In two words, “No Interest.” A 0% APR Credit card implies that you don’t have to pay interest on transactions you make during a specific period. During the early stage of the no-interest period, interest won’t be incurred on new purchases, balance transfers, or both.
A 0% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) card helps to save money by removing interest charges for transactions made for a particular duration of time. These cards can help you merge credit card debt by transferring balances to a balance transfer credit card.
How 0% APR Credit Cards Works
A 0% APR credit card does not charge interest for over 6 to 21 months. You won’t have to pay interest on purchases or transfers during this period, depending on the card type. However, there are some factors you should understand about the 0% APR card before deciding on acquiring one; they include:
- Transaction Eligibility
The 0% APR period doesn’t apply to all transactions. While the 0% APR Credit card helps one enjoy zero interest in new purchases, certain transactions are not applicable. For instance, cash advances are not eligible. However, the 0% interest applies for new purchases and balance transfers.
- Transaction Type Duration
The duration of the 0% interest period varies per transaction type. Introductory duration might be greater for one transaction than the other. For example, the Discover it® Balance transfer offers 18 months 0% APR duration and six months No interest duration on Purchases.
- Transaction Medium
Some cards offer a 0% APR on only one medium, i.e. transfer or purchases. For instance, the Citi® Double Cash Card offers zero interest for balance transfers for the first Eighteen Months. While for Purchases, they have no financing, and new purchases might immediately invite a 13.99% to 23% variable APR.
- Credit Card Limit
There are certain limits to how much of your remaining balance is eligible for the 0% APR. After getting approval for a new credit card, a credit limit will be assigned to you based on your application. This is the highest amount of cash that can be charged to your new card. This means that if you have a no-interest APR on new purchases, you’re limited to spending only your available credit limit.
- Balance Transfer Charges
You might be charged for balance transfers. Some balance transfer credit cards might charge a 3% transfer fee for balance. However, this charge can be manoeuvred if the amount one saves on interest during the unique introductory duration is more than the 3% fee.
APR Card Eligibility
You might not be eligible for the 0% APR Card. While searching for a 0% APR card, try checking your credit score first because a typical 0% APR card needs a good or excellent credit score (usually from 670 to 740 beyond).
Any credit score below 670 might render one ineligible for a 0% APR card. In some cases, people with low credit scores might still get the 0% APRs, but the special introductory period will be shorter than for those with a greater credit limit.
When to Get a 0% APR Credit Card
If you’re someone who can make the minimum payments required to keep the introductory offer, then the 0% intro APR card can come in handy in the following scenarios for you:
- Paying Down High-Interest Credit Card Debt
Paying down high-interest balances can be quite a hassle. However, making a balance transfer with a 0% intro APR card can help salvage the situation and ease the burden off you. Using your APR card will help you focus on offsetting your debt as quickly as possible.
Note that some cards will require you to request a balance transfer with a specific duration of account opening. Also, a balance transfer is liable to a fee, usually between 3% – 5% of the balance.
- Making a Large Purchase order
Regardless of whatever you are saving towards, a credit card with a 0% intro purchase APR can be an excellent tool. Leveraging this card will ease you off the burden of paying a large amount at once. It can also help you avoid taking out a personal loan, which may incur interest. Instead, you can spread out your payments throughout the introductory period without having to pay interest.
Cancelled 0% APR Offer
If you don’t make the minimum payment on time, your 0% APR might be at risk of being cancelled. This payment is usually a small percentage of your balance.
If your payment is late, your credit card issuer could cancel the 0% offer and reset your card’s interest rate to the ongoing APR. This is applicable even if you miss your payment by a single day. Alongside costing you to pay interest and late fees, missing payments could hurt your credit scores.
Interest charges after O% APR Introductory Period
Any outstanding balances after the introductory period will incur interest. If you have any carryover balances after the unique introductory duration, it will incur interest over time. This might counter any savings you acquired during the Apr 0% interest duration. Bearing this in mind, it is only advisable that you pay off your balance in full before your 0% APR ends.
Some Cards might Charge Deferred Interest. Of course, 0% APR cards are a great way to finance debts and purchases. However, there are a few glitches here and there. For instance, You might be penalized for carrying a balance after the special introductory period is over.
The only way to avoid this deferred/retroactive interest is by having a repayment plan in place that will ensure you have no balance at all left in your 0% APR card when the introductory period is over.
Maximizing your 0% APR Card
Understanding the Terms and Conditions of the offer you are going for and having a plan to repay your debt will help you leverage the 0% APR Card. Below are some tips that’ll help you maximize the benefit of your 0% APR card:
- Read Terms and Conditions
Reading and understanding your APR Credit card’s terms and conditions is crucial, and it will help you maximize benefits. This includes the card’s offer, such as the timeline for completing balance transfer, expiratory date, balance transfer fees and interest after the special introductory period ends.
- Repayment Plan
The perks that come with having a repayment plan cannot be overemphasized. Ensure you have a plan in place for repaying your debts before your introductory period ends. This will help you avoid incurring interests.
- Offset Debt in Full
Don’t just pay off your debt, but make sure you pay it off in full. Else you might be at risk of being hit with a bill for every single interest you occurred since your first purchase date if your card charges retroactive interests.
It is always advisable to carefully review the terms and conditions of the 0% intro APR credit card offer before applying. Ensure you understand the pro and cons and that the card is suitable for your needs.
Also, consider what may happen if you don’t pay off your balance before the 0% APR introductory offer expires if you’re late on your payment or don’t pay the minimum balance due.
A 0% APR intro offer can be an exceptional tool to help you manage debt. Note that you would need to be responsible while using the card to be successful with your goal.