When you apply for a credit card, the credit card fees and interest rates appear to be set in stone. You might think applying for a new credit card is the best way to get a better deal.
But according to a recent CreditCards.com survey, all you have to do is ask. The results showed that only 19 percent of respondents asked their credit card company for a lower interest rate and 10 percent asked for a break on an annual fee.
Among those who asked, however, the success rate was high. Eighty-two percent had their annual fee waived or reduced, and 69 percent received a lower interest rate.
Getting a lower credit card interest rate can make a big difference if you’re carrying a balance. And no one likes paying credit card fees, even if you’re getting a lot of value out of the card. Find out how you can improve your credit card situation below.
How to negotiate lower credit card fees and interest rates
Here are four tips you can use to negotiate lower credit card fees and interest rates before your next billing cycle.
1. Remember how valuable you are as a customer
“The credit card industry is extremely competitive and very profitable,” said credit card expert Jason Steele. “It can be worth hundreds of dollars to acquire a new customer.”
As a result, credit card companies might be willing to give you a break to keep you happy. After all, losing your business means spending more money to replace you.
If you can’t manage to achieve the results you want, don’t be afraid to let the issuer know you’re considering closing the account and getting a better deal elsewhere.
Don’t think of it as a threat. Rather, it’s something the credit card company needs to know to make the right decision. In some cases, that might mean letting you go. But in others, it might trigger an about-face.
2. Call and make your request politely
When you ask someone for help, it’s best to be polite. “Even if you are mad at the card issuer for some reason,” said Steele, “it’s certainly not the fault of the person you are speaking with.”
The best way to contact the issuer is to call the number on the back of your card rather than sending a message via your online account. Having a conversation can make it easier to explain your situation and escalate your questions.
If you’ve been a cardholder with the company for years, emphasize your loyalty. Then ask for what you need, whether it’s a lower credit card interest rate, a waived late fee, or a break on the annual fee.
At this point, the representative might put you on hold to check with a supervisor. Or they will decline upfront. Either way, politely ask for a supervisor if the representative responds in the negative.
“If you don’t get the result you need, politely hang up and call back,” said Steele. “You might get a different result.”
3. Make sure you are a worthy candidate
Depending on what you’re asking for, you’ll want to convince the issuer that it isn’t wasting its time.
“If you’re asking to have a late fee waived,” said Steele, “make your payment first and wait until your account is credited before making the request.”
If you want a lower interest rate, exercise some responsible credit card use before making your request to show you aren’t a big risk, including:
- Making a big payment on the credit card in question before you ask
- Using the credit card regularly
- Setting up autopay to avoid late payments
- Avoiding overspending
4. Don’t hesitate to walk away if necessary
If you’ve tried everything and still can’t get the result you want, start looking for other credit cards that offer better terms.
“It’s strictly a business relationship,” says Steele, “and you need to open or close accounts when it benefits you.”
If you’re looking for a lower interest rate for a big purchase or a way to save money while you’re paying off your debt, consider a 0% APR credit card to give you some time to pay off your balance interest-free. And if you’re looking for a good no-annual-fee card, check out some of the top cash-back credit cards to get the most bang for your buck.
Call your credit card company today
It can be intimidating to ask your credit card issuer to lower your interest rate or waive a fee. But if you never ask to lower your credit card fees or interest rates, you’re guaranteed to get no results.
Also, the sooner you ask, the sooner you can take advantage of a lower interest rate or waived fee — which is especially important if you carry a balance on your card.
If it doesn’t work, you’ll at least know you tried. And if it does, you’ll enjoy the benefits immediately.
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