An Easy Way to Improve Your Credit Card Terms — and Possibly Your Credit Score

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Sometimes getting what you want in life is as simple as asking for it. This is even true of credit card terms.

Most cardholders who ask for certain improvements to their terms get them, a recent CompareCards survey found. The thing is that few people bother to ask.

More than 1,000 credit card holders were polled for the survey by CompareCards. Among those who made requests of a credit card company in the past year, the survey found:

  • 81% got a lower annual percentage rate (APR) — with the average decrease being about 6 percentage points.
  • 79% got a higher credit limit — with the average increase being about $1,500.
  • 87% got a late fee waived.
  • 67% got an annual fee waived, and 24% got one reduced.

Few credit card holders have bothered to ask for these changes, however, CompareCards said.

For example, the survey found only 1 in 5 cardholders had asked for a lower interest rate, and only 1 in 3 who have an annual fee had asked for the fee to be waived or reduced.

This means many consumers are likely overpaying for interest or fees — or accepting a lower credit score than they’re capable of achieving.

Lowering your credit card costs

Obviously, getting a late fee reversed will save you the amount of the fee, so there’s no reason not to ask for a late-fee reversal. That said, you should avoid making late payments when possible because they can ding your credit score.

Getting your APR lowered stands to save you money over and over again if you carry a balance from month to month rather than paying bills in full.

I’ve requested and received a lower APR in the past. But if asking doesn’t work for you or doesn’t result in a substantial decrease in your rate — or if it does, but you’re just carrying a lot of debt — look for a 0% APR credit card like those mentioned in “3 Cards With Zero Percent APR Until Summer 2020.”

You can find more options by using a free online resource like Money Talks News’ credit card search tool. Select “0% APR” from the menu on the left to refine your search to that type of card.

Raising your credit score

Even if you don’t think you need a higher credit limit, you could benefit from getting one. Increasing your credit limit can decrease your credit utilization rate — one of the biggest factors impacting your FICO and VantageScore credit scores.

I recently asked for a higher credit card limit and received it. I didn’t need it, but I wanted to do everything possible to boost my credit score because I expect to apply for a mortgage in the coming years.

Your credit utilization rate is the percentage of the total amount of credit available to you that you are actually using at a given time. The lower the rate, the better it is for your credit score.

As we explain in “7 Quick Ways to Raise Your Credit Score“:

“If you’ve maxed out your $1,000 card and get a limit increase to $2,000, you’ve instantly cut your credit utilization rate in half. The key is to not spend any of your new credit. It defeats the purpose of getting a limit increase if you immediately charge the card up to $2,000.”

However, before you ask for a credit increase, understand that it could prompt a credit inquiry, which can ding your credit score in some situations, according to Fair Isaac Corp., aka FICO, which is the company behind FICO credit scores.

Have you ever asked for better credit card terms? Tell us how it went for you by commenting below or on Facebook.

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