Today, we’re addressing our finances. For some of us, this is territory that feels a bit scary. But just by taking a small step, you can really improve your situation.
In the case of credit cards (and many things in life), you won’t get what you want unless you ask for it. You might get rejected, but other than hearing no, there’s really no downside. And the potential benefit is totally worth it, so get ready!
For today’s tips, we’re turning to Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, who is a pro at this kind of negotiation. One thing he encourages you to keep in mind is that if you’ve been with the credit card company for a long time—in some cases, years—they don’t want to lose you as a valuable customer.
If you want to negotiate your APR, use some of these well-tested approaches:
Ramit recommends “you break the ice by asking a routine question, like, “I just wanted to confirm you received my bill on time.” Then, highlight how long you’ve been a customer: “Can you tell me, how long have I been a customer? Do your records show that?”
At this point, it’s time to ask for a rate reduction. Use this phrase: “Times are tough.” Also, if you’ve done your homework, you can say, “X company is offering a better deal. I’d hate to have to switch just over a few bucks. What can you do for me?” If they won’t budge, ask to speak to supervisor, who may have the power to make changes.P
Will this always work? Of course not. But remember, these are multi-million- and multi-billion-dollar companies, which anticipate a small number of customers negotiating their rates. And for a few minutes of work, you can save a significant stack of cash.”
Here’s exactly what to say if you’re calling because you missed a credit card payment:
You: “Hi, I noticed I missed a payment, and I wanted to confirm that this won’t affect my credit score.”
Credit Card rep: “Let me check on that. No, the late fee will be applied, but it won’t affect your credit score.”
(If you pay within a few days of your missed bill, it usually won’t be reported to the credit agencies. Call them to be sure.)
You: “Thank you! I’m really happy to hear that. Now, about that fee…I understand I was late, but I’d like to have it waived.”
Credit Card rep: “Why?”
You: “It was a mistake and it won’t happen again, so I’d like to have the fee removed.”
(Always end your sentence with strength. Don’t say, “Can you remove this?” Say, “I’d like to have this removed.” At this point, you have a better-than-50-percent chance of getting the fee credited to your account. But just in case you get an especially tough rep, here’s what to say.)
Credit Card rep: “I’m very sorry, but we can’t refund that fee. I can try to get you our latest blah blah marketing pitch blah blah…”
You: “I’m sorry, but I’ve been a customer for four years and I’d hate for this one fee to drive me away from your service. What can you do to remove the late fee?”
Credit Card rep: “Hmm . . . Let me check on that. . . . Yes, I was able to remove the fee this time. It’s been credited to your account.”
Give it a shot. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Good luck and let us know how you do!
PS - You don’t have to hunt for the credit card company’s phone number - it’s on the back of your card!