0% intro APRUpdated: May 2, 2019

When it comes to credit cards, there are a lot of misconceptions or rumors about how they function, and credit cards that offer 0% intro APRs are no exception to this rule. To help you get a better idea of what you’re signing up for when you apply for a 0% intro APR credit card, we debunk the myths and explain what actually happens when your intro APR runs out.

Common misconceptions

Before we explain what happens when your 0% intro APR runs out, we’ll first need to address two common misconceptions.

1. You’ll be charged back-interest. A lot of consumers believe that if you still owe a balance on the card after the allotted 0% interest months have passed, you’ll be required to pay back interest for all previous months. Although this is the case with some store credit cards, as detailed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, this isn’t the case with most major credit cards, like the ones we review. Instead, these cards allow you to get the stated amount of months with no interest, then when the 0% intro APR period expires, you’ll be charged interest on all months moving forward. This means if you sign up for a card with a 12-month 0% intro APR, you’ll start paying interest for month 13 and on.

2. There are always hidden fees. Another common misconception many people have about 0% intro APR credit cards is that you’re going to be charged a bunch of hidden fees, as they believe the credit card provider needs to find a way to make up for the interest it isn’t charging you. While there may be some fees, such as balance transfer fee or an annual fee, you can easily spot these fees under the card’s terms and conditions. And if you’re not sure where to look, you can always check our credit card reviews, as we make sure to point out such fees.

What actually happens when my 0% intro APR runs out?

As the section above somewhat described, nothing too dramatic occurs when your 0% intro APR period runs out. Even though you will have to pay interest for every month from that date on, you are not expected to pay back-interest on any balance owed or anything like that. Ideally, you’ve already paid the balance off by the time the 0% intro APR runs out, but if you haven’t, there are some options for you. It should be noted that before you take a look at any options, you want to evaluate your current situation. Make sure you look at how much you still owe and determine if you can reasonably have it paid off within the next month or so. If not, you can transfer the balance to a card with a 0% intro APR on balance transfers. Even though most cards will charge you a balance transfer fee, which is usually 3% to 5% of the total transferred, it may be worth it since you won’t be paying anything in interest.

Are all 0% intro APR cards the same?

Although it may not seem this way, all 0% intro APR credit cards are not created equal, as they are designed to give the cardholder different perks for varied purposes. For example, if you’re making a large purchase or plan to fund a major event like a wedding, a card with a 0% intro APR on purchases is the best option for you because you’ll get an extended period of time to pay off any purchases you make completely interest free. On the other hand, if you’re carrying a balance on a high-interest credit card, you’ll want to opt for a card that offers a 0% intro APR on balance transfers because you can transfer the balance from the high-interest card to the new card without paying interest for an extended period of time. Those who want to transfer a balance and make some charges to the card without paying interest on either transaction will want to choose a card with both a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers. With so many cards on the market, it can be hard to know which cards fit each of these criteria, but our credit card reviews can help, as it clearly details each cards’ rewards, 0% intro APR period and perks.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.