This Citibank Balance Transfer Offer Sure Sounds Dangerous

RP was just offered a transfer on his Citi card by a Citibank CSR, but the CSR was kind of vague on the details of the offer and could only repeat the benefits. RP looked online while the CSR pitched the offer, and found that there’s quite a big catch in the fine print–after six months, the interest rate jumps from 3.99% to 29.99%.

Just called to activate a replacement card and I was offered an “interesting” deal. They were (intentionally?) sketchy on the details, for a reason that is laughably obvious upon further examination, and while on the phone kept asking if I wanted to proceed with this balance transfer.

The pitch went something like this (truncated for sanity):

There is an offer on your account, a balance transfer for 3.99%
-From other accounts?
No, this one works with your Citi account.
-What’s the catch?
No catch, 3.99% for six months, no fee to take advantage of this (usual spiel)
-What happens after six months?
It’s 3.99% for six months.
-Okay, it’s 3.99% for six months, but what if you don’t have it paid off at the end of six months?
Can I put you on hold?

At that point, I found it online* and hung up.

Here’s the catch. You take out a loan on your Credit card debt at X% interest… and it comes due within six months. So if you don’t have the financial flexibility to pay off your card in “six easy payments”, then you’ll default and get jumped to the 29.99% rate, and likely sent to collections as well. Because it’s a LOAN, you won’t be able to transfer it to another creidt card either.

Pretty much a guaranteed Catch-22 if you’re not aware and get wooed by the offered interest rate.

Are they trying to default people now?

*If you have a Citi account, login, and under Tools & Services I have a “Request a Loan on your card” option with the details.

We don’t have the details of the offer to verify what RP says about the fine print, but it’s a good example of why you should never agree to any sort of upsell from a credit card CSR over the phone. As long as financial companies bury crucial details in fine print and legalese, doing new business with them via telephone is just asking for trouble.

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