What is a 'Go-To Rate'

A go-to rate is the interest rate that will come into effect following an introductory period, when a lower interest rate is charged. The go-to rate is most commonly associated with credit cards, which may offer an introductory period of time in which the cardholder enjoys a lower interest rate. After the introductory period ends, the interest rate increases.

BREAKING DOWN 'Go-To Rate'

A go-to rate comes into effect after the teaser rate expires. Credit card companies frequently use teaser rates to entice customers to sign up for a new credit card or transfer their balances, before instituting a go-to rate. This introductory rate may be as low as zero percent for a period of time, often between six months and two years. During this time, the cardholder pays a lower interest rate on different types of transactions, including cash advances, transfers, and purchases.

After the introductory period is over, the credit card holder will likely see an increase in interest rates. The cardholder is typically notified of this rate in the credit card agreement that he or she signs when signing up for the card. The go-to rate can vary according to the creditworthiness of the cardholder, with more risky cardholders receiving a higher interest rate for balances.

Cardholders can take advantage of the introductory period to pay down their credit card balance, since they will have a period of time in which they may not paying interest on any outstanding balance. This specifically applies to balance transfers from an older credit card into the new credit card.

For example, a credit card company may offer an introductory APR of 0% for 24 months. During this time, the cardholder is not charged interest on any purchases or balance. The go-to rate is provided as 12 percent to 22 percent, depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. The interest rate may be variable, meaning that it will change in relation to another rate, such as the prime rate.

Historical Trends in Go-To Rates

Credit card interest rates fell throughout most of the 2010s, following the Federal Reserve’s decision to decrease interest rates in an effort to stimulate the American economy. Another factor that has helped bring down interest rates is the rise of peer-to-peer lending companies like Prosper and Lending Club, which offer customers a convenient an inexpensive way to refinance credit card debt. In response, credit card companies began offering very low teaser rates with long life spans. That said, these deals often include go-to rates upwards of 20 percent, so its important for prospective credit card owners to read the fine print of any credit card offer, and to be sure to keep their rolling balances low or non-existent, in order to avoid considerable interest charges.
 

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