It's a tempting offer when you're trying to shop on a budget--especially during the holidays--stores offer big discounts or zero percent financing and all you have to do is open up a credit card with the store.
But a tempting offer isn't necessarily a good offer, because if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is, according to Kenyata Love Davidson, a financial counselor with the Lansing Financial Empowerment Center.
"These interest free cards or interest deferred cards the consumer needs to understand that they're going to have a limited amount of time to pay that," she said.
The temporary zero percent rates disappear quickly if payments aren't made in time. While some stores can charge as much as 25 percent interest if a payment is missed or an account isn't paid off in time.
"They will be in a bigger financial mess than they thought because the interest gets retroactively put on the balance," Love Davidson said. "It's important that the consumer read and they take time before they decide to sign up."
But Erika Tobe, a consumer finance expert with the Michigan State University Extension said if you must have a credit card, there has to be limits.
"The guidelines are to have around two or three credit cards total," she said.
And beyond that, the best practice, especially when taking on holiday shopping, is to make a money plan and stick to it, according to Tobe.
"Understand how much you want to spend for you holiday budget and really setting that at the beginning so that you're more prepared when you go to the stores and see those exciting offers," she said.
The Lansing Financial Empowerment Center offers free counseling to anyone living in the city.
The MSU Extension also has several online tools to help manage money and credit which you can find in the 'related links' section on this page.