How to lower your credit card interest rate

Woman thinking about how to lower her credit card interest rateImage: Woman thinking about how to lower her credit card interest rate

In a Nutshell

Paying off big credit card balances can get expensive. Make it more manageable by learning how to negotiate a lower credit card interest rate.
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If you have a high interest rate on your credit card, you may be looking to negotiate a lower interest rate.

Credit cards are great tools that can help you leverage your cash flow, since you can make purchases now and pay later. Cards can stretch your dollar a little further, too, if you take advantage of rewards or cash back cards.

But credit cards may also come with high interest rates that make carrying balances expensive for cardholders.

If you currently carry a balance on your card and want to avoid incurring more debt, lowering the interest rate on your card can help. But how do you lower your credit card interest rate without switching cards?

You can negotiate with your bank or credit card company to get a lower interest rate on your card. Although the card company may ultimately say “no,” knowing these steps could help improve your chances of getting a favorable response.

  1. Evaluate your current situation
  2. Build your credit first if you need to
  3. Find competing credit card offers
  4. Understand the credit card company’s perspective
  5. Call and make your request
  6. Don’t be afraid to negotiate in the future
  7. Consider a balance transfer credit card instead

1. Evaluate your current situation

Before you call the customer service number on the back of your credit card, understand what you’re working with. Know your current credit card terms, including the grace period, statement due date and your current credit card balance.

By coming prepared, you’re setting yourself up to do a better job of evaluating the options your credit card company might offer.

Don’t forget to check your credit, as well. You can use this as leverage in your negotiations. Having strong credit may indicate you’re likely to repay your balances and what you owe, so credit card companies may be more willing to meet your requests.

2. Build your credit first if you need to

If you find your credit is less-than-optimal, you may want to work to build your credit health so you look more creditworthy to the bank.

Try to keep your credit utilization rate — the percentage of your credit limit that you’re using — at 30% or less.

3. Find competing credit card offers

Credit card issuers and banks need to compete with other brands to acquire more customers. That means they need to stay competitive with their rates.

Do your homework and look at other available credit cards. If you find a similar card to yours that offers a better rate, note the card’s name, company and terms. You’ll want to share this information when you reach out to the bank.

4. Understand the credit card company’s perspective

You can better negotiate if you understand what the bank or credit card company needs to see on its end to agree to your request. Sometimes a bank would need to ensure customers were lower-risk before agreeing to drop the interest rate.

5. Call and make your request

Now you’re ready to get your credit card and call the customer service number listed on the back. When you reach a representative, politely explain the reason for your call.

If you have good credit, you can remind the representative of that and point to your history of being a good customer (by regularly using your card and paying your bills on time).

You may want to share your information about the other offers available from different companies, and explain why you may transfer your balance to a new credit card if you can’t get a lower interest rate from your current company. You can also ask if they will at least match the interest rate on a competing card.

6. Don’t be afraid to negotiate again in the future

John Rampton, founder of Due, has successfully negotiated lower rates for his credit cards and does so periodically. He says to expect to haggle and recommends you don’t give up after one call.

From his experience, credit card companies seem more willing to offer lower rates when you ask after making consistent payments on your card for at least six months. He follows up with requests every six months to ask for lower rates until he receives a “no.”

7. Consider a balance transfer credit card instead

Balance transfer cards may provide you an alternative for getting a lower interest rate on your current credit card debt. This may allow you to consolidate your existing balances from multiple cards onto a single, new card.

You’ll want to use a credit card with a 0% introductory annual percentage rate, or APR, offer for balance transfers to save money on your debt repayment. Here are some cards to consider.

Best for rewards while saving on your interest rate Citi® Double Cash Card
Good for having a long time to pay down balances U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card
Best for low fees SunTrust Prime Rewards Credit Card

Bottom line

Here’s what to keep in mind if you want to learn how to negotiate with your bank or credit card company to lower your credit card interest rate.

Do Don’t
Do your homework first. Know your credit and information for other card offers. You can use both pieces of information to negotiate. Don’t go into the negotiation without being prepared. Know what you’re asking for, why you’re asking for it, and other offers that are available.
Do ask to speak to a manager if the initial representative says “no” or seems unhelpful. Don’t settle for a flat “no.” If your request is declined, ask for an explanation of why and how to change your situation to get the interest rate you want.
Do be friendly, polite and easy to work with. Customer service reps are people too, and they likely want to help you. Remember that any limitations are likely due to company policy, not that one individual. Don’t be rude or belligerent. Don’t lie to the representative, either. They can always check your account history, after all.
Do call again if your initial request for a lower interest rate is declined. And even if you do achieve a lower rate, you can still try to call back in six months to see if you can access an even lower rate on your credit card. Don’t give up after a single call. Call again — or consider exploring other options, like a balance transfer card.

Use this process for negotiating a lower rate with your bank or credit card company. If you succeed, you might be able to save on your debt repayment and pay down your balances faster.

About the author: Kali Hawlk is a writer who’s passionate about using her skills and knowledge to help others. She shares ideas and stories on business, finance, entrepreneurship, and living mindfully and with intention. She’s been fea… Read more.