Purchase credit cards

A purchase credit card can be an affordable way to spread the cost of things you buy. For example, it may be useful if you’re buying something expensive and can’t afford to pay for this in one go, such as a new phone or a holiday.

What is an interest-free purchase credit card?

An interest-free purchase credit card is a credit card that doesn’t charge interest for an agreed period of time. When this period ends, you then have to pay interest on any outstanding balance you have on the card.

How do 0% purchase credit cards work?

You can spend money on a 0% purchase card without having to pay interest for a certain period of time - this could be for as little as three months or 20 months or more. You’ll need to stick to the credit limit and make the minimum monthly payments on time and in full, or you may lose the promotional rate early.

What are the pros and cons of purchase credit cards?

As with any credit card, there are things you should watch out for. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of 0% purchase credit cards.


  • You can spread the cost of an expensive purchase over several months.
  • As long as you make your minimum monthly payments and pay off the balance within the interest-free period, there will be no interest to pay.
  • You get protection on credit card purchases of between £100 and £30,000 under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This means if anything goes wrong, you have certain rights to help you get your money back.


  • When the interest-free period ends, your credit card will revert to the APR.
  • If you exceed your credit limit you’ll have to pay interest.
  • If you miss a payment, you may lose your 0% deal, there could be charges and this could harm your credit score.

Remember, we’re a credit broker, not a lender†

Calculate what purchase card to look out for

Enter the value of your purchase and the amount you think you could afford to pay back each month to check which 0% term could be right for you.

Purchase amount

Monthly repayments
Tell us how much you can comfortably repay every month.

Make sure you also check the APR once the promotional period has ended when comparing purchase cards.

It would take you 12 Months to repay the purchase.

Look out for cards with the 0% purchase duration closer to 12 Months, so that you can pay off your balance during the 0% period.

We’re a credit broker, not a lender

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What is the interest rate on a credit card?

When you take out a credit card, you’ll usually pay back interest – this is on top of paying back money spent on the card or any debt that’s been transferred to it. The amount of interest you pay is calculated as a percentage of what you owe – this percentage is called the interest rate.

For credit cards and loans, you’ll usually see an APR (Annual Percentage Rate). This is the total amount of interest and fees you pay each year. APR is commonly used to compare different credit cards.

With these cards, it’s important to clear the balance every month, in full and on time – otherwise, the interest can get quite expensive. Purchase credit cards usually offer a 0% promotional rate for things you buy instore or online – but they may charge a different rate for other kinds of transactions, such as cash withdrawals.

Remember, we’re a credit broker, not a lender†

What does it mean when it says 0% on purchases?

0% refers to the interest rate you’d be charged on any purchase you make, during the specified time period. As long as you make the minimum monthly repayments on time and in full and stick to any other terms and conditions on the card, you shouldn’t have to pay interest on the qualifying balance.

A simple example:

  • You have a 0% purchase card for a 12-month period
  • You buy some furniture on the card that costs £800
  • You pay at least the minimum fee required on the card each month (on time and in full) - £100 a month, for 8 months
  • By the end of the eighth month, you have paid off the card and paid no interest

Make sure you know when the introductory rate ends. If you can, budget carefully to clear the balance in full before the end of the promotional period, to avoid being moved on to what may be a high interest rate once it’s over.

How to choose the best purchase credit card

Here are some things to consider when choosing a purchase credit card.

  • The interest-free period. Aim to pay off your balance before the interest-free period ends so you avoid paying interest. The longer the interest-free period, the more time you have to pay off your balance.
  • The revert rate. This is the rate of interest you have to pay once your interest-free period comes to an end. Check out the standard APRs on cards to see how much interest you’ll have to pay if you don’t clear your balance before the end of the 0% interest period.
  • Fees and penalties. Find out what fees there may be to pay on the card. There may be late repayment fees, charges for exceeding your credit limit or an annual fee.

Remember, we’re a credit broker, not a lender†

Can I get a 0% purchase credit card with bad credit?

If you have a poor credit score, you may struggle to get a 0% purchase credit card. Lenders usually keep their best offers for people with higher credit scores. But this doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t get a purchase credit card with bad credit.

If you’re having trouble getting a purchase credit card because you have bad credit, you might want to try improving your credit score first before applying for a card.

Remember, we’re a credit broker, not a lender†

How to apply for a purchase credit card

Before you apply for a 0% purchase card, it can be helpful to get an idea of your chances of approval. Applying only for cards you’re eligible for can help you avoid refusal and reduce the number of applications you have to make. This is important, because each time you apply for a credit card a hard credit search is recorded on your credit report – this can be seen by lenders and may reduce your credit score. However, simply comparing credit cards before you apply leaves a soft search on your credit report – this won’t affect your credit score, as lenders aren’t able to see it.

To get the best purchase credit card offers, it can be helpful to improve your credit score. See our guide for tips on how to do this.

You can find out your free Experian Credit Score and check your chances of being approved by viewing your eligibility rating for relevant 0% purchase credit cards.

Remember, we’re a credit broker, not a lender†

Compare credit cards with Experian

Find a purchase card that suits you

Compare credit cards with Experian, and get an idea of your chances of approval for each card when you compare – we’ll match your credit information with lenders’ criteria to calculate your eligibility rating for each deal. Remember, we’re a credit broker, not a lender - we can help you find deals, but we don’t provide credit or decide whether to approve your application.

Experian uses your credit information - as well as information you provide about your requirements and financial circumstances – and compares it to lenders’ criteria to show you how likely you are to be approved for a credit card.

Compare credit cards with Experian