Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Credit cards and asterisk

I haven’t applied for new credit cards in nearly 3 years. While talking to one of my cousin about my debt, he suggested to apply for a new credit card with 0% APR since I have an excellent credit history. According to him, every penny saved on interest is worth.

After looking around for a few months, I finally found a credit card with 0% APR for 12 month and 12% APR thereof, Citi Platinum Select. I thought I can save on interest if I transfer balance from my 11% APR card, even after transfer fees. I applied and got approved. During my card activation, I wanted to transfer my balance. I was told that my 0% APR is upto 7 months and my interest thereafter 17%. I protested and informed about the offer I saw. The Citi representative informed me that probably there is word “upto 12 months” for balance transfer offer and “as low as 12% APR” on the offer. He continued, if it is not right there, there must be an asterisk.

I don’t demand banks to give me a low APR. They are business and can charge as much as it’s legal. My problem is this type of offer is a deceptive marketing and a bad business practice. Imagine you see an ad for all you can eat buffet* for 10 cents. You go and eat. While getting the bill, you are told that it is all you can eat for first 2 minutes (hence the asterisk), thereafter you are charged $10 a minute. If a person like me who is nearly obsessed with paying their credit card debt is duped, think about all the people Citi bank (and others) is cheating on. Citi and other credit card companies, please start being honest to us. 

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