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Want a lower credit card interest rate? Just ask

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If you’re unhappy with your credit card’s interest rate, securing a lower one may be as simple as asking your credit card issuer. They may decline your request, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. If you’ve established a history of on-time payments and other responsible behavior with the issuer, leverage this information to your benefit.

A lower interest rate can ensure you pay less in interest over time, so it’s worth asking. You may even be able to qualify for a 0 percent APR on a credit card for a limited time, although you’ll typically need good or excellent credit to qualify for that type of offer.

In this guide, we’ll explain several ways to lower your credit card interest rate.

What is a good interest rate?

A credit card’s APR, or annual percentage rate, represents the price you pay for borrowing money. When you apply for a credit card, the interest rate you’ll qualify for depends on a handful of things, including your credit score, income and market conditions. If you always pay your balance in full and on time every month, your account will never accrue interest. However, if you do carry a balance on your card, odds are you are paying interest (unless you are benefiting from a 0 percent APR period).

If you are contemplating whether or not your credit card has a reasonable APR, consider this: The average credit card interest rate is currently hovering above 17 percent. If you have a credit card with an APR much higher than the national average, aim for a rate that is lower when you are ready to start negotiating.

Find competitive credit card offers

Credit card companies don’t want to lose your business, which is why they need to stay competitive with other issuers. Look for a credit card that’s similar to yours and compare the interest rates. If you find a similar card with a better APR, take note and be sure to share that information when you call your issuer.

Make sure the offer is actually competitive. If you have poor credit, for example, it wouldn’t make sense to compare your credit card APR to the APR of a card that requires excellent credit.

Call your card issuer and ask

First, try directly contacting your credit card issuer and asking for a lower interest rate. It is important to be prepared so you know exactly what it is that you need from your issuer. Know your current credit card terms (APR, grace period, statement due date and current balance) and use this knowledge to your advantage as you reveal what you’ve found when researching competitor lenders. You know what they say — it never hurts to ask.

And if you were able to find a better offer from another issuer, relay that information to the representative. You may find they’re more willing to negotiate if you make it clear you’re considering taking your business elsewhere.

If you have kept up with payments and have a solid history of responsible credit use with your credit card issuer, they may lower your interest rate just to keep your business. The worst they can say is “no.” Also, keep in mind account longevity means something in this business. If you have been banking with your issuer for a significant amount of time, let that be known in the negotiating process.

Still no luck? You can also try the HUCA method. HUCA stands for “hang up, call again” and, as the name suggests, involves hanging up and trying again if you don’t like the first response you receive. It’s possible a second (or third) customer service representative might be more accommodating to your request than the first.

Improve your credit score

Whether you’re going to apply for a new credit card or trying to negotiate a lower APR on your current credit card, a solid way to land a better interest rate is to take some steps toward improving your credit score. One of the easiest ways to give your credit rating a boost is to pay your credit card bill early or on time every month.

You should also refrain from opening too many new accounts, which leads to multiple hard inquiries on your credit report, and closing accounts, which can increase your credit utilization. Both moves can negatively impact your credit score, along with other factors.

If you have a lot of debt in relation to your credit limits, you can also improve your credit score by paying off your debt. Most experts recommend keeping your credit utilization rate below 30 percent for the best results, which means maintaining $3,000 or less in revolving balances for every $10,000 in total credit you have.

If denied, apply for a balance transfer card

One way to pay less in interest for a limited time is to apply for a balance transfer credit card, most of which let you secure a 0 percent intro APR on transferred balances for 12 to 21 months. Just keep in mind that these offers typically include balance, so you won’t get access to that 0 percent APR for free. However, applying for a balance transfer credit card is a great option to consolidate debt without further hurting your credit.

With a top balance transfer card like the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card, for example, you get a 0 percent introductory APR for up to 21 months, which is a long offer for both purchases and qualifying balance transfers currently available. The Wells Fargo Reflect card offers 0 percent intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers, but cardholders who make at least the minimum payments on time each month will have their zero-interest periods extended by three months (15.24 percent to 27.24 percent variable APR thereafter).

However, a 3 percent intro balance transfer fee (minimum $5) applies to balance transfers made within the first 120 days (5 percent or $5 after that). To determine whether a balance transfer will actually save you money, use a balance transfer calculator.

The bottom line

There is one tried and true method for avoiding credit card interest altogether. If you only make purchases you can afford to pay off, and you pay your credit card bill in its entirety every month, you will never get charged a dime in interest payments.

If you do end up with debt, you’ll want the lowest interest rate possible. Securing a lower interest rate may be as simple as asking your current credit card issuer to lower your APR, but in other cases, it may make sense to transfer your balance over to a new 0 percent APR credit card.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards, loyalty and insurance topics. In addition to writing for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, Johnson does ongoing work for clients that include CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.
Edited by
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Part of  After the 0% APR Period