As a credit card holder, you may be doing your best to be a good customer. If you’ve done your part by avoiding credit card interest charges by paying your balance in full every month, then congratulations! However, many people who have credit cards end up carrying some form of credit card debt.
While companies may offer to increase your credit limit or offer other cards with their fair share of credit card perks, did you know that there’s one perk available to almost all consumers that can save you hundreds (or more) in interest charges? The answer is that you can get your credit card’s APR lowered simply by asking for it over the phone.
Of course, there’s a little more to it than that. So, how do you do it? In this article, we’ll take a look how you can reduce your interest rate!
Pick a Reasonable APR Beforehand
Before making the call to your credit card company, you should decide on what rate you would like for your credit card. If you’ve been receiving credit card offers from your company or other companies, use these as a reference. Going from a 12.5% APR to a 7% APR is not unheard of, but it certainly helps to have some real examples to refer to.
Check Your Credit Report
Another weapon to have in your arsenal of persuasion is to know your credit history, FICO score, and other information on your credit report. Luckily, you can receive your credit report for free once a year and instantaneously through each of the 3 credit bureaus (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax). To do so, apply online at:
Make sure that you have a healthy credit history or at least no major credit errors in the last seven years. Even if you do have some credit mishaps, it is better to be aware of them and anticipate where a credit card company might find grounds to not give you a lower APR.
This information will come in handy later if and when you have to play hardball with the credit card companies. As an added bonus, you can gain insight into your financial history—and that never hurts, either!
Making the Call and Using a Script
Bureaucracy is the name of the game so you can bet that the customer service representative you first call is following a script. Why not do the same? When calling the company, start with a script similar to this:
“Hello, my name is _______. I’ve been a customer of ______ and I’ve been a good customer for _____ months/years. However, I’m calling today because I’ve recently received several offers in the mail from other credit card companies with lower APRs. I want a lower rate on my card, or I will have to cancel my card and switch companies. Is there anything you can do for me?”
The correct wording isn’t necessary, but you do need to convey that:
- You’ve been a good, established customer for a significant period of time, and
- You will likely be looking elsewhere if the credit card company doesn’t meet your needs.
Of course, you will meet resistance. You may get rejected. Plan on this and don’t take it personally. Instead, if you cannot get the customer service representative to consider what you’re proposing, you may want to request to speak to his/her supervisor as most customer service representatives aren’t authorized to make business decisions.
Once you are on the phone to the supervisor, repeat the script. Be sure to tell them your credit history and credit score, competitive offers from other companies, and how long you’ve been a debt-free customer with the credit issuer. You may be put on hold while they check your history. If you’re approved, be sure to ask for the information of the supervisor (name, employee ID) so that your rate change is official. If you are told “no, we can’t change it for you,” thank them for their time and begin developing a new strategy.
Try, Try, and Try Again
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again. You may want to call the company at less busy hours or at a different time of the month. Another representative might react differently to your same request. Remember, the worst they can say is “no”.
You may be rejected by having an unsatisfactory credit history, but those errors only last so long on your credit report. The further they are in the past, the more likely you are to be approved for a reduced rate. If you’ve felt that you’ve made significant progress in resuscitating your credit history, try calling the company again.
Rinse and Repeat
The best part about getting your credit card APR lowered by making a phone call is that if you have multiple credit cards, this works across almost every credit card issuer. By being proactive, you can save yourself a significant amount of money per month and start chipping away at your outstanding credit balances.
It is also worth noting that asking for a reduced APR isn’t just a one-time event. It is not unheard of to receive reduced an APR every two years (or sooner), or when your credit card issuer offers promotional or reduced rates – all you have to do is ask.
Think Like the Credit Card Companies
Credit card companies are under enormous amounts of competition from other credit issuers, so they are incentivized to keep their customers at nearly all costs. It’s also important to note that credit issuers have relaxed their standards in recent years to attract new customers to open a line of credit. After all, it costs these companies significant money to get new customers. Therefore, a rate reduction for customers—especially good customers—is more common than you’d think.
Another thing to keep in mind is that these companies deal with millions of customers, so they tend to follow a standardized protocol for requests like lowering a credit card’s APR. Employees and their supervisors simply don’t have the time or agency to make judgment calls. Instead, if you fit the criteria, then you’re most likely deserving of a reduced interest rate.
So what do credit card companies look for in order to approve a rate decrease?
- How long you’ve owned the card
- Your card’s credit limit
- How many times you’ve made a late payment
- How much is owed on the credit card relative to the credit limit
- How much is owed on all of your credit cards relative to their credit limits
Balance Transfer as a Workaround
Similar to asking for a reduced APR, you may be able to open up a new card with a 0% introductory interest rate on balance transfers if you have a large credit balance that you’re looking to pay off. This typically works with competitors, but you may not be able to do negotiate this with a company that you’ve had a line of credit with.
By transferring your balance to a new card, you get a fresh start and possibly no interest. Opening this new card also has a positive effect on your credit score because of having more unused available credit. Additionally, you may then also receive an offer from your old credit card company that wants to earn your business back. It’s win-win for consumers.
There are a few catches, though. Many of these companies charge a 3% for transferring your balance, which may actually cut into how much money you’re actually saving. The second catch is that these 0% introductory APR offers may disappear if you miss just one payment, leaving you possibly in a worse position than before. Be sure to read the fine print to determine if a balance transfer is a smart move.