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What is a purchase credit card?

A purchase card is a type of credit card that’s designed for shopping. Some people choose to take out a purchase credit card so they can spread the cost of purchases over a set period of time, instead of having to save up to afford something first.

You can use a purchase card to make single or multiple purchases, and you can pay for items online or I store. You can use it abroad too – but check how much the card supplier charges for foreign transactions first.

What is a 0% interest purchase credit card?

A 0% interest purchase credit card allows you to buy things and repay the balance without paying interest. The interest-free period will vary by credit card, but it is possible to find some purchase cards that offer 0% interest for 30 months or more.

Cards which offer 0% interest on purchases are advertised showing the maximum 0% period available. However, you may be offered a shorter-than-advertised 0% period when you apply. For example, you might apply for a card that’s said to offer 30 months interest-free but actually only be given 20 months at 0% interest. This depends on your credit score and financial situation.

If your credit history is poor however, you may not be accepted for this kind of credit card.

How do 0% purchase credit cards work?

A purchase simply means anything you’ve paid for in a shop or online. This could be a pricy item like a sofa, a holiday, or something smaller like your weekly food shop. You buy it on credit, and then gradually pay back the full sum over the next few months or years, usually in regular monthly instalments.

Transactions that don’t count as a purchase include cash withdrawals, balances transferred from an online store account or transactions made abroad. You can still do these things with your card – but you will be charged a rate of interest stated in the terms and conditions.

Why is a 0% purchase credit card useful?

A 0% purchase card allows you to buy expensive items up front, then pay off the debt over a certain period of time without paying any interest. Basically, this type of credit card is a way to borrow money for free.

The Consumer Credit Act protects credit card purchases for items worth between £100 and £30,000. This protection can prove useful if the goods you buy aren’t as described or the company goes bust before you receive the products.

How to pay off your purchase credit card

It’s important to understand that you still need to make the minimum repayment on your credit card each month during the interest-free period. How much this is will be printed on your credit card statement, expressed as a percentage of the balance with a minimum cash amount (for example, 3% or £5). If you fail to make the minimum payment, you are likely to lose the 0% deal altogether, and your credit rating will take a hit.

One of the best ways to pay the minimum payment each month is by direct debit – so you never miss a payment.

An even better plan is to work out how much you need to pay each month to repay your debt in full by the end of the 0% period. For example, if you owe £3,000 and have a purchase credit card which is 0% for 30 months, you’ll need to pay £100 a month.

What happens when my 0% interest purchase period ends?

You can still use your purchase credit card after the 0% period ends, but any existing balance will be subject to interest, and new purchases will now have interest charged. How much this will be depends on the annual percentage rate (APR) of the card.

If you repay the balance in full every month then you won’t be charged interest – even when the 0% period is over. That’s because every single credit card comes with its own interest-free period, which can be anything up to 56 days, depending on the card.

If you haven’t managed to pay off the total card balance before the interest-free period finishes, you may be able to move the debt to a 0% balance transfer credit card.

The most popular credit card according to income

According to MoneySuperMarket data correct as of June 2019

A 0% balance transfer card doesn’t charge interest on existing credit card balances transferred to it for a set period of time. However, there is usually a fee to transfer the debt. This is known as the ‘balance transfer fee’ and it’s calculated as a percentage of the amount you’re transferring, typically about 3%.

A balance transfer credit card can offer some relief from interest payments on the balance of the card, but it is likely to charge interest if you buy anything on it. If you want to move the debt and keep making purchases, a credit card which offers 0% on both balance transfers and purchases may be more suitable for you.

What is the best 0% purchase credit card?

When you’re searching for a 0% purchase credit card, you should consider the following:

  • How long the interest-free period is
  • How much interest you’ll have to start paying on any remaining balance after the 0% period ends
  • What the fees are for late payments or going over your agreed credit limit
  • How you can manage your balance and any payments, for example at a high street branch or via an app
  • Whether the card offers any rewards, such as loyalty scheme points or cashback

Eligibility for 0% purchase credit cards

It’s important to check your eligibility before you apply for any type of credit, because a rejection could have a negative effect on your credit score. The best deals are reserved for those with the healthiest credit ratings.

When you compare 0% purchase credit cards with MoneySuperMarket, you’ll see which purchase credit cards you’re most likely to be accepted for, so you can apply for one that has a strong chance of saying yes.

How to compare purchase credit cards

You can compare 0% purchase credit cards using MoneySuperMarket’s credit card Eligibility Checker. You’ll need to fill in a few details about yourself and your finances to see a list of suitable cards.

You can order the cards by how likely you are to be approved by the provider, how many months you could get interest-free, and by credit card provider. You’ll also be able to see what the interest rate then jumps up to at the end of the deal, and if you’ll get any rewards from using your card.

You can apply for the cards via MoneySuperMarket by clicking through to the provider’s site. Applying for multiple credit cards at once can have a negative effect on your credit score, so it’s best to wait to hear back from your first choice provider.

Once it has received your application, the provider will look at your credit report to assess the credit risk you represent.

If it likes what it sees, it is more likely to give you the credit card. If you’re accepted, the provider will then tell you the credit limit, how long the 0% purchase period will be for, and the interest rate on purchases when it ends. This won’t always be the same as what was advertised, as it factors in your income and credit report.

The card will be delivered in the post. You’ll need to activate it – then it’ll be ready to use.


MoneySuperMarket is a credit broker not a lender. You must be 18 or over and a UK resident.