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What happens when a 0% p.a. purchase rate period ends?

If you get a credit card that offers a 0% p.a. interest rate on purchases during the introductory period, the card’s standard purchase rate will apply after that.

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A 0% p.a. purchase rate credit card gives you a limited amount of time when you can shop interest-free. If you pay off your card before the end of the introductory period, you won’t be charged any interest on those purchases. But if you still owe money on some of your shopping at the end of the 0% p.a. introductory period, you will be charged interest on your balance.

If your card offers a long introductory period, it could also take you a while to get to use the “standard” features when you use the card to make new purchases. So, to help you adjust, this guide goes through the different changes that happen at the end of the introductory period, as well as tips to help you manage your account.

Key features to be aware of at the end of a 0% p.a. purchase rate period

  • The standard purchase rate. If you’re still paying off your purchases, this interest rate will apply to your balance. The standard purchase rate will also apply to any new purchases you make on the card (unless you’re eligible for interest-free days).
  • Interest-free days. Most credit cards offer interest-free days on new purchases during each statement period. This gives a way to keep shopping without being charged interest, even after the introductory period on your card. There is a catch though: usually you need to pay off your card's full balance by the statement due date to be eligible for interest-free days. So if you're carrying a balance, interest will usually apply to new purchases from the date they are made. You can learn more about interest-free days in this Finder guide.
  • Payment allocation. When you make a payment on your credit card, it will go towards paying off the part of your balance that attracts the highest interest rate first. During the 0% p.a. purchase rate period, this might not have much impact unless you use your card for cash advances or have a balance transfer that’s being charged interest. But at the end of the 0% purchase rate period, it could affect how quickly you pay off different parts of your balance, particularly if you have a balance transfer debt.

How can I tell when the introductory 0% p.a. purchase rate period ends?

The quickest way to check when the introductory period ends is to look at your credit card statement or call your credit card provider and ask for the exact date that the 0% p.a. purchase rate period will end.

If you haven’t applied for a 0% p.a. purchase rate card yet, you can check how long the introductory period is by looking at the advertised offer. For example, a card might give you “0% p.a. on purchases for 6 months”, which means the introductory period would last for the first 6 months you have the card.

Tip: Set a calendar reminder

If you don’t want to pay any interest on your purchases, you could put a reminder in your calendar for when the 0% p.a. interest rate period ends. This could make it easier to budget for repayments so that you can clear your credit card’s balance before interest charges apply.

Check when the introductory period begins

With some credit card offers, the 0% p.a. purchase rate period begins from the date that your application is approved. This means you might have less time to actually make purchases, depending on when you actually receive and activate your card.

There are also some credit cards that start the introductory 0% p.a. purchase rate period when you activate your card. If you know which type of offer you have on your card, you can work out when the introductory period ends then plan your spending and payments around it.

What can I do if I still owe money at the end of the 0% purchase rate period?

Sometimes it’s not possible to pay everything off before the end of the introductory period. If that's the case, the next step is to decide how you want to deal with the debt. Below are the different options you can consider:

  • Pay off your balance on the existing card. This is the simplest option, because all you need to do is continue transferring money to the existing credit card account whenever you can make a payment. You can use a repayment calculator to work out how long it will take to pay off based on the interest rate and what’s affordable for you. If you’re feeling proactive, you could also schedule regular transfers from your everyday account so that money goes towards the balance every time you're paid.
  • Find out if an instalment plan is available. Some credit cards offer instalment plans that can help you pay off your balance in fixed payments, over a set period of time. Depending on the card, you may be able to set up one of these plans and enjoy a reduced interest rate while paying off the remainder of your balance. If that’s not the case, you could still schedule your payments based on how much you can afford to put towards the card every payday so that you continue to chip away at it.
  • Apply for a balance transfer credit card. If you owe a lot of money on the card and the thought of interest charges is really worrying you, another option is to move the debt to a credit card that offers 0% p.a. on balance transfers for an introductory period. This could give you up to 24 months (or more) to pay off the debt without being charged interest, although it does mean you’ll have to get another credit card.
  • Consider other finance options. If you feel like the temptation to spend is getting out of hand, you may want to look at other debt consolidation options, such as a personal loan. This would give you a way to cancel the card and pay off the debt at a pace that works for your budget.

If you need to make a lot of purchases in a short amount of time, or if you have a big-ticket item to buy, getting a card that offers 0% p.a. on purchases can save you money on interest charges. But there is also a risk that you’ll pay more when the introductory period ends and standard rates apply.

Before you get one of these cards, make sure you compare different offers, take note of when the introductory period starts and plan your repayments so that you can avoid interest charges or at least keep them to a minimum.

Compare 0% purchase rate credit cards

Data indicated here is updated regularly
$
Name Product Purchase rate Balance transfer rate Annual fee Interest-free period Amount saved
ANZ Platinum Credit Card
0% for 17 months, reverts to 20.24% p.a.
20.24% p.a.
$0 annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 55 days on purchases
Receive a 0% purchase rate offer for 17 months and a $0 first-year annual fee. Plus, complimentary overseas travel and medical insurance.
Coles No Annual Fee Mastercard - Exclusive Offer
0% for 12 months, reverts to 19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months
$0
Up to 55 days on purchases
Finder Exclusive. Ends 29 October 2020
Save on new and existing interest charges with 0% interest on both balance transfers and purchases for the first 12 months.
Citi Clear Card
0.9% for 15 months, reverts to 14.99% p.a.
0.9% p.a. for 15 months
$99
Up to 55 days on purchases
Save with 0.9% p.a. for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers. Plus, complimentary purchase insurance cover. Ends 16 November 2020.
Bankwest Breeze Classic Mastercard
0% for 15 months, reverts to 10.99% p.a.
2.99% p.a. for 9 months
$49
Up to 55 days on purchases
Save with an introductory rate of 0% p.a on purchases for 15 months and 2.99% p.a. on balance transfers for 9 months.
St.George Vertigo Platinum
0% for 15 months, reverts to 12.99% p.a.
6.99% p.a. for 12 months
$49 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 55 days on purchases
Features an introductory 0% p.a. purchase rate, $49 first year annual fee and complimentary travel insurance covers.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% for 15 months, reverts to 10.99% p.a.
2.99% p.a. for 9 months
$69
Up to 55 days on purchases
Get 0% interest on purchases for 15 months, complimentary travel insurance and no foreign transaction fees.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - 0% Interest Offer
0% for 14 months, reverts to 20.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 6 months
$64 annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 55 days on purchases
Enjoy 0% p.a. interest on purchases for 14 months, a reduced first-year annual fee and Velocity Points per $1 spent.
Bendigo Bank Low Rate Credit Card
0% for 15 months, reverts to 11.99% p.a.
13.99% p.a.
$45
Up to 55 days on purchases
Get 0% p.a. interest on purchases for 15 months and a $150 Woolworths Supermarket gift card when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days.
Virgin Money No Annual Fee Credit Card
0% for 12 months, reverts to 18.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months
$0
Up to 55 days on purchases
Save with an ongoing $0 annual fee and 0% p.a. on balance transfers and purchases for 12 months.
St.George Vertigo Classic
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 55 days on purchases
Get 0% p.a. promotional purchase and balance transfer rates and save with a first-year annual fee waiver.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Classic
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 55 days on purchases
Save with 0% p.a. for 7 months on purchases, 0% p.a. interest for 22 months on balance transfers and a $0 first-year annual fee.
NAB StraightUp Card
N/A
$0
Save with 0% interest charges and 0% foreign transaction fees. Plus, $0 monthly fees when you don't use the card or carry a balance.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum
0% for 7 months, reverts to 19.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 55 days on purchases
Enjoy 0% p.a. on purchases and balance transfers along with a $0 first year annual fee waiver.
St.George Rainbow Vertigo Platinum
0% for 15 months, reverts to 12.99% p.a.
6.99% p.a. for 12 months
$49 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 55 days on purchases
All the platinum features of the Vertigo Platinum Visa with a rainbow design in support of the LGBT community.
St.George Amplify Platinum
0% for 7 months, reverts to 19.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 55 days on purchases
Save with 0% p.a. interest rates on purchases and balance transfers. Plus a $0 first-year annual fee.
St.George Vertigo Classic Rainbow
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 55 days on purchases
All the great low cost features of the Vertigo Visa with a rainbow design in support of the LGBT community.
BankSA Vertigo
0% for 7 months, reverts to 13.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($55 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 55 days on purchases
Enjoy a 0% p.a. for up to 22 months on balance transfers and up to 7 months on purchases. Plus, $0 first-year annual fee.
BankSA Amplify Platinum
0% for 7 months, reverts to 19.74% p.a.
0% p.a. for 22 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
$0 annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Up to 55 days on purchases
Save with a 0% p.a. for up to 22 months on balance transfers and up to 7 months on purchases. Plus a $0 first-year annual fee.
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Credit Cards Comparison

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Purchase rate Balance transfer rate Annual fee
Citi Rewards Card - Exclusive Offer
21.49% p.a.
0% p.a. for 30 months
$49 annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Finder Exclusive
Save on interest with 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 30 months with no balance transfer fee. Plus, a $49 first-year annual fee and Citi Rewards.
Coles No Annual Fee Mastercard - Exclusive Offer
0% for 12 months, reverts to 19.99% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months
$0
Finder Exclusive. Ends 29 October 2020
Save on new and existing interest charges with 0% interest on both balance transfers and purchases for the first 12 months.
Qantas American Express Premium Card
20.74% p.a.
$249
Enjoy 100,000 bonus Qantas Points, 50 bonus Status Credits and 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year. Ends 4 November 2020.
Citi Rewards Card - $500 Voucher Offer
21.49% p.a.
0% p.a. for 12 months
$99 annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
Get a $500 e-voucher to spend at Myer, JB Hi-Fi or Coles when you spend $3,000 in the first 90 days. Plus, earn points with the Citi Rewards Program.
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* The credit card offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of credit cards finder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing cards.

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