Credit card introductory offers are everywhere you turn, from your physical mailbox to Hulu commercials.
It’s hard to escape them, and with such a large marketplace, credit card companies have to find methods to stand out from their competition. To make their offers harder to resist, many issuers feature introductory credit card offers with promotional rates on interest and/or balance transfers.
What are introductory credit card offers?
All credit cards have an APR (the interest rate) on both purchases and balance transfers. This rate indicates how much interest you will pay on the balance you carry or transfer.
To entice new customers, credit card companies often offer an introductory APRs for a limited time. Sometimes the offer extends to both purchases and balance transfers, but some offers only apply to purchases.
What is the interest rate in the introductory offer?
In almost all introductory credit card offers, the introductory interest rate on purchases is 0%. This means for the entire duration of the introductory offer, you will pay no interest on the balance you carry for purchases.
This makes it an ideal time to make a big purchase that will take several months to pay off, as you will not have to pay any interest.
If an introductory offer is also available for balance transfers, it is usually 0% as well. Remember some introductory offers are for purchases only, so be sure to read the terms and fees before you apply.
“If you are looking for an
introductory APR, read the fine print.”
How long do they usually last?
Introductory offers vary from card to card, though they are generally never shorter than six months. Most offers are around one year, with some offers as long as 18 months with no interest.
The time period is often very prominent in the credit card offer because it’s the key selling point for the credit card companies.
If you want a credit card that will have a low APR for longer than just the introductory period, check out our excellent selection.
What to watch out for
If you are looking for an introductory APR on balance transfers, make sure to read the fine print and ensure the 0% APR is not for purchases only.
You should also read the fine print to make sure you know what the APR will be after the introductory period. It is usually displayed in a range based on creditworthiness, with the better credit scores receiving a lower interest rate.
If you plan to make a large purchase during the introductory period, make sure you will have the balance paid off by the time the new interest rate kicks in.
Be smart with your card
If you pay your bill late, the credit card company has the right to switch your zero percent APR to a penalty APR. This interest rate can be as high as 29.99 percent. Never miss a payment, or you risk losing your introductory rate.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.