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The war on Low APR credit

October 30, 2009 by  
Filed under Credit Card

The interest rate is definitely a key factor consumers consider before signing up for a credit card. This is especially true for those carrying balances, as a card with low rates will generate significant savings. Thus, MasterCard, Visa and other leading credit card groups are now competing in terms of varying low APR (annual percentage rate) packages.

The huge market for card shoppers has also made banks tie-up with card companies or set up their own card units. Based on figures from MarketResearch.com, corporate credit cards have now grown into a $500bn market in the US. The sector’s growth has progressed due mainly to increasing acceptance and demand for electronic transactions worldwide and a requirement among more US firms for corporate card use – offsetting the country’s recession and economic woes across many global industries.

As cards under such plans allow consumers to minimize the cost impact of a Christmas purchase or a holiday, credit card companies are giving users a wide range of attractive packages.

One such option is Citibank’s Citi Dividend Platinum Select card. The offering targets individuals seeking to transfer their balances and a reprieve from soaring interest rates – gives the consumer 0% APR for up to 12 months. As an incentive, users of the Citibank card will also be reimbursed as much as 5% of any cash purchase they make at pharmacies, supermarkets and gas stations and 1% for purchases at all other stores and shops.

American Express also offers 0% APR for initial purchases over a 15-month period with its American Express Blue Card, which features a 3.99% interest rate fixed for the balance of the product. JP Morgan Chase is also offering a cash-back incentive and 0% interest rate for up to 12 months on balance transfers with its Chase Cash Plus Visa.
Maintaining APR credit

Companies market their products to the point that they seem to good to be true. Before signing up for 0% APR credit cards, there are several things a user should watch out for. One of them is caution with cards starting with high interest rates conditional on economic indicators – the variation would lead to fluctuating interest for any change on specific indicators.

Also, ‘teaser’ promotions where low rates run for only 3 months or up to one year can be handled by maximizing gains from the 0% plan by moving all balances to that card and settling all amounts due as soon as possible within the introductory period. However, users should recognize when their cards do not allow such balance transfers. Some companies also move delinquent holders to variable APR cards automatically for delayed payments.

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