How to Negotiate to Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rates

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According to CreditCards.com, the average credit card debt (per household with credit card debt) is $15,956, and the average APR paid on that debt is 12.78%.

Annually, the average household is paying over $2,000 a year just in credit card interest.

If you do not want to or are unable to transfer your balance to a credit card with a lower interest rate, your next best line of defense is to negotiate with the credit card company to get a lower interest rate.

Before you call to negotiate, remember that you will need to be calm and polite the entire time. 

Do not let your emotions enter into the negotiations.  Also, keep in mind that credit card negotiations are effective about 50% of the time.  Don’t use this knowledge as an excuse to give up, but also recognize that you may not always be able to get the credit card company to budge.

Follow these tips when calling to negotiate to lower credit card  interest rates:


Let them know you are a valuable customer. 

If you have had your card for several years, let them know this and that you are a loyal customer.

Let them know specifically what you want.

Instead of calling and saying, “I was hoping you could lower my interest rate,” say something like, “I would like my interest rate lowered.”  Firm and clear is better than meek.

Offer them an ultimatum, if it applies.

If you are planning to close the account, let them know that.

Ask to speak to a supervisor, if necessary.

negotiate credit card rate

You aren’t stuck with high rates. Negotiate to get better credit card interest rates.

If you do not make progress with the customer service representative, ask to speak to his or her supervisor.

Repeat steps 1 through 3 with the supervisor.

Again, emphasize what a loyal customer you have been.  Focus on your timely payments and your longevity as a customer (if applicable, of course).

Remind the supervisor that it is easier to keep a customer than to find a new one.

It is in the credit card company’s best interest to work with you.

Talk to the retention department.

If you make no progress with the customer service agent and supervisor, consider asking for the retention department.  This department will often work with you because their job is to keep you as a customer and not let you close your account.

Try again.

If you speak with all three people listed in these steps and still have no luck, try again in another month.  You may have luck next time.

My Story

I am in the midst of paying down my last of three credit card balances.  The last credit card has the highest balance at $11k AND the highest interest rate at 13%.  I called my credit union to ask for a balance transfer credit card, but they couldn’t offer it to me.  Instead they offered me a 2.99% APR loan using my car as collateral, which I was not interested in.  The credit union also stipulated that I would have to close my credit card with the balance.

I called the credit card company, and following the steps above, stated, “Hi, I have been with your company for 17 years, and I am currently paying 13% APR, which is too high.  I can get a loan through my credit union at 2.99% APR, but they are stipulating that I close my account with you, which I do not want to do.  What can you do for me to be competitive with the credit union so I can remain your customer?”

The customer service representative offered me 11.99% APR for 6 months, which is only one percent lower than what I was getting.  When I pushed him again for a better rate, he was firm that was the best he could do.

I asked to speak to the manager, and he said the manager couldn’t offer anything better than him.  I then asked for the retentions department, and once again he refused.  More firmly this time (but still politely), I once again asked to speak with the manager and was put through.  (Note—if the customer service rep still hadn’t let me speak to someone else at this point, I would have simply hung up and called back to start the process with someone else.)

Once I finally had the supervisor on the phone, I repeated steps 1 through 3 as well as steps 5 and 6.  The supervisor said she couldn’t go any lower than 11.99%, but she could apply a balance transfer rate for me, which was 9.99% for 6 months.  I accepted that and thanked her for her understanding and willingness to work with me.

I could have hung up the phone at that point, satisfied with a 3% reduction in APR, but because the supervisor was friendly and attentive as well as receptive, I pushed further and asked her to waive my $45 annual fee I was just charged in May.  She couldn’t simply erase the annual fee thanks to the Credit Card Act, but she could give me enough rewards points—3,500—to cash in and apply to my credit card to cover the cost of the annual fee.

I simply restated what she had offered, and she suddenly said, “You know what, I can do better than that.  I can give you 10,000 reward points.”  That is enough to cash in and apply $100 to my credit card balance.  These points were all in addition to the 9.99% APR I was able to negotiate.

Finally

If you have a credit card balance and are unwilling or unable to transfer to a low APR card, try these tips to negotiate a lower credit card APR.

You really have nothing to lose.  The worst they can say is no, and then you can just try again.

Have you ever negotiated to lower your credit card interest rate?  What worked for you?

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Published or updated April 13, 2013.

Comments

  1. I love these stories because it shows that when you ask you can get some great deals/perks. If you had never asked you would still be paying the higher rate and wouldn’t have gotten $100 toward your balance. CONGRATS!

  2. We used to have 3 credit cards. When we had difficulty paying the balance on the cards, we decided to pay off the two cards and close them, leaving only one card with us. When I called the credit card company to cancel he card, I was offered a lower interest rate from 12% to close to 9%. When I declined the offer, the retention rep offered a higher credit limit. However, we were really decisive to close the account. On her third attempt to save a loyal customer, he also ptromised to give me 5,000 rewards points. Not bad at all. We ended up keeping the card and using the rewards but we have not used it for any regular purchase.

  3. I have never really tried to negotiate a low interest rate for my credit cards because I figured it was a lost cause. However, I really like these tips and will try them out next time. Thank you.

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