Best Low-Interest Credit Cards of September 2021

The top cards for cutting debt costs, and how to choose the best one for you

We publish unbiased reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payments from advertisers. Learn about our independent review process and partners in our advertiser disclosure.

The best low-interest cards can take some pressure off of your wallet if you need to carry a balance for a while. In preparing this list, we compared the average interest rates offered by cards. The lowest rates may only be available to applicants with the best credit. We don’t advise carrying credit card balances long term, regardless of the interest rate, but if you can stick to a repayment plan, these are our top picks: 

Best Low-Interest Credit Cards of September 2021

Best Overall : PenFed Gold Visa® Card


Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.7
PenFed Gold Visa® Card
Current Offer

$100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 7.49% - 17.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Balance Transfer Fee A 3% balance transfer fee applies to each transfer.
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 12 Months
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This card is our top pick for those seeking a truly low-interest card, and it’s tough to beat if you have excellent credit and qualify for this card’s lowest possible variable APR. New cardholders will also enjoy no interest on balance transfers for 12 months. There’s no annual fee, and if you meet the spending requirement, you’ll also get a nice little $100 statement credit as a welcome bonus. Be mindful that you first need an account with the credit union before applying for this card, but joining is easy. You don’t have to be affiliated with the U.S. military (just open a savings account with as little as $5).

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Very low interest rate for eligible cardholders

  • Decent welcome bonus compared to similar offers

  • Below-average cash advance APR and no cash advance fees, which is rare

  • No annual fee

Cons
  • No rewards program

  • Requires credit union membership (although anyone can qualify)

  • No grace period on purchases if you take advantage of promotional balance transfer offer

Highlights:
  • No annual fee
  • $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 within 90 days of opening an account
  • 0% APR on balance transfers for 12 months (plus a 3% balance transfer fee)
  • Low APR on purchases, including cash advances

Read the full PenFed Gold Visa® Card review

Best for Boosting Rewards in Different Categories : PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card


Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.6
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card
Current Offer

Earn 15,000 bonus points when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.49% - 17.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 5x back at gas stations, 3x back on groceries, and 1x back on all other purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This card has some serious long-term value. If you have a high-cost card balance to transfer, open this card to get a year to pay off that debt once and for all, interest-free. It can then become your go-to card for everyday expenses because its cash-back earning rates are hard to beat and if you do have to run a balance again, the ongoing interest rate is low. As an added bonus, there’s no annual fee.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Great rewards on gas and grocery purchases

  • Minimal transaction and penalty fees

Cons
  • Use this card for promotional balance transfers and you’ll lose the interest grace period on purchases

  • Reward redemption options are quite limited

  • Applicants must be PenFed Credit Union members

Highlights:
  • $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days.
  • 5x points on gas at the pump and 3x points on groceries.
  • 1x points on all other purchases.
  • No annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.

Read the full PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card review

Best for Simple Cash-Back Rewards : SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card


Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.3
SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card
Current Offer

3 year introductory offer on eligible balance transfers at Prime Rate (currently 3.25% variable APR). Plus earn a $100 in statement credit after you spend $500 on qualifying purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.24% - 21.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate 1% cash back on all eligible purchases.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This card has a fairly low APR range, with a minimum rate of 11.24% for those who qualify. Even better, new cardholders will have 36 months to pay off transferred debt under an even lower APR (3.25%). We don’t advise carrying a balance on rewards cards, as even low-interest rates quickly cancel out the value of rewards earned, but this card does offer some easy cash-back rewards. You’ll earn an unlimited 1% back on all qualified purchases, which is modest compared to other cash-back cards. Still, it’s a bit of added value for a card primarily meant to help you cut interest costs on balance transfers or large purchases.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Super-long balance transfer low-APR offer

  • No balance transfer fee for a limited time

  • Gives you a no-interest grace period on new purchases made after you transfer a balance, unlike some other cards

Cons
  • Weak rewards-earning rate on purchases

  • Promotional APR moves with the prime rate, unlike other 0% fixed-rate offers

  • No 0% APR deal on purchases or balance transfers

Highlights:
  • $100 statement credit after you spend $500 on qualifying purchases in the first 3 months after account opening.
  • 1% unlimited cash back on all qualifying purchases.
  • 3-year introductory offer at Prime Rate (currently 3.25% variable APR) on balance transfers made in the first 60 days after account opening.
  • Pay no balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open. After the first 60 days of account opening, the fee for future balance transfers is $10 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater.

Read the full SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card review

Best for Travelers : Discover it® Miles


Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.3
Discover it® Miles
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn unlimited 1.5 miles for every dollar spent.
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 14 Months
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

You’ll get 1.5 miles for every $1 you spend with this card, and redeeming them is as simple as requesting reimbursement after making a travel purchase. The card’s atypical sign-up bonus can be quite valuable, too. At the end of your first year, Discover will double the miles you’ve earned. However, while the ongoing purchase APR may be quite low, never carry a balance if you can help it.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • No annual fee

  • Miles can be redeemed as travel statement credits or cash back

  • Generous, unconventional bonus doubles your first year earnings

  • Competitive 0% purchase APR offer

Cons
  • Miles can’t be transferred to airline loyalty programs

  • No travel insurance benefits

  • Card acceptance may vary compared to Visa or Mastercard

Highlights:
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases.
  • Only Discover automatically matches all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Use your card to pay for airfare, hotels, rideshares, and more with no blackout dates. Then easily redeem miles as a statement credit for travel or get cash.
  • No annual fee.

Read the full Discover it® Miles review

Best for Making Large Purchases : HSBC Gold Credit Card


Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.1
HSBC Gold Credit Card
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Balance Transfer Fee Either $10 or 4%, whichever is greater, will apply on each balance transfer and credit card check.
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 18 Months
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

This card boasts one of the best 0% APR introductory deals that we know of for new cardholders right now, offering 18 months to pay off purchases interest-free. If you have a few big-ticket things to buy or a big vacation ahead, having more than a year to pay off such charges without the cost of compounding interest can really give your budget a break.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Lengthy 0% APR offers

  • Very few transaction and penalty fees

Cons
  • No rewards program

  • 0% APR deals are good, but even better ones exist

Highlights:
  • 0% Introductory APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers for the first 18 months from Account opening.
  • Balance Transfers must be posted within the first 60 days following Account opening.
  • If your payment is late, your late fee will be waived once within a 12 month calendar period.
  • No Penalty APR.

Read the full HSBC Gold Credit Card review

Best for Fair Credit : Apple Card


Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.2
Apple Card
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Fair - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 10.99% - 21.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3% cash back at Apple and select Apple pay partners, 2% on other Apple pay purchases, and 1% on everything else.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 0%
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

If you have mediocre credit, many low-interest cards are out of reach, but you may have better luck with this one. Having less-than-great credit will likely mean you won’t qualify for the card’s best rate, but it can still be a low-cost option if you're on the market for a new phone or computer. Use this card to buy Apple products and you may get up to 24 months to repay those big purchases in installments with no interest. Better yet, you'll still earn 3% back on those purchases. Apple fans who fawn over new products will also enjoy the card’s sleek design and nifty financial tools, including a website dedicated to teaching you about credit and how to boost your score.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • Good rewards on Apple and partner-retailer purchases

  • Ability to earn more when using this card with Apple Pay

  • Interactive account tools offer visual ways to learn about credit

  • Lowest offered APR is good for a rewards card

  • No annual fee

Cons
  • Mediocre rewards rate on non-Apple and non-Apple-Pay purchases

  • Non-iPhone users will miss out on highest rewards earning rate

  • Few extra benefits (e.g. bonus or free credit score)

Highlights:
  • Apply and start using in minutes. Just open the Wallet app and tap the plus icon.
  • Get 2% Daily Cash back every time you pay with your iPhone or Apple Watch.
  • See each purchase go through right away. No waiting. No wondering.
  • No fees. Period.

Read the full Apple Card review

Best for a Very Low Ongoing APR : Simmons Visa®


Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.0
Simmons Visa®
Recommended Credit
Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 8.25% variable
Annual Fee $0
Balance Transfer Fee During the promotional period: either $10.00 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater. After the promotional period: $0.
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 12 Months
Intro Balance Transfer Fee $10.00 or 3% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater.
  • Why We Chose This Card:
  • Pros & Cons:
  • Highlights:
Why We Chose This Card:

The Simmons Visa is your best option for saving on interest costs long term. Its APR is a super low 8.25%, which is less than half the average credit card interest rate. While we never recommend carrying a balance, if you have to for a short time, the Simmons Visa makes it less costly. The card also has decent deals on balance transfers that can save you money if you have debt on other credit cards.

Pros & Cons:
Pros
  • One of the best ongoing APRs offered by a low APR card

  • Pay no balance transfer fee within the first 60 days after account opening

Cons
  • You’ll likely need excellent credit to qualify

  • No rewards program or new cardholder bonus

Highlights:
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 12 Months.
  • $0 Annual Fee.
  • 8.25% Variable APR.
  • Created for those with excellent credit.

Read the full Simmons Visa® review

Compare The Best Low-Interest Credit Cards

Credit Card  Annual Fee
PenFed Gold Visa® Card
Best Overall
$0
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card
Best for Boosting Rewards in Different Categories
$0
SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card
Best for Simple Cash-Back Rewards
$0
Discover it® Miles
Best for Travelers
$0
HSBC Gold Credit Card
Best for Making Large Purchases
$0
Apple Card
Best for Fair Credit
$0
Simmons Visa®
Best With a Low Ongoing APR
$0

FAQs

What Is a Low Credit Card Interest Rate?

The interest rate on a credit card affects how much you pay when you carry a balance beyond the grace period. A low interest rate allows you to reduce the amount of interest you pay whenever you carry a balance. A low interest rate would fall below the current average of 20.21%, based on The Balance’s analysis of more than 300 credit cards’ rates.

What’s the Difference Between Low Interest and a Promotional Rate?

When you’re comparing credit cards, note the difference between a low ongoing interest rate and a promotional rate. The ongoing interest is applied to your credit card balance almost indefinitely, unless it’s a variable rate that changes based on an underlying interest rate or you lose it because you default on the credit card terms. A promotional interest rate is a temporary low interest rate applied to your credit card for a certain number of months.

Who Is a Low-Interest Card Right For?

A promotional interest rate is great for transferring a high interest rate balance from another credit card or for financing a large purchase. If you’re planning to carry a balance ongoing, a low ongoing interest rate will help you minimize the interest you pay over time.

What We Like
  • Your total interest cost will be lower than with a high interest rate credit card

  • No limit on the low interest rate period

  • The low rate may apply to balance transfers

What We Don't Like
  • You need excellent credit to qualify

  • Your rate could go up after multiple late payments

How Do You Choose a Low-Interest Credit Card?

The interest rate is arguably the most important factor to consider when you’re choosing a low-interest credit card. When the credit card offers a range of interest rates, your credit history largely determines which rate you qualify for. Look for a low-interest credit card with no annual fee to minimize the cost of holding the credit card. Rewards and other perks can be used to narrow down your options between otherwise similar credit cards.

If you’re planning to carry a balance, it’s not a good idea to try to maximize rewards. Rewards aren’t worth much (if anything) if you’re also accruing interest charges on your debt.

Rewards credit cards tend to carry higher interest rates, so you may have to look for a credit card with fewer frills to get the best interest rate. Here's another overview of our top picks for low-interest credit cards:

How Do You Make the Most Out of a Low-Interest Card?

The benefit of a low-interest card is to reduce the amount of interest you pay. Here are some tips for getting the most from the card you choose.

  • Pay more than the minimum to reduce your interest charges
  • Pay on time to avoid late fees and the penalty rate, when the credit card issuer charges one.

What Should You Watch Out For?

Depending on your credit history, you may not qualify for the lowest interest rate, but your exact credit card terms aren’t assigned until your application is approved.

Be careful not to confuse low interest with deferred interest. With the latter, you must pay off the full balance before the promotional period ends to avoid being hit with finance charges retroactively dating back to when you first opened your account.

Methodology

We collect data on hundreds of cards and score more than 55 features that affect your finances. We do this because it's our mission to give you unbiased, comprehensive credit card reviews.

Note

Our reviews are always impartial: No one can influence which cards we review, the way we present them to you, or the ratings they receive.

The scores and reviews come directly from the data we collect and our editorial expertise, and we focus on three areas:

  1. How much does it cost? With credit card debt at an all-time high, we believe you should know the cost of carrying a balance. Because of that, we give regular purchase APRs significant weight in overall scores, and cards receive low marks if they have an array of pricey fees. 
  2. What are the rewards worth? Cards accumulate rewards in different currencies—points, miles, cashback—and their values vary widely. To simplify the problem, we built a system that fairly compares rewards and gives them a dollar value. We do this by looking at the ways you can earn and use rewards, which includes evaluating Americans’ typical spending habits and analyzing common travel patterns. 
  3. Does it make your life easier? Our scoring system favors cards that accept a wide range of credit profiles and offer simple solutions for things like checking your credit score or contacting customer service. Finally, we give preference to credit cards that have several tools for dealing with fraudulent charges. 

For every review on The Balance, we hold the credit cards to these standards, and we set the bar high. While we recognize the appeal of splashy features like six-digit sign-up bonuses, our approach ensures that credit cards with the best combination of value, affordability, and accessibility receive the highest scores. See our full methodology for more details.