(Post updated in October 2018)
We’ve discussed several ways to get credit card companies to lower your interest rate in order to make debt repayment a bit easier. We shared 7 ways to approach the topic with the credit card company and today we share a negotiation script that you can use to ask for a lower interest rate, also called the Annual Percentage Rate (APR). Before you call up the bank’s customer service helpline or visit their office, you will need to prepare yourself with a copy of your credit report, interest rate details about other credit cards being offered in the market, and a bit about your credit card transaction history.
First, a summary of the reasons you can share with the credit card company to ask for an interest rate cut
In many cases, you only have to ask for a lower interest rate and the credit card company will give it to you, but if that fails, give the credit card company incentives to lower your interest rate. If that also fails, share information about competing credit cards with similar features but lower interest rates that appeal to you as a consumer. If that fails as well, you can simply move on to a balance transfer credit card, which offers a zero percent interest rate (or a very low one) for an introductory period of a few months. Here is a quick list of the different ways you can ask for a lower interest rate on your credit card and then we’ll move on to the pitch, or the script, you can use to carry out the negotiation.
- Simply ask for a reduction in the interest rate – you don’t get what you don’t ask for,
- Leverage your loyalty to the credit card company to get a lower interest rate – loyalty programs are commonly used to keep customers coming back,
- Mention your impeccable track record as a credit card user – responsible credit card usage may get you a concession on your interest rate,
- State that a lower interest rate will prevent you from missing all of your future payments – credit card companies make money when you default on a few payments but they do not want to write off the loan as a loss and will help you repay your debt when possible,
- Share details about competing credit cards with lower interest rates – the financial sector is fiercely competitive and this can work in your favor.
Script to ask for (negotiate) a lower interest rate on your credit card
You: Hello. Good morning/afternoon. My name is _________ and I have been using the __________ credit card (insert name of company/brand) for _________ months/years. I’m very happy with the card and all its features but I think the interest rate / APR is a bit high at _________ percent and I was hoping I could talk to someone about lowering it.
Telephone operator: Please hold a moment while I connect you to the right person.
You: Good morning/afternoon. May I know who I’m speaking to?
Account manager: My name is Stevia Jackson.
You: Hi Stevia. My name is _________ and I have been using the __________ credit card (insert name of company/brand) for _________ months/years. I’m very happy with the card and all its features but I think the interest rate / APR is a bit high at _________ percent and I would like to discuss the possibility of lowering it.
Account manager: We appreciate that you have chosen us and pride ourselves in offering the best credit card in the market, however, at this moment, we cannot lower your interest rate.
You: I see. Well, I have been using your card for several years now and I am really happy with the relationship _________ (name of credit card brand) has built with me over the past years. In fact, this was the first credit card I signed up for and I have retained it through the years because I feel I have a special bond with the brand. Do you have any loyalty programs that reward loyal customers like me in the form of extra perks or interest rate cuts?
Account manager: We value your relationship with us and our card already comes with a major concession for you in the form of an extended grace period.
You: That is correct, Stevia, and the longer grace period has helped me make my payments on time. If you look at my credit card history, you will notice that the total value of all my transactions stands at $_________ because I regularly use it to make purchases throughout the year. I even used it to buy a few expensive items last year, and I managed to pay back the debt fairly quickly. The truth is, I make it a priority to set aside money for my credit card bill and that’s helped me keep a good credit score. I believe I am a fairly responsible credit card user and I would be grateful if you could lower the interest rate so I can continue to conveniently use it.’
Account manager: Yes, I do have your credit history with me and we’re glad you have found our credit card useful over the years. Although you’ve managed to pay most bills on time, I notice a few late payments.
You: Yes, that is because I am actually facing a bit of a financial crunch at the moment due to _________ (share the reason, if you want to) and I doubt I will be able to meet any future payments on time if the current APR is maintained for my credit card. In fact, there are a number of credit cards circulating these days that are very similar to yours, yet have a lower interest rate, such as __________ and __________ credit cards with lower APRs of __________% and _________%. I would still prefer to keep using yours as my primary card because of our history together, but at this moment in time, I feel I need a better deal.
Account manager: I am sorry to hear that. How about we reach an agreement here to help you out? If you stay with us for the next few months and pay all your credit card bills on time, I’ll give you a concession on your interest rate.
You: Thank you, Stevia. That’s going to help me in so many ways. I appreciate it!
How to make sure credit card companies notice and oblige your request for a lower interest rate
Credit card companies deal with hundreds of customers every day and that makes it easy for your request to go unnoticed or get ignored. You need to stand out when you place your call or visit the bank to improve your chances of getting a lower interest rate. Here are some ideas.
- A good first impression: If you’re visiting the credit card company for your negotiation, dress well and use open, confident body language. Greet the account manager with a smile and ask how they are doing. A pleasant greeting goes a long way. If you are carrying out this negotiation over the telephone, make sure the friendliness is portrayed in your voice. Again, ask how the customer service representative is doing. Customers usually do not ask such questions, so it’s a nice gesture to put forward on your end.
- Be personal: Ask the customer service representative or the account manager’s name and use is frequently within the conversation. This is because ‘…a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language,’ (Dale Carnegie).
- Be persistent: If your first call does not get you a reduction in the interest rate, don’t be afraid to call again after a couple of weeks. Call them three, four or even five times because they may eventually give in.
- Be polite and kind: This is probably the most important tip here. Make the call as many times as you feel is right but be polite. Rude customers do stand out, but so do polite and friendly ones, and the latter qualities are more likely to get you what you want during any negotiation, be it for a lower credit card interest rate or for getting others to help you at work.
- Ask for help: Depending on your negotiation strategy (the ones we shared above) you may want to appear as though you actually need help in terms of debt repayment or general financial management in your life. Humans are social animals and generally like helping others in need. Of course, this does not work in every situation. Sometimes you need to exude confidence (not arrogance) to get a lower interest rate.
These tips make it more likely that the credit card company will help you out rather than turn a deaf ear to your request. However, if that happens, there is one more solution.
Get a balance transfer card if the credit card company refuses to lower the interest rate
The scenario shared above is ideal, of course, but it does show you have to be tactful and persistent in your approach. If these tips fail to get you a cut on your credit card APR, you can move your outstanding credit card debt to a balance transfer card where you will avoid paying any interest (or a very small amount of it) on your debt for an introductory period of a few months. The move to a balance transfer card is not as simple as it seems because one has to look at the impact on the credit score, transfer fees, promotional period and any other charges/fees mentioned in the fine print that may make it an expensive choice. For this reason, we’ve talked about the steps you can take to make yourself aware of all the risks you may be facing when choosing a balance transfer card.
Have you tried negotiating a lower interest rate on your credit card? What approach did you use? How well did it work for you?