Best Low Interest Credit Cards of November 2019

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

Disclosure: We are committed to recommending the best products for our readers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to products, but this never affects our reviews or recommendations.

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: 

Editors' Picks

PenFed Promise Visa® Card

Best Overall

Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.8
PenFed Promise Visa® 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
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.74% - 17.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 4.99% for 12 Months

Why We Chose This Card

If you’re all about cost-cutting, this is a simple, well-rounded option. The low, promotional balance-transfer interest rate is just a fraction of the average credit card APR, so you can really save on interest by taking advantage of it. Once that offer expires, the standard purchase rate is reasonable, too. This card also doesn’t charge a single fee, so depending on how you want to use a low-interest card, that rare quality may save you even more.

Simmons Visa®

Best With a Low Ongoing APR

Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.8
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 (%) 9.75% 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

This card is your best option for saving on interest costs long term. This card’s APR is a super low 9.75%, 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.

Discover it® Miles

Best for Travelers

Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.3
Discover it® Miles
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 (%) 13.49% - 24.49% 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

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 with a travel card if you can help it.

Apple Card

Best for Fair Credit

Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.1
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 (%) 12.74% - 23.74% 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

If you have mediocre credit, many low-interest cards are out of reach, but you may have better luck with this one. However, having less-than-great credit will likely mean you won’t qualify for the card’s best rate. Apple fans who fawn over new brand products will enjoy the card’s sleek design and nifty financial tools. However, if you’re seeking a low APR because you plan on carrying a balance, it’s not worth focusing on this card’s rewards program. Keep in mind there’s no promotional rate offer, so it’s not a good option for financing big purchases.

Simmons Rewards Visa Signature®

Best for Simple Cash-Back Rewards

Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.8
Simmons Rewards Visa Signature®
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 (%) 11.75% variable
Annual Fee $0
Rewards Earning Rate 1.25 points for every dollar spent.
Foreign transaction fee (%) 2%

Why We Chose This Card

There aren’t many bells and whistles on this card, but it does earn cash-back rewards on everything you buy with the card. You can certainly find cards that earn more, but you’d be hard pressed to find one with an 11.75% interest rate. It even offers a one-year promotion on balance transfers, so you can pay off other credit card debt with no interest for a year.

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Best for Boosting Rewards in Different Categories

Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.7
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® 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
Excellent
Regular APR (%) 11.74% - 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

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.

HSBC Gold Mastercard® credit card

Best for Making Large Purchases

Our Rating Among Low Interest Cards
4.2
HSBC Gold Mastercard® 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 (%) 12.74% - 20.74% 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
Intro Balance Transfer Fee This card does not offer an introductory balance transfer fee.

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.

Find Your Credit Card Match When choosing a simple, no-frills credit card, we believe it's most important to focus on the APRs and fees, but we know you might have different priorities. See what suits you best.
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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 22.08%, based on The Balance’s analysis of about 200 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 to 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.

How to 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 to 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, cash back—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.