There's a simple way to cut credit card interest rates and fees: Ask for a reduction or waiver.
Seventy-eight percent of people who asked card issuers for lower interest rates got their wish, according to a new survey of more than 3,300 cardholders by CreditCards.com, a credit card comparison site. And 89 percent of those who were charged a credit card late payment penalty and asked for a waiver didn't have to pay that fee.
Those results jibe with Consumer Reports' long-standing advice that consumers should always negotiate rather than voluntarily accept fees and penalties.
But while many are rewarded when they attempt to haggle on everything from the sales price of a product to credit card interest rates, Consumer Reports has found that most people don't do it.
CreditCards.com saw a similar issue. Nearly 81 percent of the cardholders it polled did not ask for a reduction in interest rates.
"The best way to ask for a lower interest rate is to come armed with better offers you’ve seen or received in the mail," says Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com.
Competition among credit card issuers has been heating up, prompting some to offer 1.99 percent promotional interest rates for six months to existing card holders, says Schulz. The idea is to keep customers from switching to another card.
But it's unlikely that your current card issuer will offer you the kinds of deals that other banks will give you to transfer your balances, such as 0 percent interest for as long as 21 months.
While the CreditCards.com survey shows that it's worth negotiating on credit card interest rates and late payment penalties, Consumer Reports recommends that you take the strategy one step further and try to negotiate away other credit card fees as well.
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