Best Low Interest Credit Cards

The Best Low Interest Credit Cards For 2021

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Last updated on December 23, 2020 Comments: 4

There are hundreds of credit card offers on the market right now. To come up with the best low interest credit cards, we narrowed it down to a small number of the most popular cards. And while the interest rate charged on each card was the single biggest factor in determining the order of this list, we also looked at the mix of fees and benefits each provides. In the process, we’ve come up with what we believe to be the five best cards based on that criteria. The one that topped our list was HSBC Gold Mastercard®. Not only does it offer the lowest interest rate range, but it also has low fees, and a very attractive 0% introductory APR.

One thing we did become aware of in preparing this analysis is that the cards offering the lowest interest rate ranges and fees weren’t necessarily the ones with the most generous rewards offers. That’s a logical trade-off. For some, interest rates and fees are the most important factors in the desirability of credit card. But for others, it’s rewards. You may have to decide which is most important to you.

Related: How to Use Your Credit Card to Access Airport Lounges For Free

Our analysis focuses on presenting interest rates, fees, bonuses and rewards, and other card perks. Your own personal spending habits will largely determine which card will work best for you. But this analysis should help you make that select the best card.

Our Top Pick: HSBC Gold Mastercard®

HSBC Gold Mastercard® took top honors on our list with an interest rate range starting at 13.24%, and topping out at 21.24%. That’s a full three percentage points below the going rate on the typical major credit card today. And if that’s not enough, the card comes with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

What’s more, the card offers late payment forgiveness. There is no late fee for the first missed payment within a 12 month calendar period. And perhaps best of all, it has the longest 0% APR introductory offer, at a full 18 months.

But as strong as the card is when it comes interest rates and fees, it doesn’t offer cash back rewards or miles. That may be why the interest rate and fees are so attractive. You’re giving up one to get the other. But if interest rate and fees are what are most important to you, and you’re not a big user of rewards, HSBC Gold Mastercard® is the card for you.

Our Runner-up: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card qualified as our runner up, with an interest rate of 14.24% on the low end, to a maximum of 24.24% on the top range. It comes with a 0% APR for purchases made within the first 12 months of opening the card. It also comes with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

That last freebie is important, because Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card is first and foremost a travel rewards card. It starts with 20,000 bonus miles after spending just $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of opening your account. But it also offers 10x miles for hotel stays booked through hotels.com. That offer is good through January, 2020.

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card offers 1.25 miles on every $1 spent on other purchases. And those rewards are unlimited. What’s more, you can also transfer your miles to at least 10 participating airline partners. This is an excellent card combining travel rewards with a low interest rate.

Our Selection Methodology

While we emphasized ongoing interest rates in this review, we also considered other factors, recognizing that no one selects a credit card based on a single benefit:

  • Ongoing interest rate
  • 0% introductory APR
  • Card fees (annual fee, foreign transaction fee, etc.)
  • Upfront rewards
  • Ongoing rewards
  • Purchase protection, identity theft resolution, and extended warranty protection
  • J.D. Power 2018 Credit Card Satisfaction Study – Capital One and Chase, representing three of the five cards on this list, were among the the top three on  the satisfaction study.

Top 5 Best Low Interest Credit Cards

 HSBC Gold Mastercard®Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit CardHSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®Chase Freedom Unlimited®Chase Freedom®
Interest Rate Ranges13.24% - 21.24% APR14.24% - 24.24% APR15.24% - 25.25% APR
16.99% - 25.74% APR
16.99% - 25.74% APR
Annual Fee$0$0$0$0$0
Foreign Transaction Fee$0$0$03%3%
0% Intro APR18 months on purchases & balance transfers
12 months on purchases only
15 months on balance transfers only
15 months on purchases & balance transfers
15 months on purchases & balance transfers
Balance Transfer FeesHigher of 4% or $103%Higher of 4% or $10Higher of 3% or $5Higher of 3% or $5
Upfront BonusNone20,000 miles on $1K purchases in 3 months
$150 cash back on $2,500 purchases in 3 months
$150 on $500 purchases in 3 months + $50 on $5,000 in 12 months
$150 on $500 purchases in 3 months
Ongoing RewardsNone10x miles on hotels at hotels.com; 1.5x on all other purchases
Unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases; 10% anniversary bonus
1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases
1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases

1. HSBC Gold Mastercard®

HSBC Gold Mastercard® has a lower ongoing APR than any other card on this list. It also offers no fee charges on many costs typical with credit cards. It has a weakness, it’s that it doesn’t offer an upfront bonus or ongoing rewards. But if interest rate (and fees) is your primary criteria, this is the card you should select.

Interest rate range and fees:

  • Interest rate range: 13.24% to 21.24% APR, after the 0% introductory period – and no penalty APR
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Late fee: $0 for the first missed payment within a 12 month calendar period, then up to $37
  • Balance transfer fee: The higher of 4% of the balance transferred, or $10
  • Foreign transaction fee: None

Rewards and benefits:

  • 0% APR for the first 18 months for purchases and balance transfers made within the first 60 days of account opening (highest on our list).
  • Free FICO Score on your monthly statement.
  • Mobile Pay available with Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
  • Extended Warranty doubles original warranties by up to one year.
  • Purchase Assurance covering most items against theft or damage for up to 90 days and $1,000.
  • Price protection refunds the difference if you see an item advertised for less within 60 days of purchase.
  • Identity theft resolution services.

2. Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card combines low interest rates with extensive travel benefits. You not only earn bonus miles up front, but you continue to earn them, especially when you use the card to book hotel rooms.

Interest rate range and fees:

  • Interest rate range: 14.24% to 24.24% APR, after the 0% introductory period
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Late fee: $38
  • Balance transfer fee: 3% of the balance transferred
  • Foreign transaction fee: None

Rewards and benefits:

  • 20,000 Bonus miles when you spend at least $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account.
  • Unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day.
  • 10X miles per dollar spent on thousands of hotels through January 2020. Hotel stays must be charged to the card, and booked on hotels.com.
  • Transfer your miles to one of more than 10 participating airline partners.
  • 0% APR for purchases made in the first 12 months of opening the card.
  • $0 Fraud Coverage for unauthorized use of your card.
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver.
  • Extended Warranty doubles original warranties by up to one year.

3. HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®

HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® provides a very low interest rate for customers with the best credit profiles, as well as a 0% introductory APR. This card is also very strong on cardholder benefits.

Interest rate range and fees:

  • Interest rate range: 15.24% to 25.25% APR, after the 0% introductory period
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Late fee: Up to $37
  • Balance transfer fee: The higher of 4% of the balance transferred, or $10
  • Foreign transaction fee: None

Rewards and benefits:

  • $150 cash back after spending at least $2,500 in the first three months.
  • 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases.
  • 10% Anniversary Bonus on all Cash Rewards – $400 cash back earns and extra $40 on the anniversary of your membership.
  • Rewards redeemable in cash or statement credit, gift cards, leading brand merchandise (electronics, luggage, kitchenware, sports equipment and more), or travel rewards.
  • 0% APR on for 15 months on balance transfers within 60 days of opening your account.
  • Free FICO score.
  • Mobile Pay available with Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
  • Purchase protection, identity theft resolution, and extended warranty protection.

4. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers a reasonable interest rate, that starts with a 0% introductory APR.The card is also packed with rewards and benefits.

Interest rate range and fees:

  • Interest rate range: 16.99% to 25.74% APR, after the 0% introductory period
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Late fee: $38
  • Balance transfer fee: The higher of 3% of the balance transferred, or $5
  • Foreign transaction fee: 3%

Rewards and benefits:

  • $150 Bonus after spending just $500 on purchases in the first three months, plus an additional $50 after you spend $5,000 in the first 12 months. Total bonus: $200.
  • 0% APR for the first 15 months for purchases and balance transfers..
  • 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases.
  • Cash back rewards don’t expire.
  • Cash back is received in the form of statement credit, direct deposit into most US checking and savings accounts, toward purchases on Amazon.com, gift cards and certificates for shopping, dining, and entertainment, or travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • $0 liability on unauthorized charges, purchase protection, and extended warranty protection.

5. Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom® also offers a reasonable interest rate, and a generous 0% introductory APR. And like Chase Freedom Unlimited, this card is packed with benefits.

Interest rate range and fees:

  • Interest rate range: 16.99% to 25.74% APR, after the 0% introductory period
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Late fee: Up to $38
  • Balance transfer fee: The higher of 3% of the balance transferred, or $5
  • Foreign transaction fee: 3%

Rewards and benefits:

  • $150 Bonus after spending just $500 on purchases in the first three months.
  • 0% APR for the first 15 months for purchases and balance transfers.
  • 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases.
  • Cash back rewards don’t expire.
  • Cash back is received in the form of statement credit, direct deposit into most US checking and savings accounts, toward purchases on Amazon.com, gift cards and certificates for shopping, dining, and entertainment, or travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • $0 liability on unauthorized charges, purchase protection, and extended warranty protection.

Best for Categories

We understand that while interest rate is always a factor, and certainly should be, all credit cards are multi-feature products. Since the difference in interest rate from one card to another may be relatively small, other features will figure in the decision. This can include other card fees, rewards, and special programs.

Here is our list of the best low interest credit cards in six different categories:

Best credit card for low interest: HSBC Gold Mastercard®

Best credit card for 0% introductory APR: HSBC Gold Mastercard®

Best credit card for travel rewards: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Best credit card for upfront cash back rewards: HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard®

Best credit card for ongoing cash back rewards: Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Best credit card for rewards redemption options: Chase Freedom® and Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Factors to Consider for Best Low Interest Credit Cards

There are several factors that go into the actual interest rate you will pay on a credit card, as well as various benefits that may cause you choose one card over another.

Credit qualification

For each credit card offer, we presented the interest rate range rather than one specific rate. That’s because the specific rate you’ll get will depend on your credit profile. The best rates will go to those with the highest credit scores, like 750 and above. But if your score is below 700, expect to pay the higher rate. This makes a strong case for doing all you can to improve your credit score.

0% introductory APR

This will figure significantly into the overall interest rate on a credit card, if getting out of higher interest credit cards is a major objective. If you figure it might take 18 months to pay off your balance transfers, you may be better off going with a card with a slightly higher interest rate and an 18 month 0% into APR, over one with a lower rate, but only a 12 month 0% offer.

Related: Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Interest rates

All credit cards work with variable interest rates. Not only will they change when the prime rate changes, but they can also change when there’s a significant decline in your credit score. Lenders typically reserve the right to check your credit report on a periodic basis. If your score falls by 50 points, your interest rate can go from a very reasonable 14.74%, to a not so comfortable 24.99%. Once again, maintain excellent credit even after you obtain the card of your choice.

Don’t ignore fees!

If you’re in the habit of paying your balance in full each month, the interest rate on the card won’t matter much. But fees will be a major factor. You’ll want to emphasize cards with no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and even forgiveness of late fees. All can add up in the course of a year.

Your spending patterns

If you’re a frequent traveler, a travel rewards credit card will probably be your best choice. But if you don’t travel much, you’ll be better served by a card that provides the most generous rewards for everyday purchases. Those rewards matter, because they can reduce the net cost of interest on the card. You should favor the cards that will provide the most consistent rewards for your spending preferences.

Related: Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards

Final thoughts on the Best Low Interest Credit Cards

As you can see from our analysis of the five best low interest credit cards, while interest rates are important, credit cards involve a matrix of fees and benefits. You have to determine the card that will have the most optimized mix of both to give you the maximum benefit. This review should help you to do just that.

Article comments

4 comments
Anonymous says:

If you are already a member of a credit union, be sure to check with them to see what you can get as far as low interest cards go. Usually if you have a good relationship/long relationship with your credit union and are in good standing with your credit you’ll be able to obtain a fairly low interest card. I received a 6% APR card form my local CU in Washington state, the only downfall – dont expect much of anything in the way of rewards…

Anonymous says:

Thank you. =)

Anonymous says:

“The Citi® Platinum Select® MasterCard® does not have a rewards program and also does not carry an annual fee.”

I would double check this. If my memory serves me correctly, ALL Citbank Credit cards come with their rewards program called “Thank You Points”.

Anonymous says:

Can you disclose your referral fee for these credit cards?