the basics. When it comes to interest-free cards, there are three main types:

  • 0% interest purchase cards: you use a purchase card to buy expensive items and spread the cost over the interest-free period.
  • 0% money transfer cards: you can transfer money from one of these cards to another bank account to cover an overdraft or other debts.
  • 0% balance transfer cards: you can transfer the balance from one credit card with an expensive interest rate to another with 0% interest, allowing you to pay off the debt quicker.

There are lots of these cards on the market, and many come with extra benefits. Here we'll have a closer look at the three types of credit cards in depth.

0% interest purchase cards

With an interest-free purchase card, you can buy things with the credit card without being charged interest over a specific period. This can be a good way to spread the cost of a big item, such as a holiday or a new fridge, and interest-free periods can vary from three to 12 months.

Some providers may even give you a longer interest-free period if you've got a positive credit history. The interest-free period gives you time to pay off the balance of the card and can be a helpful way to manage paying for expensive items.

But if you don't manage to clear the card in this time, you will then start paying interest on anything outstanding, and the average interest rates with these cards is typically higher than you may pay on other credit cards.

Advantages

✔️ Control your finances with 0% interest on purchases

✔️ Spread the cost of purchases without worrying about accruing interest

✔️ Most of these cards allow you to transfer debt from a high-interest credit card

Disadvantages

❌️ You'll pay interest if you exceed your credit balance

❌️ Missed payments can break the interest-free deal

❌️ Your purchase card will revert to a higher annual percentage rate (APR) after the interest-free period ends

0% interest money transfer cards

A money transfer card lets you transfer money to other bank accounts. This type of card is ideal for reducing debt if you have an overdraft on your current account with a high-interest rate, as it allows you to pay off your debts within an interest-free period.

If you need money and want to avoid taking out a loan, an interest-free money transfer card is an alternative option.

Advantages

✔️ Pay off your debts quicker with cheap borrowing

✔️ Avoid direct debit overdraft charges by transferring your balance from one card to another

✔️ Most loans have a higher APR than a money transfer credit card, so you could use the balance to pay off any outstanding loans

Disadvantages

❌️ These cards tend to have a high-interest rate on new purchases

❌️ Withdrawing cash could lead to charges

❌️ You may be offered a lower credit limit if you have a poor credit history

0% interest balance transfer cards

A 0% balance transfer card allows you to transfer the balance from an existing credit card to the card with 0% interest. This means if you've got credit card debt with a high interest rate, you can use one of these cards to pay off the balance without paying any extra interest.

They can also be used for consolidating your debts. If you have outstanding balances on a few credit cards, you can transfer these over to the 0% card and just make one payment towards it monthly.

It's a handy way to clear the credit card debt faster, although if you don't clear it within the 0% period, you'll then start paying interest on anything left on the card. You'll also pay a fee for transferring over the balance which is usually a percentage of the amount you're moving over. The best cards with the longest 0% periods are also usually only available to people with good or excellent credit scores.

Advantages

✔️ Interest-free introductory offer which can last up to a year or more

✔️ Consolidate debt by paying off your credit cards and moving your debt all to one card.

✔️ Once you've moved all your debt to one card, the card can help decrease your credit utilisation

Disadvantages

❌️ You may incur fees for making a balance transfer

❌️ If you don't pay back the balance within the interest-free period, you could pay back with a higher APR than you started

❌️ Your application may be rejected if you have a high credit utilisation

How to choose the right interest-free credit card

Applying for a credit card is a serious commitment that needs careful consideration.

Before applying, you must consider why you need a credit card, how you plan to use it, and most importantly how you will pay it off. Then you'll want to look at the extra features of the card to pick the one that'll benefit you the most.

Take the following into consideration:

  • Financial needs: are you looking to make 0% interest purchases, or are you trying to clear other debts on another bank account? You must find a card that suits your needs.
  • Suitability: it's a good idea to check your credit record before filling out credit card applications. The UK's top three credit reference agencies are Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian, and they'll show you a breakdown of your credit report. Knowing your rating can help you determine eligibility for a credit card before applying. You can also use a free eligibility checker in advance which will show your chances of being accepted for a card and won't leave a mark on your credit history.
  • Interest-free period: some credit card providers will offer you a shorter period if you've got a poor credit report. So, you must ensure you can repay your new credit card monthly within this period to avoid paying extra interest.
  • Interest rates after the introductory period: if you plan to use one of these cards long-term, you must look at how much the interest will increase when the 0% period ends.
  • Type of bank: if you prefer to open an account in person, it's good to consider a traditional bank with a branch. If you're looking for a quicker application and want online or app-based banking, consider an online card provider.
  • Cash withdrawals: if you want to withdraw cash from a credit card, there are better options including taking out a personal loan.

When you apply for a credit card, the provider will run a hard credit search. This means a mark will be left on your credit report and it will look at your history when deciding whether to give you a credit card or not, what the limit of the card will be, and what interest rate it will charge. If you apply for lots of cards in a short period of time, this can damage your credit report.

Instead it's worth using a free eligibility checker. There are lots available and they can show you how likely it is that you will be accepted for a new card, without making a mark on your credit score as only a soft search is carried out. But always check in advance which type of credit search is being used and remember: a hard search will remain on your credit report while a soft search will not.

It's also worth checking the application requirements such as if there is a minimum amount you need to earn to save yourself from potential knock backs and unnecessary marks on your report.

How we choose our best interest-free credit cards

Before we share the six best credit cards we've picked out, these are the factors we considered:

  • Purchase period: to ensure you can use your zero interest-free credit card for as long as possible. The longer the interest-free period, the more time you'll have to make monthly repayments.
  • APR rates: although you're paying zero interest initially, making sure the APR on your cards is manageable is essential. We found ones with an APR below 30%.
  • Balance: your credit card must have an appropriate credit balance for your needs. However, credit limits can vary depending on your credit history.
  • Eligibility: you’re not guaranteed to be accepted for every credit card you apply for. However, we've provided a variety to consider.
  • Benefits: interest-free periods are a great perk, but it's always a good idea to see if the card provider can offer you other benefits too.
  • Customer service: if you're stuck or having issues with your credit card, the customer support team must be accessible and helpful.
  • Purchase protection: your purchases will be protected under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act to ensure safe shopping and protect you from potential issues. 

The six best interest-free credit cards

We've included all the features above to compile our list of what we think are the best interest-free credit cards on the market right now.

1. NatWest purchase and balance transfer card

NatWest gives you the best of both worlds with purchase and balance-transfer features within one interest-free credit card. Make purchases worldwide at any Mastercard® location online and in-store with this card.

NatWest Purchase and Balance Transfer Card

NatWest Purchase and Balance Transfer Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £250
Representative % APR (variable)
23.9% APR
  • 0% interest for 23 months on purchases.
  • 0% interest for 23 months on balance transfers.
  • Available to UK residents, aged 18+ and earning at least £10K per year.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 23.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 23.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

Advantages

✔️ Spread the cost of your purchases over almost two years

✔️ No annual fee

✔️ You’ll have almost two years of 0% interest to focus on reducing existing debt

Disadvantages

❌️ You must earn at least £10,000 annually to qualify for this credit card

❌️ If you've got a poor credit rating, you may have a higher representative APR of up to 29.9%

❌️ There are balance transfer fees: of 2.99%

2. Barclaycard platinum credit card

The Barclaycard platinum is predominantly a purchase credit card. However, at a 2.99% fee, you can also transfer balances. It also includes several free subscriptions including Apple TV for five months and you can earn cash back on your purchases.

Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card

Barclaycard Platinum Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £50
Representative % APR (variable)
24.9% APR
  • 0% interest on purchases for up to 23 months from the date you open your account.
  • 0% interest for up to 22 months on balance transfers from the date you open your account. Transfers must be made within 60 days to benefit from the 0% offer.
  • 2.99% balance transfer fee (terms apply).

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 24.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 24.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

Advantages

✔️ 23-month interest-free period for purchases

✔️ The interest-free period is up to 22 months for balance transfers

✔️ Barclaycard benefits include five months of Apple TV, cashback rewards, and access to Barclaycard entertainment

Disadvantages

❌️ You'll need a minimum income of £20,000 per year to be eligible for the card

❌️ If you have a poor credit rating, you'll unlikely be accepted

❌️ You may be offered a lower interest-free period if your credit record isn't excellent

3. Tesco Bank all round credit card

If you need help deciding which card type to use, the Tesco Bank card allows you to make purchases, balance transfers, and money transfers on one card. This card is ideal if you shop at Tesco regularly, as you earn extra loyalty points for using it in the supermarket too.

Tesco Bank All Round Credit Card

Tesco Bank All Round Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £100
Representative % APR (variable)
22.9% APR
  • 0% interest on purchases for up to 12 months.
  • 0% interest on balance transfers for up to 12 months (1.99% fee).
  • 0% interest on money transfers for up to 12 months (3.99% fee).

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 22.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 22.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

Advantages

✔️ Earn Clubcard points when you shop at Tesco

✔️ No need for three separate credit cards; everything is on one card

✔️ No annual fee

Disadvantages

❌️ A balance transfer fee of 1.99%

❌️ Money transfers have a 3.99% fee

❌️ You could be offered a shorter interest-free period depending on your credit score

4. MBNA balance transfer credit card

If you want more time to pay back existing debt, the MBNA card is ideal, as it has one of the longest interest-free periods for transferring a balance. With this card, you can also make money transfers as well as balance transfers.

MBNA Balance Transfer Credit Card

MBNA Balance Transfer Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £100
Representative % APR (variable)
22.9% APR
  • Transfer existing credit card and store card balances to just one card.
  • Manage your repayments easier in one place and with only one monthly repayment.
  • Get an introductory rate. This could save you interest on the balances you transfer and give you longer to repay.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 22.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 22.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

Advantages

✔️ You can transfer both balances and money

✔️ Long zero interest period for balance transfers

✔️ Manage your credit card online via the MBNA app and telephone banking

Disadvantages

❌️ To remain interest-free, transfers must be made within the first 60 days of account opening

❌️ It would be best to stay within the credit limit to keep the promotional offer valid

❌️ There are no additional perks

5. First Direct gold card for purchases

First Direct's card lets you shop interest-free for 12 months (from the date you open the account) to spread the cost of big items. At the end of the promotional period the rate on the outstanding balance will change to the standard variable rate that applies at the time.

First Direct Gold Card for Purchases

First Direct Gold Card for Purchases
Credit Limit
Minimum £500
Representative % APR (variable)
24.9% APR
  • 0% on purchases for 12 months from account opening.
  • Start using your card straight away by adding your card to Apple Pay or Google Pay.
  • No annual fee.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 24.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 24.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

Advantages

✔️ Spread the cost of purchases over 12 months

✔️ No annual fee

✔️ Quick and easy to apply

Disadvantages

❌️ If you've got a low credit score, you may not be accepted for this credit card

❌️ Only available to existing customers

❌️ Your application may be rejected if you have declared bankruptcy within the last six years

6. M&S Bank shopping plus credit card

The M&S Bank card is ideal if you regularly shop at M&S because you can earn points for shopping while taking advantage of the 18-month zero-interest period.

M&S Bank Shopping Plus Credit Card

M&S Bank Shopping Plus Credit Card
Credit Limit
Minimum £500
Representative % APR (variable)
23.9% APR
  • 0% interest on purchases for up to 18 months.
  • 0% on balance transfers for 15 months, available for 90 days from account opening (2.99% fee applies, minimum £5).
  • Collect M&S points every time you use your card.

Representative Example – If you spend £1,200 at a purchase interest rate of 23.9% p.a. (variable) your representative APR will be 23.9% APR (variable). Your APR and credit limit may vary depending on your circumstances.

Advantages

✔️ Zero interest on purchases for 18 months

✔️ Earn points for using your card at M&S stores online and in-store

✔️ No annual fees

Disadvantages

❌️ Transaction fees for using your card abroad

❌️ You must earn at least £6,800 a year to be eligible

❌️ Rewards are limited to M&S only

Apply for an interest-free credit card in three easy steps

Now that you know what credit cards are on offer, and you've read through our pick of the top six, it's time to apply. Obviously there are hundreds of cards to choose from, so it's important to find the one that's right for you, and one that you will be accepted for.

When you're certain of the card you'd like, the overall process of applying is quite simple:

  1. Apply for a credit card: once you've picked a credit card, visit the provider's website. Read the card summary, and all terms and conditions before filling out the application. The credit card provider will run a hard credit check and ask for personal details such as proof of identification and salary to prove you can repay what you owe.
  2. Pay at least the minimum: once you've got your credit card, keep on top of your repayments and always try to pay more than the minimum required.
  3. Clear your debt on time: avoid high-interest rates by clearing your debt before the interest-free period ends.

Useful tips for using your credit card

Credit cards only work if you keep control of your spending and repay them on time. The following tips will help you to create a good credit history and stay on top of repayments.

  • Minimum payments: try to make at least the minimum payment on your card to avoid accruing long-term debt. We recommend paying more than the minimum, but do what you can afford.
  • Avoid missed payments: you may incur interest charges if you miss payments, as promotional offers can be void if you've missed a payment. Paying back your credit card balance on time can help increase your credit rating.
  • Check fees: if you plan on making a cash withdrawal, check how much this will cost. Additionally, check if there is a late payment fee, transfer fee, or any other type of fee included.
  • Avoid withdrawing cash: fees for cash withdrawals will vary between credit card providers. Taking money from your credit card is generally not recommended as cash advance fees can be expensive. In the long run, personal loans are cheaper for borrowing cash.
  • Pay outstanding balance: if you're facing financial difficulty, at the very least, make minimum monthly repayments. If you're struggling, reach out to your credit card providers, and they can offer you support and advise you on how to avoid missed payments.

Final thoughts on interest-free credit cards

An interest-free credit card is one of the best ways to spread the cost of purchases and to reduce existing debt. But remember to check the details carefully and make a note of when the 0% period will end.

Whatever your reason for needing a credit card, it's important to shop around and to compare cards, which you can do quickly at Compare Banks, so you find the best option for you.

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