Want a Lower Credit Card Interest Rate? Ask and Ye May Receive
It usually isn’t a good idea to carry a balance on your credit card, especially if it’s not at a promotional rate. The good news for those that do carry a balance, however, is that it is often quite easy to lower your rate simply by asking. In a recent survey of 983 credit card users performed by CreditCards.com, 65% of consumers who requested a lower interest rate were granted one. The same survey found it was even easier to get late fees waived–86% of consumers who missed a payment and asked for a late fee waiver were successful.
As the old adage goes, the squeaky wheel gets the grease–you won’t get these better terms unless you call your issuer to ask. Yet most consumers never take this step. In the survey, only 28% of credit card holders asked for a late fee waiver and 23% requested a lower interest rate. Depending on the amount of your balance, getting a lower interest rate can equate to significant savings.
Not surprisingly, you’re more likely to get better treatment from your issuer if you are an account holder in good standing. For instance, if you’ve had your account for years, then miss a payment for the first time, chances are very high that your bank will agree to waive your late fee. Similarly, having an extensive relationship with the bank can be helpful–if you have large checking or savings balances, or a mortgage in good standing, you’re also more likely to be successful in negotiating a lower interest rate or fee waiver.
The survey also found correlations between your age and income and the likelihood of the issuer granting your request:
- 72% of households with annual incomes of $75,000 or more were successful in requesting lower interest rates, compared to 55% of households with incomes from $50,000 to $74,999
- 93% of households with annual incomes of $75,000 or more were successful in getting their late fees waived, compared to about 80% of those with annual household incomes below $50,000
- 79% of cardholders between 50 and 64 were successful in requesting lower interest rates, compared to 59% of 30 to 49 year olds and 33% of 18 to 29 year olds
While some issuers will base their decision solely on your payment history and card usage, others may pull your credit report before making a decision on whether to lower your interest rate. So, it’s a good idea to ask your bank what they will base their decision on. If they need your credit report, be aware that pulling your credit will usually cause a temporary drop in your credit score. Otherwise, there’s no harm in asking, and you have nothing to lose but potentially much to gain.