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Navigating Zero-Interest Credit Cards: The Ups and Downs

zero interest credit cards RISMedia edited February 20, 2024

Getting that zero-interest credit card offer in the mail can be pretty tempting. I mean, who wouldn't want to dodge those pesky interest charges on their credit card?

As with most things in life, there's a flip side to those 0-percent credit cards. Let's break down the good and the not-so-good before you jump on that offer:

The Bright Side:

  1. Balance Transfers: Moving a hefty balance from a high-interest card to a zero-interest one is a savvy move. It could save you a bundle in the long run.

  2. Introductory Period Check: Enjoying zero percent interest? Fantastic! Just keep an eye on the clock; it's usually available for a limited time, typically six to 18 months. Beyond that, back to regular interest rates.

  3. Fee Perks: Some cards might throw in perks like waiving transfer fees or the first year's annual fee for new cardholders. If they don't volunteer, don't hesitate to ask. Any fees can usually be rolled into your credit card balance.

Points to Ponder:

  1. Act Fast: If you're eyeing that balance transfer option, act swiftly. The window for balance transfers is limited after you receive the offer, usually 30 days but sometimes up to four months.

  2. Punctuality Matters: Missing a payment, even by a day, can nullify the 0-percent APR, sending your interest rate soaring.

  3. Pay It All Off: To truly make the most of that 0-percent deal, clear your balance entirely before the interest-free period ends. Any remaining amount will be hit with the full interest rate dating back to the purchase.

Words of Caution:

  1. One and Done: While tempting offers might keep rolling in, stick to using just one to pay off your credit card debt at zero interest. Avoid applying for another card to transfer the balance unless you're confident you can pay it off before the promotional term ends. Doing otherwise may cost you more and impact your credit score.

Now that you're armed with knowledge for when that credit card offer arrives, resist the urge to go on a spending spree. If in doubt, tossing the offer in the trash might just be the savvy move.


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