dollarsAre high interest rate credit card bills ruining your day/month/year/life?   With some credit card companies charges north of 20% interest in an era when banks are paying about 1% interest on money you “lend” to them,  it seems like consumers are getting the raw end of the deal.   However, the trick that many consumers don’t know about is that you can reduce your interest payments on credit cards by…….just asking.   Creditcards.com conducted a survey recently that showed that 66% of those consumers who asked for lower interest rates got them.   Just one phone call can save you a few hundreds….or perhaps thousands….of dollars.

Wait a second!   Before you start spending that saved money, there are a few steps that you have to take:

First, have a copy of your most recent statement with you. Make sure you know what your current interest rate is and also have your account number available to you. The statement should also provide you with the phone number you need to call.

Second, you go to Bankrate.com and check out the prevailing credit card interest rates.   Also, check to see if you have any  any zero interest or low interest balance transfer offers available to you.  Or get a quote on a personal loan from your local credit union’s website.

Finally, get ready to negotiate.   Have a glass of water or something a bit stronger and relax.   This is definitely not something you want to get worked up about.   The calmer and more relaxed you are, the more effective you will be.   You’ll call the customer service number on your bank statement and then follow this script:  

I’m _______.     I’d like to have the interest rate that I’m being charged on an outstanding balance reduced.   Who can I talk to about reducing this rate?

After getting to someone with that authority you say:

If you look at my payment history, you’ll see that  I’ve been a good customer over the years, and I’d like to keep doing business with you, but my APR seems high and I need it to be reduced to 10% in order for me to continue doing business with you.   I’ve just gotten an offer from another credit card company to transfer my balance at a much lower rate and I need to do that unless you can come close to matching the rate they are offering“.

Usually, the supervisor with whom you are talking will offer you a lower rate, although not as low as you ask for.   If you are amenable to it, you thank them and ask for some written confirmation of this adjustment.   If they don’t go low enough, you indicate to them that you want to cancel the card and ask the full amount needed to pay off the outstanding balance on that day.   That will send a serious message to the company and the supervisor, at that point, may be more receptive to lowering the rate to a level you like.

Remember, you can’t get this relief from oppressively high interest payments unless you ask.   And the odds are remarkably good that you’ll get that relief, if you only ask.