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Susan Tompor: These credit card offers seem great. Expert calls them 'bait-and-switch'

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Holiday shoppers beware: Signing up for instant credit could quickly turn into a jingle hell.

The truth is that understanding some credit card deals can be as tricky as trying to make a gingerbread house from scratch -- just too many ways the walls can come crashing down on you.

On the one side, you could be looking at a pretty good deal for a 0% rate.

On the other, the special, interest-free financing could collapse and the deal you get today could indeed be worthless a few months from now.

Everything, of course, can look more affordable if you can work out a deal on the spot for financing. Many consumers, particularly millennials, are more comfortable borrowing for a specific purpose, too.

Yet if you're planning to get engaged this holiday season, watch out if the jeweler suggests that you really can afford that $7,000 ring if you take out instant financing.

 

Ditto if you're buying a big screen TV through one of those Black Friday deals. Step back and dig deep into the details of any promotional financing.

Not all financing -- particularly when it comes to deferred interest -- works the way you'd expect.

If someone tells you that an interest-free introductory offer is good for three months or six months, you might reasonably expect that you'd pay absolutely no interest during that time frame.

You'd never expect that some slip-up suddenly could change all the rules when it comes to deferred interest so that you never get any break from the start.

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