At a Glance
While you only get charged interest on a credit card if you carry a balance from month to month, these rates can be very high and can quickly lead to credit card debt that’s difficult to get out of. If you currently carry a balance on your card and want to avoid accruing more interest and debt, you may be able to lower your credit card interest rate.
Here are the steps you can take to request a lower APR on your credit card:
1. Evaluate your current situation
Before you try to lower your interest rate, you first need to know your current terms such as the:
- Grace period
- Statement due date
- Current APR
- Current credit card balance
Knowing this information and having it on hand can help you better evaluate any options your credit card company offers you.
Also, consider your current financial situation. Are you overspending, which is why you’re carrying a balance and accruing interest? A lower interest rate is still an extra charge on your balance, so consider your budget and where you may need to make adjustments to better avoid interest charges altogether.
2. Check your credit reports
Interest rates are often dependent on your creditworthiness, so your credit card company will pull your credit reports and check your credit score to understand factors like your payment history, credit mix, credit utilization ratio, and more. Before you contact your credit card company, you should know where you stand.
Check your credit at AnnualCreditReport.com, or you can request one free report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax).
Dispute any mistakes or errors you find, and take some time to understand what is impacting your credit score. The better your score, the better the interest rate you’ll be able to get. Note that some major negative marks like bankruptcy, multiple missed payments, or charge-offs, may make an issuer hesitate to offer you a lower APR.
3. Find competitive credit card offers
Look for a credit card that’s similar to yours and compare interest rates. If you find one with a better APR, take note and share that information with your issuer when you call. Your credit card company doesn’t want to lose your business, so they may be willing to get closer to or match a lower APR in order to retain you as a customer. Just make sure the offer is actually competitive and realistic for your situation.
4. Understand your credit card company
The more you know, the more likely it is you’ll feel confident when talking to them. Don’t be afraid of getting yelled at, shamed, or penalized. The chances of this happening are incredibly slim.
Credit card companies really just want to make a profit, and the primary way they do that is by charging interest on unpaid balances. Bigger balances mean the company can make more money. If you’re carrying a balance, you’re one of the top customers (in their mind), so they will likely work with you in order to keep you around so you will keep paying interest.
Even if you negotiate a lower rate, they’d prefer they make less money than lose you as a customer and make no money.
5. Call and make your request
Once you have all of the information you need, it’s time to make the request. Call the customer service number listed on the back of your credit card. When you reach a representative, explain to them you’d like to request a lower APR for your card.
If applicable, (politely) remind the representative you have good credit and your history of being a good customer (by using the card and making payments on time). You may want to share the information you researched about other credit card companies’ offers and that you’re willing to transfer your balance to a different company if they aren’t able to negotiate a lower rate. Consider asking them to match the lower rate on a competing card.
The important thing to remember is to remain polite and calm with the representative. Getting frustrated or worked up is going to make them less likely to want to help you.
6. Negotiate a lower credit card APR
Negotiating may take more than one phone call. If you don’t get the response you want the first time you call, you should contact the issuer again. Try to gather more information that supports your cause, or ask to speak with a supervisor who may be in a better position to grant your request.
If you do negotiate a lower score, make sure the credit card company will send you a written confirmation of the changes.
7. Improve your credit score
Whether you’re applying for a new card or still trying to negotiate a lower APR on your current card, one of the best ways to secure a lower rate is to have a better credit score. Increasing your score helps show the credit card company you’re a responsible borrower and they may be more likely to grant you a lower rate.
- Make sure you make all payments on time each month. Try to pay off your balance in full.
- Don’t open any new accounts, which leads to hard inquiries on your report.
- Avoid closing accounts, which can increase your credit utilization.
- Pay down other debts you may have, including personal loans, student loans, auto loans, and others.
8. Consider a balance transfer credit card instead
If you’ve tried negotiating a few times and your credit card company still refuses to lower your rate, consider applying for a balance transfer credit card. These cards may allow you to consolidate your existing balance(s) from one or multiple cards onto a single, new card.
When you do this, apply for a card with a 0% introductory APR. This means you will not pay interest on the outstanding balance for a certain period of time, sometimes up to 24 months. This will give you time to pay down the balance without having to worry about accruing interest.
Just make sure you completely pay off the balance before the introductory period is over; otherwise, you’ll start accruing interest at the standard rate.
The APR you receive is based on your credit score – the higher your score, the lower your APR. A good APR is around 20%, though the average score is about 23%. If you have excellent credit, you may be able to find a card with an APR as low as 10% or 12%, while those with poor credit may not get lower than 30%.
The top reasons your APR may increase are if you have a promotional rate that’s ending, you’re 60 or more days late on payments, your credit score dropped significantly, you have a variable APR and the prime rate is going up, or you’ve had the card for at least 12 months.
The first thing you can do is negotiate a lower rate with your credit company. Simply call and speak to a representative about doing so. You should also take steps to improve your credit score.
No, the average APR for a credit card is around 23%, so 20% is not too high. However, 20% interest on an outstanding balance can add up quickly, so try to apply for or negotiate a lower APR if possible.