Want Lower Credit Card Payments? Just Ask
Most people have heard from somewhere — whether it be a news report, a financial adviser, or a television program — that it’s a good idea to call some of these companies we do business with and ask for a better deal. Hey, the worst thing they can do is say no, right?
CreditCards.com recently conducted a survey of close to 1,000 credit card holders to find out just how many of us have been listening to this advice. How many people actually call their credit card companies and ask for lower interest rates and late payment fee waivers? The results of the survey indicate that if you do call and ask, your chances of success are actually pretty high.
Although only around one out of four card holders ask for a lower rate, of the people who do ask, two-thirds of them (65 percent) are successful. More people seem to be comfortable asking for a fee waiver, as 28 percent of survey respondents said they’ve requested that a fee be waived at least once before. Of those who made the request, a surprising 86 percent of them saw success.
Asking for a lower rate
“A lot of people who’ve had accounts for a long time have probably earned a better rate than they’re getting due to establishing a good credit history, but the creditors won’t check unless the cardholder calls and asks,” said Melinda Opperman, senior vice president of community outreach at Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management, to CreditCards.com.
You may very well be entitled to a lower rate, especially if your financial and credit situation has improved since you opened your account. “In many cases, when those requests occur, the creditor will run a credit check before adjusting one’s interest rate,” Opperman said in the survey analysis. “If their credit scores justify setting a new, lower rate, the creditor will grant it.” The issuer may simply review your past history on the specific card you’re calling about. If you’ve been a cardholder for a long time, years of good account history may be enough to get you a lower rate.
But unless you tell your card issuer that you want a better deal, it’s unlikely that the company is going to go searching through its millions of customer files and calling each person to ask if his or her situation has changed, rendering that person eligible for better rates. You have to be proactive.
Other things to consider
You may want to ask your card issuer what its policy is on reducing rates. Does the firm run your credit? Does it place a hard inquiry on your credit report? If you’ve opened up other credit cards recently and the rate reduction comes along with an inquiry, you may want to wait a while to avoid having too many inquiries within a short time period.
Also, late fees can add up. Yes, you may be able to use the “fee wavier phone call” in a pinch, but not as a regular deal. Just because you get a fee waived once or twice doesn’t mean the credit card company will continue to allow you to pay late and waive the fees.