What is a Low Introductory Rate Credit Card, and How Do They Work?
Low introductory rate credit cards are among some of the most appealing credit cards. To clarify, an introductory rate is a low-interest rate – sometimes as little as 0% – that applies to your balance for a set period of time after you open your credit card. Introductory rates are typically given to applicants with high credit scores.
Depending on the card that you are looking at the introductory rate may apply only to a specific type of balance. A great example of this is balance transfers. There are several low introductory cards out there that only offer that low interest rate to balances that were transferred from a higher interest card. That said, there are also a lot of credit cards that apply the introductory rate to both balance transfers and new purchases. However, it is unlikely that an introductory rate would apply to a cash advance.
Now, as discussed earlier in order for a low introductory rate to apply, you might have to make the purchases or the balance transfer within a specific time period, or by a certain date. Details and specifics such as these vary by card but should be well researched prior to signing up for a card, thus allowing you to make the best choice for you.
How Long Do Low Introductory Rates Generally Last?
By law, introductory credit card rates must last a minimum of six months. However, they can be longer, depending on the credit card in question. For example, you might come across credit cards with an introductory rate for the minimum six months, some for a year, and then some as long as almost two years.
The credit card company has the option to describe the introductory rate in terms of either months or billing cycles. It is important to note that due to the face that a billing cycle is typically a shorter time period than a calendar month, a 12-billing cycle introductory rate is shorter than 12 actual calendar months. For example, if a credit card has a 27-day billing cycle, a 12-month low introductory rate would actually equate to last ten months and about three weeks.
Remember, when you sign up for a credit card that offers an introductory rate, it is essential that you make sure you are fully aware of the proper length of the introductory period. By ensuring that you know this information, you can focus on paying off your balance prior to the end of the low introductory rate time period.
Benefits of a Low Introductory Rate Credit Card
- Low interest rates as low as 0% are available
- Great opportunity to do a balance transfer and pay off already existing debt
Drawbacks of a Low Introductory Rate Credit Card
- If the balance is not paid off during the set low introductory rate period, you risk being hit with an exceptionally high-interest rate.
Is There a Difference Between a Low Introductory Rates vs. Deferred Interest?
While we have gone over what a low introductory rate is, if you are unfamiliar with low introductory rate credit cards, or financial products, you might likely get a low introductory rate and deferred interest plan confused. This is a common mistake; however, in order to make the best financial choices, it is imperative that you understand the difference. A lot of stores offer what is called a deferred interest plan. This plan allows you to pay no interest on the purchases you make at the store, during a specific time period, for a certain number of months afterward. Sounds great right? It is – if used wisely. But there is a catch. In order to benefit from a deferred interest rate, you have to pay off the total outstanding balance prior to the promotional period ending. If any of the balance remains unpaid when the promotional period comes to an end, you will be retroactively charged interest starting from the original purchase date.
How to Choose the Best Low Introductory Rate Credit Card for You
There are a lot of benefits to getting a low introductory rate credit card, but like every other financial product on the market, there are some that can offer you way more than others? Yes – even more than 0% APR for the first year. But a lot of people don’t know about them. That is why it is so essential that you do your research prior to signing up for a low introductory rate credit card – or any financial product. A lot of the time – like with these credit cards- they can offer so much more than what is typically thought. Read on to find out about some of the things you should keep an eye out for when considering a low introductory rate credit card.
Look for Options with 0% APR on Both Balance Transfers and New Purchases
The reality is that there are tons of low introductory rate credit cards will offer new customers interest-free promotional financing on either balance transfers or new purchases – not both. However, if you do your research, you will be able to find that there are actually low introductory rate credit cards that offer 0% APR on both. Look for these. By having the option to use your card, and do a balance transfer while still maintaining that low introductory rate, you will be letting yourself get the most out of your new card.
Look for the Best Benefits for the Cardholder
While you can’t get less than a 0% APR introductory financing offer, you can find cards that offer additional cardholder benefits. Some cards, for example, feature a 0% introductory APR for over 18 months on balance transfers and 12 months on purchases.
Try to Find Cards with the Lowest Balance Transfer Fee Possible
Even if your credit card offers a 0% APR financing on balance transfers, the majority of credit cards still impose a significant balance transfer fee. In fact, this standard fee is generally around 3 to 5% of the amount transferred. This then gets added to your new card’s balance. Low introductory rate or not – that 3-5% adds up
Look at the Sign Up Bonuses
We all know that there is no such thing as a credit card with a negative interest rate. But did you know that several credit cards offer a 0% APR introductory rate as well as a sign-up bonus of cash back and interest-free financing? There are credit cards out there that feature more than 12 months of 0% APR on balance transfers as well as new purchases, with a 3% balance transfer fee. While at the same time, also offering new applicants a one-time $150 cashback bonus after spending $500 on purchases – if done within a specific time period. Some of these cards even feature additional cash back on all purchases.
As you can see, there are a number of things that you should look out for prior to applying for this kind of credit card. But, like with any credit card, there are also some requirements that you will want to be aware of before applying. As with many financial products, the big thing to consider when looking at a low introductory rate credit card is your credit score.
Be Knowledgeable About Your Credit Score
Because of the initial low APR and other potential benefits, the kind of credit card that we have been discussing is not generally easy to get if you do not have a high enough credit score. It is essential to be aware of this because if your credit score is in a lower range, you really don’t want to apply for a card that is unlikely to accept your application. This is due to the fact that your credit score will take a small hit every time the bank pulls your credit file in order to make a decision about your application.
In short, prior to really shopping around for a low introductory rate credit card, you really should do some homework. Take the time to look up your credit score, check your credit report – obviously to make sure there are no errors, but to also see where you stand in terms of possibly qualifying for a card of this nature. It is crucial that you compare interest rates on the cards you’re considering applying for, but be sure to also factor in the other features that each card might offer you.
Low introductory credit cards offer a lot of benefits, especially when used correctly. While they can be tough to qualify for, if you do, they are a financial tool that can really help users pay off debt and improve their financial situation. If you have further questions about whether or not a low introductory rate credit card is the right choice for you and whether you might qualify, speak with a financial professional regarding what your options might be it now, or down the line in order to use a card like this to improve your finances.