Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.
Are you trying to pay off your debts? One thing that is probably holding you back is the interest you are paying on your credit cards.
The high interest rate means that a large chunk of your payment goes straight into someone else’s pocket, rather than going for debt reduction.
If you want to speed up the debt repayment process and save money while you’re at it, lowering your credit card interest rate is a good place to start. The good news is, you may be able to lower your rate just by asking.
In some cases, credit card representatives are permitted to reduce your interest rate on request, provided your account is in good standing.
This isn’t always the case, however, and if you want the bigger cut you’ll have to talk to someone with a bit more weight.
A good account is your best bet when calling and asking for an interest rate cut, no matter who you talk to. Before calling, verify your account information.
Have most of your payments over the past three years been made on time and at least a minimum? If you’ve been late with one or two payments, you might not be affected, but you’ll be less likely to get what you want if you usually miss payments or pay late.
You should also check your credit report and your score. If you have good credit – especially if it has improved since the interest rate on your card was set – you can argue that your credit warrants a lower score.
Most credit card issuers won’t automatically reduce your rate as your credit improves. It’s up to you to draw attention to improving your financial reputation and to ask for a rate that better reflects your good credit.
Finally, have an idea of what you want to achieve, as well as a clear idea of what you can realistically do if you don’t get what you want. If you want your interest rate to drop from 17.99% to 10.99%, are you willing to take a smaller reduction?
What if you were offered a rate of 13.99%? Would that be acceptable? You might not get exactly what you ask for, but it might be worth getting a discount at all.
You also need to be prepared for what will happen if you are turned down. The best leverage is being able to say you’re going to close your account and pay off the balance.
This threat is more effective if you can afford to pay off the entire balance immediately. If you can’t pay the balance immediately or make a balance transfer to another card, don’t make this threat.
Sample script to negotiate a lower rate
Now that you’ve gathered some information and prepared for your phone call, it’s time to see if you can get a better interest rate on your credit card.
Before you call, make sure you are calm. It is essential that you remain polite throughout the conversation, even if you aren’t getting what you want.
Consider practicing several times before making the call so that you are prepared and more likely to calmly present your case.
Have a pen and paper ready, call the customer service number on the back of your credit card, and use a version of the following script:
YOU: Hi my name is ________. I have been a customer for _________ years and my account is in good standing. I love being a customer and I love my credit card. However, I feel my APR is too high, given my relationship with (name of issuer) and my credit situation. Are you someone who can help me lower my interest rate?
(At this point, the representative will offer to either lower your rate or refer you to a supervisor. If you want a larger reduction, politely ask to speak to someone else. When the supervisor greets you, you can continue.)
YOU: My name is _______ and I have been a long-time customer. I am interested in lowering my interest rate. Can I ask you for your name and your extension?
(The supervisor should give you this information; write it down.)
YOU: Thank you. I think my APR should be lowered due to my long-standing relationship with (name of issuer) and my improving credit situation. My preference is for a rate closer to ______.
(At this point, the supervisor will let you know if this is feasible. The supervisor can put you on hold to check available rates and come back with a counter offer. You need to know in advance what you are willing to accept, so you can go ahead. If you agree on a rate, write it down on your paper, with the date.)
YOU: Thanks for working with me on this. I appreciate it. When can I expect this rate to go into effect, and when should I look for written confirmation by mail?
– WHERE –
YOU: I wish we could come to an agreement, because I enjoyed being a customer. However, if you really can’t give me a better APR, I want to pay off (or transfer) my balance and close my account.
(The supervisor may suddenly discover that a better rate is available after all, or may agree to close your account. Ask for written confirmation of the cancellation, politely say goodbye, and move forward with your arrangements to close the account.)
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