|First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win. - Mohandas Gandhi.
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How To Lower Your Credit Card Debt
Do you carry your credit card debt month to month? Do you want to get out of debt? If so, there are two things you can do to help with this downward spiral:
How To Get a Lower Credit Card Interest Rate
In this section we will tell you how to talk to your credit card company and hopefully persuade them to lower your interest rate
You may be surprised at how easy and quick it can be to get their interest rates lowered. All it takes is five minutes. A simple phone call could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest charges. Simply pick up the phone and call the customer service number that is on your credit card statement. If you need to get your nerve up, think of all the hard-earned money they've been charging you every month in interest. Even if you dread confrontation you should be able to handle the short scripts we've provided you. You only need to be assertive for a few minutes.
Before you call your credit card company, we suggest you do some research. Look at the data on your existing credit card and research what other companies offer. Get out your most recent bill and fill out the forms below. (You should be able to highlight the tables, copy them and paste them into a word processing program.)
Now that you have all your information, it's time to call the banks! Below are several scripts you can use when calling, pick one that fits your needs and/or personality. Remember, there’s no incentive for them to lower your rate unless you call. You have to make the first move. Credit card companies and banks are very competitive, they don’t want to lose you as a customer. Your business is money in their pockets.
Script 1: “Hello, I have a [name of card] with you and my interest rate is ___ percent. Recently I received another offer in the mail from _______ for ___ percent, but before I take this offer, I would like to see if you will lower my interest rate instead.”
If the customer service rep says they are not authorized to do that, you say:
Look, you and I both know that if I transfer my balance today, next week your bank is going to send me an offer to come back at an even lower rate. Why don’t we just save all the hassle and cost of that effort by giving me several points off today?”
If the representative says they’re not able to do it because your credit card is at a fixed interest rate, you say:
“Well really, that doesn't have anything to do with whether or not you have the ability to lower my interest rate. A fixed interest rate only means that my rate doesn't vary with fluctuations in the prime rate. In fact, the bank can raise it on my account at any time by just giving me 15 days written notice. And the bank can, if they choose to, lower the rate today.”
If the representative says they are not authorized to process that, you say:
“May I speak to your supervisor please?”
When the supervisor gets on the phone start the script over again.
Script 2:Hello , my name is _____. I am a good customer, but I have received several offers in the mail from other credit card companies with lower APRs. I want a lower rate on my card, or I will cancel my card and switch companies.
Script 3: Hello, I've visited the websites of several of your competitors, the ____ Bank and ______ Bank, and noticed they offer a ____ interest rate which is ___ points lower than what I'm currently paying with you. Are you willing to give me the same rate (or a lower rate)?
Script 4: Hello, I am calling to request a reduction in my current interest rate of ____ to ____ so that it is in line with what is available in the current market. I think this is a fair interest rate given that at least three major credit card issuers, ______, ______, and ______ are offering it to new customers like me who have an excellent credit rating.
Script 5: Hello, I received a pre-approved offer in the mail from ____ Bank offering me a ____ interest rate card. Can you beat or match that offer, or should I transfer my balance to their credit card?
Script 6: Hi there, I recently visited your website and noticed that you are offering a ____ rate to attract new clients. I have been an excellent customer of yours for ___ years and would like to receive the same rate being offered to new customers.
Script 7: Hello, I was about to sign up for a new credit card at the ____ website and thought I would call your first to see if you can match their rate or do any better. If not, I am willing to transfer my balance from your card to theirs as soon as I hang up the phone. What can you do for me?
If the customer service representative is unable to help you, ask to speak to their supervisor. If they can’t help you either, be prepared to cancel your account with that company and change to someone who has a lower rate.
Be careful when switching credit cards to someone who offers a lower interest rate, or offers 0% Intro APR, if you miss one payment (on their bill or any other creditor) you may be subject to paying higher rates that you had originally. Also, these introductory rates may only be offered within a certain amount of time, say the first 6 months of becoming a member, then they go back up. Read the fine print and ask questions.
Persistence also pays off. Just because you got denied from one person doesn't mean someone else won’t offer you a better rate. Call back the next day, you may reach a more cooperative customer service rep, or be sent to an agent who specializes in keeping customers who are threatening to leave. Ask questions like, “What can you do to help me out?”, “Is that the best you can do?”, and “Let me speak to your supervisor.”
Once you've decided to change credit card providers, follow these steps to make the credit card balance transfer easier:
Pay More Than the Minimum
Today Americans have become inattentive about their credit card debt. They continuously pay just the minimum balance each month, sinking themselves deeper and deeper into debt. Approximately 35 million Americans pay only the required minimum, a low 2% of their balance each month. Sticking to that rate, it could take years to clear debt, and you'll end up paying far more than the original cost.
Look at it this way: last year you went on a family vacation that cost around $2,000. With an 18% interest rate, and if you make minimum payments each month and never add another dime to the balance, it'll take about 30 years to pay off the trip, AND you'll end up forking over almost $5,000 in interest alone. But by making 4% minimum payments on the same debt, you'll finish up in 10 years, and your interest payments will be around $1,100.
What’s astonishing is that 35 million credit card holders could pay more than the minimum payment, or could possibly even wipe out their debt each month, but choose not to. Money in their savings account is considered a nest egg, or emergency money for those “just in case” occurrences. You never know what may happen tomorrow, a lost job, illness, or death in the family might call for hard times and families don’t want to be dependent on credit cards to get them by.
It's For Your Own Good (Really)
In a new way to deal with the debt of credit cards, the regulators at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are now requiring banks that issue credit cards to increase minimum payments from 2% to 4%. By increasing the minimum payment, consumers are able to pay down their balances faster, with a greater percentage of their payment going to the principle instead of interest. Although it may not seem that way, since you have to dig deeper into your pocket to make the minimum payment each month. This is one of those times when “it’s for your own good” comes into play.
The biggest setback most credit card users face is only paying the minimum each month. But if you want to get out of debt the solutions is simple – pay more than the minimum, and switch to a card with lower interest rates. Follow those two rules and you'll be on you way to becoming debt free.
Get Your Credit Score
Your credit report score will affect the interest rate you'll get. Most banks and credit card companies use your FICO score to determine your rate. This score is based on a number of factors. Read more and get your credit score.
Would a Loan Help?
Sometimes it is advantageous to take out one loan to pay off your credit card debt. If you do this, you have to be careful to stop accumulating debt, otherwise you will end up worse off than you were. This takes discipline, but it is worth it. A sure fire way to stop accumulating new debt is to cut up your credit cards. If you don't have the money for something, then you can't buy it.
Read more about a debt consolidation loan.
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