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3 Smart Ways I’ve Used 0% APR Credit Cards to Make Big Purchases

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  • My wife and I have been debt free for years, but that doesn’t mean we don’t use credit cards.
  • We like to use 0% APR credit cards strategically, make big purchases and pay them back over time.
  • We never pay interest charges and are able to keep our savings close at hand.

I am a long time credit card user. I know this makes Dave Ramsey fans gasp in horror. I know this because I was once a huge Ramsey fan. His advice is one of the ways we paid off our mortgage 16 years earlier.

However, I’ve always been a big fan of using credit cards to my advantage. When I was 18, I got my first credit card, a Chase Freedom credit card. There was a warning that my father imposed on me. Even though my father is gone, I still hear his voice telling me, “You can use a credit card. However, you must make sure to pay the balance each month, so as not to incur interest charges.

For the past 22 years, I have followed his advice, except when using credit cards with an introductory interest rate of 0%. I used these cards to keep money in the bank when buying big ticket items.

Insider Featured Introductory APR Credit Cards

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Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous/next navigation options.

0% intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months and on purchases for 6 months

Regular APR

14.99% – 25.99% variable

0% intro APR on balance transfers for 21 months (transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening) and on purchases for 12 months

Regular APR

16.74% – 27.49% variable

0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months

Regular APR

17.99% – 26.74% variable

What is a 0% APR credit card?

After the introductory period, all credit cards charge an interest rate. These rates can be excessive and keep the user in debt bondage. The average credit card has an interest rate of 18.43%.

With the state of the economy and the Fed raising interest rates, this average could soon skyrocket. If APRs increase, using your credit card could become even more expensive.

I like to find credit cards that offer a 0% initial APR on purchases. This means you can make credit card purchases without the high interest rates as long as you make the minimum payment each month and pay off your balance in full before the end of the introductory period.

I used several credit cards to do this. Finding 0% APR is a fun game I’ve played on big purchases.

3 Ways I’ve Used 0% APR Credit Cards

I have used 0% APR credit cards to my advantage in three ways. They helped me keep money in the bank while buying the items I wanted. During this time, I could use the money I didn’t have to spend on purchases to make smart investments that brought in profits. It’s a win-win if done right.

When buying expensive items

We’ve had to make a few major purchases since we moved into our home over 17 years ago, mostly appliances. I’m talking about washers, dryers, and more recently, a full suite of appliances: dishwasher, refrigerator, stove, and microwave.

Kitchen appliances cost thousands of dollars. We could have paid for this with our savings, but I wanted to keep this money safe. When we went to Home Depot, I considered opening a line of credit with the store. Home Depot has its own branded credit card and regularly offers six, 12, 18 or 24 months interest free.

Our purchase qualified for 24 months without interest. The initial APR of 0% meant we could make payments over 24 months without interest.

I applied and was approved for the credit card. I then calculated how much we had to pay monthly to get the devices paid off before interest was charged. I set up automatic payments to make sure everything was paid for within 24 months.

When money is scarce

Money was not always as free as it is now for us. My wife and I had a goal to pay for our house and pushed hard to achieve that goal. We spend every extra penny on our house payments.

Our desire to be debt free meant that cash was tight. So what did we do? We have reviewed 0% APR credit cards.

We found credit cards that allowed us to make purchases without paying interest. These credit cards allowed us to finance our lifestyle while living frugally.

We knew what we could spend, when we could spend it and what had to be paid. If a 0% APR credit card did not require the maximum amount paid, we may transfer some of those payments to another credit card.

Moving payments is a bit of a board game, but with the proper discipline it can work.

When there are great rewards

Credit cards always offer great rewards for signing up for a new card. I love getting extra points, travel perks, or even cash back.

Sometimes these rewards require you to do a balance transfer. Since we don’t carry balances, traditionally this meant opening a credit card, moving our total balance, then slowly paying off the credit card at 0% APR.

The rewards were more than worth it. We could travel, enjoy extra cash, and find rewards that fit our lifestyle.

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