What is a 0% purchase credit card, and how does it work?

With a 0% purchase credit card, you can buy things straightaway, then pay off the amount you’ve spent for a set period of time without any interest. It’s a handy way of spreading the cost – especially when you’re buying something big.

Family sitting on the sofa

So, what is a 0% purchase card?

A 0% purchase card is a credit card that lets you make purchases for a fixed amount of time without charging you interest. In this way, it’s different to many other types of credit cards that add interest at the end of every month – though once the fixed interest-free period ends, you will pay interest unless you clear the balance each month.

The representative examples you see in our offers give you an idea of how much it could cost if you borrowed £1,200 in a year. This helps you compare different products and provides a guide on how much taking out credit could cost.

Representative example - most accepted customers get

Representative APR
22.9% APR (variable)
Purchase rate
22.9% p.a. (variable)
Based on a
£1,200
credit limit
Annual Fee
No annual fee

The approval of your application depends on your financial circumstances and borrowing history. The interest rates may differ from those shown.

How does it work?

Essentially, a 0% purchase card gives you a set amount of time in which all the purchases you make using that card are interest-free.

As you might expect, the length of the interest-free period differs from card to card – but it can be anything between a few months and a few years.

Of course, 0% on purchases shouldn’t be confused with no costs at all, as you’ll need to make at least a minimum repayment each month. But if you keep up with your repayments and pay off the balance completely before the end of the interest-free period, that’ll mean you won’t pay any interest at all. And, depending on how you use the card, that could be quite a tidy saving when you think about it.

How does 0% on purchases help?

A card with 0% on purchases can be handy, especially if you’ve got a large purchase to make, like buying a car, booking a holiday or paying for house renovations. And the same goes for any unexpected costs, like car repairs or boiler breakdowns. Using this type of card can be a good way to spread the cost, because you can take more time to pay off the balance – all without facing any interest charges for as long as the interest-free period lasts.

One thing to remember

The key thing to bear in mind about a 0% purchase card is that the interest-free period is limited, and once it ends, you’ll need to start paying interest on any remaining balance at the standard rate.

Usually, with a 0% purchase card, this can be a little higher than some other types of cards, so you’ll want to make sure you pay down the balance within the interest-free period to avoid any interest charges.

So, what are the benefits?

If you decide a 0% interest card is right for you, it’s worth checking what else comes with it. For example, some cards offer cashback and rewards as you spend. Here’s a breakdown of the benefits:

  • you can spread the cost of bigger purchases like holidays and home improvements by paying them back, for example, in monthly instalments
  • you’ll pay no interest on any purchases you make for a set period
  • your card may come with other perks like 0% interest on balance transfers, or cashback whenever you make a purchase
  • you have purchase protection which could help you claim your money back if there’s a problem with any purchase you make using your card.

Applying for a 0% credit card

If you’re thinking of applying for one of our 0% purchase cards, our eligibility checker can tell you if you’re likely to be accepted without affecting your credit score. It’s quick and easy to check if you’re eligible for a purchase card.

Of course, before applying for any type of credit card, it’s always worth checking your credit score. Banks and other lenders use it as a way to determine how reliable you are at managing your money or paying your debts. So the higher your score is, the more likely you are to be offered a 0% interest card – with a longer interest-free period.

So, if you’re considering a 0% purchase card, you’ll know exactly where you stand when you check your credit score.

What’s next?

If you’d like to spread the cost of your purchases, our 0% credit cards can help. Or if you have other priorities, we have other cards, which you can also browse here.

Browse our purchase credit cards