Q: I have asked my bank for a lower APR but was denied. How can I find another credit card to get rid of my high interest rate without going through a debt agency?

A: You have a couple of options here, depending on your comfort level with your current bank.

The financial crisis rocked the routines of Americans who shuttled balances from credit card to credit card, often enjoying low or no finance charges along the way. When the Federal Reserve forced banks to reel in more cash to preserve liquidity, credit card customers felt the pinch.

Some banks used a "follow me down" strategy to drop credit limits to match their outstanding balances. Other banks closed down credit lines for all but the most creditworthy customers. And most banks shut down their zero-percent APR balance transfer programs, fearing a sudden influx of new borrowing.

Strategies for dealing with your bank

Fortunately, banks regained their lending power and have gone on the hunt for new customers. If your bank still doesn't have the ability to reset your interest rate, try this strategy:

  • Ask your bank for feedback. Your credit card issuer may be perfectly content to cash in on your monthly finance charge, with no motivation to help you save money. Try asking your bank's customer service agents to reveal the reasons for their decision. If you're not a credit risk, your lender might consider dropping your APR if you sign up for a related product, like a checking account or a certificate of deposit.
  • Check your credit report. Your credit card issuer could be keeping your rate higher if your credit score falls below average. Look for errors and omissions.
  • Find balances you can bundle. Some credit card issuers have started offering secondary lines of credit just for balance transfers. That way, you won't overtax an individual credit line and drive your credit score down.

Balance transfer options

Of course, you may also want to consider asking for help from a different bank. Some of today's best introductory APR balance transfer offers include:

Remember that making too many new account requests in a short period can damage your credit score, so use the CardRatings.com credit card database to help you pick an account that fits your current credit profile.

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