DEFINITION of 'Fine Print'

The "fine print" includes contract terms and conditions, disclosures or other important information that is not included in the main body of a document, but in footnotes or a supplemental document. Reading and understanding the fine print is essential when entering into an agreement. It often contains information that the issuer does not want to call to the recipient's attention, but that is essential for the recipient to know.

BREAKING DOWN 'Fine Print'

The information in the fine print may be required by law or may be recommended by a company's legal department. For example, the fine print of a credit card agreement might include the card's introductory APR, the APR after the introductory period ends, the length of the introductory period, the APR for balance transfers and cash advances, the card's annual fee, its late payment fee and other crucial details. As another example, if an investor was reading a public company's financial report, he or she might have to read the fine print to learn about the company's accounting methods, long-term debt, employee stock ownership, pending litigation and other issues.

Fine print is often controversial because of its deceptive nature. Its purpose is to make the reader believe that the offer is better than it might actually be. Though the real truth about the offer is technically available to a reader in the smaller print of the advertisement—thus virtually ensuring plausible deniability from claims of fraud—it is often designed to be overlooked. The unsuspecting viewer, who can instantly see all the attractive aspects of the offer, will, due to natural impulsive behavior, time constraints, and/or personal need, generally not bother to learn the caveats, instead focusing on the positives of an offer.

Many offers, advertised in large print, only apply when certain conditions are met. In many cases, these conditions are difficult or nearly impossible to meet.

Many highly regulated sectors, such as banking and financial services, complain of overly regulated mandates which require documents to be laden with legalese. Anyone who's obtained a conventional mortgage knows the weight fine print adds to the loan documents. Although well-intentioned, the myriad of clauses and caveats makes transparency and comprehension difficult.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Print

    Print can refer to money supply or any type of financial information ...
  2. Inkjet Print

    A form of digital print that is made using an inkjet printer. ...
  3. 3D Printing

    3-D printing is an additive manufacturing process which creates ...
  4. Fine Tuning

    Fine tuning refers to the process of making small modifications ...
  5. Original Print

    A work of art that is created using a master image carved into ...
  6. Purchase APR

    Purchase APR is an annual percentage rate that applies to outstanding ...
Related Articles
  1. Personal Finance

    7 Factors For Comparing Credit Cards

    It's good to find a credit card that fits your lifestyle, but read the fine print to make sure you're not overpaying for the benefits.
  2. Investing

    Financial Footnotes: Reading the Fine Print

    Find out what could be hidden in the often-overlooked footnotes in financial statements.
  3. Small Business

    From The Printing Press To The Internet

    Find out how this invention contributed to the development and evolution of the U.S. economy.
  4. Investing

    3D Printing ETF Prints Record Highs

    3D printing stocks are surging. Use this ETF rather than trying to find the sector's best stock.
  5. Insights

    The State Of 3-D Printing in 2015

    As 3-D printing technology continues to advance, it's no longer far-fetched to imagine 3-D printers in everyday households.
  6. Personal Finance

    How Is Cashback Profitable For Credit Card Companies?

    Cashback rewards are not as beneficial to the consumer as they might initially seem.
  7. Insights

    What Happened to the 3D Printing Revolution? (SSYS, XONE)

    The 3D printing revolution's promised on-demand manufacturing and custom body organs are yet to materialize. What happened?
  8. Managing Wealth

    Fine Art Can Be A Fine Investment

    Understand how to identify Michelangelo from macaroni art before you make an investment in the fine arts. Learn the appraisal process to find a worthy asset.
  9. Insights

    How to Make Money With 3-D Printing Technology

    Discover how the 3-D printing technology industry continues double-digit annual sales growth and learn how to make money in this sector.
  10. Investing

    HP: Tough Printer Market Is ‘New Normal’ (HPQ)

    The tech giant's YOY sales growth in Q4 was largely driven by PC strength, while a weak printing supplies business dragged printing unit sales down 8%.
RELATED FAQS
  1. What are some examples of common credit card reward program benefits?

    Learn about different benefits available to credit card holders including cash back, air travel miles, introductory rates, ... Read Answer >>
  2. Are balance transfers worth it?

    Balance transfers on credit cards are often a way to save a lot of money over the short and medium term. Read Answer >>
  3. Who decides when to print money in India?

    Find out the role of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and the amount of authority given to the government to issue currency ... Read Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Current Assets

    Current assets is a balance sheet account that represents the value of all assets that can reasonably expected to be converted ...
  2. Volatility

    Volatility measures how much the price of a security, derivative, or index fluctuates.
  3. Money Market

    The money market is a segment of the financial market in which financial instruments with high liquidity and very short maturities ...
  4. Cost of Debt

    Cost of debt is the effective rate that a company pays on its current debt as part of its capital structure.
  5. Depreciation

    Depreciation is an accounting method of allocating the cost of a tangible asset over its useful life and is used to account ...
  6. Ratio Analysis

    A ratio analysis is a quantitative analysis of information contained in a company’s financial statements.
Trading Center