It Is All In The Offer
Credit card offers can fill up your mailbox within days if you don’t check your mail on a daily basis. Pull more than half of your mail to the side and it is likely peppered with offers from leading credit card providers extolling the virtues of their product. Most offers will include points such as these:
• Free Balance Transfers and 0% APR for the first 12 months
• No Annual Fee
• Free Rewards Program
• Low APR
• Consolidate Your Debt
• Instant Approval
On and on the offers come and on surface there isn’t a lot that separates one card from the next. However, if you dig a little deeper – by reading the extensive terms and conditions that come with each offer – you will see that wide differences exist, dramatically so. Read on and we’ll take a look at what you should examine when weighing your offers.
Balance Transfers – At first glance, this sounds like a terrific offer: transfer all of your balances to the credit card and pay 0% on that balance for 3, 6, even 12 months or a very low fixed rate for the life of the balance. One offer guarantees that you can pay just 2.99% until your loan is paid off, well below the rate of a personal loan and far below the average 18.9% most consumers are paying on their cards. Still, you may have to pay a balance transfer fee and that rate can quickly triple or quadruple if you are late even one time.
Low APR – You may be enticed with a very low introductory APR, perhaps even 0%. Play it right and your purchases can be “interest free” for a period of time. Check the offer closely as your unpaid balances could suddenly surge to 10, 15, even 18 percent or more if unpaid by the time that the introductory period ends.
Free Rewards, Or Not – No rewards program is ever worth it if you run monthly balances on your account. Easily the interest rate you pay will cancel out your points and then some. Play the rewards game wisely to get valuable prizes you can live with.
Instant Approval…Sort of – You can get instant “tentative” approval for a card when you apply online but don’t expect to get to use your card until it arrives in the mail. The credit card company will still have to pull your credit reports before an official approval is granted.
So, enjoy your credit card offers but examine them closely. There is often more to them then meets the eye; read it carefully to make sure you fully understand what you are agreeing to.
About the Author: Joseph is the proud owner of Money Matters, a website that will
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