0 APR credit cards are here to stay. Now that we’re well into the New Year we’ve learned (again) the lessons of the festive season. Zero interest credit is a nice idea, but why not extend it beyond your present credit card to the next, and the next. This seven point checklist will assure the clever consumer of having that constant low APR credit for years to come.
1. Read the small print. Make sure it matches the offers on the credit card’s advertising copy. In particular, check for clauses that differentiate between purchases and cash transfers, or even cash withdrawals. Check that the card doesn’t stipulate a ratio between purchases and cash, charging an excess if the cash activity rises above the purchase activity (that is usually the way it is biased, but check to make sure).
2. Keep to the agreed credit limit as specified in the agreement. Do not exceed the balance limit as specified on your original agreement, or that’ll be the trigger for extra charges.
3. Pay at least the minimum charge in full. Even better, set up a standing order or direct debit with your bank. You can arrange to have the minimum paid directly and electronically from your bank account every month.
4. Avoid late fees by paying on time. There is a danger with people who have the benefit of a 0% APR credit card that they will tend to become complacent about it and forget to pay it. Yes, it does happen. But every time a payment is received late credit card providers can and will charge a late fee. This can add up, especially if someone is habitually late. Again, an automatic direct debit from your bank account is the best answer.
5. Factor in any extras in the agreement, as stated in the small print (which you will have read). For example, an annual charge may be applied to offset the 0 APR. Some 0% APR cards do this but others do not. Bear in mind that the whole APR concept was meant to level the playing field as far as extra charges were concerned. By paying an annual charge for your card you are not truly getting a 0 APR card.
6. Make sure you have in mind a new low interest or 0 APR credit card waiting by to which you can transfer the balance of your present credit card. Why have 0 APR credit for 6 months or 12 months when you can have it for years and years? Always check the press and financial columns for new deals and credit card offers with this in mind. Join an Internet forum that specialises in such matters.
7. Make sure that you transfer the balance of your existing credit card to your new credit card in full and on time. In particular, allow for time to process the balance transfer and for all the paperwork involved (yes, even in the age of the Internet there is still a certain amount of paper involved!) and be careful to check that the opening balance allowed on your new 0 APR credit card is at least the same or exceeds the balance that you wish to transfer from your existing credit card, or the shortfall will cost you money!