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What Happens If You Have 0% APR Credit Cards?

February 18th, 2022 | 8 min. read

What Happens If You Have 0% APR Credit Cards?

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If you're searching for a credit card offering a 0% APR*, there are some things you need to know before you sign up and get one. I know it's tempting to see credit cards offering zero interest for up to 6- to 21 months from account opening, but that doesn't mean you can start spending like a Kardashian instead of someone with a modest bank account...

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When having a 0% APR* credit card, you can't miss a payment and must at least make the minimum payment on time; otherwise, your temporary 0% interest offer disappears, and the original interest goes into effect. Yep, I said temporary because "0% APR" is an introductory offer for borrowers that lasts for a specific timeframe - it's not forever. 

These are just some things that you must know before signing on to be a borrower for these kinds of credit cards. I'll gladly share my knowledge and tips from financial experts here at Charlotte Metro because I've personally been in your shoes where I've been tempted by the 0% APR offer and didn't have a plan in place to handle a credit card properly. 

 

here's a look at what we'll cover

Card-Controls-Icon_Greenwhat does 0% APR even mean?

As you may know, the annual percentage rate (APR)  is what lenders charge, reflecting an interest rate for the whole year instead of charging monthly fees. 

0% APR is the same as no interest. For credit cards with 0% APR, you don't have to worry about paying interest on particular transactions (and sometimes Balance Transfers) during a specific time frame. Afterward, your normal rate will start as soon as the introductory period ends.

QUICK TIP: Balance transfers are a way to pay off debt by transferring debt from an existing credit card onto another. It's possible to do this without accruing additional interest. Charlotte Metro offers balance transfers for free! (no annual fee… or cash advance fee). It's worth checking out! 

Anyway… my point is you can enjoy swiping the credit card on new purchases and consolidate credit card debt with balance transfers without worrying about incurring interest.

 

BUT there are perks and quirks to a 0% APR credit card...

Thumbs-Up-Icon_Greenwhat are the pros to a 0% APR credit card?  

There are certainly benefits to opening a credit card with a 0% APR* for X amount of months deal.

  • No Interest for a Specific Period: This may seem like a negative point because it's not forever, but in a positive light, the specific time to have 0% APR allows you to buy big purchase items and not worry about interest for a certain amount of time. If you have a plan in place to pay it off, you won't have to worry about paying additional credit card fees or other charges.
  • Debt Consolidation: You can consolidate credit card debt by transferring balances without worrying about interest for a little while. 
  • Rewards and Bonuses: Many lenders offer rewards and bonuses when you first sign up for a 0% APR credit card like - discounts, cash rewards, grocery shopping points, or frequent flyer miles.  

 

X-Icon_Greenwhat are the cons of a 0% APR credit card?

  • No Interest for a Specific Period: Now, let's look at this in a different light... The downside of having 0% APR* for X months is just that. You have so many months to rack up a credit card bill without also getting hit with interest without having to pay it off. If you use the mentality of the credit card being "free money," when the first credit card bill hits your inbox, you might be in for a rude awakening.
QUICK TIP: Pay off your credit card balance within the introductory period because afterward, debt will pile up fast, and that can negatively affect your credit score if you can't make payments on time. Remember, creditors, determine your interest by checking your credit history. If there are blemishes, they may hit you with high-interest rates. 
  • Lose the Offer for Not Making On-Time Payments: Lenders grant you offers such as 0% interest because they trust you'll make on-time payments and make the required minimum payment. The second you fail to do that - all bets are off. You could be hit with a penalty APR which most likely is a crazy high-interest rate. I know you don't want that!  
  • You must Qualify for a 0% APR Credit Card: Like with many credit cards, you must qualify. This includes having a good or excellent credit score when applying. Well... the same applies with a 0% APR credit card. Many lenders require you to have good to excellent credit to qualify for a 0% APR.   

My best piece of advice is not to bite off more than you can chew. Before you start swiping, ensure you would have the money to pay it off right away if you need to. If you notice the card is burning a hole in your pocket and you're swiping too much too frequently, put it away in a safe place (or even freeze the card if you can) and work on paying the balance down before you have to start paying interest on your purchases.

Keeping an eye on your balance and still treating it like a normal credit card is your safest bet. Then you won't get in the habit of thinking of your card as free money. If you use the Smart Budgeting Guide to help you prioritize your financial goals, just remember to add your credit card payment as a regular monthly expense.

 

Open-Products-Icon_Greenwhat should i keep in mind with a 0% APR credit card? 

  • Have a Plan to Fully Pay It Off: As I mentioned before, once the introductory period ends, your normal APR will start. If you still have a balance after the intro period and the normal APR starts where interest accrues on unpaid balances, that can be a recipe for disaster.  Why? Because you'll have a higher interest rate resulting in a credit card balance that may be hard to pay. Be sure to make on-time payments and have a plan in place for your balance to be paid off before the intro period ends.
  • Introductory Period: Check for how long the 0% APR period lasts. You can view this in the Schumer Box that's included in the credit card agreement. The 0% APR period could also be included in your credit card statement - check that too! Make a plan to pay off the balance before or when the introductory period ends. 
  • Fees: Pay attention to the fees. How much will you need to keep the card in good standing? Look for credit cards that offer no annual fee.   
Psst…If you still have a balance after the 0% APR period and interest is accruing - all isn't lost.  Start by making a plan to quickly pay it off (We have a Smart Budgeting Guide AND a Debt Paydown Plan to help. Also, contact your lender to negotiate a better interest rate. If you have a good credit history, they may be able to help.

 

interested in some 0% apr deals?

Between the advantages and drawbacks of having a 0% APR credit card, having a payoff plan in place is important! A plan will eliminate surprises like when your intro period ends and when the regular APR will occur. Just remember you may not have to pay for interest charges but you’ll have to pay off your balance for the expenses you did make on the card. Take advantage of the Smart Budgeting guide - it’ll help. 

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If you’re interested in some 0% APR credit cards, you can start with ours. Charlotte Metro's Visa credit cards offer 0% APR* for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers. Our Platinum Rewards card will also give you 1 point for every dollar spent, which you can use to redeem for travel, gifts, or cold, hard cash.

Check it Out

ok, so here's the fine print

 

Yanna

Yanna

As the Content Specialist and author of the Learning & Guidance Center, Yanna enjoys motivating others by uncovering all that's possible in the world of finance. From financial tips and tricks to ultimate guides and comparison charts, she is obsessed with finding ways to help readers excel in their journey towards financial freedom.

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