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I keep getting these Bank Of America “CleanSweep” loan offers of up to $50k at “non-variable” rates. However, I’ve read a lot of negative things online about this. My bank is BoA, and I was thinking this might be a great way to consolidate two large credit cards at a lower rate… but not if they just jack me for no reason down the road. What do you know about this?

Hello. As far as credit card offers are concerned, the best way to protect yourself is to take the time to read the fine print that comes with every offer you get in the mail for a new card, as painful as that process is. One companies “non-variable” may be different from another companies definition of the same term. It used to be that if a rate did not vary, it was called a “fixed” rate so I have to wonder why they now call it “non-variable”. As usual, it is probably a term made up by the bank’s marketing department to describe a new way to present you with the rate structure (which is where you need to be careful, because they may be trying to trick you with the term “non-variable”).

You must read the fine print on any card to ensure you know what you are actually signing up for. Ideally you want a true fixed rate at a percentage that is good (at least in terms of credit card rates) with no balance transfer fees (or any other “hidden” fees)…

…AND…

You need to be sure that the fixed rate they give you is fixed forever, not just for the first 6 months or a year. Unfortunately, it’s all in the fine print but it’s in there and that’s the only way to truly find out what they are offering you. Thanks.