If you’re unhappy with your credit card’s interest rate, also known as an APR, it may be as simple as asking your credit card issuer for a lower one. It may turn down your request, but it never hurts to ask. Use this information to your advantage if you’ve established a track record of on-time payments and other responsible behavior with the issuer.
A lower interest rate can mean paying less in interest over time, so it’s worthwhile to inquire. You may even be able to qualify for a credit card with a 0% APR for a limited time, though you’ll typically need good or excellent credit to do so.
Consider the following when deciding whether your credit card has a reasonable APR: The average credit card interest rate is currently higher than 19%. If you have a credit card with an APR that is significantly higher than the national average, aim for a lower rate when you’re ready to begin negotiating.
Find credit card offers that are competitive
Credit card companies do not want to lose your business, so they must compete with other issuers. Compare the interest rates on credit cards that are similar to yours. If you find a similar card with a lower APR, make a note of it and share it with your issuer when you call.
Check to see if the offer is truly competitive. If you have a low credit score, for example, comparing your credit card APR to the APR of a card that requires excellent credit makes no sense.
Inquire with your credit card company
First, contact your credit card company and request a lower interest rate. It is critical to be prepared so that you know exactly what you require from your issuer. Understand your current credit card terms (APR, grace period, statement due date, and current balance) and use this knowledge to your advantage when revealing what you discovered while researching competitor lenders. It never hurts to ask, as the saying goes.
And, if you find a better deal from another issuer, let the representative know. If you make it clear that you are considering taking your business elsewhere, they may be more willing to negotiate.
If you’ve made all of your payments on time and have a solid history of responsible credit use with your issuer, your interest rate may be reduced simply to keep your business. Its worst possible response is “no.” Also, keep in mind that in this business, account longevity is important. If you’ve been banking with your issuer for a long time, mention it during the negotiating process.
Still no joy? The HUCA method is another option. HUCA stands for “hang up, call again,” and it entails hanging up and trying again if you don’t like the first response you receive. A second (or third) customer service representative may be more receptive to your request than the first.
Increase your credit score
Whether you’re applying for a new credit card or trying to negotiate a lower APR on your current credit card, improving your credit score is a good way to get a better interest rate. One of the simplest ways to improve your credit rating is to pay your credit card bill on time or early every month.
You should also avoid opening too many new accounts, which can result in multiple hard inquiries on your credit report, as well as closing accounts, which can increase your credit utilization. Both moves, along with other factors, can have a negative impact on your credit score.
If you have a lot of debt compared to your credit limit, you can improve your credit score by paying it off. For the best results, most experts recommend keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30%, which means keeping $3,000 or less in revolving balances for every $10,000 in total credit.
If you are denied, apply for a balance transfer credit card
Applying for a balance transfer credit card, most of which offer a 0% intro APR on transferred balances for 12 to 21 months, is one way to pay less in interest for a limited time. Just keep in mind that these deals usually include a balance transfer fee, so you won’t get that 0% APR for free. Applying for a balance transfer credit card, on the other hand, is a great way to consolidate debt without further harming your credit.
With a top balance transfer card, such as the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card, you’ll get a 0% introductory APR for up to 21 months, which is one of the longest offers available for purchases and qualifying balance transfers right now. The Wells Fargo Reflect offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 18 months from account opening, but cardholders who make at least the minimum payments on time each month during the intro period will have their zero-interest periods extended by three months (17.24 percent to 29.24 percent variable APR thereafter).
Keep in mind that for balance transfers made within the first 120 days, a standard 3 percent intro balance transfer fee (minimum $5) applies (3 percent or $5 after the first 120 days). Consider using our balance transfer calculator to determine whether a balance transfer will actually save you money.
There is one tried-and-true method for completely avoiding credit card interest. If you only make purchases you can afford to pay off and pay your credit card bill in full every month, you’ll never be charged interest.
If you do end up in debt, you’ll want the lowest possible interest rate. It may be as simple as asking your current credit card issuer to reduce your APR, but in other cases, it may make sense to transfer your balance to a new 0% APR credit card.