For the past 3 years, I’ve been living mostly credit card free. I paid off my credit card balances over two years ago and since then have been charging small amounts on them and paying them off in full. However, last year we moved into a new apartment and needed more furniture, of course. Since I had just built up my savings accounts, and just couldn’t part with the money, I applied for an in-store line of credit at a 0% interest rate for one year. It was great – I purchased a beautiful couch interest free. That year is up and my couch is paid off. (Zero percent interest only works if you pay off the balance before the interest-free period expires)!

This year, I really want to purchase a flat screen TV. Again, I don’t want to part with the money in my savings account and instead would prefer another 0% interest deal. To save time, I applied online at the store that had the best price on my TV. However, because the store couldn’t verify all of my information, I was offered a low credit line without any special interest rates. Bummer. Good bye TV.

What I learned after talking to customer service: Had I applied in the store instead of online, I would have been approved for a higher amount and a better offer. Darn!

How do I know this for sure? Mr. LH went into the store and, having a similar credit history, was approved for a credit limit 3-times mine and a 36-month zero interest rate. *grumble, grumble, grumble.*

Now,  I don’t promote taking out lines of credit if you have a ton of credit card debt already hanging over your head. Zero-percent interest is a great offer – but only if you are fairly debt-free and determined to pay off the balance before the interest-free period expires. Interest-free doesn’t work out too well if you screw up, skip payments, and can’t get the balance paid off before the interest sets in. You end up paying the interest on the entire borrowed amount, not just interest on the remaining balance. Ouch!

Lesson learned: apply for store credit in the store, not online.

Have you applied for store credit cards online? Do you take advantage of zero-percent interest deals?