Credit cards are a great way to stretch your dollar. But even responsible credit card use carries potential pitfalls. It’s all-too-easy to fall into a situation where you’re swimming upstream against sky-high interest rates.
Fortunately, help is available. Credit card companies aren’t exactly known for their generosity, but there are ways to ease your monthly obligation. Here are the nine ways to lower your credit card interest:
Know Where You Stand
If your credit card balance is growing out of control, it can be tempting to simply ignore the problem. But the first step to lowering your interest rate is understanding what you’re dealing with. You’ll need to know exactly what you owe, what your current rate is and how much you’re paying each month.
Also, assess how much you want your rate lowered. What can you realistically afford? What rate do similar credit cards offer their customers? You’ll get better results from your company if you ask for a specific rate instead of simply a “lower” one.
Check Your Credit
Check your credit, too. The better your credit, the more likely credit card companies will be willing to work with you. A score above 700 is usually considered good, which helps show the company you’re able to repay the balance on time.
Pay Your Balance on Time
Even if your credit isn’t great, credit card companies favor customers who consistently pay the monthly minimum. Make all payments on time for at least a year before asking about lower rates. A year of stellar payments provides significant evidence that you’re capable of making future payments on-time, too.
Once you’ve completed the above steps, you’re ready to call the company. The number will be on the back of your credit card. It might sound simple, but you’ll never get a lower rate unless you ask.
Credit card companies have a lot of competition. Remaining polite but insistent can actually achieve great results. Never threaten the employee or get rude. Credit card customer service reps deal with a lot of complaints. Friendly customers stand out in a good way.
Tell the representation you plan to keep your balance but are looking to lower your APR (annual percentage rate). That’s a way of saying that you plan to continue on as a customer, and the company might see long-term benefits in keeping you around.
Call the Company (Again)
Use the company’s size to your advantage. Don’t hear the answer you want? Try again later. You’ll be connected with a different representative who might decide to lower your rate.
Of course, there are limits. Trying different representatives is only worthwhile if your credit is good and your request reasonable.
Ask about Temporary Promotions
If you can’t get interest rates lowered permanently, see if any short-term relief is available. Ask about any temporary or promotional rates. Six or 12-month rate reductions are often easier to obtain than a permanent adjustment.
If you carry a high balance on your cards, the credit care company is making money off of you. You can use that to your advantage. They don’t particularly want to lose you as a customer.
Explain that if you can’t get your rates lowered, you’ll pay off your balanced but no longer add new charges to the card. Plus, tell the representative that once your balance is paid off, you plan to switch to a different credit card company. Your existing company might lower your rate because it’s profitable to keep you as a customer in the long-term.
Transfer your Balance
Many companies offer balance transfers for new customers. That means you move your debt from your current card to a new one from a different issuer. Typically, the new card will have zero percent interest for 12 to 18 months. This interest-free period helps you gain some breathing room to pay down your balance.
However, a balance transfer usually requires a fee. It’s usually between three and five percent of the balance. In most cases, you’ll save more in interest than you’ll pay in a transfer fee.
If the credit card company does lower your interest rate, either permanently or temporarily, ask for written confirmation. It’s the best way to protect yourself. After all, lowering your rate isn’t always easy. You want to make sure you enjoy the benefits!
Getting your credit card interest rate lowered isn’t quite as simple as most people think – but it’s far from impossible.
Proper preparation is key. When you call your credit card company to ask for a lower rate, make sure you understand what you owe and what you’re paying each month. Set a realistic goal for how low the rate can be lowered.
But stay positive! Credit card companies don’t want to lose customers. Following the steps above will greatly improve your chances of success. The interest rate on your credit card can be lowered before the due date of your next bill!