If you have a credit card you know that between fees and fluctuating interest rates, your monthly payment can go through the roof.  There may come a time when you need to call them and ask for a decrease in your interest rate.

Companies avoid this call like the plague.  They don’t want to reduce the money they are making from you.  But there are a few things you can do to get them to talk to you and give you your options.

Be nice.  I know it goes without saying but when stress and worry about money and payments enter the picture, it can be hard to stay rational.  But try to remember that the person on the other end of the line listens to stories all day long.  They can rarely do anything but what is detailed in front of them.  They did not raise your rates but they are the first step to reduce them.  So being kind can get your further than anger.

A great time to call and have your rate reviewed or payment terms is around your renewal date.  Look on you card and see when it expires.  Most credit card companies review your rates and credit around that time every year.  So be proactive, call them and tell them that you are trying to reduce your rate and want to know what your credit review tells them. They will probably give you a time that is best to call back and get the information that you need.  Also, it gets a note in the system that you are interested in reducing your rate.

Be realistic.  Chances are, unless something drastic has changed, any adjustment to your interest rate is not going to change much.  So don’t expect that the rates that you see on television to be available for you.  Most of the time those are promotional rates and not available to current customers.

If you are really in trouble, consider sending your credit card into a hardship payment plan with the credit card company.  This can reduce your rate and payment but you lose the use of your card and you must pay the agreed upon amount for the duration of the time period.  Any late payments or defaults will report to your credit immediately. A good tool I have found has been provided by Genworth financial and I have embedded it above. A simple budget calculator can tell you what new rate you can afford. In my family this article about How to talk about money with your spouse was very helpful after figuring out what we could and could not afford with the budget calculator.

Calling a credit card company can be intimidating.  But if you approach it with an open mind and realistic expectations, you can get more done and manage your debt more comfortably for you.