A few years ago, when I had over $15,000 of credit card debt, I was often negotiating with credit card companies to get better interest rates.
I took a very active approach toward minimizing my interest expense on my debt and learning to negotiate with credit card companies was a key component.
Like I’ve mentioned before, I am a big fan of the debt snowball method for getting out of debt and you actually can use this as another tool to speed up the debt reduction process.
The steps to bargaining with your credit card company
These are the steps that I actually took when I was trying to negotiate with my credit card companies.
1Gather credit card offers
I gathered up a bunch of offers from other credit card companies. I would often get 0% credit card offers in the mail, so I just saved them up for a couple weeks until I had a few decent ones that I was slightly interested in. The reason I gathered these up was to have a baseline to negotiate from. These offers would more or less allow me to prove to my credit card company that I didn’t need them, because I had other offers. I could have made these offers up, but I don’t believe that lying to get what you want is ever justified – even to credit card companies. 😉
If you don’t have any, you can just find some of the 0% balance transfer offers and use those as negotiating leverage.
2Organize and make a list
From this point, I would make a list of all of my credit cards, the balances on each, the current interest rate and how long that rate would last (if it were a promotional rate).
3Call the first card company and try to reach the supervisor
Then I would grab the phone number off the back of the first card and start calling. (This is very important) Once I reached a customer service rep I would ask to speak to their supervisor. You can try to negotiate a better rate with the front-line rep if you want, but in my experience they rarely can negotiate rates with you.
Most of the reps I dealt with flat out told me “no”. Either way, ask for their supervisor. Once you are talking to the supervisor, you are now talking to someone who has authority to negotiate rates (most times) and they often are much more rational and will talk to you like a human being.
4Plead your case
Now that I had the supervisor on the line, I would argue my case in typical Matlock fashion. 😉 I would let them know that while I have enjoyed their business, I had three 0% offers from other credit card companies.
I told the supervisor that I would love to stay with them, but if they couldn’t provide me with a better rate I would be forced to go with one of their competitors.
Just like you would expect, this worked with varying degrees of success each time. Sometimes they would offer me 0% for a fixed time frame, sometimes they would try to pacify me with a 1% rate reduction. But I will say that they ALWAYS offered me something. So even if I didn’t get what I wanted, it was always better than not calling at all.
I know not everyone will be offered a discount, but you never know until you ask!
5Transfer your balance if you need to
I had patience and was not afraid to leave, so if I couldn’t get the offer I wanted from the supervisor I would just kindly hang up and proceed to transfer that balance to one of the offers I rounded up in step 1.
6Get the best offer by closing your account
Once I had my balance transferred, I would call back to that card company to close my account. Many of the credit card companies have “closing specialists” whose only job is to do any and everything to keep your business. You can ask these guys for a ride on a unicorn and they will try to make it happen if it means you will keep your account open.
I found that these guys often will be able to offer you a better deal than anyone else, because they know you mean business. I rarely took advantage of their deals, because I had already transferred my balance, but it is something to keep in mind.
So there you have it – my quick how to guide to negotiate with credit card companies. I assure you that you will have varying degrees of success based on your credit history, payment history, and other factors, but it never hurts to try. Oh and by the way, this is the same method I use when trying to negotiate late fees or any other charges from them.
- Gather up some 0% balance transfer offers that you have gotten in the mail, or find other balance transfer credit card offers for negotiating leverage.
- Then follow the steps above to negotiate lower rates.
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Chris Bradley says
Hey Bob, good tips here. I will have to give it a try.
Chris, let me know how it works out for you…
Thanks a lot for this insightful article on negotiating with credit card companies.
God bless you, you have helped me a lot.
I have a credit balance with Chase. I was 10 days late making my March payment. As a result they jacked up my rate to 24% and told me to call back after 6 months of timely payments. I have called back 3 times now and they refuse to give me a lower rate. What can i do to get them to reduce the rate? BTW, i’m not currently working. Thanks
Got my interest rate lowered from 15% to 10% just by calling Amex and asking if there are any ways to reduce my APR. Yahooo!
I just had to come back to this site after a MAJOR prayer request was answered. I saw your blog a few weeks back as my husband and I are trying to afford for me to stay home with our 6 year old and new baby. Finances would not be a problem if it were not for our debt payments which we could only aford minimum payments on. We were looking at debt settlement, but our hearts were uneasy about it and we didnt want to ruin our good credit.
On Monday of this week, I called our debtor and explained the situation to them. I explained that we wanted to pay off the debt that we incurred and that we understood our responsibility to them. I also stated that we would not be able to pay it off in the current situation. I faxed them a copy of our budget and income. Four days later, they called me back and informed me that they had reduced our interest from 10.5% to a whopping 0% until the balance was paid. No dings on our credit and we would remain in good standing with them.
Let me go back and explain my prayer before my call…I confessed my sin of over spending and my desire to learn how to be a better steward. I prayed that they would hear my humblness and that I would not be arrogant or rude. My prayers were answered in a huge way! Thanks for heading me in the right direction and giving me the confidence to take matteres into my hand….me leaving them in my Fathers hands!
On Friday I realized that my interest rate on my Citi card was 29.99%! I called and the first account manager said they could do nothing. I waited 10 minutes and called back. The lady said they could drop me to a promo rate of 9.99% for 6 months and to call back at that time to see what they can do for me!
Totally agree that you should better finding a way to pay them 🙂 if you pay you don’t need to pay interest!
New Covenant Bible Institute says
Thanks for that tip bob, I am planning to get some credit cards and these post could really help me to find the one that will suite me.
Ron @ Besttravelcreditcard.us says
Negotiation is truly an art. At the end of the day really comes down to making in into a symbiotic situation. When you end up talking with the closing specialists if you can stay with the corp then they get brownie points for keep and extra customer, and you can get a reduced rate. When you talk with the normal customer service specialists negotiation can be very difficult because fundamentally they have very little incentive to you help you, they usually get paid an hourly rate to deal with issues and get people off the phones as quickly as possible.
I had a dangerously high credit card balance at one point. I called and simply asked if there was any way they could lower my interest rate and to my surprise they did. That was all there was to it. When it got to the point I couldn’t afford the payments I called and asked for a payment plan. They actually wouldn’t do a payment plan until three or four months passed with no payment. So I didn’t pay it for a while and called again and got on their “plan.” It was only for a year and I was still paying a tremendous amount of interest. I tried to keep up the payments after the plan was through but the balance was barely budging. When I called to ask for another payment plan they told me it was too soon since the other plan had just ended. I waited another three or four monhts with no payment and got another payment plan with an even lower interest rate. They payments were just over $200 a month and it was do-able but I wondered if it could be better. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to see if I could get them to go even lower. The worst they could say was no, right? I was doing this all online and it said “for more payment options call us” so I called and asked the rep if there was a better interest rate or something. She said “you mean you can’t pay $206 a month?” with such disgust in her voice! I said I probably could but it wouldn’t hurt to see if there was something better and I repeated what the website said about calling for more options. She told me to click “no thanks” (or something like that; I forgot what it said) on the website offer and that it would generate another offer. After quadruple checking that if the other offer wasn’t better I could still get the first offer (whcih she assured me would be the case) I clicked the button. Imagine my surprise when the offer went from about 9% interest at $206 a month to 0% interest at $159 a month for five years! Saving over $40/month and not having to pay all that interest was an amazing blessing. The balance has quickly gone from nearly $10k to less than $7k in just over a year on this plan. It truly is worth it to just call and ask for a better rate. The worst they could say is no!
When my credit card debt got away from me, I also called and said, “I’m wondering if there is a way I could get a lower interest rate from you guys” and with that, I was switched from 25.9% to 11.9% – the catch here was a $30/year ‘premium’ card fee, but considering what I was paying on interest every month, this was acceptable. I wish I’d called back later.
Regarding what the ‘front line phone rep’ will or will not do for you when you call, it’s often a matter of whether or not they have access to the systems that allow them to make such changes to your account and whether they’ve been trained to do anything but deal with ‘front line’ issues. I worked as a Billing Supervisor for a major telecommunications company in the States for a time, and my ability to apply discounts and payment arrangements for customers who phoned in was frustratingly limited.
Before you transfer a balance, check what you’ll pay in fees and make sure it doesn’t outweight the saving on interest. Most companies will charge a 3% transfer fee – you might consider negotiating that before transfering to them.
I’m thankful we have just become debt-free and don’t have this concern, but this was something I almost overlooked when we began our plan.
It is so hard to deal with credit card debt. Sometimes the credit card companies just won’t listen! Gathering credit card offers is a great idea 🙂
single mom says
Sometimes paying the debts off is just too hard.
In any case, good to know there are options out there. Will be implementing some of your suggestions.
Jeff Crews says
I luckily have never had to do this (Google Calendar is great with payment reminders). However, this is some great stuff to pass on to some of my friends.
I recently had a friend who had debt with places like AmScot. I have never dealt with places like that. Any thoughts on that though?
Like Dave Ramsey always says, If you play with snakes long enough, you’re gonna get bit. Credit card companies can be snakes. Do yourself a favor and put a death sentence on all consumer debt and close the credit card accounts and don’t look back. I did and it feels wonderful. No more credit card statements and no more wealth-sucking interest payments. Good luck! 😊
I have worked at a bank for the last 6 years. Banks are definitely money makers, and credit cards are a great source of that income, but they can stand to give back a little. This article is a great resource on how to save some money.
If you do not have luck in having the interest rate lowered, and are truly having issues paying your bills, tell them that. When customers would come into the bank and truly needed help, I would call for them and explain that we would lose the money if we didn’t assist. This helped a lot of customers, and saved the bank from placing customers into collections.
Great article, and good luck on lowering those rates.
Help.. we have $34k in credit cards. I make decent payments each month but I never see the balances getting lower. I have decent rates, as I have done all the calling in the past… I just feel like we are not getting ahead and are putting no money away for our future or our childrens future. I grew up with no concern of money and I think that I have overextended ourselves too far this time. I need help now… any suggestions.. or is there andyone we can talk to.. I am never late, never make just the minimum, but we are snowballing out of control…
Cindy I feel your pain, I also owe a lot on credit cards. And feel like I am getting no where fast on paying them off. It is very stressful.
as for credit cards, some of them i just put in my drawer so i would not use them. i do not freeze them. for the life of me i do not even know why i chose all of them. i promised myself i would only have one credit card, and as soon as i found out i could have more, i ordered more. thank God i am only using one at the moment.the already approved loans up to a certain amount is also hard to get away with.once one bill is paid off, i do the snowball deal and add that amount to the remaining bill. i have heard, if you can not pay with cash, you should not have a credit card because that is to easy to access and that allows you to buy more.I have decided to pay all bills off and hopefully one day i will have money for another car.
I am all for being debt free. I was there for quite some time. I had my CC hacked by my own son (drug problem) and although I filed a claim, I was honest and advised the situation. They are now holding me accountable for $4000.00. I would like to know how I can negotiate a debt reduction on this debt and how to accomplish it, please. Also, please pray for my son’s total recovery and salvation. Thanks so much!
Michael Kampff says
Good stuff. I encourage anyone reading this who may be waffling or procrastinating to just take one simple step. Take one credit card, follow the advice above, and just learn from it. Rinse and repeat or learn from the experience and the next one will be easier. Bob is so right… in the end, you have absolutely nothing to lose – except a high interest rate!
Bruce Stilwell says
I have used some of these methods and received good results.
Great article ! I have a question. Is it possible to get to a retention specialist BEFORE you change card companies?
I have $35,000 in credit card debt. I also have a paid off RV which I am refinancing at 6.25% (I will be selling it in the next few years and then pay the loan off) I can only refi for $25,000, I am current on all payments and never had a late payment is there any way to negotiate reducing the debt balances I would like to pay off as much as possible with the $25,000.
Alan Chapman says
Very nice and interesting article! This is really helpful for us nowadays. Thank you for posting this one. Keep up the good work.