There are many credit card advertising methods that may confuse consumers who are applying for credit cards.
Credit card advertisements are designed to entice consumers into applying for a credit card, but they don’t necessary reveal the specific terms and conditions of the credit card up front, which can sometimes misrepresent the actual credit card features that the consumer will receive.
These credit card marketing strategies are not illegal (in most cases), and the credit card issuers are required to make the credit card terms available, which they do, so it’s important to review them closely before applying for a credit card.
However, these credit card terms are often hidden in the fine print, so you’ll have to search a little to find them, and they aren’t always written clearly.
We’ve compiled some examples of confusing credit card marketing language that is often used in credit card advertisements.
These are the credit card tricks you’ll need to know before you Apply for a Credit Card.
Receive a 0% Intro Rate for “Up To” a Million Months
Credit cards are often advertised as having a 0% APR on select transactions for “Up To” a certain number of months.
For instance, you may see a 0% APR on purchases for up to 12 months.
However, you may not actually receive a 0% APR for the entire 12 months. Some applicants may only receive the rate for 6 months, or you may not receive the 0% APR at all.
The actual introductory offer you receive will depend on your credit qualifications.
Get an APR “As Low As” 0%
Credit card advertisements sometimes indicate the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) will be “As Low As” a certain rate.
For instance, the credit card advertisement may market an APR as low as 7.99%.
However, not all applicants will receive the lowest APR available, depending on your credit qualifications.
There are often several APR tiers, which means your actual APR could vary from 7.99% to 15.99%, so less qualified applicants will receive much higher interest rates.
Earn “Up To” 100% Cash Back on All Purchases
Credit cards advertising cash rebates often don’t provide the full cash rebate on all purchases, and this is often hidden in the same “Up To” language used for introductory rates.
Sometimes, the cash rebate is tiered, and you won’t earn the full rebate on all purchases.
For instance, a credit card may advertise a cash rebate of up to 5%.
However, you may only earn a 1% rebate on your first $5,000 in purchases, a 3% rebate on your purchases over $5,000 and up to $10,000, and then finally the full 5% for purchases over $10,000.
In most cases, you’ll earn less with tiered cash rebates than you would if you earned a full cash rebate on all of your purchases.
All Credit Cards that Glitter are Not Gold
Credit cards are often marketed in status levels, such as platinum cards, gold cards, or standard cards, and the more precious the metal, the better the credit card, or so it goes.
However, not all applicants will receive the status they hope to achieve (just like in life).
The fine print of many platinum or high-status cards reveals that unqualified applicants will receive standard or lesser versions of the cards, which may not provide all of the same features or low interest rates.
These are some examples of confusing or misleading credit card marketing strategies that you should understand when you apply for credit cards.
Review our Credit Card Directory for more information and tips to help you find the best credit cards.
Be sure to read the credit card terms and conditions closely before applying for a credit card, and you’ll be sure to avoid these credit card tricks.
Thanks and enjoy maximizing your money.