Business & Finance Credit

Credit Card Interest Rates and Charges - What You Need to Know Before You Sign Up

There are literally hundreds of different interest rates available on the credit card market today, and many of them are calculated differently.
Here's a guide to the various charges you may incur from your credit card provider.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR) The APR is a good measure of the cost of a credit card.
It is a value expressed as a yearly interest rate, as a percentage of the total amount you would owe the card issuer.
For example, if you bought a CD player for $100 and kept it on your credit card for 12 months with an APR of 10%, you would pay an additional $10 in interest.
Periodic Rate This is another interest rate expressed as a percentage, but is applied to the current balance of a card each calendar month.
Transaction Fees These apply each time you use your credit card to make a purchase, or on cashback.
Most card issuers waive transaction fees for customers on purchases.
Annual Fees Sometimes you may be expected to pay a fixed fee each year for owning a credit card.
Introductory Rates You may be offered preferential interest rates as a new customer for a certain number of months.
It is worth finding out how much of an advantage this is, how long the introductory offer lasts and what will the interest rate be once that period expires.
Although tempting a low or zero introductory rate can mask a very high APR which will be to your detriment in the long term.
Interest Free Period This is the period in which you do not have to pay any interest on your balance.
Some card issuers charge interest from the day the transaction goes through, others wait until the next billing cycle before charging interest.
Find out the maximum interest-free period on your purchases (normally up to 56 days).
Cash Withdrawal Rates Often charged at much higher interest rates, as well as attracting a transaction charge, cash withdrawals on a credit card are not recommended.
Often you are not given a grace period, and interest charges begin on the day of the cash withdrawal.
Balance Transfers Sometimes different interest rates apply to balance transfers, especially within an introductory offer period.
Check with your card issuer.

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