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Putting Off Paying for Holiday Gifts? Try These Credit Cards

by Peter Andrew

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Putting Off Paying for Holiday Gifts? Will you be willing and able to pay off your holiday credit card bills when the new year rolls around? If not a number of credit cards will let you carry a balance interest free for six months, or even a full year or more.

    While it's not "too good to be true," consumers who want a year-long free ride should think carefully before applying for cards with a zero percent introductory APR on purchases.

    "Two questions come to mind with zero-percent offers," says Adam Jusko, Research Director at IndexCreditCards.com. "First, does the promise of zero interest make you spend more, especially more than you can currently afford? Second, will you pay off the balance before the free period is over?"

    Jusko recommends that consumers go for zero-interest offers only if the "permanent" rate on the new card is less than on the cards they are already using.

    "If you'll be paying a lower rate even after the introductory period, you win all the way around. But if the ongoing rate is higher and you won't pay off the balance early, you could pay more in the long run. The ongoing rates for the cards shown here are the lowest rates the companies offer - you could be approved for these same cards but at higher rates. If that's the case, check the new card rate against your current card before accepting the offer.

    "Also, remember that these are variable-rate credit cards, and the current environment is one of rising rates. The ongoing rate you see today may be significantly higher by the time your zero-interest period is over."

    Published 12/07/05 (Modified 03/24/13)

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