There's No Such Thing As a Free-Lunch Loan|
Advertisements for loans touting easy terms are tempting. They can be good deals, but you must read the fine print:
"Zero Percent Financing" on auto loans. Often these loans are for 12, 24 or 36 months, not the 48 or 60 months many people choose to keep monthly payments down. If you opt for a shorter loan term, be sure you can make the monthly payments. Also look for any hidden fees.
"Zero Percent Interest" on a credit card. These offers usually are for limited purposes and time periods,
such as no interest charges for three months on new purchases or on any balance you transfer from another credit card. "This may be a good option, but you've got to read all the documentation and do the math," says Janet Kincaid, a senior consumer affairs officer with the FDIC. For example, if you don't pay the balance by the due date, you will incur interest. Also find out if there's a balance transfer fee or an annual fee. These charges could be sizableso high, in fact, that the zero-percent offer may cost more than a card with a higher interest rate but not the other fees.
| Do You Have Questions About Credit Cards or Debit Cards?
We'd like to know. Write by September 15th to: Jay Rosenstein, Editor, FDIC Consumer News, 3501 N. Fairfax Drive, Room MB-7100, Arlington, VA 22226. You can also send an
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or a fax to
(202) 898-3870. Please include your name, address and phone number. No names will appear in print without permission.
"Add the Closing Costs" to your mortgage. You're not getting out of paying the closing coststhey're added to the loan
balance, so your monthly payments will increase plus you'll be paying interest on the closing costs. And, if adding the closing costs to the loan balance results in a down payment on the loan of less than 20 percent of the home's value, you will probably have to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI), which protects the lender if you stop making mortgage payments. PMI can cost $40 to $70 per month for the typical mortgage loan.
"No Payments on Merchandise Until Next Year." Even though you won't make payments for several months, if interest is being charged from the date of purchase, as is often the case, you can end up paying much more for an item than you expected. Also, if you don't pay for the merchandise
in full by the end of the specified period, you may be charged interest from the date of