6 little-known credit card tips that could help your credit health

Man pointing at a Post-It note that a coworker is writing on full of little-known credit cards tips Image:

Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors' opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about our team.
Advertiser Disclosure

We think it's important for you to understand how we make money. It's pretty simple, actually. The offers for financial products you see on our platform come from companies who pay us. The money we make helps us give you access to free credit scores and reports and helps us create our other great tools and educational materials.

Compensation may factor into how and where products appear on our platform (and in what order). But since we generally make money when you find an offer you like and get, we try to show you offers we think are a good match for you. That's why we provide features like your Approval Odds and savings estimates.

Of course, the offers on our platform don't represent all financial products out there, but our goal is to show you as many great options as we can.

Banks work hard to attract customers and are typically willing to offer perks and benefits to their cardholders, including low interest ratesrewards and even sign-up bonuses.

But did you know that credit card issuers might also provide some perks if you just ask? We’ve compiled a list of six little-known benefits that could be yours for just a phone call — and some may even help your credit health.

1. Change the date your bill is due

Your on-time payment history is usually one of the most important factors used to calculate your credit scores, so making a late payment on your credit card could affect your scores negatively.

If you’re having trouble juggling multiple credit cards, try calling your credit card provider and asking to have your bill’s monthly due date moved. If you’re able to synchronize all of your cards’ due dates, you may be able to minimize your chance of forgetting to make a payment.

2. Place limits on spending and cash advances

There’s typically a strong correlation between your credit card utilization rate and your credit scores. Experts generally recommend keeping the ratio between your balances and credit limits below 30%.

So, for example, if you have a total credit limit across your accounts of $10,000, you’d need to keep your total balance below $3,000 to keep your credit utilization rate below 30%.

You can ask to set caps on the amounts of purchases and cash advances that are allowed on your card so you can keep your credit utilization rate at a comfortable level.

Because fees and interest on cash advances are often higher than the interest rate on purchases, you may want to set your cash advance limit to $0 to avoid these added costs.

3. Increase your credit limit

One way to decrease your credit utilization rate is by getting your credit limits increased. If you currently have low credit limits or sometimes carry a balance, try requesting an increase to the limit on your cards.

Keep in mind that if having a higher credit limit will tempt you to spend more, this may not be the best strategy for you. In addition, requesting a higher limit may result in a hard inquiry, which may affect your credit scores, so consider whether the increase is worth the possible inquiry.

Get your free credit score updates

4. Lower your interest rate

Banks are usually more willing to work with their long-time customers. If you’ve been with your bank for a long time, it never hurts to politely ask for a lower interest rate, especially if you’ve established a history of making on-time payments.

While you should try your best to make your payments on time each month and in full, a lower interest rate can help reduce how much you’ll have to pay if you ever need to carry a balance.

5. Remove a late fee

Banks may be willing to waive a late fee if it’s the first time you’ve ever been tardy. In fact, some credit card providers, like Discover, even offer cards that will automatically waive the fee on your first late payment. But you may not want to count on these. Do your best to pay your bill as quickly as possible, and if you miss a payment, try explaining your situation to the bank — they may help you out.

6. Waive your card’s annual fee

If you’re thinking about canceling your card to avoid the annual fee, consider calling the issuer first, as closing your accounts can affect your credit. Banks may be willing to waive your annual fee, especially if it’s the first year, or offer a statement credit or rewards points to keep you as a customer.

Bottom line

Sometimes, picking up the phone and giving your card issuer a call may result in a benefit that could, in the long run, help with your credit health. But none of these perks can replace being a responsible card user who pays off their bills in full and on time every month.