Be Wary Of Tricky Credit Card Offers

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Even though I participate in a lot of bonus offers, I always read the fine print, as credit card companies can be very tricky in their wordings. Here’s a pop quiz – What’s wrong with this offer?

At first glance, I thought hey, pretty good! They are offering 0% APR with no annual fee and no balance transfer fees for about 18 months! And it’s from Providian, which is not one of the companies I have a balance transfer with right now.

But upon further inspection, you’ll notice that the 0% is on purchases only. I like how the word “purchases” is in a smaller font than the other words and not all caps. The APR on Balance Transfers is actually 8.99% for this offer, and all payments will first go towards your purchases instead of balance transfers as they are at the lower interest rate.

All of the no-fee balance transfer offers I list are pre-screened and re-checked periodically (just did it now), and have no such catches, but I would still read through the fine print anyways.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and may receive a commission from card issuers. Some or all of the card offers that appear on this site are from advertisers and may impact how and where card products appear on the site. does not include all card companies or all available card offers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

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  1. Sneaky sneaky. It also sounds like you have to transfer a balance in order to get the 0% APR on purchases. Hadn’t heard of this offer before.

    Btw, love the site!

  2. I got an off-topic question for you. Do you know if a transfer from an online savings account (say HSBC, ING, ED, etc.) qualify as a direct deposit?

    I’m asking ’cause some checking accounts (like MyAccess from BofA) now offer no minimum balance but require a monthly direct deposit.

  3. Yes, they require a minimum transfer of $100. It’s not a bad deal actually if you want 0% on purchases for $1 if you just transfer and pay it off immediately.

    A – It depends on the bank. Some do, some don’t. Presidential doesn’t allow such transfers to count as direct deposit. Not sure about BofA.

  4. I hate credit card companies. They are getting to be just about as bad as the payday loan companies…… Arrrggghh.

  5. Don’t get me started on preditory lending. It is sad to see people getting taken advatage of.

  6. what the.

    0% APR on purchases, but only if you transfer balance at who knows what rate.

    thats lame.

    payment goes towards lower rate so if you transfer a large amount u’re SOL.

    yeah thats pretty sneaky.

  7. Hi,

    I did a quick google search for 0% APR cards in Canada. I couldn’t find any. Does anyone know if they are available and if so where to get one? Thanks for you help.



  8. I’m not one to defend credit card companies, typically, but I mean, it says pretty clearly what the 0% is on. It’s not like it’s fine print in the middle of some disclosure agreement. Anyone who signs up for that card and didn’t read that information deserves what he gets.

  9. I have signed up for two cards with fees in the fine print and called the company stating I didn’t see it and wanted it refunded. Both did after I threw my lawyers and and everything else out there. Savings = $325. They want your business and will buckle if you are persistent.

  10. Sneaky indeed! It’s things like this that make me wary of jumping on the BT plan. I’d be concerned of missing something in the smallprint

  11. The first time I did a BT, I fell for one of these, it was Capital One. Now I call the CC company before signing up so I am clear on the terms

  12. I actually have this deal from Providian. The rate on the balance transfer was 8.9% although it was a variable rate. They didn’t charge any transfer fees either. Since I haven’t been able to get any of the 0% balance transfer deals this was a decent deal for me.

    I had a balance transfer offer from Aspire that I though was worse. They offered 0% for 6 months but than the rate went to 24.99%. My credit isn’t bad, there is now way I would pay that high of interest.

  13. What exactly is the difference between a balance transfer and a cash advance? I have lots of card offers with 0% APR on balance transfers, but how is a balance transfer beneficial? Do you have to have some PREXISTING debt somewhere else that has a positive interest rate to make these offers viable?

  14. If you read his blogs (they can be dug down deep but here is the one that he wrote on how to do this.) I suggest you read it through once, then the next day read it again to make sure you missed nothing and you believe you understand fully what is being done. If you mess up, it can really hurt you (and as is said – if you miss the minimum on any card, some companies will automatically start charging you interest).

    Read parts 1 through 3.

  15. Beware of getting info over the phone if you don’t record the conversation. I have an American Express with 3.9% on a BT locked in until it’s paid off (has worked out great!). The card also offered 0% on purchases for like a year or 6 months. My brother warned me about the card defaulting to pay the lower interest rate first, so I called Amex and specifically asked them about that. The CS rep assured me that the higher APR is paid first, so I was cool with that and used the card for purchases (in addition to the initial BT). Some issue came up later, and I had to call them and THIS time I was told the card pays the lowest APR first. Needless to say I was P.O.’d! But the guy basically said that was that. Well, it all worked out okay because I stopped using the card before the 0% offer was expired, so the balances I charged at 0% were immediately paid off with only the 3.9% BT left to pay off. I was relieved because if I had bought anything after the inital 0% offer I would have been screwed. Well, I agree with the posts about BT’s. DONT’ USE THE CARD FOR PURCHASES!

    Thanks for the great website!

  16. jan rossiter says

    I just got taken by Wamu (Wahington Mutual) for about $150 in fees when I did a balance transfer that appeared to be a no fee 0% mailed offer. Does anyone have a copy of that mailed offer around the end of Sept 06? I recieved two mailings from them one of which was 0% on new transfers and one that was not. I thought I was signing up for the one that was 0% on the transfer until April 2008. This offer I should have scanned but did not. I really need a copy of this offer!

  17. KEN KIRCHNER says

    I am A victim of preditory lending IE: HSBC (Orchard Bank) What can I do to fight these monsters? I get no answers from HSBC except how to pay! They won’t even tell me how over $550 was charged after not hearing from them for 2 yrs. I used the card twice and paid in full! HELP!

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