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When Does the 0% Credit Card Really Expire?

As I flipped the calendar to December, I had a note that one of the intro rates on our credit cards expires this month. I have a balance of $58,980 on my IN:CHICAGO Card from American Express at 0%. I looked at the terms, which I store in an excel spreadsheet, and read the following: 0% through billing period ending December 2007.

Easy enough, just pay it off before the rate changes. So when exactly is that? The closing date on the last bill I got was Nov. 12. The next payment is due Dec. 2. I can’t tell when the next closing date is or the next due date. I need to pay my card in full by one of these dates, I just didn’t know which one:

  • December 1 (day before due date)
  • December 2 (due date)
  • Day before next closing date
  • Day of next closing date
  • Day before due date of December bill
  • Due date of December bill

For each day that I miscalculate the date by, I’ll have to pay either $22.20 or $36.75 in interest per day. Even that I really can’t tell because there are two APRs stated (13.74% and 22.74%). Either way it is a hefty price.

With good intentions to pay off the balance before the interest accrues, the credit card companies make it really difficult to figure out. Ultimately, I decided to call because I really couldn’t tell.

I asked when the 0% expired and American Express informed me that I had 0% through billing period ending December 2007. Yeah, I already knew that. When I pressed for a calendar date, he told me December 10 (my next closing date). When I confirmed that if I paid it on December 10, I wouldn’t have to pay any interest, he stated, “To avoid any interest you need to pay it on December 9 by 11:59 pm. I didn’t ask which time zone!

Action Plan

I’ll pay it off in the next couple days just to be sure. In this case I couldn’t have known the exact date without calling. The lessen here is to always call and confirm. The end dates of intro rates are always worded somewhat vaguely and differ with each company.

See how much credit card debt [1] we have and why.