0% intro APR mythsWhether you’re looking to complete a balance transfer or you want some time to pay off a purchase interest-free, a 0% APR credit card is a great option to consider. These credit cards offer 0% intro APR on purchases or balance transfers (or both!) for a set amount of time. This means you won’t be charged interest for a certain period of time, allowing you to pay off a transferred balance or any new purchase you make with the card before the 0% intro APR expires. As you can see, there are many positives to a 0% intro APR card, but these opportunities don’t come with a number of misconceptions. To help you understand what you can expect with a 0% intro APR card, we’re detailing and debunking the most commons 0% intro APR myths.

0% intro APRs last forever

When a credit card offers a 0% intro APR period, the offer is exactly that — an introductory period of time when you’ll pay no interest. How long your introductory period lasts depends on the card you select, as some offer 15 months of no interest, while others offer 18 months or even up to 21 months of no interest. Once the 0% intro APR period is up, so is your 0% APR. This means you’ll be responsible for paying interest on any balance you are carrying after that period. For example, if you have a card with an 18-month 0% intro APR, you’ll pay interest on any balances you carry starting month 19. The interest you’re charged after the 0% intro APR is over will be determined by your creditworthiness when you apply for the card — it can also be found on your credit card statement. Something to note is that major credit cards have variable interest rates (e.g., 11.24% to 23.24% variable), which means your rates may change when the Fed increases or decreases interest rates. As such, it’s important that you not only pick a card with a long enough 0% intro APR period for you to pay off any balance you plan to transfer over or accumulate, but also understand what your APR will be after the 0% intro APR expires just in case you carry a balance when the ongoing APR kicks in.

You’ll pay back interest when the 0% intro APR runs out

It’s a common misconception that once your 0% intro APR expires, you’ll have to pay back interest for all the months you enjoyed interest-free bills, or that you’ll have to pay back interest if you carry past the 0% intro APR period. While it’s true that you’ll eventually have to pay interest after the 0% intro APR is over, you will not be charged any back interest to make up for the 0% intro APR period. For example, if your card’s 12-month 0% intro APR runs out and you have a $200 balance at the time, you will be charged interest on that $200 balance starting at month 13. This is true for most major credit cards, including the ones we review, although you should know that some credit cards, like store cards, do charge back interest if a balance isn’t paid off before the 0% intro APR expires — this will be detailed in the card’s terms and conditions. You’re probably wondering why credit cards provide 0% intro APR periods if they won’t make money off of back interest, as that seems like an easy way for issuers to make money. The fact of the matter is credit cards offer 0% intro APR periods to encourage new customers to apply. That’s why 0% intro APR offers usually don’t extend to current cardholders. Cards with 0% intro APRs wouldn’t be as enticing if they charged back interest, and most issuers understqnd thqt.

You will keep the 0% intro APR no matter what

Although your 0% intro APR does have an expiration date and you are pretty much guaranteed to keep your 0% APR until that date, there are a few instances where you could risk losing your 0% intro APR. For example, if you fail to make the minimum payment each month or you’re late on a payment, you could be at risk of losing your 0% intro APR. While making a late payment doesn’t necessarily mean your 0% intro APR offer will be canceled immediately, as this is subject to your credit card issuer, even one late or missed payment could put it at risk. This is why it’s extremely important for you to at least make the minimum payments on your credit card bills. If you can’t pay your balance in full each month, at least make sure that you’re paying the minimum payment on time, as making late payments negatively impact your credit scores.

All 0% intro APRs apply to both purchases and balance transfers

While there are credit cards that offer 0% intro APRs for both purchases and balance transfers, a large number of them extend their intro APRs to one or the other. To ensure you are applying for the right card for your needs, you’ll want to make sure you read your credit card’s terms and conditions before applying — or look through these details noted in our credit card reviews. After all, it won’t be helpful to sign up for a card that only offers a 0% intro APR on purchases if you’re planning to complete a balance transfer. Need some help? Check out our 0 interest credit cards review to find the right card for your needs.

0% intro APR cards always have hidden fees

A lot of consumers believe that credit card issuers will sneak in hidden fees to make up for the fact that new cardholders are getting an extended period of time with no interest. While those who transfer a balance may need to pay a balance transfer fee (usually 3% to 5% of the total), all major credit cards spell out the terms so they really aren’t hidden. In fact, most of the low APR credit cards we review have no annual fees. If you’re considering a card and want to confirm there will be no surprises, you’ll want to be sure to read through the card’s terms and conditions agreement — note that this may also be called pricing and information or rates and fees — as any fees associated with the card will be listed there.

Now that you know the truth about 0% intro APRs, you may want to start looking for the card that offers the perfect 0% intro APR period for you. You can read more about 0% intro APR credit cards and the other perks these card offer by visiting our reviews of best low APR credit cards.