There’s no shame in borrowing money. Almost everyone does it, whether it’s a mortgage, credit card, or line of credit.
There are very good reasons to borrow and many times, it can be a smart financial decision, like when borrowing to buy a home that appreciates in value, or buying a car that gets you to and from work. Other times, borrowing can help alleviate an emergency situation, like when used to fix a leaking roof.
What we want to focus on, are the opportunities to borrow for free. Most of these opportunities are riddled with landmines intended to trip you up. But, play your cards right and you could be funding your dreams with someone else’s money.
Credit Card Grace Period
Almost every credit card will give you an interest free period from the time that you make a credit card purchase, to the time your minimum payment is due. The period between the time you receive your credit card statement to your payment due date is called the grace period. It’s usually between 21 and 28 days long. That means you get to use your credit card, earn points, and once you receive your statement, get an additional 21 days to make your payment, all without ever incurring interest.
Just make sure you’re never late making a payment. If you’re late by an hour, most credit card companies will remove your grace period privilege the following statement period, and start charging you interest from the day you make a purchase on your credit card.
Balance transfers are an incredible opportunity to borrow money interest free for an extended period of time. Let’s say you currently have a credit card balance with a 19.99% interest rate. A balance transfer shifts the debt from the higher interest rate card to a balance transfer card that often comes with an introductory rate of 0% for 12-20 months.
Because there are so many 0% balance transfer offers in the market, you can be pretty aggressive in exploiting them to your advantage, probably the most common is call balance transfer surfing. Essentially, a month or so before the expiry of your 0% introductory rate, you will get another 0% balance transfer card and transfer your balance yet again. Rinse, wash, repeat.
Let’s say you have a credit line you need to pay down. A balance transfer won’t do you any good, since it only pays down existing credit card balances. What you can do instead with a deposit transfer is shifting money from your credit card to your checking account at 0%. You can then use that money for anything you like, including paying down your line of credit. Although not as prevalent in the United States, several balance transfer credit cards in Canada and the U.K. also offer deposit transfers.
0% Intro Rate
If you don’t have a credit card balance, but you need to borrow money and you want to do so at 0%, look for credit cards that offer 0% on purchases. These deals will typically allow you to borrow up to your credit card limit during the first 90 days or so, and then have a 0% interest rate for the following 12-24 months.
No Interest, No Payments Sales Financing
Ever walk into a furniture or hardware store and see an advertisement for 0% financing for 12 months? These are great deals, where the retailer is paying you to take the item now, versus later. Some of these sales financing loans don’t require you to make any payments during the 12 month period, others require you to make some interest-free fixed payments. Whatever the case, always be prepared to pay the loan back in FULL on the due date. If you miss your payment, often times the lender will retroactively charge you interest from the first day you took the loan.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to borrow at 0%, whether you’re looking to cut interest rates on your current debt, or looking for a new loan. The one recommendation we have is to always set-up automatic repayment of your loans, so that you’ll never be late.
Featured photo credit: Flickr creative commons, Benjamin Smith via flickr.com