I signed up for my first credit card while in college. Luckily I avoided trouble with my card but there are many traps that can result in paying more than you should to the credit card companies. Maybe you’ve forgotten that the account was still open, or you used credit cards while you were out of work and got behind on payments. It may behoove you to make the call and ask ‘pretty please with a cherry on top’ for a lower interest rate.
More than likely, these small blips on your credit report are not how you currently manage your money. CreditCards.com research released in September 2014 shows that while relatively few ask, two out of three cardholders who ask for a lower rate get it.
Before calling, do your homework and know your credit score and credit history. Visit www.creditscore.com for a fast way to check all three credit bureau scores for $9.95. Check your credit report annually for fraud. The free, government-approved site to check your credit reports is www.annualcreditreport.com.
CreditCards.com has an easy phone script to use ask for a lower credit card rate at bit.ly/lower-interest-rate.
Don’t be afraid to call your credit card company and ask for a lower rate. And don’t take no for an answer. Ask to speak to a supervisor, and if they can’t be accommodating then it may be time to close the account and finish paying off the balance. You may also want to consider a balance transfer to a lower rate card.
Once you’ve gotten your lowest APR on your cards or have transferred your balance to a lower card, the next thing you’ll want to do is pay down your debt. The fastest way to do this is to list all your credit cards in order with the one with the highest interest rate at the top and the lowest at the bottom. Total all the minimum payments, and any extra funds you have should go to paying the card with the highest interest rate. Once that card is paid off, move to the second highest rate card, etc. Remember, pay as much money towards your debt as your budget allows.
Once you’ve paid off your debt, stay credit card debt-free by paying off your balance each month! Make your credit card work for you and reap the cash back rewards. It’s like having the card company pay you interest instead of the other way around!
Nikki Ducas is a budget-savvy Fredericksburg mom teaching her two young sons that you can afford nice things without accumulating debt.