0% EMI–An excellent mechanism and a good trap

There’s no such thing as free lunch. But marketers are promising exactly that with the 0% EMI schemes. You must have come across such deals especially while buying consumer electronics. The main claim of such schemes is to offer you an EMI scheme which will have


  no interest charges. This seems too good to be true, but in reality there are some really 0% Interest schemes. So what is the trap and how to know which schemes are really delivering a fully interest free EMI scheme.

Some few years back this was the most popular schemes for selling consumer electronics products especially with banks supporting and providing the finance. But RBI regulations advising banks to not indulge in such schemes have helped. The reason why the central bank decided to give a directive is because the scheme being promoted in a false manner. The problem with these schemes is mostly related to hidden charges. The way the charges are mentioned/categorised gives a false impression to the customer and making it difficult for the customer to have an informed choice.

Here are some hidden costs in the 0% EMI schemes:

1) Processing Fees: Such schemes typically asks for one-time processing fees for the loan. These are variable depending on the dealer/bank/purchase amount you are dealing with.

2) No Cash Discount: If you avail such scheme, any other discount provided by the dealer is not applicable. This is a real catch, since most of these 0% EMI schemes are promoted during festival period, when the dealers are willing to give lot of discounts to increase their sales.

3) Advance EMI/Down-Payment: These types of schemes typically asks for some part of the payment done in advance. In essence, you are not entitled for the entire amount of purchase to be converted into EMI.

4) Documentation Fees: Some offers ask your salary and if it does not meet a required parameter, they ask for certain documents. In such cases, an extra charge for document processing may be applied.

5) Availability on select models only: Sometimes the schemes are available only on select models/products. If this is the case, it surely indicates that the dealer wants to empty his inventory for these models which are probably old or not selling well.

6) Shipping charges/Installation charges: Sometimes dealers apply shipping/installation charges if you buy the product on 0% EMI scheme but no such fee if bought through cash.

7) Hidden conditions: Sometimes there are hidden conditions/restrictions while buying through 0% EMI scheme, which should be understood properly before signing the dotted line.

It is important to understand and calculate the real charges for such 0% EMI schemes before getting into one. As an example, if your purchase bill is Rs 36K, and availing 0% EMI scheme for eight months, with processing fees of Rs 1000 and forfeiting the cash discount of Rs 2000, the interest rate effectively turns out to be around 18.75%, definitely much higher than availing personal loans.

These schemes are not all that bad given the fact that the effective interest rate is still much less than using a credit card. Hence such schemes can be utilized by a consumer after carefully calculating the real rate of interest.

There are also some “real” 0% EMI schemes, where the manufacturer or the dealer absorbs the interest charges in favour of higher sales (may be for that specific period). So having an awareness is much better and wiser while availing such schemes.

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