10/14/11 Negotiating terms and fees with your credit card company
Whether it’s a result of trying to make ends meet during graduate school or falling victim to the lure of overpriced stilettos, most of us single girls have credit card debt. Overcoming the bad spending habits is just the first step. Paying off the debt in a timely manner is the next step. There are some quick and easy ways to negotiate the fees associated with your debt. Negotiating terms and fees with your credit card company can really save you money each month if done properly. Most of the time, everything from the annual fees to the interest rate can be lowered with some effort. You cannot expect to simply ask for a lower rate and get it without some effort on your part. Instead you will need to take a more skilled approach along the following lines listed below:
1. Request a Lower Interest Rate
Did you know 9 times out of 10 the interest rate you are paying monthly/annually is negotiable? If you have been a good customer with a solid history of on-time payments, the credit card company should find little issue in lowering your interest rate. Simply call your credit card company and request a rate that is at least 2% below the national average. Using your good payment history as leverage, you should be able to get this done without much hassle. To find acceptable rates, try searching Google or calling any friends you may have in the financial industry. The more information you have, the better.
2. Fees Are Negotiable
With most companies, credit card fees can also be negotiated. The easiest fee to get waived is the late fee, provided you paid your bill within a few days of the due date. If you have a solid credit history and are rarely late, use this as leverage on the phone. Stress the fact that you paid your bill only two or three days after the due date, and that as a reliable, on-time customer, you would like that fee waived or you will not be using their card any longer. It is important to stress the option of no longer using their card. This is a sure fire way to get their attention. Other fees, such as annual fees or cash advance fees may not be as negotiable as late fees, but it’s worth the phone call to see if you can get them reduced. Also, inquire what the annual fee covers or provides. If you can show no realized benefits, you may be able to get a credit for a prior annual fee that you have paid.
3. Request a Lower Minimum Payment
It is best to pay as much as possible each month towards your outstanding balance. If you are in a bind financially and cannot pay the higher minimum payment, ask for your minimum to be lowered. This strategy is most effective if you are behind by several months on your payments. Credit card companies would rather get some money rather than no money, so if you request a different payment plan they will likely be willing to work with you. Make sure you determine how much you can afford to pay monthly before calling so that you know your limits when the negotiations begin.
4. Ask To Speak With the Supervisor
Often times we feel we are getting the runaround when we speak to a call center representative. It is best to ask for a supervisor if you feel you are getting nowhere with the person on the other end of the phone. You don’t have to be rude, just simply say it seems you can’t help me, so I would very much like to speak with your supervisor please. Frequently, the supervisors have more authority and are the real decision makers on the floor anyway, and you have a better chance of getting somewhere with them. They are more concerned with retaining your business, even if that means meeting you halfway on a request they wouldn’t normally grant. It never hurts to ask!
5. Get Your New Terms in Writing
If you are successful in renegotiating your credit debt, request that the company mail you a brief statement of the new terms in writing. This provides you with proof of your new terms and conditions, so that if your next statement comes unchanged, you have something on paper to point to. Without it you will be forced to call the credit card company and play the “he said, she said” game as you go through the pains of renegotiating the same terms.
Credit card debt can loom over you like a rain cloud and any relief is always a plus. I hope you find these tips helpful if you are in a position to renegotiate your debt. Just remember, if you have any questions feel free to call me at 205.989.3498 or email me here.
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