An excerpt from How YOU Can Profit from Credit Cards: Using Credit to Improve Your Financial Life and Bottom Line.
When you've taken a gander at the current rates being offered, you can use them as a negotiating tool with your card issuer. Trying to bargain down your rate might sound like an intimidating, complex process, but it's actually quite simple and can be very empowering as it saves you money. Believe it or not, many consumers have saved hundreds and even thousands of dollars by simply making a five minute phone call and asking their issuer to lower their rate.
Unless you already have a great rate, it's definitely worth calling your lender to see if you can get a better deal. I've done this myself many times over the years, so I know that it works. However, your chances of succeeding are significantly diminished if you have a poor credit rating or you haven't used your card responsibly (for example, you've had more than one late payment in the past year or you exceed your credit line on a regular basis).
Here are five tips to increase your chances of getting a lower rate when you talk to a customer service rep:
1. Always be courteous and professional.
2. Say that you're keenly aware that there are better offers available to you. Mention specific low-rate offers from other card issuers.
3. Point out your good track record and your good credit score.
4. Explain that you'd like to continue to use the card - and plan on doing so - if your rate is lowered.
5. If the answer is "No," politely ask to speak to a supervisor, and repeat steps 1 through 4.
Talking to a supervisor is often worth it because the customer service reps are more limited in their ability to make account changes. If the supervisor can't help, you next step should be to threaten to stop using the card and to transfer you balance elsewhere. When you call their bluff, you'll probably be transferred to the account retention department. Its sole purpose is to keep customers (hence the name), so this department can often give significant concessions to make you happy.
For more tips on how to negotiate a better rate, and other valuable credit card tips, check out Curtis' new book, How YOU Can Profit from Credit Cards: Using Credit to Improve Your Financial Life and Bottom Line.