Ah, the glory days of American credit cards. When your credit card’s interest rate went too high, you could find a different card with a deliciously low promo balance transfer rate, and revel in your low interest. At least, until you let the card sit idle too long or made a late payment, and then started the cycle over again. But no more.
The magical 0% promo rate may be yet another casualty of credit card reform. But we’re not exactly mourning it, since the fine print and limitations of balance transfers often leave consumers even more mired in debt.
Ben Woolsey, director of marketing and consumer research at Austin, Texas-based CreditCards.com, a Web site that compares credit cards, urges consumers to closely read the terms and conditions. “Issuers don’t intentionally bait and switch, but they are allowed to advertise their best rate and use terms like ‘as low as’ and other caveats, so when you apply, always be careful — the devil is in the details.”
For example, some offers carry zero percent on balance transfers but higher rates for new purchases. In some cases, failing to use the card enough — meeting minimum use requirements — could trigger a cancellation or a higher rate.
(Photo: sam wilkinson)