Introductory offers can create a great way to try a product or service at a low price before committing to higher, regular prices. Sadly, however, many introductory offers are positioned more as tricks to get you locked into an overpriced service that you don’t really need. The next time you consider taking a service provider up on their introductory offer, make sure you cover all these angles first:
• Read all the fine print on the offer statement or website. Within the teensy type, you’ll often find hidden charges, conditions and terms that make you want to run far away from the offer. Look out for things like activation fees, service fees, maintenance fees, contract length and so on.
• If it’s not printed in the fine print, make an effort to find out how much the service costs after the introductory period is over. It’s very possible that the regular amount for the service is a lot more than the introductory amount, and way out of your budget. It’s important to know this ahead of time.
• Find out how to cancel before you’re charged the regular amount. If you only want to take advantage of the introductory price, you need to first find out how to cancel the service. Some services require you to jump through hoops in order to cancel and may not even allow you to until the first regular-priced month has been charged to you. You need to be prepared to do whatever it takes to cancel the service before you’re charged the higher fee (assuming that’s possible). You’ll also want to make sure you mark your calendar to remind you to start the cancellation process well in advance.
• For credit cards with introductory fee or balance transfer offers, make sure you look for changing fee terms. Many card issuers are giving a low- or no-fee balance transfer or new purchase interest rate for just a few short months, and then switching to a higher rate that could devastate your finances.
Buyer beware is just as true now as it was 20 years ago. Make sure you pay close attention to the offers you’re given so you don’t get stuck paying more than you can afford.