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How do 0% credit cards work?

Find out how 0% credit cards work with Sainsbury’s Bank. Learn about introductory rates and what 0% interest means.

What is a 0% credit card?

A 0% credit card is a credit card with an introductory or promotional interest rate of 0%. This is available for a set period when you take out the card. While the promotion or offer is in place, you can make purchases or repay balance transfers without interest being charged.

Key features of a 0% credit card are:

  • You won’t have to pay interest during the promotional period
  • You will need to make the minimum monthly repayment on time
  • Stay within your credit limit, otherwise the 0% terms could be revoked

After the offer ends, you’ll be subject to the standard interest rate on the remaining balance of your card. Moving forward, you'll need to pay interest on any new purchases unless you've qualified for additional promotional rates. Alternatively, you can avoid interest charges by paying your entire balance by the statement's due date each month.

What kinds of 0% credit cards are there?

There are three main types of 0% credit cards available. These include:

  • 0% interest on balance transfers – These credit cards offer an introductory 0% interest period on any balances transferred from another credit card.
  • 0% interest on purchases – Typically, they offer an introductory 0% period on any purchases made on the credit card within the introductory period.
  • 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers – these cards have an introductory 0% period on any purchases or balances transferred from another credit within the introductory period.

How to choose the right 0% credit card for you

There are a several things you should consider before applying for a 0% credit card. To choose one that suits your lifestyle and financial situation, think about:

  • Length of 0% interest period – different cards have their own introductory 0% interest periods. Check how long the 0% period will last.
  • Budget – consider how much you can afford to borrow. Think about whether you’ll be able to afford repayments within the 0% period and interest payments once that introductory period ends.
  • The APR (annual percentage rate) – this tells you the full cost of borrowing on the card, if you don’t pay the full balance off each month. It’s important to factor this into your budgeting. 
  • Spending and usage – what you plan to use the card for could affect the type of card you choose. Another type of credit card may be more suitable, depending on what you’re planning to spend when you use it.
  • Fees – many 0% Balance Transfer cards charge a fee – usually a proportion of the amount you transfer – which is added to your balance and, if you haven’t repaid, also incur interest after the promotional period ends.
  • Any exemptions or additional charges – look to see if there are any exemptions to the 0% period for the card you’re considering. It’s also important to check if any extra charges, like annual fees, may apply.
  • Rewards – check whether the 0% credit card comes with any rewards that may suit your lifestyle. 

0% introductory offers with Sainsbury’s Bank credit cards

At Sainsbury’s Bank we offer a 20 Month Balance Transfer Credit Card with 0% interest on balance transfers for 20 months (3% fee applies).

Helpful credit card guides

How to apply for a credit card

How to apply for a credit card

Discover everything you need to know about applying for a credit card.

What is a balance transfer?

What is a balance transfer?

Find out what a balance transfer is, and when it may be helpful.

Using your credit card abroad

Using your credit card abroad

Learn all about using your card overseas in this explainer guide.

Frequently asked questions

What are the disadvantages of 0% introductory offers with credit cards?

While the 0% interest period is a perk, it doesn’t last forever. So, you need to carefully check the terms and conditions of the credit card to know exactly what you’re signing up for.

A couple of things to look out for with 0% credit card promotions include:

  • Potential balance transfer fees – you may still have to pay to transfer a balance from one card to another, even if the card offers 0% interest on balance transfers. This fee is usually a percentage of the transferred balance.
  • Penalties for late payments – you could lose the 0% credit card offer if you make a late payment or don’t make your minimum agreed monthly payments.

Can you pay off a 0% interest credit card early?

Yes, you can pay off a 0% interest credit card early, if you so wish. This may also help you avoid having to pay interest on your outstanding balance, once the introductory 0% period ends.

How long do credit card 0% periods last?

The length of time that the 0% period lasts depends on the card that you choose. To find out how long the 0% period is for a particular card, it’s important to read the terms and conditions, before you apply so that you’re aware of when interest payments on outstanding balances may start.

Is a 0% introductory offer credit card worth it?

Whether a 0% interest credit card is right for you depends on your financial circumstances and how you’re planning on using your card. The 0% interest period could help spread the cost of a larger purchase if you have a 0% purchase rate or to help repay other credit card debt if you get a 0% balance transfer offer.