Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily

By Nora Dunn. Last updated 3 February 2009. 18 comments
Photo: Nora Dunn

Are your credit card interest rates getting to you? Are those monthly cell phone bills a pain in the wallet? How about cable TV? Internet? Even the power bill? Would you like to reduce these charges without the hassle of changing suppliers? Read on, my frugal friend.

 

As Tisha recently pointed out, most suppliers will not be forthcoming with you about less expensive suppliers in the marketplace or new options within the same company that could save you money and be a better fit for your needs. But this does not mean that you aren’t entitled to save this money. You just have to ask for it.

 

Once my contract was up with my cell phone provider, I did a little shopping around for new plans. I didn’t actually intend to change carriers; I was just doing some research. As a matter of course, I was able to find another carrier that on the surface appeared to provide a better deal.

Armed with information, I toddled off to the telephone and called my cell phone supplier. In a friendly and conversational tone, I suggested that there were other providers that could match or beat my current plan. In the next breath I said that I would prefer to keep my business with this company, since I believe in loyalty and since they have given me no reason to leave. I finished off with the big question: “What Can You Do For Me?” And then I let them talk.

On that day, I received $150 towards a new phone, 100 free minutes per month, and a substantial reduction in my monthly charges. All simply by asking.

 

After this experience, I thought “this is too easy!” and looked for other ways to save money.

I called my credit card company with a similar pitch and ended with “What Can You Do For Me?” I hung up the phone with my annual fee eliminated and my interest rate reduced by 6%. Again, simply by asking.

I repeated the same procedure with my cable tv company, and walked away with a cable and internet package that far surpassed what I was previously getting, saving me over $40/month between the two.

 

Reducing your bills and getting discounts is really as simple as asking for it. When I had to get new tires for my car the other day, I was quoted a price and immediately asked if they could give me a discount for paying with cash. They reduced their rates by $10 and threw in free installation, rotation, and balancing.

 

If you want to save money on your bills, here are a few pointers to get you started:

 

Do Your Research.

By understanding the going rates across the market, you are in a better position to evaluate both what you are currently paying, and what is being offered to you when you call. Knowledge equals negotiating power.

 

Be Prepared to Walk.

If you are calling with a “holier than thou” tone of voice, suggesting that another carrier will give you a better deal, then you need to be prepared to walk if you really believe the other supplier is better. Calling with a bluff is bad form. Besides which, if you aren’t offered a deal and you say you are canceling your plan, a whole new wave of “please stay, we need your business” discounts sometimes become available as a result.

 

Ask for the Manager.

Sometimes the customer service representative you are speaking to doesn’t have the power to provide the discount you would like. Thank them for their help, tell them that you have no problems whatsoever with how they have dealt with you, but that you would like to speak to a manager to see if you can strike a better deal. They are usually cordially helpful in this manner, and the further up you travel on the company food chain, the deeper the discount possibilities are.

 

Be Nice!

Even if you call to complain, be nice. You stand a much better chance of achieving what you want by treating the customer service representative like a human being. I once called to lodge a complaint about an online order mistake, and because I was nice about it, the representative (who had obviously endured a brow-beating day of nasty complaints) was so overtly surprised that our conversation was pleasant that she sent me $40 in coupons in addition to fixing the problem right away.

 

Anything is Discountable.

Truly – you can negotiate just about anything. Just because a website advertises specific rate packages does not mean that you cannot bend the rules. I recently signed up for internet access with a new supplier; in so doing I researched the packages available online, and then called to ask if they had any promotions available. Between the two people I talked to, I saved over $400 in posted connection fees, received 50% off the posted monthly rates, and got a $10 monthly reduction in my telephone bill too. None of these discounts were posted online, and I don't believe they would have become available to me if I had not asked.

 

Target Suppliers you have been with for a While.

The longer you have been with a supplier, the better a case you have for getting a discount to stay with them. Don’t be afraid to point out how long you have given the company business before asking what they can do for you.

 

 

I do believe that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” as the adage goes. But I also don’t believe that the squeaky wheel has to be a whining, moaning, bitching one. You can pipe up, ask for a discount, and get exactly what you want quite effectively using these tips above and by keeping a smile on your face. Try it – and reduce your credit card interest rate and phone bills in the meantime.

 

 

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Linsey Knerl's picture

I was just advising a friend on the exact same thing, but was going off of "supposeds" and not actual experience.  The problem with living so rural is that there is only one cable provider, one internet provider, and one phone provider.  You're stuck with who you got.  But most people can at least use the tips you suggested in other areas of their finances.  I appreciate this!

Linsey Knerl

Guest's picture

I saved $250 for life from Comcast by employing similar means. The Verizon FIOS aggressive push into my neighborhood allowed me to pit these companies against each other and after 30 minutes of phone holds and negotiating, I have $250/yr for life to show for it. I walked through the step by step point and counterpoint between the Comcast manager and myself at everydayfinance, but what's covered here is very helpful in getting you started.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

Good article Nora.  I didn't write the article you linked, though.  Tisha did. 

Guest's picture

I'm going to use some of this advice TONIGHT!!!

Guest's picture
Anthony

This is awesome advice. I've often considered this, but just never thought of how to approach it. This weekend, I'm calling everyone.

Guest's picture
Sandor

I knocked 0.3% off my mortgage just by asking for it a few years ago. When my mortgage comes up for renewal next year I'll do the same, but this time I can say, "you did it for me once before".

To date, asking them to give me a better rate has saved around $2,000. Just goes to show that like you said, everything is negotiable. ;)

Guest's picture
KW

I recently failed to record a check I wrote, resulting in me thinking there was more money in our checking account than actually was there. My wife and I were out of town for the weekend, and bought gas a couple of times, ate at a restaurant, etc. We ended up with more in overdraft fees than I care to mention. Totally my fault, but I still called the bank and asked if there was anything they could do for me. It happened to be the branch manager that answered the phone (rather than one of the tellers that knows me). I explained the situation and she told me their standard policy was (if asked) to refund only the first fee. That's $30 back in our account - not a lot compared to how many charges I racked up with my inattentive money tracking, but it's better than nothing!

Guest's picture
Diane

Great article! I've successfully done this several times, most recently with my home alarm system, when I rec'd notice of another rate hike. I called to say I would find another monitoring company if they didn't cut the price. It dropped from $36 per month to the original price from 5 years back - $25.

I've also gotten annual fees removed from all 3 credit cards over time. One I had to do in 2 stages - they cut it in half the 1st year, then eliminated it the 2nd.

I got the $10 monthly fee removed from my bank account a few years ago by calling to say I was closing my account and switching banks.

We pay every bill on time every month, so if there's an accidental late payment I call and ask to have the fee removed and it's always worked. (Having a good payment history helps).

I've had some failures... When the newspaper subscription went up again I called because I started with a low promotional deal. They said 'sorry, no more promotions available - this is the ONLY price for delivery'. Since its the ONLY newspaper available here, I didn't have much leverage except cancellation~!

My motto is "It's always worth asking!"

Guest's picture
earlwalllace

Thank you , thank you

Guest's picture

Great tips. It's amazing what can happen when you suggest you may cancel. Instead of being put through to the cancellations team you end up with the 'make them stay' team. If anyone has a phone contract you should always try this as soon as the contract expires and see what you can get.

Guest's picture

Great tips, Nora. I think a lot of people still forget to be calm and respectful when calling customer support. Being irate does not help at all, for both parties. It's a lot like in business. Business prospects rarely approach people who are very hostile. It says a lot about the way you will handle future transactions with them.

Cheers!

Laura

Guest's picture

I love the idea of asking for discounts or bargaining down your service providers, especially when your contract ends and you hold all of the power in your hands.

I was able to save $15 a month on my phone bill recently with TDS, with no contract extension needed, and I wasn't even calling for that reason in this case.

I was actually calling regarding my Internet line, and the sales rep was just so nice, they suggested some changes I could do to my phone service to save money there as well.

I did end up receiving a discount offer for my Internet line as well, but a contract extension was required in this case.

Ask and you shall receive.

Guest's picture

Cheers for writing about this. FYI - here's some more info about Gas Cards / Gas Rewards Credit Cards you might like!

Guest's picture
Jessica6903

I was very motivated by your post -- thank you! I had $1071 in debt at a local hospital from a surgery I had in Sept 2007. I've been faithfully paying $50 a month since the surgery. After reading your article, I asked the billing representative What She Could Do for Me and she said that if I could pay 50% of the remaining balance in full right then she could write off the remaining 50%. I paid $535 on the spot and am DONE with that bill forever! I would have NEVER thought to ask that. I would have continued to pay $50 a month until the balance was paid. Thanks again!

Guest's picture
Ms Guess

I recieved credit counseling through this one site http://www.freerateupdate.com/credit-card-debt They lowered my rate without even hurting my credit score! Hope this helps!

Guest's picture
Kimberly

Great article. I actually looked over my cell phone bill for months before I realized that I had both the wrong plan as well as the wrong carrier – AT&T was only interested in keeping my stuck in my contract. I finally gave in and broke my contract and started shopping around for a phone that suited someone who wasn’t a big talker, but needed something dependable. I decided on Net10 prepaid and its been a dream so far. Without a contract, I have the flexibilty to change phones and plans based on use and price and not be locked in. The calling network is pretty dependable and while the selection of phones isn’t the best, it is better priced than any I’ve found. The best thing about Net10 though is the incredible savings – more than $70 a month over my $110. Not to mention 300 minutes at activation and being able to purchase Net10 at Walmart or Target so its so easy to find. Net10 rocks!

Guest's picture
Rowena

This is a good article for those who are pestered with high interest rates for their credit cards. I will take on your advice and great article. Keep up the good work.

Guest's picture
BellaB

Although the article is a little old, the tips are still very useful. One way I've reduced my cell phone bill is by switching to prepaid. There are tons of different companies to choose from, and I went with Net10 because of how great their unlimited plan sounded. I pay $50 for unlimited minutes, texts, and web usage, which is great for me because I am addicted to texting! The coverage is also awesome.