From what I've read, these offers seem to be far more prevalent in the US than here in Canada. However, I've seen a lot of people talking about MBNA Canada's 0% promotional rate, and I thought I'd take a look at it. The offer is not listed on MBNA's website, but if you call a toll-free number and give a four-character promotional code (listed in the thread I've linked), they'll process an application for the card.
I called last night to apply for the card, and was approved on the phone. I was given a $15,000 limit, which I will use to consolidate a big chunk of my current revolving debt (which currently sits on my line of credit). This balance will sit on my MBNA card for 15 months, accruing $0 in interest (there's a one-time 1% fee for transferring the balance), which should save me over $1,000 in interest charges. This will really accelerate my debt paydown.
Obviously, transferring a substantial balance to a credit card is not without risks:
- By opening a new credit account and running it up to 100% utilization, I'll be hurting my credit score. However, I don't plan to apply for any new credit within the next couple of years, so I'm willing to take this temporary hit.
- If I miss a payment (or pay late) during the 15-month promotional period, then the interest rate will jump up to 19.99%. I'm not clear on whether this will be retroactive to the time I first transferred the balance, but either way, it's something to avoid. I need to keep a close eye on my payment schedule.
- Similar to the point above, I need to make sure that I pay off the card balance (or at least transfer it back to my line of credit) before the promotional period ends. I'll be setting lots of automatic reminders to make sure I stay on top of this.
- If I use the card at all for purchases, then those purchases will immediately start to revolve at a 17.9% interest rate, and will continue to do so for as long as there is a balance on the card (because payments are always applied to lowest-rate balances first). This doesn't affect me, as I will never use this card (or, in fact, even carry it in my wallet) for anything other than the initial balance transfer. However, it's an important point to recognize, as it's what MBNA is hoping I'll do.
Have I missed anything? Has anyone else taken this approach, or used this card?