What Does A Zero Interest Credit Card Really Cost You?

by : Gregg Hall

The credit card industry a few years ago began doing the same thing the automotive industry did, they began to offer zero interest to try to entice clients. Little did they know that they had opened a Pandora's Box in which people now shop constantly for companies to swap back and forth with to maintain a zero interest balance on their cards.

We used to be happy with just getting a good rate and maybe a little kickback once a year, now we are assailed with offers of zero interest from every direction and it sounds like a really good deal, but is it really? Are the companies really giving you a zero interest loan of their money?

Credit card companies look at the zero interest hook as a way to get you to come on board as a client, the expense of the zero interest offer is simply a cost of doing business for them.

If you take a closer look at these so-called zero interest credit card offers they all have time limits and other factors built into them to help protect the credit card company. The appeal for these short term zero interest offers lies mainly with those who have large balances on their cards with significant interest rates. It sometimes makes sense to switch to save the interest charges, just don't fall into the trap of letting the balance ride. Take advantage of the interest charge reprieve and pay the balance off. This is the advantage of making the switch that so few people use. The credit card companies know this, in fact they are betting on it.

The big dangling carrot of zero interest is not appetizing to everyone. Some people like those I mentioned above who pay their cards off every month could care less about a zero interest offer. They are more concerned with no annual fee, rewards points, and membership bonuses. For someone who doesn't carry a balance a zero interest offer is meaningless.

If you are being tempted by a zero interest offer take into consideration what type of borrower you are. Are you the type that pays off your card balance monthly or the type who carries a substantial balance for an extended period? If you fall into the latter category then a zero interest offer may be just what the credit doctor ordered. If not, then shop around for the lowest annual fee with the most add on benefits for using the card.