Spread Your Costs Without Paying Interest

Planning a major purchase? A 0% purchase credit card is the cheapest way to borrow and (as with all credit cards) provides you with free extra consumer protection.

Find out how to pick the right purchase card for you and get the most from it with our guide.

What is a 0% Purchase Credit Card?

Provided you can afford the monthly repayments and can pay the entire balance back before the interest-free period ends, it is impossible to find a cheaper way to borrow than a 0% purchase card.

These cards offer you an interest- free period of new spending that can last for over a year. Not only does this mean you can spread the cost of major purchases for free, you can actually save yourself more than interest in certain circumstances.

For example, buying an annual season ticket for the train or tube tends to save you money compared to buying shorter passes or individual journey tickets, yet the overall cost can be prohibitive. However, buy it with a 0% credit card, spread the repayments over the year and you’ll get the bulk buy saving with bite-size monthly costs.

Is a 0% Purchase Credit Card for me?

For amounts under £5,000, it’s impossible to find a cheaper way of borrowing for new spending than a 0% purchase card. They offer an entirely free way to spread the cost of purchases, so are ideal if you need to make a major purchase, or are embarking on a short spell of big spending such as setting up a home or Christmas shopping.

However, existing debts or uncleared balances can quickly wipe out the benefits of these cards so take our short quiz to find out if a 0% purchase card is right for you.

Do you intend to pay off your balance in full every month?

  • Yes: You should be looking to maximise the rewards you get from your card. Over the last few years, except in a few extreme examples, cashback cards offer the best value of rewards per pound spent.
  • No: Skip to next question.

Do you have existing credit card debts?

  • Yes: You could save yourself a lot more money by getting a combined credit card. These offer interest-free periods on both new purchases and balances transferred from other credit cards. You can find out more about them in our guide.
  • No: A 0% purchase card is the best credit card for you.

Can I Get 0% With a Poor Credit Record?

If you are starting to build up your credit history – or maybe you have struggled with bankruptcy or CCJs in the past – you may struggle to get accepted for a credit card that offers 0% on purchases, or you may find you are accepted for a card but given a shorter 0% period and a higher standard interest rate.

Put your details into our credit card comparison tool and it will search all the major credit cards to find which cards are most likely to accept your application.

Free Consumer Protection

Aside from taking advantage of the interest rate offers available on purchase cards there is further completely free protection that the credit card companies have to give you by law.

Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 makes the credit card companies (and be careful here – it is credit cards not debit cards) jointly liable with the supplier for any failures. If you bought goods and services on your credit card and they cost between £100 and £30,000 then you can claim back the costs of these goods if they turn out to be faulty or you don’t receive them – for example, if a flight gets cancelled or a retailer goes bust.

It also offers full protection on purchases up to £30,000 even if you only paid for part of the purchase (for example a deposit) on your card. So if you paid a deposit of £100 on a car using your card and paid £10,000 for the car in cash, yet it doesn’t get delivered, your provider is liable for the full £10,100. Read our guide to Section 75 for more on how it works and how you can make a claim.

How can TotallyMoney.com Improve my 0% Deal?

The spending limit on your card, the standard interest rate and the length of any introductory offer may vary depending on your credit record.

Every credit card provider has different lending criteria, so it’s hard to know where to apply. This is where our advanced credit matching technology can help. Enter a few details about yourself and it will show you the cards you’re most likely to be approved for – and those that might reject you.

Whilst acceptance still isn’t guaranteed, by applying for cards that we recommend, users are over 250% more likely to be accepted than those not using the tool.

Golden Rules for 0% Purchases

Check Before You Transfer a Balance

If you transfer an existing credit card balance to a 0% purchase card you may find yourself suddenly racking up interest charges. Check your deal to see if it offers 0% for balance transfers as well as purchases. If it doesn’t, get a separate 0% balance transfer card for your existing debts, or switch to a card that offers 0% on purchases and balance transfers.

Never Outstay your Welcome

The 0% interest deal on your card is only for a limited time. When it runs out any remaining balance will start earning interest at a distinctly noncompetitive rate (usually around 20%APR). Avoid this by either making sure you have cleared the debt before the 0% period runs out or switch the debt to a new balance transfer card. Make sure you don’t forget by setting a reminder or making a note in your diary.

If you are going to switch to another deal make sure you allow enough time for the new application to be processed, so start shopping around for a new card at least a month before your current interest free offer runs out.

Never Miss a Payment

If you miss a payment, or are late making a payment, you may find you incur a financial penalty. That could be anything from a small fine to your 0% deal ending early. Avoid this happening by setting up a direct debit to repay at least the minimum payment each month.

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