A $500,000 Tiffany Credit Card Debt?

Did Newt Gingrich really owe as much as a $500,000 debt on his Tiffany & Co. credit card?

Newt Gingrich and wife on CNN

Last year when he was running in the 2012 presidential primaries, some earlier financial disclosures re-surfaced. In a filing with the Clerk of the House of Representatives, his third wife Callista listed a “revolving charge account” from the Tiffany Jewelry store with liability of $250,001 to $500,000.

Now whether they still owe that debt in 2013, there’s no way to know. But what I can tell you is that carrying ANY debt on a Tiffany credit card account may be an awful idea, depending on the state which you live in.

How much interest are you paying on YOUR Tiffany account?

Unlike most store credit cards, what Tiffany does is keep their accounts in-house. Now that is a good thing because it means your customer service will be handled internally. However the bad part is that since they have stores in multiple states, the credit card’s APR will vary depending on the laws of your state.

APR on Tiffany's card

If you’re one of the few who live in say, Kentucky, an 8% interest rate is quite low. But for the majority of states, you will be paying a whopping 21%. For higher ticket items like engagement rings and diamond necklaces, that’s a pretty penny to pay.

How the “no interest” promotion really works

Granted, if you qualify for promotional no interest financing, you may be able to save some money. But be careful. Be VERY careful. Because unlike a traditional credit card, with their “no interest” option you can get in big trouble if the minimum payment is not paid in full and when due:

"no interest" terms and conditions

It’s disappointing to see that the credit card from Tiffany and Co. has such a policy. That is a tactic you frequently see used on run of the mill store credit cards, which makes it surprising that such a high-end retailer like this would be stooping so low.

You, me, and Newt can do better

If we’re going to finance a big jewelry purpose, then Tiffany’s credit card is not the way to go about it. What I would do is take advantage of a bank-issued credit card that offered 0%.

I would use it to make the purchase OR transfer the existing balance from my Tiffany’s account over to it. That way, even if a payment is made late, I wouldn’t have to worry about interest to begin accruing on the entire balance.

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