Paying down a credit card balance can be difficult, especially if the card carries a high interest rate. According to CreditCards.com, the average credit card interest rate in the U.S. is 16.15 percent (16.15%), and for many consumers, their interest rate is significantly higher, which can make paying off large balances very difficult. The good news is credit card interest rates can be negotiated, so long as the consumer knows how to do it.
It helps to do some preparation before contacting the credit card company. The consumer should first be aware of what his or her credit score is before making contact. The credit card company will closely examine the consumer’s credit score, as well as his or her payment history. Every consumer is entitled to a free annual credit report, which should be closely reviewed before calling the credit card company. Be aware of all missed payments or late payments in case these are brought up in conversation.
It also helps to research what other rates competing credit card companies are offering. If the consumer has already received preapproval emails or postcards, have these available to use as leverage. Having competitor offers often will help give the consumer a stronger position for negotiating a lower rate.
When contacting the credit card company, the consumer should be sure to explain why he or she is requesting an interest rate reduction. He or she should bring up positive history with the company, as well as mention his or her credit score and on-time payment history, if possible. If the consumer has received any offers for lower credit card rates, mention these during this portion of the conversation, too.
Be prepared for the card company to not initially want to offer a lower rate, but do not take no for an answer. The consumer is entitled to an explanation of the decision, and if the first call does not go well, it does not hurt to try again later with a different representative. It also does not hurt to ask to speak to the representative’s manager to see if that will help plead the case.
Credit card companies do not want to lose a customer, so ask what other offers they would be willing to accept in the event the lower interest rate is not a possibility. Additionally, if they are not willing to offer a permanent lower interest rate, ask for a temporary rate reduction. If the temporary period goes well, they may change their mind about making the offer permanent if they see the cardholder is able to pay off the card during that time.
If the original credit card company is not willing to offer a lower interest rate, it may be advisable to apply for a balance transfer credit card. These types of cards tend to offer zero or low introductory APRs for a set period. After that time, the rate will go up, but the introductory period gives the consumer a chance to pay down as much as possible while the interest rate is either at zero or a lower number than normal.
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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.