Today’s lifestyle mandates the need for a credit card for most consumers for shopping online, making reservations for hotels, airlines or rental cars, and they permit the budgeting of purchases that may not be possible on a cash only basis. Before applying for a credit card, it is wise to investigate the many credit card special offers available.
The consumer with an excellent credit history will naturally qualify for the most attractive offers, but even with a poor credit history it is possible to improve your financial condition by applying for a higher interest card and paying off the balance monthly, thereby accruing no interest but repairing your credit.
One of the most appealing offers is the 0% interest on purchases for a limited period. This period can vary from six months up to fifteen months and sometimes also applies to balance transfers from other credit cards made at the time of application. This offer is an excellent choice for a planned purchase that can be paid off in full within the specified 0% time period, creating an interest free loan. However, this offer may have a higher interest rate after the introductory period and this must be taken into account. But for the consumer who typically carries a balance on their card, this offer will immediately cost less in interest and can be a substantial savings.
A longer term special offer that may be a good choice is the rewards program, which allows you to accumulate points based on the amount charged to the card. These points may be in the form of cash back, gifts, household goods discounts, gasoline purchases, hotel stays or airline tickets. If you typically use a credit card for everyday purchases and pay off the balance each month, this could be a real saving in the long run. However, there is a common pitfall to this, as many borrowers may find themselves buying more just to gain the points and this would defeat the purpose of saving on the rewards.
No matter how attractive a credit card special offer may appear, it is vital to read all the fine print to prevent finding yourself in trouble later due to unexpected fees. Some cards charge an annual fee just for having the card, but they will sometimes waive this fee on request, especially for the borrower that normally carries an outstanding balance, thereby paying monthly interest.
Other fees apply for late payments or exceeding the card limit amount, so it is important to be financially responsible in these areas because even one violation can allow the card company to place you in a high penalty interest rate category. It is even possible to receive a notice of rate increase for no reason, but this can be prevented by notifying the company that you refuse to pay the increased rate on the balance. However, if you choose to do this, it will effectively cancel your use of that card, but will still allow you to pay off the balance at the lower rate.
Credit card special offers can be a great tool for the consumer if used wisely. If you carry outstanding balances on one or more cards, the balance transfer offers can help to consolidate these into one monthly payment and usually saves interest over the long term. Introductory low or 0% rates immediately save money, but temporarily. Reward programs can save a small percent on other purchases if you don’t make charges just to gain points. The bottom line is to take advantage of the credit card special offers, but do so only after comparing the different benefits and educating yourself to any possible pitfalls.