How To Lower The APR On Your Credit Cards

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One of our readers, Teresa, sent us this question:

I don’t have any delinquent cards. In fact, my credit score is about 680. I simply have too many credit cards and would like to pay them off before any trouble arises being the economy is what it is.

I would like to achieve a higher credit score, pay lower apr’s and reduce my monthly payments on those credit cards.

Can I reduce my apr’s by simply calling the creditor and asking them to lower my apr? If they refuse to; should I threaten to close the account? I ask about the threat process because that is usually when they take you serious and then pass you along to management with authority to negotiate.

I can follow through on account closure threat up to about $5,000. I have some accounts with 26.9% APR and a max credit line of $1,000. My highest major credit card line is $7,000 and the APR is 14.9%. My current balance is about $4,500. All the other cards are $1,000 less with higher APR’s.

I am willing to pay off up to $5,000 in debt on the higher interest cards but I would rather negotiate lower APR’s, get the payments reduced and then pay them off. Is that possible with the threat process? Where do I start? How should I professionally and seriously approach the creditor?

Thanks for your question Teresa!

You can absolutely call your credit card companies to have your APR lowered. There are a few key things to keep in mind when you do:

1) The better your payment history is, the better chance you have to get your APR lowered- If you have been a customer in good standing for a while, and you do not have a history of late payments, this this will be a pretty standard procedure.

2) You are probably going to have to talk to a manager, no matter what you do - General “customer service” representatives probably do not have the authority to do anything to help you.

3) Keep your cool, and be prepared to call back multiple times if necessary - If you get an unhelpful rep, don’t be rude. Just ask to speak with a manager. If the manager does not help you, then don’t be afraid to hang up, and call back a little later to speak with someone else. Don’t let a rude rep, or a manager who is having a bad day keep you from saving money. After all, this is your money we are talking about not theirs, so you are obviously going to care more about the situation than they do. Be friendly, professional and above all, persistent until you can come to an agreement.

Now, about threatening to close the account. I would not do this unless you have no other recourse. The problem here is that if you close out the account you will be stuck with the high interest rate, and no account. The best thing to do here is to tell them that you have several attractive balance transfer offers (whether you do or not.)

From the bank’s perspective: Whether or not you close the account, they get to collect your balance and your interest. However, if you balance transfer they lose your debt and all the interest that they would have been able to charge you. So the best thing to do is not threaten to close the account, but threaten to transfer the balance.

Also, you do not have to accept the first rate reduction that they offer you. At first, they might be willing to knock off two to five points. Be prepared to negotiate further. Keep telling them about your good payment history, how happy you have been with the company, and how you really hate to have to transfer the balance, but if they can’t work with you a little more then that is what you are going to have to do.

The best thing that you can have happen is to be transfered to an account manager, or to someone in their retention department. Just be calm, polite and keep negotiating until you get the best rate they can offer you.

Also, you need to be very sure that when they lower your APR that it is a permanent change, not an “introductory rate”.

You can also ask them to simply move you to a new account with a better interest rate. In other words, see if they can upgrade your card completely.

I cannot stress enough that just being firm, and keeping your cool will win out. Since you have some cash on hand, you can also offer to pay your balance in full on a couple of these cards – especially if they are willing to upgrade you to a new card with better terms.

Also, be sure that you get your last statement together before you call them since it will reflect your most current information.

As a final note, if you are trying to raise your credit score, then do not close out any of your accounts unless you absolutely have to. It will be a very bad thing because it will lower the average age of your accounts, and increase your debt to credit ratio. If you have to you have to, but it would be best for your credit score to leave them open.

Hope this helps, good luck in your negotiations!

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14 Responses to “How To Lower The APR On Your Credit Cards”

  1. Sharon Says:

    It’s definitely worth giving it a go. Good Luck!

  2. Renee Says:

    Mr Credit Card,

    We make our payments monthly and have not skipped any, however we have been a few days late. I know that has hurt us. We are in debt up to out eye balls! One of our credit cards Citi offered to lower our APR to 0% for 1 yr to help us get it paid off. The other one BofA would NOT lower our 28% APR becaue we had been late 2 times within 12 mons. Our payment is 888.00, this is insane!! How are we suppose to get it paid off.. I don’t know what to do at this point?? We can’t change that we were 3 or 4 days late and now we have a high interest rate. The account has been closed. Not sure why..they state that we called and close it.. We don’t recall doing that. Do you have any suggestions for us?

  3. Q Says:

    This article was a great help! I called citicards in hopes of a lower apr. 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!

  4. ConnieB Says:

    Awesome Q!

    I am so glad you were able to get your APR lowered! That’s an excellent rate too. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    ~Connie

  5. Shirley Says:

    i have a bank of America 5000 credit card. i have been late in the last 70 days because my employer when bankrupt the APR went from 14.95 to 29.99 % plus late fees and fees here and there now I can not afford to pay for it anymore. i called Bank of America and they told me my only option to lower the APR was to close ( or revoke) my card. i don’t want to close my account or i dont want them to close it. Can they legally be proposing this? Does anyone have a similar experience or solution? I just feel instead of helping they are just putting the rope around my neck…

  6. Diego Says:

    I can’t seem to get it< I have an account with WAMU I’ve been calling for the last 3 days and nothing, I even spoke to a manager and nothing the only thing that they offer me was to waive $ 35 over the limit fee. I don’t know what to do I’ve been paying the same amount for a year and I haven’t use that card in probably two. I don’t know what to do anymore , my current APR is 28% the manager also told me that she was going to put a note on my account that she waived those $35 which may e ineligible for future offers lowering my APR or waiving any other fees. I even told her I was getting laid off. Which is actually true
    any toughs on this
    tanks

  7. Lisa Says:

    I tried getting my creditors to lower my apr and they said NO. Sears said that I was getting the best rate possible already,(YEAH RIGHT),and the other creditors said that If and When an offer for a lower rate becomes available then they will let me know,(again YEAH RIGHT)!! I’m not behind on anything YET and try to at least give $5 more than the minimum payment due. But even then you have to be careful because with some creditors if you make more than the minimum payment so many months in a row then they will make THAT your new minimum payment all the time so you still don’t get ahead. I wish I’d never heard of credit cards!!!

  8. Sue Says:

    I have a credit card with a balance but I have been paying on it faithfully every month. Currently the APR is 5% and I pay $50. I only have $420 left until the balance is at zero. Today I received something in the mail from Capital One (which is who I am dealing with) and they tell me that they are raising the APR to 29% I about flipped.

    I do not purchase with this card, I am only paying on it. Once the card has been paid off, I don’t intend on using this card because of how Capital One has been treating their customers. My question is, can I transfer to someone else and obtain a lower APR so it can be paid off faster.

    I am pursuing my Doctorate in Education hoping to teach at a university level. My last question is, who would be the best to look at for transferring the balance?

    I appreciate any assistance regarding this.

    Regards,

    SLE

  9. Melly Says:

    CHASE suckss, i have an APR of 27%, i called to reduce my APR and they cannot do anything about this at all.

  10. Rebecca Says:

    I have tried this in the past and I have to say I was impressed it has worked however, startin Jan 2009 I have not been successful with Chase. I noticed that my card slowly creeped up to 24.24% and I have not been late and I do not have a terribly high balance on my card (less then 30% of my credit limit)I have contacted the company several times over the course of 10 months and have been told that they are not able to lower my interest rate because there is a freeze on such requests. What I find interesting is I have 2 credit cards with them and one of them they happily lowered my interest rate. I am tired of calling and speaking with the representatives and I feel to some degree this is fraud. I have been told by a supervisor that my interest rate was not raised because I defaulted on my monthly payment but it was an “across the board” policy with Chase. I am paying the balance off today and never using the card again. Can I report this behavior or is the acceptable with the credit cards companies?

  11. RDK Says:

    All 3 of my cards are maxed out. I’m having trouble just paying the minimum payments. Now they want to raise my APR to 30%. Is it better to close the account using the lower rate and take a hit on my credit score or try to pay the higher amount?

  12. EEM Says:

    We now have 3 Chase credit cards (due to bank merges) and our checking acct is now a Chase account (used to be Wamu). I have found Chase to be ruthless, lacking customer support, and difficult to deal with, especially when policy changes affect our checking accounts and credit card due dates are hidden in 6pt fonts requiring a magnifying glass. Does’t this smack of deliberately obscure communications that they fall back on?

    Furthermore, I have had great credit for 30+ years – and lots of it! Now, Chase treats us like deadbeats even though we pay timely and pay more than the minimum. Our % rates keeps raising and all Chase says – if you don’t like it, then pay off your account. Easier said than done in todays economy. Cost of living increases, wages decrease, and we are in a dilemma with no help in site. to add insult to injury, Chase lowers our limit every few months as we are paying down our cards – so we look maxed out and appear to be a bad credit risk, and we are NOT adding new debt to these cards.

    We feel that we have no recourse.

  13. Chris Johnson Says:

    We own a small business in a predominately coal mining community. Last year was a very tough year in the coal mining business, and therefore our small business. We have gotten ourselves into financial trouble with credit cards!! We actually worked with a few and either they took payoff (which has ruined our credit scores) and worked out a payment plan. Now 3 of these credit cards have increased the APR to 24.9% and refused to speak with us about lowering it. What can we do? We need to get away from this outrageous APR and pay these off but to no avail with the companies themselves. HELP!! Please.

  14. Leava Says:

    I was having a hard time with Capital One. The interest rate was at 29% and they would not budge. I stopped paying altogether and told them then would not get another dime out of me unless they lowered the percent. Finally, after 3 different people, asking each time to talk to someone over them, they changed it to 9%. Better than 29%!
    Not sure if that is a good way to do it or not but before they would not budge at all. I know this can affect your credit score but I was so disgusted with them I didn’t care. Very interesting how some of these companies were so willing to help their customer out and others could care less. I won’t use Capital One again!

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