- Once your intro APR offer expires, your APR will revert to the go-to rate.
- Ideally, pay off your balance before the end of your offer period, but the next best thing is to pay off any remaining balance as quickly as possible to minimize interest fees.
- If you still have a large balance remaining, consider a balance transfer offer or personal loan.
All good things eventually come to an end.
One of the cardinal rules of using credit cards is that you need to pay off your balance in full every month. That's because paying off your full statement balance every month allows you to avoid expensive interest fees.
However, just about every rule has an exception or two. In the case of avoiding credit card interest, that exception is the 0% APR offer.
A good number of credit cards these days tend to come with introductory 0% APR offers. These deals allow you to carry a balance from month to month without accruing interest fees for a set period of time. You still need to make minimum monthly payments, but you don't need to worry about interest fees.
Like all good things, of course, intro APR offers eventually come to an end. And when they do, you may well find yourself rapidly accruing interest on your balances. So, what should you do when your offer finally expires? Let's look at your options.
If your balances are paid off…
In the ideal situation, you've paid off any accumulated balances before your offer terms expire.
This doesn't necessarily mean you have $0 on your card. You may have recent purchases from the current billing period. But any balances from previous statement periods or balance transfers have been paid off.
In this case, you don't need to worry about interest fees on your previous purchases. And as long as you start paying your balance in full every month going forward, you won't have to worry about interest fees on future purchases, either.
If you still have a small balance…
Even with 0% introductory APR offers, you still need to make at least your minimum monthly payment before your due date every month. In most cases, however, that minimum payment probably isn't enough to clear your balances. As a result, you may have at least a small balance on your card when your offer ends.
If possible, pay that balance in full as soon as possible.
When your intro APR offer ends, you'll start accumulating interest on any balance left over from previous statement periods right away. Credit card interest accumulates based on your average daily balance. This means it's calculated based on your balance each day, then added to your bill at the end of the billing period.
The sooner you pay off your interest-generating balance, the less interest you'll be charged. Once you're back down to $0, start paying your balances in full each month to avoid future interest fees.
If you still have a large balance…
In some cases, you may still have a fairly sizable balance left on your credit card when your intro APR offer ends. This may be especially common if you made sizable balance transfers to the card to take advantage of a lower interest rate on your credit card debt.
Unfortunately, large balances can generate very large interest fees -- and they can do so very quickly. The average credit card charges an APR in the 15% range, but it can be significantly higher depending on the card and your credit situation. If you can, pay down -- or better, pay off -- your balance quickly to avoid excessive interest fees.
Plugging your new APR and balance into a credit card interest calculator will show you how much you'll likely accumulate in fees if you don't take action.
When paying off your balance isn't possible, you may still have a few options.
If you only need to buy a few more months to pay off your balance, consider asking your issuer for a lower interest rate. Provided you haven't missed any payments, your issuer may be willing to drop your rate.
If you will need a year or more to pay off your remaining balance, consider getting a new credit card with an intro 0% APR offer on balance transfers. By transferring your balance to a new card with a new intro APR offer, you can avoid the high interest fees. Keep in mind that most cards will charge a balance transfer fee, however.
Intro APR offers can be a great way to finance purchases that will take a bit of time to pay off. The best way to avoid trouble in the long run is to make sure you have a plan in place to pay off your balance before you actually have one. That way, you won't have to worry about what to do when your intro offer expires.
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