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Myth of 0% Balance Transfer for Life Deals


I just received another one of those credit card offers in the mail. What was different this time is that fact that they stated I would get a 0% apr for the life of my balance transfer!

So I checked the terms and conditions in greater detail and this is the fine print that I found out. Well, it turns out that you do get a 0% apr on your balance transfer for the life of your balance. However, there is a catch. You would have to charge at least two items to your card at least once a month. And every month, you would have to pay a minimum balance (say 4%). The minimum payment that you pay will first go towards paying the balance with the lowest rate (aka – your balance transfer at 0%). Meanwhile, your two items that get charged to your card the first month accumulates interest payment. After one year, you would have spent twenty four items on your card that are carrying interest.

If you pay the minimum payment of 4%, you will finish paying your balance transfer amount in 25 months (actually, it is slightly less than 25 months because your total balance would increase given that you have to spend 2 items a month on the card).

So what is the big deal you say? Why not just two packets of chewing or Hershies chocolate bars every month and you will be fine. Actually, you may not be fine, you almost have to a few more items just in case the second item does not get registered (computer mistake) and you lose your 0% deal. Secondly, chances are that you will spend more than two items on the card you could end up ing more things that you want simply because you want to maintain the 0% apr deal.

I have always maintained that getting a 0% balance transfer deal makes sense when you have a lot of credit card debt that you would like to reduce or eliminate and you still have good credit. The trick to using this technique is to take the money you have saved from the 0% card and use it to pay the balance on your card with the highest interest rate. Wash, repeat and rinse, and you will be able to figure out how long it takes to reduce your credit card debt.

0% apr for life of balance card complicates the matter because you are forced to use that card, when all you want to do is to pay the minimum and focus on paying off the card with the highest interest rate.

Lastly, there is no such thing as 0% apr for life of the balance. You HAVE TO pay the minimum payment anyway (4%). This works out to 25 months (slightly longer than 2 years). My suggestion is that if you are looking for a 0% apr card and you have a good credit, try to get one with an introductory period of at least one year (with no strings attached). The 0% apr for life of balance deal that I got would complicate matters because I am forced to use the card. Furthermore, it is never for life (only about 2 years!).

Recommended Credit Cards For Balance Transfers

If you have credit card debt and are looking for to reduce your interest payments and apply the debt snowball method, then I suggest you check our list of the best balance transfer credit cards for the latest offers.

Note – – Life of Balance Transfer Deals are no longer offered today.

John L
January 22, 2008 @ 12:33 pm

I just wanted to say that I too had the offer from Discover. It was 0% for the life of the card. My agreement was that I had to make one purchase a month to maintain the 0%, and too make the monthly payments on time. I held the card for three years and with the purchases that I made I had to pay approximately $120 in interest. You have to make sure that you can only make the smallest of purchases with that card. I also used online internet to check to ensure that the purchases were posted timely. Cards hace now changed and I would recommend that all be very careful in useing them, and watch the small print. I would like to add that I choose to have card protection as my automatic purchase, and it rose as time went on with the card, and they always applied the payment to the 0% amount instead of the purchases. That is where the $120 interest came from.

February 4, 2008 @ 7:46 am

I got this card (two in fact), called in to find out the minimum purchase required (it is a minimum $1.00 transaction, twice a billing cycle required to maintain the 0% apr for life until your balance transfer is paid off). I transfered ALL my debt (school, medical, emergency car repairs, etc) to these cards, make the minimum two $1 purchases on each card each billing cycle, and I deliberately pay much more than the required minimum payments and this offer of 0% for life on my balance transfers has saved me thousands of dollars in interest I would have paid on other cards. For those who are wise and can stick to the rules, you can get more of this deal than ever expected a consumer to get. I know when my billing cycle for each card begins each month and make the 2 transactions within the first week, then check online to make sure they’ve both posted. If you’re smart enough, you can work this towards your advantage and have Discover sorry they sent you the offer because they’re losing money on you while you’re saving.

February 11, 2008 @ 2:01 am

I got this offer in 2005. Then you only had to make 1 purchase a month of at least $1.00. Every month I buy $1.00 in gas (the gas station clerks must think I’m crazy!). I get charged a .50 finance charge each month. This is a really good deal, but you have to stay on top of it. If you forget to make a purchase or make a late payment, you will lose the 0% for life. I did forget to make a purchase one month and begged customer service to reinstate the 0% rate. They will reinstate it one time. It is a good idea to setup automatic payments and possibly an automatic charge as well.

February 21, 2008 @ 3:54 pm

FYI, Discover did offer 0% intrest on a transfer last year which did NOT require additional purchases each month. I can verify this becasue I have had this for the last year on a $3000 transfer. Works great if you start out with a $0 balance, since payments are applied to the 0% first & any existing balances or charges would compound with intrest untill the 0% is paid off. If miss a payment it jumps to 20% or more. Long story short, my wife just missed her payment & now it has jumped back & I am searching for similar plan but see that they do not exist any more.

March 24, 2008 @ 10:26 pm

Actually, about that 4%/month you would be paying. You would be paying 4% of the CARRYING BALANCE, which declines every month. I started off paying $200 on my $10K loan (it was 2% back then, hasn’t jumped yet for me, anyways) and now am paying less than $100/month. So it can go on for a VERY long time if I keep it up.

Ty Thongrit
June 11, 2008 @ 5:40 am

What is the best credit cards that have lowest apr on purchasing and balance trasfer for life.

June 13, 2008 @ 1:21 pm

Hi guys. I got this offer from Discover in 2005 via phone. The representative told me that there was no minimum amount for purchase. So for the past 3-years, I go to the gas station one a month and complete two separate transactions. One is for 5 cents and the other is for 10 cents.

Each statement there is a note at the bottom that says:
Congratulations! Your special Balance Transfer rate(s) has been extended for another billing cycle, as described in the offer.

While I understand that Discover will apply payments to new purchases first, all that gets added on each statement is the $0.50 minimum finance charge.

Hope this helps.


August 28, 2008 @ 11:32 am

Advanta Mastercard has a 2.99% Balance Transfer For Life promo going. There doesn’t seem to be a requirement for any purchases after you do the balance transfer.

February 11, 2009 @ 12:59 am

It is not a Myth, as with all credit card deals you must read the small print. I recieved thiss offer 2 years ago and I am still getting 0%. My catch to the offer is the followin; I have to make 3 purchases a month. I called and confirmed with Discover before appling for the offer to confirm the dates the transactions had to be posted(very important) also confirmed if I made 3 $1 purchases a month I would be ok. I have made my 3 purchases a month for 2 years and I think I have paid about $5 in interest in total. Best offer I have ever had.

October 22, 2009 @ 3:46 am

I’ve had this 0% interest for life from Discover for the past three years. I started out with a $1100 balance and I am now down to my Last $800. It’s a great deal if you can get it but you need to be diligent on making those two purchase each month. I found going to the gas station I can get two separate charges of 4 cents or less.


Hans Jorgensen
November 6, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

Both my wife and I signed up for Discover’s “0% for Life” offer as a way to fund our wedding several years ago. We began with a total of ~$20k and will finish paying the last of that amount next month. At no point did we ever make more than the minimum payment, nor were we ever charged interest on that balance.

All we had to do was make sure we each made two purchases a month. I’m sure we could have found some way to spend less than $1 per purchase, but in the end we each signed up to donate $1/month to two different charities. It was a fantastic deal and one we won’t see again for at least a decade or two, given how much less credit is being extended to folks these days.


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