How well can you size-up a credit card promotion?
It’s hard to keep a cool head in the heat of the retail moment. You’re about to make a big purchase and the clerk is waving a store credit card offer before you.
“No interest if paid in full within 12 months!” they’ll say. Or, “0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months.”
They sound like great deals. But the offers aren’t the same, and one can cost you considerably more over time.
Both cards, usually offered by retailers, set aside a time when you pay no interest on the money you borrowed to buy a sofa, say. But one card charges no interest for that time, while the other just defers interest you would have paid.
The deferred interest card could cost you quite a bit more if you’re not paying attention. If you still have a promotional balance when the time is up, you’ll be charged back interest.
More people are buying things with deferred-interest promotions, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. More than a third end up paying 150% of the balance, according to a CFPB study. Many consumers mistakenly believe these to be 0% interest.
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