The zero fixed APR cards are a popular option for those who want to transfer high interest rate credit card balances to a new account where all the monthly payments will be applied directly to the amount of the debt.
This can be an excellent method of paying down credit card debt. Though the interest rates for mortgages and loans are some of the lowest seen in years, they do not translate to low interest on credit cards.
Credit card interest is based more on the credit rating of the card holder than the market rates.
Increasing Interest Rates Raise Consumer Concerns
For fourteen months beginning in 2009, lenders were positioning their accounts for maximum profit due to new credit regulations that were taking affect in 2010.
For over a year, many people with credit cards found their interest rates almost doubled which greatly increased the minimum monthly payment.
Even worse, it increased the amount of each payment that went to finance charges instead of to reducing the debt.
If you paid only the minimum payment due on your cards you may have noticed the account balance did not seem to be decreasing.
The interest rate may have been 13-18% for several years only to suddenly increase to 26% or higher for no apparent reason.
That practice of increasing rates for little or no reason was the consumer complaint that led to strengthening regulations applying to credit card banks.
One late payment on your credit card or going over the spending limit on your account could result in the APR being raised significantly on your entire account balance.
One of the most abused practices was to raise the APR on your card if you were late in paying a debt totally unrelated to that card or that lender.
This was called the cross default clause and in recent years had been heavily abused by large financials seeking to increase the profit earned in their credit card business.
0% Fixed APR Card Ends Up As Variable APR
If you transfer a high interest credit balance to a new account where a 0% introductory APR is offered for 6-12 months it’s normal to be excited about the ability to reduce your debt quickly.
However, unless you are certain you will pay off the debt in full during the zero fixed APR card time limit you must also consider the APR after the 0% expires.
In the past, 0% fixed APR credit cards were followed by a fixed rate of interest after the introductory period. Today that is no longer the case.
Almost all credit card lenders today give a range of variable APR for credit cards that will take effect the when the introductory rate expires.
Fixed APR Card Versus Variable APR Accounts
Unlike other loans for cars or homes, a variable APR credit card is not an interest rate based on market rates.
In order to take advantage of a 0% fixed APR credit card, look for the longest introductory period available. Apply for a credit card where the APR following the zero percent period is clearly stated by the lender.
Compare fees, annual charges and any other terms which are often found in the small print of the contract to determine which credit card will be most beneficial to you over the long term.
A zero fixed APR card may be of great benefit in paying off debt transferred from high interest accounts.
However, the variable APR that will be in effect after the introductory period expires is equally important to you.