Is now the right time to add a 0% APR credit card to your wallet?
Many Americans are feeling the financial squeeze of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. And they’re likely looking for a way to free up money in their budget. Team Clark has some resources to help, including 7 tips for preparing your finances and a guide for how to prepare for a layoff during this pandemic.
Money expert Clark Howard believes adding a 0% APR credit card to your financial resources could also be a way to help combat the impacts of this economic climate.
Expanding your total credit limit adds to the amount of expenses you can cover should your income stream dry up temporarily. And utilizing the 0% APR also could help lower the total amount of your monthly bills in the process.
Ask Clark: Should You Apply for a 0% APR Credit Card Right Now?
One of the questions we’re receiving is whether or not now is the time to act on a 0% APR offer from card issuers. Clark says that the answer is “Yes,” provided that you have maintained your employment and have a good credit score.
“This is something that is a good strategic move for you if you are employed right now and your job seems secure but you’re not completely sure. [Do it] to know that you have the access and availability to credit on good terms if things get tougher for you over the weeks ahead,” Clark says.
Clark believes a lot of card issuers are going to be offering good introductory rate specials because their cost of funds now is near zero thanks to some rate tweaks from the Federal Reserve.
He says that people with solid employment and credit reports should consider leveraging that to acquire both higher credit limits and balance transfer capabilities with these introductory 0% APR offers.
3 Reasons You Should Add a 0% APR Credit Card
As Clark indicates, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a unique circumstance of financial uncertainty across the nation. Most Americans are facing the reality that their local economy could be impacted for at least several months, which in many cases has an impact on their job security.
As a measure for preparing for the possibility that a layoff may be coming, you may find it financially prudent to plan ahead with the addition of a new credit card. Here are some of the reasons why:
- It can provide personal financial stability. If you’re fearful of losing your employment in the next 8-12 weeks because of COVID-19, the time to act is now. This will insure that your credit application is considered while your income stream is still at its best. That way, if you lose your job in the coming weeks, you’ve provided yourself access to funds to pay bills with a temporary reprieve from any interest accruing.
- You can lower bills on existing debt. Many of these introductory 0% APR offers are good for both new purchases and balance transfers. If you secure a card with 0% on balance transfers, you could provide yourself some monthly budget relief by lowering the amount of interest you’re paying on existing credit card debt. Just move the balance from your existing cards over to your new 0% card.
- You can get access to a higher credit limit. Clark believes this is a good opportunity to pull down the maximum credit line that a card issuer is willing to give on one of these 0% APR cards. This ensures you’ll have more spending power if things take a turn for the worse in your financial life.
3 Reasons You Should Hesitate to Apply for a 0% APR Card
While this is a prime opportunity for some consumers to add a credit card to their wallet, there are some exceptions to the rule.
Here are some situations in which you should probably think twice before adding another credit card to your wallet:
- You were recently laid off. If you just lost your job, you’re likely looking for a quick way to boost your spending ability. However, applying for a new credit card is likely not the move. Card issuers are going to evaluate your income as part of the application process, which puts you at a higher probability for a declined application, even if your credit score is solid. Instead, contact your state’s department of labor to apply for unemployment insurance.
- You already have mounting credit debt. If credit card debt has been a problem for you in the past or you are already in possession of maxed out cards, adding one more credit card to your financial equation may not be the best move. Even though there could be rough financial times ahead, it may be wise to instead look for alternative ways to ensure you make ends meet. Our work from home guide could help find a solution for adding more revenue during these times.
- You’re saving for a big purchase. If you’re planning on buying a home in the near future, you may want to avoid adding a new line of credit to your credit report. Everyone’s financial profile is a little bit different, but there are scenarios where adding one more revolving credit asset could harm your near-term plans for qualifying for a large loan that requires certain borrowing characteristics.
Which 0% APR Credit Card Should You Choose?
Team Clark has curated a list of the top 0% APR credit cards on the market. We recommend evaluating the cards on that list to determine the best fit for your financial situation.
Some cards that may be worth considering during the COVID-19 pandemic are:
- Citi Simplicity® Card: This card has an introductory 0% APR for the first 12 months from date of account opening and 0% Intro APR for 21 months on balance transfers from date of first transfer (must be completed in the first four months of membership). Afterwards the variable APR will be 15.49% – 25.49%, based on creditworthiness. It also has no late fees or annual fees.
- U.S. BANK VISA® Platinum Card: This card has a 20-billing cycle introductory 0% APR for both new purchases and balance transfers. After, there will be a variable APR of 15.24% – 25.24%. There is no annual fee.