Credit card debt is often enemy number one in the war on debt. One way to make progress on your credit card debt is to get the interest rate lowered. The good news is that you, as the credit card owner, can often handle that yourself. According to a Harris Interactive study done for Lending Club, 68% of consumers who have negotiated with credit card companies for a lower interest rate were able to get one.
Choose the card you want to lower the rate on. You're more likely to get the rate reduced if you've had the card for a while and have a history of on-time payments. So if you have several cards in your wallet with a balance, go after the interest rate on cards that meet those criteria first.
Prepare a script. Jot down a few sentences that you can use when speaking to the customer service agent. Include how long you’ve had the card, the interest rate you’re currently paying, and the interest rate of other credit card offers you’ve received.
Call the customer service number for the card. The number can be found on either you credit card account statement or on the back of the card itself. When you reach customer service, let the agent know that the purpose of your call is to get your card's interest rate lowered.
Ask to speak to a supervisor if the first customer service agent can’t or won’t lower the rate. Again, using your script, repeat your request with the supervisor. You may even need to go up another level or two if you’re not having any luck.
Make a note to call back at a future date if you’re not successful on your first attempt. In the interim, be sure you make payments on time. You may have more luck the second time around if you can demonstrate a longer history of on-time payments.
Beware of fraudulent intermediaries. There are companies that charge a fee to negotiate with credit card companies on the cardholder’s behalf. According to the Federal Trade Commission, many of these companies are scams and are unable to negotiate special deals with credit card companies, despite claims to the contrary.
- Consider moving your balance to another card with a lower rate if you’re unable to get the interest rate on your card reduced. This strategy is known as surfing a balance. Make sure to read the terms of the new offer to make sure it is in your financial best interest. Pay special attention to the balance transfer fee you will be charged.
- If you hold the card jointly with a spouse, make sure the primary cardholder makes the call, or is at least present when you do. Some credit card companies will only negotiate with the primary cardholder.
- The Motley Fool: Get It Done: Negotiate With Your Lender
- Federal Trade Commission: Credit Card Interest Rate Reduction Scams
- Kiplinger: How To Negotiate a Lower Credit-Card Rate
- PRNewswire: Personal Financial Knowledge Has Gone up, but Americans Still Aren't Making the Right Financial Moves, According to Lending Club Survey
- CNNMoney.com: High APR? Don't worry, you can still negotiate
- Nick M Do/Photodisc/Getty Images
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