The 0% APR Experiment: How to Beat the Credit Card Companies at Their Own Game

Suppose I told you I was willing to loan you money, interest-free, for six months. If you could pay it back within a year, you’d have a free loan.

Money for nothing?

Money for nothing?

Now imagine there are a dozen people just like me, all ready to give you the same offer. If you could roll your debt from one person to the next, taking advantage of each year-long, interest-free loan, you could pay off your debt without ever having to pay a dime in interest.

Sound too good to be true? It’s called 0% APR introductory offers, and I grilled three credit card companies on how to use these 0% APR balance transfer offers to beat them at their own game: paying down your credit card debt, without paying interest. Here’s how to do it, step by step.

Round 1: American Express Blue Sky Card

American Express Blue Sky

My first call was to American Express, for their Blue Sky card, which offers a six-month 0% APR for new cardmembers. I quickly learned that all 0% APR offers are not created equal: American Express only offers a 0% APR on new purchases, not balance transfers.

I spoke with a nice young woman named Cherise. I needed a cover story, so I told her I was $10,000 in debt from a bad investment in a cheese farm, and I wanted to pay it off interest-free. She offered me the Hilton HHonors American Express instead, which has their lowest APR of 2.9% for the first six months, with no annual fee.

“Hilton HHonors,” I said. “Is that named after Paris Hilton?”

“No.”

“But it is named after the Hilton hotel chain?”

“Yes.”

“Which is named after the Hilton family?”

A pause. “Yes.”

“So, technically, it’s named after Paris Hilton.”

From her silence, I guessed this was a yes.

Paris Hilton

Ironically, Paris only pays in cash.

I also thought it was weird that it was called the Hilton HHonors, since Paris Hilton is not that hhonorable. But I wasn’t interested in winning the argument, I was interested in beating the credit card companies. So I thanked Cherise, and hung up. American Express had no 0% APR offers I would be interested in.

On my next call, though, I hit paydirt.

Please continue to Round 2: It Really Does Pay To Discover!

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