Monday, July 04, 2011

Are you a rate-hopper or a promo junkie?

Rate-hoppers and promo junkies. You may have never heard the terms, but each apply to a certain type of credit card consumer.

As you may have guessed, rate-hoppers always keep a lookout for the lowest interest rates and make balance transfers more often than the average consumer.

Promotional junkies are lured by the promise of rewards and sign-on promos. A promo junkie may not care about balance transfers like the rate-hopper, but he'll sign up for more credit cards than he needs in order to reap the benefits.

Certainly there are true benefits to transferring balances to lower interest rate cards and for taking advantage of promotional offers, but there can be some disadvantages as well.

Rate hoppers know the value of a low interest rate. It is never a bad idea to transfer a balance on a high interest rate card to one with a 0% introductory rate.

Transferring a high balance to a 0% interest credit card can save a lot of money, even if the introductory period lasts for no more than a year.

The trick to taking full advantage of a balance transfer is to pay the credit card off in full before the 0% introductory rate ends. Most rate-hoppers, however, do not do this.

Rate-hopping can show up as a negative on your credit report. Some financial institutions have reservations about lending to a rate-hopper because of the number of closed accounts. They may assume you will bail out of your financial obligation to them before they can make a profit out of your business.

Promo junkies like opening new accounts with any company that offers a deal that's simply too good to pass up. Tempting promotions can come in the form of cash back, airline miles, free trips and those popular credit card points.

These promotional junkies dream of the day they can cash in those points for rewards, but it takes a lot of spending to rack up the points. Even if you don't use the card enough to stockpile the big points, some companies offer smaller awards such as MP3 downloads, books and DVDs.

Some credit card companies allow you to combine points with another cardholder, meaning you could end up sharing a reward that neither of you could have earned alone.

Other rewards include cash-back options. This means you can redeem those stockpiled points for cash or even a credit on your account.

The problem some promo junkies may run into is the temptation to apply for more credit cards than necessary. Having too many cards makes it more difficult to earn a substantial amount of points on one card alone. It may even mean a larger debt than intended.

Whether you are a rate-hopper, a promo junkie, or simply a savvy consumer, comparing credit card offers is a smart move. Utilize websites that allow you to compare cards before applying for any offer that comes in the mailbox.

Comparing credit card companies puts you in control. You can quickly see the card with the lowest APR percentage and lowest fees for balance transfers. The 0% interest period is plainly listed with other perks and rewards. Reading product reviews is another way to ensure you're making the right decision.

No matter your style, rate-hopper or promo junkie, it pays to be mindful of options.

Guest Post by MoneySuperMarket

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