The signs are everywhere that the holiday season is upon us: Black Friday bargains, Cyber Monday steals, and those "skip a payment" offers from lenders that give consumers a month off from paying credit card bills, car payments, and other debt. Some of them come right out and say that you could use the extra money for holiday shopping.
So what's the catch?
"For lenders, it allows them to stretch out the loan," says Gerri Detweiler, director of consumer education for Credit.com. She says skipping a payment won’t hurt your credit rating, but the amount you owe will increase. "You’re going to pay more interest and the loan will take you longer to pay off, so you’re sort of prolonging the agony, if you will."
Some consumers might not mind paying more in the end, but personal finance expert Lauren Lyons Cole says those who carry a credit card balance from month to month should never skip payments.
"That’s already an indication that you may have an overspending problem," Cole explains. "There are so many things you could do besides spending money that you don’t already have. You know you could… bake something for people, I mean that takes a lot of time, and everybody loves to eat."
Especially around the holidays...