Credit Card Offers Explained
Every credit card has some sort of offer in attempt to lure you into applying for the card. Some of these offers can be very appealing at first glance but you may realize after the offer is over you are stuck with a subpar credit card. Knowing what offers to look for can really benefit you for the duration you own the card. Different card types have different options based on the card’s target market so it is important to know which card is suited for you based on the offer. This article will provide valuable information on credit card offers and what the best ones really are.
Special Introductory Offers
Most credit card introductory offers start with a 0% APR.
But first it is important to know what the APR means:
What does APR mean?
APR is an acronym for annual percentage rate is the yearly amount of interest a user will pay based on all or the portion of the balance that isn’t paid on the due date. APR does not include fees so when a card has the 0% APR offer you will still have to pay the fees associated with the card such as foreign exchange fees, cash advance fees etc.
Most cards come with an offer that specifies “ Get 0% APR on a purchases for the first 12 months!” What this offer means is you will not pay any monthly interest on an purchases you make with the card for the first 12 months you have the card. For example if you make $1500 in purchases over the first 12 months you will have $0 in interest to pay for the first 12 months. However if you still have a balance after the first 12 months you will begin paying monthly interest on the amount.
The next offer that you will usually see is “Get 0% introductory APR on all balance transfers and purchases”. This offer is similar to the above offer with the addition of 0% APR on balance transfers as well. What this means is you will not have to pay any interest on the balance transferred to the new card. For example if you transferred $1500 onto the card with this offer you will not have to pay any interest on the amount you transferred.
This offer should be taken advantage of if you currently have a high balance with a high interest rate on your present card. Taking advantage of this offer will save you on monthly interest charges. For example if you have a high balance and are enrolled in a card with a high interest rate and an annual fee you will be better suited switching to a card with this offer. This is especially the case if you are not taking advantage of the rewards on your current card.
Another fee that you may see is an introductory offer where you pay no fees or interest on your fees for a specified amount of time.
Why they do this?
You may be thinking why do these companies offer such a great deal? Well these deals attract a lot of lifetime customers where they will make high profits off that customer for years to come. The companies can more then afford offering you free interest for a year especially when they are still making money of the fees you are charged during the introductory period.
How to take advantage of the offer
You can really exploit or take advantage of this offer if you plan on making a big purchase. Simply make the big purchase with the credit card and pay it off before the introductory period ends. For example if you plan on buying a $2500 personal computer, make the purchase and make the payments before the introductory period ends. If you made a monthly payment of $250 monthly you would save $229 dollars interest on a card with charges 18% APR.
Earn Bonus Point Offers
This offer is mainly offered by reward and cash back credit cards. These offers usually state you will receive x amount of bonus points or reward points after you have spend an x amount of dollars in the first 3 months or so. An example of this offer would be “earn 50 000 bonus points after $3000 in purchases within the first 3 months of opening”.
These offers seems attractive at the surface and sometimes they really are great offers however for the example above you have to see if spending $3000 to get those reward points is really worth it. If you know you are going to spend that much and pay it off quickly then it is a great offer, however if you pay off the balance slowly then your interest charges will override the benefit of the bonus points. Furthermore some cards will offer you bonus points for adding an additional authorized user. This is usually a good offer to accept if you can add a user as there are no repercussions in doing this.
How To take Advantage of the offer
The bonus point offers that prove really valuable are the offers combined with an introductory offer of 0% APR. This is more valuable because the amount you are spending to qualify for bonus points will not have interest charges. So you are getting the best of both worlds, no interest, and the bonus points. For example if a card has a bonus offer where you earn 15 000 bonus points after you spend your first $1000 in the first three months, you will not pay interest on that $1000 if they have the introductory offer.
Why they do this
Card companies do this simply to get you using the card immediately when you get it. Most of the cards that offer large amounts of bonus points do not have the great 0% APR introductory offers so this is where they hook you in. Also something to watch for is most cards that have this offer also come with an annual fee so be sure to look at all the features of the card.
Increase in Credit Limit Offer
The offer to increase your credit limit is usually offered by credit cards on a yearly basis if you make regular payments and more then the minimum payment regularly. It is their way of rewarding you for paying your bill on time. It’s like saying ‘hey start accumulating a higher balance on our credit card so we can make more money off of you’. Be careful with this as there can be repercussions in accepting a credit limit increase.
Should I accept a credit limit increase
This all depends on a number of factors based on your personal credit history as seen below:
- Your current credit limit:If you have a low credit limit of $5000 and under then it is wise to accept a credit limit increase especially if you are confident you will continue to make your payments on time. On the contrary if you already have a high credit limit and you are offered an increase it may seem attractive at first but there a really high limit could be detrimental. The extra amount of credit available could work against you when applying for other loans. For example if you have a $10 000 limit and only a $500 balance on the card, the $6500 in available credit is seen as the potential for future debt that could hurt the payments of the loan you are applying for. They sometimes see it as a scenario where you could potentially go out the next day after receiving the loan and putting $9500 on your credit card. Furthermore, you may be tempted to spend more now that you got that extra credit room to spend more money.
- Balance carried on the card: If you are usually carrying a high balance on your card and are only making your minimum payment do not accept the credit increase. You will likely increase the balance on your card and as a result of higher interest payments.
- Current Interest Rate: It is easier to accept a credit limit increase when you pay a lower interest rate. Often as your credit score improves your interest rate will go down as a result. Always ask the company if your interest rate will go down as a result and if they say not often you can negotiate with them and they will sometimes lower your interest rate.
Why they do this
Credit card companies do this to reward for you making your payments on time, however they also do this because they know chances are you will increase the balance on your card now that your limit is higher. You will pay higher amounts of interest each month and therefore they will make more money.
How to take advantage of the offer
A great way to exploit this offer is when you are offered the increase by the credit card company contact their customer service and ask for a decrease in your interest rate. You can make a valid argument that due to the fact your limit is increased it usually correlates with an improvement of your credit score. An improvement in your credit score usually means a lowered interest rate.
No Annual Fee offer
This fee is self explanatory as the card will offer you a $0 annual fee for the first year the credit card is active. After the first year, you will be charged the specified annual fee. These offers are usually accompanied with extensive rewards cards. Annual fees can range from $25 all the way up to $500, so this can save you good money in the first year.Only enrol in this offer if you know it is a card that you will use frequently to take advantage of the rewards, otherwise the annual fee you will pay after the first year will not be worthwhile.
Why they do this
Quite simply, this is done to lure you in to applying for the card because of the no annual fee. This offer is often thought of to allow you pay no fees whatsoever on the card during the first year. However this certainly isn’t the case. People might not realize this offer does not include the additional fees that accompany a credit card such as foreign transaction fees, cash advance fees etc.
How to take advantage of this offer
There really is no way to exploit this offer to get the best out of it unless you opt out of the card before the year is over. This way you can take advantage of the rewards if you use the card frequently and avoid paying the annual fee. However some cards charge a closure fee so this may not be worth pursuing. Some card companies may even rebate your closure fee if you make the switch so be sure to ask the company if they can waive the fee when switching cards.
Free Product Offers
This offer is not as common as the others however it should be mentioned. Some card companies will offer you a friend product for applying for the credit card. If you are at a mall or a public place there will often be credit card stands where if you sign up you get a free t-shirt or movie tickets etc.
Why they do this
They do this to fool you into thinking it is an easy decision. People might think ‘this is great all I have to do is apply and I get a free product.’ Many people do not realize that even applying for a credit card can cause a minor hit to your credit score. If you already have a few credit cards then applying for a new one is not in your best interests.
How to take Advantage of this offer
If you are actually looking to get a credit card then yes then is an easy decision. However be sure to look at the features the card offers such as annual fees etc. You do not want a card that is not suited for you
The Bottom Line
Credit card offers can be very advantageous and rewarding when you understand all the details and features of the offer. However at times, the offers can look good at first glance but after the fact you can sometimes realize you got ‘lured in’. Remember all offers are designed to get you to apply for the card as it is in their best interests to make the offer look very appealing. Always ask questions and analyze your needs before applying for a credit card.