9

I have a credit card that I am currently paying 14.24% interest on a balance. I'm working on paying the balance off. In the meantime, what's the best way to lower the interest I'm paying on the balance? Is this even possible?

  • 1
    Have you tried calling the lender and asking for a lower interest rate or for them to switch it to a different branded card they offer which can get you a lower rate? – Scott Jun 8 '11 at 19:05
  • @scott - I have not. That's my initial plan. Hoping to discover any additional strategy to help get the best possible rate. – Shane Jun 8 '11 at 19:22
  • 1
    I'd do that if you find that any of the offers you are finding just aren't very good, and even before you sign up for a new card. They might be able to help you out and lower the rate below the rate you'd get from switching to a 0% card. My wife has received a card with 0% for 18 months, and I've seen some (USBank I believe) with 12 months at 0% with no fees. Good luck! – Scott Jun 9 '11 at 11:29
7

Look for offers for 0% (or low) APR on balance transfers. It is more likely to get a promotional APR on balance transfer, than to lower the APR you already have. Of course, try to pay off the balance as long as you're in the period of the promotion, because otherwise you'll end up paying the high rate again.

If you cannot get such an offer (low credit etc) - then just try to pay off ASAP and start rebuilding your credit, not much workarounds there.

BTW: When you consider the balance transfer promotions - look at 3 things:

  1. The promotion period - when it ends, so that you'd know how much time you have to pay it off.

  2. The balance transfer fee - usually the balance transfer itself is not free, and you pay 3-5% on the transfer. If you have 0% APR for 12 months, it makes it effectively 5% APR (for the 5% fee), if the period is lesser - the APR is higher. Take that into the account.

  3. The APR after the promotion, in case you can't pay off in that time frame.

  • This sounds like a good idea. Would there be any penalties to my credit for transferring my balance around to different cards (opening and closing accounts as I go) until I can get it paid off all the way? – Shane Jun 8 '11 at 19:24
  • 1
    No. The credit score might go down because of the request and new accounts, but then go up because of the credit/debit ratio (as long as you keep paying off debt, not making new one). BTW: no reason to close the old account, of course. Keep it open, with no debt on it - it will do good for you both because of the ratio and because of the age. – littleadv Jun 8 '11 at 20:40
  • your answer was +1, nice work. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Jun 8 '11 at 22:25
  • 1
    Warning: 0% APR balance transfers often come with a surprise transfer fee. – jldugger Jun 12 '11 at 2:11
  • 1
    @jldugger: Yikes! The transfer fee is a major gotcha! After checking around at numerous banks I've found they all seem to offer the same basic deal. 3% or $5.00 for balance transfers, which-ever is larger. Obviously the 3% will be larger. In fact, it turns out that it really won't save me any money to transfer the balance by the time I pay the transfer fee. Major bummer! – Shane Jun 14 '11 at 0:20
2

Usually you need to switch accounts. Lower rate cards usually offer less generous benefits.

I'd advise looking at the charts on credit card rates in the back of a magazine like "Money" or "Kiplingers".

  • bankrate.com? Any reason to not use that site as well? – MrChrister Jun 15 '11 at 20:58
  • @MrChrister: Nope, I happened to have seen the chart in Money magazine at the Dentist's office that morning :) – duffbeer703 Jun 15 '11 at 21:09
2

I don't recommend balance transfers. Like many credit card things, they distract you with shiny ("0 percent interest!") and ream you on a 'balance transfer fee'.

If you have a decent credit score and working relationship, talk to banks about opening what's called a 'signature loan,' and use that to shift the debt to a lower rate. A local credit union advertises rates 'as low as' 9.75 percent. Which is itself a shiny that you may not qualify for.

The really low loans rates you see are secured loans; if you don't pay, they can take the collateral.

1

The first thing I'd do is to find out your credit (FICO) score.

If you have a good one, try to get another card with a lower rate. Then call up the lender, point to your good score, and your alternatives.

If you have a bad score, do nothing. "Let sleeping dogs lie."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.