What Happens When Your 0% Introductory Offer Ends?

Updated: March 20, 2024

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The standard APR kicks in once the 0% introductory period ends. If you haven't paid off what you owe by then, you'll start getting charged interest on the remaining amount. This would lead to higher monthly payments or a longer period to pay off your debt.

You can find your standard APR in the card agreement sent to you. You can also call your card issuer to ask for it. Make sure to pay off as much as you can before the interest-free period ends. If you can clear all your debt before then, you won’t need to worry about any unexpected expenses derailing your budget and payment plan.

  • After the 0% introductory APR period, the standard APR applies, leading to interest charges on any remaining balance, which could increase minimum payments and extend debt repayment time.
  • Aim to pay off the balance before your intro period ends; even partial payments can reduce future interest charges and ease repayment efforts.
  • You have options when your introductory period ends. Consider transferring it to another card with a 0% intro offer or developing a detailed repayment plan to manage the debt effectively.

Managing Your Remaining Balance

Not everyone can pay off their balance before the introductory period ends. If you can't pay off the whole amount, try to pay as much as possible. The more you pay down, the less you'll owe when the period ends. Even if there's some balance left, it will be smaller, and the interest on it will be less. This way, you're making future payments easier while keeping interest charges as low as possible.

If you find yourself in this situation, have a strategy in place to manage the remaining debt effectively.

Transferring the Balance to Another Card

An option you can consider is to transfer the remaining amount to a card with a new 0% introductory offer. This move can provide you with additional interest-free time to pay down your debt. Be sure to calculate how much you can save on this new transfer, taking into account the balance transfer fee and the terms of the new card. Also, note that another application will hurt your credit score.

Creating a Repayment Plan

Developing a detailed repayment plan is essential if a balance transfer isn't suitable. This plan should include a realistic budget that allocates funds toward debt repayment, taking into account your income, expenses, and the interest rate on your remaining balance. Use online tools and calculators to visualize your repayment timeline so you can adjust your strategy as needed.

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Your old credit card will remain active after a balance transfer is completed. Don’t cancel it. Near the end of the new card's introductory period, ask your old card issuer if you can switch to a different product, such as a balance transfer card.

Since switching products does not have the same effect as opening a new account, you might be able to transfer the funds back to your previous account without affecting your credit score. Before transferring any funds out of your account, you should check with your issuer to be sure it is possible.

What Does 0% Introductory Offer on Purchases Mean?

0% APR on new purchases means you won't be charged any interest on the purchases you make with the card until the offer expires. This offer is useful for large purchases you plan to pay in installments. Similar to 0% APR on transferred balances, pay off any remaining balances to avoid being charged the regular interest rate on the remaining balance.

Not all balance transfer cards offer this. On our list of the best balance transfer cards, only Citi Simplicity Card offers both 0% Introductory ARP on transferred balances and new purchases.

Always read the fine print since the length of the introductory period for balance transfers is not the same as that for new purchases. Going back to the Citi Simplicity Card, this card has the longest 0% introductory APR on our list, an impressive 21-month 0% interest period. However, it only offers 12 months of 0% intro APR on new purchases.

Alternatives If You Can't Pay Off the Balance

When paying off the balance isn't an option, explore alternatives to manage your debt and avoid interest costs.

    balanceTransfer icon

    Apply for Another Balance Transfer

    Doing another balance transfer can help you save on interest payments, especially if you still have a substantial balance remaining. If you feel that you can’t pay your balance shortly after the intro period ends, this could be a viable option. However, applying for another credit card will hurt your credit score.

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    Explore Debt Consolidation

    Debt consolidation loans can also be a practical solution if you still carry substantial debt. Debt consolidation also offers a low interest on the transferred balance plus a long payment period, typically around 3-5 years. While applying for a loan will hurt your credit score, multiple applications are considered one hard inquiry

FAQ: 0% Introductory APR Offers

To further guide you in navigating the complex world of balance transfers, here are some of the most commonly asked questions on the topic, answered for your convenience.

What happens if I make a late payment on a 0-interest credit card?
If I cancel my credit card will the interest stop?
Can I extend the 0% introductory offer?

About Doug Milnes, CFA

Doug Milnes, CFA headshot

Doug Milnes is a CFA charter holder with over 10 years of experience in corporate finance and the Head of Credit Cards at MoneyGeek. Formerly, he performed valuations for Duff and Phelps and financial planning and analysis for various companies. His analysis has been cited by U.S. News and World Report, The Hill, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and many other outlets.

Milnes holds a master’s degree in data science from Northwestern University. He geeks out on helping people feel on top of their credit card use, from managing debt to optimizing rewards.

*Rates, fees or bonuses may vary or include specific stipulations. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. We recommend visiting the card issuer’s website for the most up-to-date information available.
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