What is a Credit Card Teaser Rate

A credit card teaser rate is a lower-than-normal interest rate that a credit card company extends to a new cardholder for a fixed period. Credit card teaser rates are a tool for attracting new customers. The best possible teaser rate is 0 percent, but any rate below the card issuer’s usual rate could be considered a teaser rate. Under the 2009 CARD Act, teaser rates must last a minimum of six months; creditors might offer them for periods as long as 24 months.

BREAKING DOWN Credit Card Teaser Rate

Credit card teaser rates vary based on many different factors. For instance, the availability of teaser rates is influenced by economic conditions, the rates credit card companies pay to borrow and consumers’ creditworthiness. Teaser rates tend to be more available when the economy is doing well, borrowing costs are low and consumers are paying their bills on time. For example, teaser rates became less common during the Great Recession in 2008, but creditors began offering them again as conditions improved.

A teaser rate may also be offered for credit card balance transfers, in which one credit card company offers an introductory teaser interest rate in order to attempt a consumer to transfer the balance of another card to their card. The interest rate, in theory, could then drop to the new, lower interest rate and save on required monthly payments.

Drawbacks of a Credit Card Teaser Rate

While credit card teaser rates can be attractive to consumers shopping for new credit cards, teaser rates can quickly land a consumer into hot water. Consumers who receive a teaser rate on a new card must be careful to not let the low rate influence them to make poor spending choices.

For example, a consumer who uses a 0 percent teaser rate as a rationale for not paying his credit card balance in full each month might find himself with a balance so large that he can’t pay it in full at the end of the introductory period. He might have made those purchases with the idea that he would not pay any interest on them. Instead, after the teaser rate expires, he will end up paying off the balance at a much higher interest rate, perhaps between 10 percent and 26 percent depending on economic conditions and the borrower’s credit score. The scenario that that gives credit card companies an opportunity to make back the money they lost in charging a low introductory rate.