There’s a secret your credit card company doesn’t want you to know. It’s a little trick you can use to get a lower interest rate. But we’ll let you in on it right now. Are you ready? Okay … here goes … all you have to do is ask. A slight over-simplification perhaps and it could lower your monthly payments and get you out of credit card debt faster. Financial planner and teacher Rob West has the “how to.
This probably couldn’t come at a better time of the year. A lot of people are going to face a big credit card bill soon from all that Christmas spending. Not everyone is going to be able to pay their full balance when that Christmas bill comes due.
- A recent survey revealed that the average household credit card debt is $5,700.
- When you look at the average for households that carry a balance, the number is even worse - $9,300.
- 41% of all households carry some credit card debt.
- The average credit card interest rate recently topped 17%.
Where do we start getting that interest rate lowered?
- Save some of the credit card offers instead of shredding them as you might usually do. All you need is one offer for a lower rate— but if you have several— obviously grab the lowest. Now you’re ready to talk to your credit card company— the number should be on the back of your card.
- Tell the customer service representative the truth— that you’ve found a lower interest rate somewhere else. Then ask politely if they’d be inclined to match it.
- The customer service rep might not have authority to change your rate on the spot. Don’t be discouraged. In fact— expect that to happen so you’re ready for it. So just ask to speak with a supervisor, and then make the same pitch again, explaining your better offer and asking them to match it.
- Now if you get a yes at any point, make sure to ask for the change to a lower rate in writing. That way you won’t have to start all over again if something falls through the cracks.
- If the answer is no, just politely inform them that you’re transferring your balance to the company with the lower offer. Either way— you get a lower interest rate— but it’s a little less hassle if your current company lowers your rate.
Next, Rob and Steve answer these questions at 800-525-7000 or via email at Questions@MoneyWiseLive.org:
- If you're 37 and never had a credit card but realize you might need one now, what's the difference between a secured and non-secured credit card?
- If you're a single parent with an emergency fund in place, 3 kids, no debt and you have $18,000 spare, should you use this money for improvements in your home or park it in investments or savings?
- What percentage of gold is a good investment in a portfolio?
- If you're 71 and have received funds from an accident settlement, looking at Vanguard, what kind of account should you put the settlement in?
- If your Edward Jones account manager wants you to move your Thrift Savings Plan but the cost ratio is currently at .033% which is much lower than Edward Jones, should you consider this for any reason?
- If your wife is an out-of-control spender, what Biblical corrective action can you take?
- Within 2 years of retirement have a 401(k) worth $350,000 and some rental properties worth $145,000, should you pay the rental properties off before going into retirement or let them pay for themselves over time?
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