It used to be standard protocol for credit card companies to lower your interest rate if you had good credit and a history with their company. Since 2008, it has been more difficult to negotiate a lower rate -- but it's not impossible. To get an instant reduction in your interest rate, you must prepare yourself by having a target rate in mind so that you feel confident when speaking to the credit card representative.
Figure out where you stand as a customer so that you can understand how your credit company views your request. The first step is to order your credit score from AnnualCreditReport.com website (see Resources). The Fair Credit Reporting Act mandates that everyone is entitled to a free copy of their credit report annually from each of the three credit bureaus -- Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Then, figure out how long you've been with your credit card company. The higher your credit score and the longer your credit history, the more likely it is that your credit card company will grant your request for a lower interest rate.
Gather the credit card offers you've received in the mail to come up with a target interest rate. By looking at what other creditors are offering you, you will have a basis upon which to judge whether an offer from your current creditor is low enough. You can also use an online credit card comparison tool, which will give you estimates of interest rates on credit cards for people within the range of your credit score.
Call your creditor directly and ask for a reduction in your interest rate. If you have been a client for a long time, let the representative know how many years you've had an account with his company. Explain that you have received offers for other cards and that you're considering switching. If the representative cannot offer you a lower rate, or if the lower rate isn't satisfactory, ask to speak to his manager. It costs credit card companies upward of $300 to obtain a single new client, so they are motivated to keep customers who have a history and who pay on time.
- If you cannot get a reduction in your interest rate, consider moving your balance over to a card with a better interest rate. However, make sure that the other card doesn't have costly fees associated with balance transfers.
Joy Uyeno has been writing about travel, food, fashion, culture and finance since 2005. For three years she wrote a column for the "Honolulu Star-Bulletin" aimed at young and first-time travelers. Her writing has appeared in several local and national publications, including the 2008 anthology "Honolulu Stories." She holds a Master of Arts in writing and publishing from Emerson College.