The truth behind 0% interest promos
A finance professional last week told me he had a great tip for MoneySmarts. He said the 0% interest rate promotions are a sham. Yep -- a clever cover up, a daring deception, a trap for the millions of unsuspecting shoppers in this great big mall of a country. Unfortunately, he declined to be identified, but he was willing to explain all the details. So MoneySmarts went money myth busting to find out if his claims were for real. Hot glue gun stuck to the end of my nose! I was surprised how easy it is to make money in this country. Here is what I found. If you are like me, you go shopping at least once a week. Or at least go window shopping. You find that as you browse the shop windows, your eyes constantly stray to digital cameras (the hot craze right now), laptops (I especially like the razor-thin ones because I'm hardly 5 feet tall and lugging around more than two kilos of computer equipment is not my idea of a good day), plasma television and aircondition units because of this terrible summer heat. These are by no means cheap items. But hey! There's a 0% interest installment promo and all my three credit cards are accepted! Now, here's the deal. Swiping a credit card removes the pain of having to fork over a huge amount of money and it is very convenient. But we have been told hundreds of times not to use the credit card just to look good because the interest will kill us. Well this time, there's no interest to pay. So why not jump at the chance, right? Sounds like a great deal. Wrong. The Canon 400D camera cost P48,500. Its interest free if you pay for 12 months. The monthly payment is P4,042. Cut down to monthly bite-sized pieces, it doesn't look too painful. Then I asked the clerk, "What if I don't want to pay by credit card? I want to pay in cash." "Mam, its P44,950 if you want to pay in cash,” she says. Technically, there’s no violation of Administrative Order 10 issued by the Department of Trade and Industry, which put a stop to the practice of putting a card price and cash price in one price tag. But if you pester the clerk in a nice manner, he will tell you that he can give you a discount if you will pay in cash. So, is the 0% interest for real? MoneySmarts concludes the nice round “oh” is just a figure, often in red, to catch people’s attention. The interest has been included in the price already. If I pay P4,042 a month for that Canon 400D, I will be paying 12% interest on this installment promo and not 0%. If I pay in cash, I would save P3,550 – that’s almost 2 gigabytes of additional memory for the camera. If your aircondition unit at home is up for replacement, then go for the deal because the 12% interest is much less than the regular 42%. But don’t let the deciding factor be the attractive “0%” deal, because it ain’t what most people think it is.
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