Many people assume credit cards with 0% APRs are always around. But they’re actually just limited-time offers. They tend to be plentiful when the economy is strong and scarce when credit card companies believe the risk of nonpayment is too high.
That’s why it’s best to act as if another 0% card will not be available to bail you out. It’s also why you should consider a 0% card’s regular APR if there’s a chance you won’t be debt-free by the end of the intro period. You never really know when the economic tides or issuer policies will shift, after all. And a lot of 0% credit card users learned a costly lesson about not planning for the worst during the Great Recession.
It’s also worth noting that even when 0% APR credit cards are available, their terms still fluctuate over time. For example, the average 0% credit card offer had a 7.29-month intro period at the end of 2010. And that grew to 10.27 months in Q3 2013, before dipping to 9.85 months at the end of 2016. So getting the best 0% credit card deal is part good timing and part opportunism.
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