Lower Credit Card Rates? Just Ask!

By Jessica Harp. Last updated 24 September 2014. 33 comments
Photo: Ed Yourdon

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When’s the last time you saw the interest rate and fees on your credit card go down? Yes, you read that right. Down.

If you’re like most Americans, the likely answer to this question is never. Now, what if I told you that eliminating your fees and slashing your interest rate by five, ten or fifteen percent is as easy as picking up the phone and dialing the number on the back of the card? Yes, seriously! Just follow these two easy steps, and you’ll be on your way to lower credit card rates and more money in your pocket! (See also: 10 Monthly Bills You Can Slash)

The first step to reducing your credit card rates is to know your history. What rate are you paying now? How many years have you been with the company? Do you always make, at least, the minimum payment? Have you ever been late? This information will come in handy when asking the credit card company for a lower rate.

The second step is to call the company, and tell them you want a lower rate. More than likely, they will tell you no the first time you ask. Why? Because the higher your rate, the more money they make! But don’t take no for an answer! If they tell you no, inform them of your positive history with the company. Remind them how you’ve been a loyal customer for 10 years, or have never paid late. If the answer is still no, ask to speak with a supervisor. If the supervisor says no, wait 15 minutes and call again. You’ll be speaking with an entirely different person.

What if they keep telling you no? Or what if you’ve been a less than stellar client? What if you haven’t paid on time or didn’t make the minimum payment? Then it’s time for the Credit Card Rate Hail Mary. Tell them that you’ve received other offers in the mail, and if they do not meet those offers you will cancel your card. (Make sure you have a few real or pretend offers to give to them as examples.)

The key to lowering your rate is to be persistent and to remember that the credit card business is fiercely competitive. They would rather keep you as a customer than spend money on attracting a new customer. Even if you aren’t a great customer, you should still ask for a lower rate. If you carry a balance, two or three percentage points lower on your credit card rate can make a sizeable difference! Remember: If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Below is a sample script to read to the credit card company:

"Hi, my name is __________________ . I have been a good customer for _________ years, but I’ve received numerous offers in the mail from other companies offering much lower rates. For example, I have an offer here for a _________ APR. I want to stay with your company, but I also want a lower rate on my card. What can you do for me?"

These tips will also work for increasing your limit. Just replace “lower rates” with “higher limits” and “APR” with “limit”.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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Will Chen's picture

This is my script: 

Me:  "Hello.  I'm transferring all my debt off this credit card and putting it on another one.  Is there a penalty or transaction fee for closing my account?"

Rep: "um.... none.  But why would you want to get rid of your balance when we have these cool rates coming up..."

OK, it doesn't always work out that perfectly, but usually the credit card company will blink first.

 

Andrea Karim's picture

I tired it all. Politeness, proving my loyalty, going up the ladder, threatening to switch - they never blinked. Unlike, say, Comcast.

Guest's picture
PelagicRabbit

My husband called and told the credit card rep that we had an offer for a much lower percentage, and would they like to match it, or should he just close the account & transfer? The rep instantly lowered it 3%. My husband said "thank you", but that the other offer (yes, there really was another offer) was 5% lower, and could the rep lower it more? He said he was authorized to do it 3% himself, so my husband very politely asked to speak to a manager. He was on hold for probably 5-7 minutes, and when the manager came back, he said that he would be happy to lower it 3% more (total of 6%, or 1% lower than the competing offer. BTW: I would guess that they did a quick credit check/payment history check in those on-hold minutes, but I'm not sure.
We are happy because we now have a very competitive rate, and got to keep the (old) line of credit open which is good for our credit rating & our bottom line.
They are happy to keep customers who pay on time.
So it's all good.
My "hint" would be that the first person you talk to may either not be able to offer anything, or may only be able to offer a certain amount or percentage, so it pays to politely ask for the next person up the ladder.

Guest's picture
Lulu

I used my own script and got my rate lowered on Discover and American Express. I could not get it to work with Capital One though.

Guest's picture
Annie

They told me that my credit score was 675 (last I checked it was 710) and that they didn't/wouldn't negotiate unless credit scores are over 680. SO ANGER MAKING!

Guest's picture
Guest

Chase didn't give me the time of day. Then blamed it Obama for creating new rules for credit cards :(.
I will never deal with Chase again. They stink!

Andrea Karim's picture

Are they ALLOWED to tell you your credit score? I didn't think that they could. I might be wrong though.

I've had zero luck with Chase and Capital One. So I got a new card and transfered the balance. Much happier now.

Guest's picture
Eric

I would make the effort, but I never spend enough for it to matter. We pay off credit cards every month as a matter of course.

Annie, remember that there are three credit reporting agencies and you should check all three for negative info.

Guest's picture
Carol May

My interest rate might be high, but when I had late payment problems and discussed them with Capital One. Capital One, worked with me until I could start paying regular monthl payments, then I paid them off after I sold some property. They did not lower my limit even though I had paid late and missed payments, because I kept communicating with them. I am very grateful to the company for that. A loyal fan of Capital One

Guest's picture
rocio

in less than 10 minutes, the Capital One account supervisor Jeremiah, reduced my APR to 14.9! Woo hoo!! I've had it at 20% for the past 2 years. All I did was ask :)

Guest's picture
Daria

Mine has been 9.9% for years!

Guest's picture
Laura L

I tried this with Bank of America, and the "APR specialist" said (after putting me on hold for a few minutes) that my revolving balances were too high so he couldn't do better than the 24.99% I am currently paying. This was after I told him that I pay 14% with Capital One. Help!

Guest's picture
Chad

Just called Citibank....within 3 mins they lowered my 32.24% down to 8.25%!!! No questions asked!!

Guest's picture
Guest

I called Chase and asked them to lower it and he transfered me then the next person transfered me before I could ask anything then the 3rd person said their was nothing at all they could do. The APR was 27.7 I had just payed off the balance so I told them I wanted to cancel and he asked if I was sure. I told them if there was nothing they could do with a 27.7 to make it lower then absolutely and so I did. I was kind of sad they gave up a customer so easily but if they weren't willing to negotiate I didn't want to be their customer anyway.

Guest's picture
Guest

Chase don't give a damn about losing a customer. I called for a lower APR, the was rude, didn't even look to see if there was something for me, and use the card of,
"Well, since all of the new changes in the credit card laws, we will not lower your APR". Chase has just lost a valuable customer. Screw Chase :(

Guest's picture
Guest

I called Chase and asked them to lower it and he transfered me then the next person transfered me before I could ask anything then the 3rd person said their was nothing at all they could do. The APR was 27.7 I had just payed off the balance so I told them I wanted to cancel and he asked if I was sure. I told them if there was nothing they could do with a 27.7 to make it lower then absolutely and so I did. I was kind of sad they gave up a customer so easily but if they weren't willing to negotiate I didn't want to be their customer anyway.

Guest's picture
Guest

Chase doesn't care anymore... I had a similar situation and they didn't care at all if I was leaving them... Ironically I got a loan from BNY to pay off Chase so I could cancel them altogether... and before long, wouldn't you know it... BNY became Chase!! Argh!

They're all evil... I only wish I could get rid of them all, but I'm buried under in my debt!

Guest's picture
Guest

Citibank, one of the worst crooks ever, ( I used to be a Citibanker - a secretary - till they fired me for two cheaper women), lowered my rate two points cause I called to ask. Can't hurt to ask. Not that I'm using the card! I use cash.

Guest's picture
Guest

Citibank, one of the worst crooks ever, ( I used to be a Citibanker - a secretary - till they fired me for two cheaper women), lowered my rate two points cause I called to ask. Can't hurt to ask. Not that I'm using the card! I use cash.

Guest's picture
Guest

Up until (very) recently I worked in customer service for one of the largest credit card companies. If someone asked for a lower apr, I could either say yes or no. No amount of negotiation or swearing you're the best/longest customer could change what was on the screen. I had no access to reasons someone's apr was what it was, or how to improve it.

I don't know if all credit card companies are like that. All I can say is, paying your bill on time, even if it's the minumum, is the most important thing you can do.

Also, be nice to the customer service people. They will do what they can for you. If they can waive your fee or lower your apr, they will. No amount of arguing/yelling/insulting will change how they can help you.

I quit that job after a few months because the stress gave me health issues, fast.

Guest's picture
Q

This citicard was my first credit card and I've been a customer for about 2 years. I just stayed calm explained my situation and they were able to lower my rate. I had a rate of 14.24%, it was lowered to 3.99% for nine billing cycles and 9.49% thereafter.

I just talked about how I am very satisfied with the service, have been a customer for 2 years, never late. I said because of some recent situations (moving, school, etc.) I will be keeping a balance on this credit card more often and my only other option to consider was a balance transfer. This is better than threatening to close the account because they'll still get the current balance from you.

Just call and ask, otherwise you'll never know! I'm not going to lie, I was kind of nervous.

Guest's picture
Guest from Florida

I was very skeptical with this "just ask" business because there are some customer reps who are aggressive and I am by no means considered aggressive in nature. So I took a deep breath and just called AMEX. At first, I couldn't do anything because my husband is the primary account holder but once we squared that over, the customer rep lowered our APR to 10.25 percent from 18.99 percent. At first, I wanted to fight for them to lower it more but decided to just accept it. It was great. All my husband and I had to do was ask. You should really try it.

Guest's picture

I use to work for a company that told people that they can get their interest rates reduced. IT WAS A TOTAL SCAM!! I got so sick of listening and watching the company rip people off that I quit. Now I am developing a website to blow this whole operation open so other would-be victims will be warned. I will publish it and post the site here soon. It will outline how to tell if you have been scammed and who to get help from if you were a victim.

If you want your rates lowered, just call your card company and tell them what you want. Often times, if you have a hardship, they will transfer you to the "hardship department" and they will listen to your problems and then offer you a lowered rate. It might be a temporarily fixed interest or a lowered adjustable rate. Anyway, you should never have to pay $990 for something you can do on your own. I got Capital One to lower my rate and I paid my card off so much sooner.

Also, if you have any kind of way to generate additional income, pay it to your card companies but leave something for yourself. Too many people give the card companies every dime they have and sometimes drain their little bit of savings. Then they have nothing to use and no cash reserved in case of an emergency. If there is no available credit for emergencies because the cards are charged up, and you gave them everything you had so you have no cash... then you are stuck. However, if you paid what you can, and made consistent payments but put money aside for yourself each month.. then you have cash to depend on instead of trying to use more interest-bearing credit to handle your emergency.

I realize that for people with 5 figures of debt or even large 4 figure sums of debt, my recommendation might not be practical. However, no matter how much debt you have... never let anyone charge you money on your credit card for service that you can easily and quickly provide for yourself.

Guest's picture
Guest

i just called citi.. i have been with them for 5-6 yrs and have a balance over 20000 (before you post a judgemental reply to this post, it is all business related expenses). my rate was hiked to 29.99% due to one late payment and my interest payments went up by $280 monthly!! I called and they initially reduced to 17.9% and after a little prodding down to 15.4%. awesome.

Guest's picture
Guest

no chance.. they gave ridiculous excuses about how the economy is in doldrums (surprise!) and they have to use unused credit limits from my account to make it available to others! and my APR CANNOT be reduced under ANY circumstance. so thats that. will keep trying.

Guest's picture
Guest

ADVANTA Credit Card interest jumped to 23.99 percent because less than $10 short on pmt and previously to that and after, never late nor payment never short. They closed the account and won't lower the interest rate or discuss account because it is closed. $500 Interest keeps accumulating each month. Am trying to find another cc to transfer it to but so far unsuccessful. Preditory Lending to the max.

Guest's picture
Kevin

I called Amex after reading all these comments just to see if they could do anything with my APR and yahooo, they reduced it from 15.24% to 10.24% in few minutes. Don't know why i kept peying 15% interest before.

Guest's picture
Guest

Just called chase. I'm at @29% now because of a missed payment on a business master card.

The rep told me that the only program that would allow me to lower my rate ended last year.

And when I told her my husbands credit union had an offer for approximately 15 points lower, she told me to go for it.

Guest's picture
Sarah

I've been a customer of Capital One for 8 years I haven't carried a balance for 3 years until this month. I called Capial one twice and wrote a letter. While they were blown away by my perfect credit history they said they had no flexibility in lowering my APR rate below 17% because of new legislation. As soon as I pay this off I will kiss Capital One goodbye.

Guest's picture
Guest

I missed a payment for my Chase card over a year ago, and my apr was changed to 29.99%. After asking, begging and pleading with them, they refused to reduce it at all (and I have been with them since 1992). They did tell me after 1 year of on-time payments I would qualify to have it reduced.

So I called the other day since it has been a year of on-time payments. I was told they would not lower it because of the new government regulations they are not doing anything at all. Initially, they also denied that they had told me that they would reduce it. Chase is horrible - one mistake, one time, and they make you pay forever.

Guest's picture
Andy W.

Amex : Rep told me that they had no offers for me, and that I needed to have 12 months of on-time payments without going over the limit. I stated that that was the case on my account, and he magically said "Oh, it appears I do have an offer for you". Lowered from 27.99 to 15.99%.

Chase: I have been paying down my card and am well below 50% utilization, on a card with a $1000 balance, no missed/late payments for over a year. The rep said that there was absolutely nothing they could do for me, and he agreed the 31.99% was ridiculous. Not helpful, and no suggestions other than "just keep on doing what you're doing", but could not give me a time-frame to call back or anything.

Suffice it to say, I'll be paying off the remaining balance on this card later this month, and will no longer be doing business with Chase.

Guest's picture
guest

i work for a major credit card company and have actually worked for 2 others. Most credit card companies WILL NOT lower apr's under any circumstance unless you are deemed high risk due to unemployment, bankruptcy etc... in which you will be required to close the account and lock yourself into a strict payment plan in exchange for a drastic apr drop. not saying it's right, but it is what it is.

Guest's picture
Guest

I called Bank of America and they lowered my APR from 20.99% to 16.99% and told me to call back after 6 months for further lower rate. Its good that i will be paying 4% less than before. Great :)