With e-commerce websites running fantastic discounts 24x7x365, shopping has ceased to remain a festive activity and has instead been replaced by a year-long affair. Buying behavior has inclined towards becoming more impulsive than ever with the continuous bombardment of notifications tempting customers to buy at the best discounted price. Although on the surface it seems like you have saved a goodly amount with a lucrative deal, in reality, you end up buying stuff which was not even required in the first place.
One such scheme that has gained popularity in the recent past, especially in the white goods sector, is the no-cost EMI or zero cost EMI scheme. It is not uncommon to hear someone happily buying a mobile phone or a television or an electronic appliance which they initially thought impossible, using the zero cost EMI offer. But is this really a great deal or a smart trick? Let’s find out!
What is a No Cost EMI?
What is the first thing that strikes your mind when you hear the phrase, No Cost EMI? No interest payments involved. Isn’t it? You feel it’s a no interest loan. But it’s not. No Cost EMI is a loan involving interest payments. On availing No Cost EMIs, your bank enjoys a discount in the form of interest. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in its circular in 2013, has said that the concept of zero percent interest is not valid. This means the banks are clearly not entitled to provide loans at a zero percent interest. Then how are the retailers running this offer?
How Does This No Cost EMI Scheme Work?
There are two ways in which these schemes operate. One of the common ways is to forego the discount and instead pay this amount to the bank or financial institution to cover the interest cost. Another one is by adding the interest amount to the price of the product. Let’s look at these schemes in a bit detail:
a) When discounts equal interest:
The most common way through which retailers offer ‘No-cost EMI’ is by offering discounts equivalent to the total amount of interest to be paid. Suppose you want to buy a phone that costs Rs 30,000/-. Under the 3-month EMI plan, at an interest rate of 15%, you would have to pay an interest amount of Rs 4,500. But in Zero Cost EMI, you are exempted of discount and you pay the original price of the Smartphone in EMIs. What does this mean? But if you make an upfront payment, the Smartphone would cost just Rs 25,500. You get it at a discounted price of Rs 25,500. If you opt for the No Cost EMI, you end up paying Rs 30,000. You don’t get the Rs 4,500 discount which goes to pay interest on the loan. The total price you pay on the Smartphone is split into money paid to a retailer and interest paid to a financier.
b) When the interest amount is added to the product price:
Another way in which such schemes work is by adding the interest amount to the price of the product. Let us say the product costs Rs 15,000. The retailer lures you to buy this product under the ‘No-cost EMI’ plan for Rs 17, 250. Here the interest of Rs 2,250 is already added to the cost of your product and will be paid by you in installments. Therefore, if you have taken a three-month EMI plan, then the amount payable by you will be Rs 5,750 per month. Sometimes the Rs 2,250 may be covered as the processing fees.
c) Should you opt for No Cost EMI? You can opt for No Cost EMI if:
You want to buy an expensive or popular product which now is beyond your budget.
You don’t want to spend in one go or do not have enough cash to make an upfront payment.
You are getting a good deal by availing an additional discount.
You want to start building your credit history and credit score by availing a short quick consumer durable loan.
When you opt for a loan on No Cost EMI option you should also be careful about the down payment and processing fees, if any. Read the fine print and terms and conditions carefully. The retailers don’t offer this scheme on every product that they sell. Also, if you do not have a credit card of the relevant bank that offers the scheme, you can’t get the No Cost EMI deal if it is attached to the credit card. The credit limit on your card gets blocked too for the entire transaction value even though you are liable to pay just the EMIs. There are other financiers who give such offers to consumers with no credit cards or even with no credit scores. Such financiers have people in store to support you with the processing of loan within 5-10 minutes. The offer may sound lucrative but if not used carefully it can affect your financial budgets and ultimately your credit scores!
Be Wise, Be Happy!