Lowering your credit card’s annual percentage rate (APR) isn’t as easy as pressing a button. You must have a strategy in place and follow through on that strategy in reality. Here are some tips on how to negotiate a lower rate.
- know where you stand
- explore your options
- ask for what you want
- consider transferring to another card
- forget to pay your bills on time
- go above 30% credit utilization
- be afraid to ask
Your credit card’s annual percentage rate (APR) is determined by your credit score, which gives issuers an indication of your creditworthiness. Generally speaking, the higher your credit score, the lower your APR, and vice versa. Before you try to negotiate a lower APR, take an honest look at your credit behavior. Know what your APR is, what it should be, and what you want to ask for ahead of time. Do you have a good argument to receive a lower rate? Credit card companies generally reward good behavior such as paying your bills on time. Make sure your expectations are realistic. If you can prove that you’re fiscally responsible, you will have more leverage when you negotiate.
Compare your credit card to others and see how it matches up. Sites like nerdwallet.com, creditkarma.com and creditcards.com allow you to research cards by reward type, credit score, interest rate, balance transfer rates, and more. Knowing what other issuers offer will give you an advantage when negotiating with your credit card company.
A survey by the Lending Club found that only 29% of card holders asked for a lower APR, yet nearly two-thirds of those people received one. Pick up the phone, call your credit card issuer and be direct about what you want. Have a script in place that details how long you’ve been a reliable and valuable customer. Being polite and courteous goes a long way. In a respectful manner, indicate that you’re willing to consider switching to another issuer if your rate cannot be lowered. If you don’t get the answer you want, be persistent and call back. If that doesn’t work, ask to speak to a supervisor or the retention department whose job it is to convince you to stay. Credit card companies compete fiercely to get and keep customers, and the loss of your business is the most valuable negotiating chip that you have. You ultimately have the final say on whether to keep your card or not.
If your efforts are denied, consider transferring your balances to another card and taking your business elsewhere. Look for cards that offer a 0% introductory rate and make sure to pay off your debt before that rate expires. If you’re worried about paying off your balances in that timeframe, look for a credit card that will guarantee you a low rate “for the life of the balance transfer.” Be aware of balance transfer fees. While some issuers waive fees, others charge a flat fee or a percentage of the amount you’re transferring. Make sure to read all of the fine print of the credit card agreement.
Being fiscally responsible will make it more likely that an issuer will grant your request for a lower APR. Paying your bills on time accounts for a whopping 35% of your credit score. Pay in full each month. It shows that you’re responsible and will keep you from racking up debt in interest. Paying your bill in a timely manner will also boost your credit score, giving you more leverage to negotiate a lower rate.
Credit card utilization refers to how much of your available credit you use on a monthly basis. There is a strong correlation between your utilization rate and credit score. Staying below thirty percent demonstrates to creditors that you are responsible and don’t pose a credit risk.
Although there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive a lower rate, it’s always worth asking. The worst thing that can happen is they say no. In that case, they will often recommend you to call back in a few months. Set a reminder for yourself to follow up with your issuer.
If you want to negotiate a lower interest rate, do your research, call and ask, and have a back-up plan in place. A lower APR will save you money and reduce your credit card debt. These potential savings are more than worth the effort!