Long-term purchase offers allow you to make purchases and pay no interest for up to 15 monthsCredit cards give people easy means to pay for purchases even when they don’t have money, and they can then repay the money in installments over a period of time. What you, as a consumer, should know is that credit card companies make most of their money through interest that you end up paying, and the longer you take to repay, more you end up paying in the form of interest.
The good thing is you can find credit cards that come with promotional interest rate offers that can lead to noticeable long-term savings.
Comparison of credit cards with long-term purchase offers
A long-term purchase offer credit card charges little to no interest on purchases for a given period of time, which can extend up to a year. While finding cards that come with three months purchase rate offers is quite common, finding cards that offer purchase rate offers beyond the six months mark is not.
A card that charges a low ongoing interest rate on purchases can qualify as a long-term purchase credit card, given that it attracts the same low interest for as long as you keep your account active. To save on interest, cardholders can also make use of interest free days on purchase most cards have to offer, but these range in between 30 to 62 days, no more.
How do long-term purchase credit cards work?
A long-term purchase rate credit card, as mentioned, can work in two basic ways.
- Introductory purchase rate. A long-term introductory purchase rate offer is one that usually stays in place for nine to 12 months. This rate will then revert to a higher rate at the end of the promotional period.
- Low ongoing purchase rate. There are credit cards that charge ongoing purchase rates of around 13% p.a. This is considerably lower than around 19% that most premium cards charge, so these low rate cards can also work well as long-term purchase rate credit cards.
How can I use a long-term purchase interest rate credit card?
It’s important that you use this type of credit card offer in the way it’s intended to be used. Here’s how to make sure you make the most of your card:
- Only spend as much as you can afford to repay within the introductory period. No matter how long the introductory rate lasts for, you’re going to have to repay your purchase in the end or be stuck paying interest on your purchases.
- If you still have a balance at the end of the intro period, consider a balance transfer. If you’ve finished the introductory period and you still have an unpaid debt on your card, there are some options available to you. One of those options is called a balance transfer. You can transfer your balance over to a new credit card that has a special interest rate on balance transfers for a set period of time to further delay paying interest on your purchases.
- Make contributions to your card balance each month. Some make the mistake of nearing the end of their introductory period and realising they won’t be able to pay off their balance before it ends. They’ll either have to make a massive repayment or start paying interest, so it’s important you put in place a repayment plan as mentioned above to ensure you can repay the entire balance of the card within the introductory rate period.
How can I compare long-term purchase rate credit cards?
Comparing long-term purchase rate credit cards requires that you pay attention to a number of factors, including the following:
- Introductory interest rate. This is the interest purchases attract during the promotional period and this can be as low as 0% p.a.
- Length of introductory rate period. A number of credit cards come with promotional interest rate offers, and while these can extend up to 18 months for balance transfers, but the same is not the case with purchases. For purchases, this period typically varies between three and 12 months.
- Revert rate. At the end of the introductory period, any remaining funds will begin accruing interest at the revert rate. This can be considerably higher than the promotional period, so make sure to confirm these details before applying to avoid any nasty surprises.
- Annual fee. The annual fee will vary according to the card, with some charging no annual fee and others charging $200 p.a. or more. To determine whether the annual fee is worth it, you’ll need to establish whether the features and benefits of the cards will outweigh this cost.
Jim recently moved closer to work and now lives a short 20 minutes bike ride away from work. He wishes to cycle to work, because it gives him a means to stay fit and also save on some transportation money.
His problem is that he does not own a bike.
He scouts his options and settles on a slightly more expensive ride, which along with accompanying riding gear, is to cost him around $3,000. Since he’s just moved he’s already incurred a few expenses, so he’s looking for a credit card that comes with a long-term interest purchase rate offer.
He applies for, and gets, the NAB Low Rate Credit Card, which he uses to pay for $3,000 worth of purchases, and he gets 12 months to repay this amount without paying interest. He works out a payment plan where he has to pay a comfortable $250 each month for 12 months so he can clear the entire balance before the promotional period ends.
By the end of the 12 months period Jim pays off the $3,000 debt, he does not pay any interest, and he pays $59 as annual fees. In total, he pays $3,059. This is considerably lower than the total he’d end up paying if he’d opted for a regular card that charged an interest of around 19%, even if it did not charge any annual fees. Besides, given that he’d to pay interest, repaying the total at $250 per month would take him longer than 12 months.
Repayment comparison of long-term purchase cards
What are the pros and cons of using a long-term purchase interest rate credit card?
- Buy what you want. If you want to buy something but don’t have the money to pay for it, this type of card allows you to make the purchase without the penalty of accruing interest.
- Save money. Paying interest on purchases can add up, so being free of this cost can lead to significant savings for some cardholders.
- Requires that you plan ahead of time. The ability to buy something without having to pay interest might seem great, but things can take a turn for a worse if you don’t plan your repayments in advance. Don’t forget that any outstanding balance at the end of the promotional period starts attracting interest.
- Nullified offers. You have to make sure you don’t do anything that can cause your credit card provider to nullify the purchase rate offer, and you can find details of the same by going through your card’s terms and conditions. Instances that can lead to invalidation of such offers include making late payments, missing payments, and exceeding the credit limit.
What else should I consider?
Before you apply for a credit card with a long-term purchase rate, take the following into consideration as well:
- Rewards. Some such cards come linked to rewards programs, giving you the ability to earn and redeem reward points as per your spending. Earn rates and opportunities for earning and redeeming can vary from one card to another, and the programs that compliment your existing spending habits will be of the greatest value.
- Balance transfer offers. Certain long-term purchase rate cards come with balance transfer offers, where you get to pay little or no interest on transferred balances for a given time period. Remember, though, that the terms of purchase rate and balance transfer rate offers might not be the same.
- Complimentary insurance covers. You can consider getting a long-term purchase rate card that offers complimentary purchase and travel insurance covers, but bear in mind that these come at a cost.
If you wish to buy something now and repay it over a period of time without paying any interest, getting a long-term purchase rate offer card might be your best bet. What helps is that you have a number of such cards from which to choose, but it’s important that you compare your options well to find the right option for you.
Frequently asked questions
Can I use such cards for cash advances?
Yes, you can. However, it’s important to remember that cash advances don’t come with any interest-free periods, and typically accrue higher interest than standard purchase rates.
Who can apply for a long-term purchase rate credit card?
You can apply if you’re over 18 years old, a permanent Australian resident and if you meet the credit rating and eligibility requirements.
What is the maximum credit limit I can get with a long-term purchase rate credit card?
The maximum credit limit varies from one credit card to the next, and card providers rely on factors like your income, existing financial standing, and ability to repay to arrive at suitable credit limits.