Negotiate Your Way To Lower Credit Card APR's!
I have three major credit card accounts that I've had for many years. The other night I was reconciling my monthly statements and noticed a large discrepancy in the APR's (annual percentage rate) I was paying on these three accounts.
My first card, card "A", has an APR of 8.9%; card "B" has an APR of 9.9%; and card "C" has an APR of 17.9% -Ouch ! I knew I had to see what I could do about this"out of range" interest rate on card "C". So I considered a couple of options.
One choice would be to transfer or switch the balance on card "C" to a new card with a lower APR. This would be very easy to do since I had received several pre-approved credit card offers earlier in the week. They included "convenience checks" that I could use to payoff that high APR credit card, thereby transferring that balance to a new account.
I decided against this option however because I didn't really want to add another account to my credit profile. Your credit score, that "magic number" that establishes your credit-worthiness to merchants can be affected negatively by having too many accounts.
So instead I decided to contact the issuer of credit card "C" to see what they could do about that 17.9% APR which seemed so out of line with my two other credit card accounts. I reasoned this was the better of the two options before me since I've already established a relationship with this company; a relationship which included many years of on-time payments which reflects positively in my credit profile with the credit bureaus.
I called the 800 number and talked to a very a nice gentleman. I explained to him the reason for my call; two other credit card issuers offered me a much more reasonable interest rate and so I'd like to see what his company could offer to me.
I wasn't surprised when he replied that he could lower my current rate from 17.9% to 15.9%. Since the credit card company makes a profit from the interest rate they charge I didn't expect to be offered the best or lowest rate right off the bat. I prepared myself to have to do a little negotiating.
And so I reminded him that my account was in goodstanding and had been for many years now. I had not made any late payments and always made more thanthe minimum payment due.
Again he informed me that the best he could offer was a rate of 15.9% that would be good until August 2003. So now not only was I not feeling like I was getting a very good deal but this new rate would only be a "promotional" rate !
I remained calm and friendly, knowing that yelling at him or telling him what a "lousy" company he worked for would be counterproductive to my end goal - a lower and better APR for this account. I thaned him for his time but told him I didn't feel this was a very good offer.
And then the "magic" happened. He asked if I would like to speak to an account manager and that perhaps they could better assist me. I thanked him for his time and assistance and was then transferred to an account manager.
I explained my dilemma to her and reasoned with her that as a good customer I expected a much better rate. She empathized with me and then offered to upgrade my account to their platinum status which carried an APR of 9.9% ! In addition, the platinum card offered many more benefits and had no annual fee. She also assured me that this was a "contract rate" and not a promotional rate. I would keep the same account number so I would not be opening a "new" account but simply upgrading my current account status.
Next time you are reconciling your monthly statements take a close look at the various APR's you are paying. If you notice a disparity in the rates you are paying, call your card issuers to negotiate a better rate. My persistence paid off. Be persistent - it can pay off for you too!
About the Author: © 2005, http://www.yourfreecreditreportnow.com
Author: James H. Dimmitt
James is editor of ?To Your Credit? a FREE weekly newsletter focusing on managing your personal finances and credit. Subscribe and get a FREE copy of your credit report when you visit: http://www.yourfreecreditreportnow.com