Ask an Expert: How Do I Get a Lower Credit Card Interest Rate?

A reader always got the bank to lower her rate with a phone call...until now.

Last week, a Money Talks News reader asked…

In the past, I have called Capital One and asked them to lower my interest rate. They’ve always done so in the past, telling me it would be at that lower rate for six months and I could call back and have it lowered again. This time, though, they told me I could not have it lowered. Can you give me some advice? What I should say if I call again to ask them to lower it?
– Lisa

Thanks for the question, Lisa. Here are my thoughts…

First, it’s great that you’ve called to have your interest rate lowered – it never hurts to ask and it often works. As credit card users, we rely on the fact that banks compete fiercely to earn our business and keep us as customers. But the key to getting the best rate is talking to someone in a department called “Retentions.”

This person’s job is to do whatever is necessary to keep you from closing your account. So when you call the phone number on the back of your credit card, simply ask to be transferred to their Retentions Department.

Whether Retentions will grant you a lower interest rate has more to do with your own credit history than it does the bank’s generosity. If you’ve been making payments on time and keeping your debt low, your bank will have more confidence in your ability to cover future bills. But if your balance is close to the limit or you’ve been late making payments, you might be considered too risky for such a break.

Even if you’re successful in having your interest rate lowered, you should still shop around for a lower rate in this highly competitive market. For example, take a look at these 5 Credit Cards With Low Interest Rates.

Another strategy: Move your balance to a card with a zero-percent promotional balance transfer offer. You can save a lot in interest charges, but be sure to consider these 5 Questions to Ask About Zero-Percent Card Offers.

Of course, Lisa, your ultimate goal should always be to pay your credit card balances in full and on time each month – so you never have to worry about your interest rate. By speaking with the right people at your bank, or finding a different one, you can reduce your interest payments and hasten the day when that burden disappears.

Got a credit card question? Email it to [email protected] and I’ll try to answer it. And check out our credit card page for more advice.

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