Want a lower interest rate, late payment fee forgiveness or a higher credit limit?
Just ask for it.
Nearly nine out of 10 credit cardholders who asked their credit card companies to waive a late payment fee were successful, and about two-thirds who asked for a lower interest rate were approved, according to CreditCards.com.
“It’s probably the best time in years to ask credit card issuers for a break,” says Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst. “Americans are pulling out their plastic again. Banks are loosening their grip on credit. That makes for a very competitive environment – and one that consumers can use to their advantage.”
Yet only 28 percent of American cardholders have asked their credit card issuer to waive a late payment fee and only 23 percent have requested a lower interest rate.
Given how successful these requests have been, I think the takeaway message is, ‘Ask and you may receive.’
Tips for success:
1.Know your credit score. Typically, a request for a lower interest rate will be granted if your credit score has improved since you first applied for the credit card.
“A lot of people who’ve had accounts for a long time have probably earned a better rate than they’re getting due to establishing a good credit history, but the creditors won’t check unless the cardholder calls and asks,” says Melinda Opperman, senior vice president of community outreach at Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management Inc., a nationwide credit counseling organization. “In many cases when those requests occur, the creditor will run a credit check before adjusting one’s interest rate. If their credit scores justify setting a new, lower rate, the creditor will grant it.”
2. Go in with a plan. If you want to request that your creditor waive a late fee, make sure you know how long you’ve been paying bills on time. If you want to ask for a credit limit increase, consider saying that you’re trying to lower your credit utilization ratio so your credit score can improve.
“That helps your come off as a responsible borrower who isn’t just looking for a credit limit so they can buy a 55-inch TV or take a trip to Cancun,” Schulz says.
If you want a lower interest rate, research other options or offers that would be available to someone with your credit score. Doing a little research and sketching out a script beforehand can help keep you on task and politely defend your argument.
3. Mention your other offers, but not right away. If you’ve gotten offers from other card issuers in the mail, you can use them to bolster your request for a lower interest rate. Just take care not to put all your cards on the table too quickly.
“There’s no need to say that immediately, but it can be a good tactic to use if you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere. After all, if you’ve been a good customer over the years, they won’t want to lose you,” Schulz says.
A few factors that could be in your favor:
Higher-income households (with an annual income of $75,000 or greater) are much more likely to be successful when they request changes to their credit card terms.
Older folks are more likely to be approved as well. People between the ages of the 30 and 65 are more likely than others to get a lowered interest rate or late fee forgiveness—actually eight times more likely to get it.
Unemployment is not a barrier for late payment waivers—21 percent of unemployed people who asked were granted them, while 27 percent of people employed full-time were approved.