The credit cards with the longest 0% purchase periods are shown first
What is a 0% purchase credit card?
A 0% purchase card is a type of credit card that allows you to buy goods and services without paying any interest for a set period.
Once the introductory interest-free period ends, you will start to pay the standard variable interest rate that your card provider sets.
How does a 0% purchase credit card save you money?
The biggest potential saving is in the amount of interest you’ll pay.
If you choose a card with a 0% introductory rate, you can make purchases without being charged interest, so it can be a useful way to spread costs without paying extra.
You will still need to make your credit card providers minimum payment each month and should stay within your credit limit to avoid other charges.
You will also need to have a plan for how to pay off your credit card balance once your 0% period ends.
How to choose the best 0% purchase card
Before you compare credit cards, it is worth thinking about:
- What you want to use the card for: e.g. one major purchase or lots of small purchases
- How long you need credit: e.g. several months or 12 months or more
What you should consider
When you are comparing purchase credit cards, consider these factors:
- Introductory % rate
- Length of the introductory rate
- The standard APR (Annual Percentage Rate)
- Stamp Duty
- Annual fees
If you are still not sure which card is best for you, choose the one that gives you the longest period to repay what you have borrowed.
Is a 0% rate always the best choice?
Although it is tempting to choose a 0% offer, a low interest rate over 12 months may work out cheaper than a 0% rate over 3 months if you want to spread your purchase spending over a longer period of time.
This is because once your introductory offer ends, the interest rate will revert to the standard variable interest rate, which is typically between 14% and 23% for credit cards in Ireland.
What are the alternatives to 0% purchase cards?
There are also credit cards that offer very low interest rates for an introductory period. These introductory rates can sometimes last much longer than the best 0% deals.
Low-interest cards can be a cost-effective option if you need longer to pay back what you have borrowed, for example:
If you paid for your holiday with a ‘0% for 3 months’ card your €1000 holiday will attract no interest for the first 3 months, however, if you take 12 months to clear the debt it will cost you approximately €45 extra in interest (18% APR).
If you used a card with a low interest rate of 4% over 12 months, it would cost you an extra €20 in interest.
You could also consider choosing a card that offers an Instalment Plan Option which allows you to repay a fixed monthly amount at a low rate of interest on purchases over €500.
What happens when my introductory rate ends?
When your introductory period ends, you will start to pay interest on your purchases and outstanding balance.
If you’re near the end of your introductory period and haven’t paid off your balance, here’s what you can do to avoid paying the higher rate of interest;
- Pay off the remaining balance in full
- Increase the monthly repayment to the most you can afford
- Transfer the balance to another card with a 0% offer
If you are struggling to repay your balance, it is worth applying for a new card with a 0% balance transfer offer. To find out more about Balance Transfer cards, visit our Balance Transfer page.
0% Purchase credit card FAQs
Is a 0% purchase card cheaper than a loan?
It depends on whether you repay your credit card balance in full each month and how much you have borrowed.
Is a credit card cheaper than an overdraft?
It depends how you use your credit card and the overdraft arrangements you have with your bank.
What is my credit limit?
Your credit limit is the maximum amount you can spend on your credit card. In effect, the amount the card issuer is prepared to lend you on the card. It will be based on your income, outgoings and credit history. You will only find out what your credit limit is when your application has been approved.
If you want to find out more about how to increase your credit limit, read our guide on credit limits.
What is the minimum repayment?
A minimum repayment is the minimum amount you must pay towards your credit card balance each month.
Ideally, you should pay off your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges, but if that is not possible you must make a minimum repayment every month.
If you don’t, you risk paying a penalty, owing extra interest and harming your credit score.