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Some credit cards offer an ‘introductory’ or ‘promotional’ interest rate.
These often include 0% or lower than average interest rates which last for a fixed period, but there are usually conditions you need to be aware of.
You may find credit cards with introductory interest rates on some or all of the following:
We’ve shown some figures, just for illustrative purposes:
When you’re selecting a credit card, you might notice that the duration of some introductory interest rates is advertised as being available for ‘up to’ a certain number of months. That basically means you could be offered the advertised rate, but you could also be offered a shorter duration instead, based on an assessment of your personal circumstances.
Similarly, where a low interest rate is offered as standard with no fixed expiry date, the interest rate itself may vary.
When you apply for a credit card, lenders make decisions about the interest rate and credit limit to offer, based on a number of factors. These include:
Your credit record
Credit reference agencies securely hold information about you and your financial past, issuing you a credit score. Lenders can access this information to support their decisions around offering credit.
We’ll assess what we think you can reasonably and sustainably afford to repay, based on things like your income and the total amount of credit that’s already available to you.
Current and past accounts
Lenders usually hold a record of accounts you’ve held with them before, including information about how well they were managed. It follows that, the better your financial position and credit score are, the more likely it is that you’ll be offered a lower introductory or promotional interest rate.
Check your eligibility before you apply
Many lenders now provide an eligibility checker to help you to find and compare cards you’re likely to be accepted for, without impacting your credit score. The Lloyds Bank version is called One Check.
Although you may be offered an introductory interest rate lasting for months into the future, it may only be valid on transactions made within a shorter window at the start.
Balance and money transfers
You’ll have a number of days from the date your account is opened to make qualifying transactions – usually around 60 days. After that, the standard interest rates for your account will apply to further transfers. At Lloyds Bank you can request a balance transfer as part of your application, helping you take advantage of your new credit card benefits as soon as your account is opened. For money transfers you’ll need to wait until your account is set up and your card has been delivered.
You may have a number of days from the date your account is opened to make qualifying transactions – usually around 60 days – after which the standard interest will apply to further card purchases. However, on some cards, you may be able to make qualifying purchases for the duration of the introductory offer. Naturally, you won’t be able to make card purchases until your new credit card and, for store purchase, your card PIN are delivered.
Low standard interest rates
Some credit cards are offered with lower than average standard interest rates, rather than 0% introductory interest rates which expire after a fixed period. Although you’ll be paying interest from the start, there usually aren’t limits on when you transact, and the interest rates and costs may be easier to keep track of. This may appeal if, for example, you use your card for everyday purchases and pay off most, if not all, of your statement balance each month.
These conditions may vary between credit cards and transaction types, so when you’re comparing credit card benefits, make sure you check these details carefully.
When an introductory interest rate expires, the standard interest rate at that time will apply to any remaining balance, so the more you repay before the expiry date, the less interest you’ll pay overall.
Making the minimum payment each month usually won’t be enough to clear your balance before the expiry date, especially if you use your card to make other transactions too, so it’s always a good idea to pay more whenever you can.
If you’ve continued to use your card, a number of different interest rates may apply to portions of your outstanding balance.
To help you to keep your interest costs to a minimum, payments you make will be allocated to balances with the highest interest rates first, and to those which appear on your monthly statement, before those which will feature on future statements. That’s still the case, even if an introductory interest rate is due to end.
It’s important to understand the way payments are allocated so you can figure out how much of your outstanding balance will switch to a standard interest rate when an introductory offer expires.
If you continue to manage your credit card account well, i.e. keeping up with payments and staying within your credit limit, you may be offered promotional interest rates in the future.
As you’d expect, terms and conditions apply to these offers, so make sure you read the details provided carefully.
You can manage your contact preferences online at any time, or get in touch to switch between options. If you’ve opted out of marketing communications, we may still contact you with updates about your account, including when new rates are available, just so you’re not disadvantaged.
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