Credit Card Offer Comparison Spreadsheet
|File Type(s):||Excel Spreadsheet (.xls); Excel 2007 Spreadsheet (.xlsx); OpenOffice Document (.ods)|
|File Size:||151kb (.ZIP file)|
|Last Update:||May, 2008|
I'd prefer that you not borrow money at all, of course. But if you're going to do it, you might as well do it from a position of knowledge.
What do I mean? Well, let's pretend you have a major purchase that's suddenly become necessary. Say your A/C system needs an emergency $3,800 overhaul. The cash savings just aren't there to cover it. You're going to have to resort to using plastic.
Thankfully, your card company just sent you a promotional letter in which they're offering you better-than-usual terms. The promo allows you to choose between two offers: One convenience check gives you 0% interest for six months; the second gives you a rate of 6.99% APR for the life of the balance. There's a 3% fee (no maximum) for using either one of these offers. Which should you use? Which one would cost the least amount in interest and fees in the long run?
The screenshot below shows how this scenario plays out in my new Credit Card Offer Comparison spreadsheet:
In my example, our hapless homeowner is already carrying a balance of $8,870 on his card. The card's standard rate for purchases is 14.99%. Once this new $3,800 purchase is made, he plans to be able to pay the card off, once and for all, with payments of $1,500 per month.
As it turns out — perhaps surprisingly — the math shows that the best deal in this case is to not use a promo offer at all!
Without spreadsheets, it'd be a huge pain to figure this out, wouldn't it?
And that's exactly what the credit-card companies are counting on. With no easy way to "do the math," folks will almost certainly grab one of the promo offers, almost by default, and the card company walks away with even more money in its coffers.
Too bad for them that you can download my Card Offer Comparison Spreadsheet below:
I tried to keep the spreadsheet as simple as possible. However, a few more words of guidance might be in order.
When you extract the ZIP file, you'll actually find three spreadsheets. One is for Excel 2007 (.xlsx). Another is for Excel 97 through Excel 2003 (.xls). The third version is for OpenOffice (.ods).
Simply use the spreadsheet that's appropriate for the program you use.
Inputting the User Data: Items 1 through 7
Here's a brief run-through of the seven data items the spreadsheet requires:
- Current Balance on Card:
If you're carrying a balance on your card, enter it here. If not, enter zero.
- APR on Current Balance:
Enter your card's standard APR for purchases.
- Prospective Purchase / Xfer Amount:
Enter the amount for which you're planning to use the promotional offer.
- Monthly Payment You Will Make:
Enter the monthly payment you'll be making once the promo goes through. You're gonna throw every spare penny you can at it, right?
- Fee for Offer (as % of Purchase/Xfer):
Enter the fee begin charged by your card company for utilizing the offer. Typically it's around three percent of the purchase amount.
- Is there a maximum fee for the offer?
Use the drop-down box to select YES or NO.
- If so, enter the maximum fee here:
Inputting the User Data: The Card Offers
There are four boxes to fill out in this section. Hopefully they're self-explanatory.
Questions? Comments? Contact Me!
As always, if you've got a question or issue, don't hesitate to drop me a line. I'll get back to you as soon as possible!