Lowering Credit Card Rates

By Kate Evelyn

  • Overview

    The credit card business is highly competitive, with dozens of companies looking to promote their cards. Because of this, it makes little sense to stick with a card that has a high interest rate. Go to bankrate.com and see what the current credit card rate average is (see Resources below). If the rates on any of your cards exceed that average, it's time to either do some negotiating or prepare to move to a new, more reasonable lender.
    • Step 1

      Take a look at the back of your credit card and find the number to call for "problems or account inquiries." Tell the person that answers that your problem is your high credit card rate and ask about lowering it. Explain that your rate is above the industry average and that you find it unreasonable. If that person can't help you, ask to speak to her supervisor. If you get high enough up the command chain, you will reach someone that will be able to help you.
    • Step 2

      Try again in a couple days if that first call gets you nowhere. Most credit card companies don't have hard and fast rules about lowering people's rates--it often depends on who you speak with. Big credit card companies have hundreds if not thousands of call center representatives.

    • Step 3

      Transfer your balance if you continue to get stonewalled. Simply ask the representative for your "payoff amount" and explain that you are taking your business elsewhere. Then open a new account with a different lender. (Try a credit union for a low rate and good account terms.) When you apply for your new account, put your old account number and the payoff amount in the balance transfer section of the application. Your new creditor will take care of the rest.
    • Skill: Moderately Easy
    • Tip: If you have a history of missed payments or over-charges, it will be hard for you to get your rate lowered until you improve your credit history. Your best bet is to apply for a secured credit card.
    • Tip: Once you transfer your balance from the high-rate card, stop using it. You can keep it for emergencies, but take it out of your wallet.
    • Tip: Practice what you're going to say to the representative before making the call about lowering your rate. Keep your voice even and your tone rational. No one likes talking to angry people, and they will be less likely to comply with your wishes if you come off that way.

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