First things first: I hate credit cards. I’m as guilty as anyone of being fiscally irresponsible with them in the past, but I also think a special circle of hell should be reserved for credit card companies. In the past year, the McGees have paid off and cancelled 6-7 credit cards, and we still have some to go. There will be a colossal party (paid with cash) when we finally pay off and cancel the last one. It’ll be so loud, you’ll hear us … no matter where you are.
Since we still have some credit cards, I decided a couple months ago to call each one to request a lower interest rate. It worked awfully well. I believe we’re paying, on the whole, somewhere around $90/month less simply due to lower interest rates. Doesn’t sound like much, but who wouldn’t take an extra $1,000/year if the only requirement was to make a few phone calls to Satan’s helpers?
On The Consumerist today, they shared a sample call script for making such a phone call:
“I think I’ve been a good customer. I’d like to stay with you, but I really want you to lower the rate on my card. Can you help me?”
Simple, but effective. It’s similar to mine, although I took a more drawn out approach and actually got the credit card employee to agree I was a great customer before agreeing to lower our interest rates. Here’s how the conversations typically went:
Me: Hi, my name’s Matt McGee. Do you have my account information in front of you? (Several times I had to punch my account number into the phone before reaching a human, but if not, I’d give my account number at this time.)
Them: Yes, I do.
Me: Great. You’re going to help me with a few questions and then I have a request after that.
Them: Okay. How can I help you?
Me: How long have I been a customer? When was this account opened?
Them: 1990 … 1994 … (or whenever).
Me: Great. And according to your records, have we ever missed a payment?
Them: No. No missed payments. You have a perfect payment record.
Me: Cool. Thanks. So, we’re longtime customers with an outstanding balance and we’ve never missed a payment. Would you agree that makes us a great customer?
Them: Yes, you’ve been an excellent customer. (One person even shared with me that, according to their private, internal rating system, we were in the top class of customers.)
Me: Thank you. Now here’s why I’m calling: We keep getting mail from your competitors offering really low interest rates on balance transfers, usually for the lifetime of the outstanding balance. They’re offering rates that are way below the XX% (I gave them the exact rate here to show I’d done the research) you’re charging me. So, since we’re such good customers, I’d like you to match the rate they’re offering me. Can you do that?
Admittedly, they were never able to match the 3.9% rates that others were offering me, but they were able to come close enough that it wasn’t worth the hassle of switching. (Plus, regular shifting of balances from one card to the next is supposedly a black mark on your credit rating.) And now we’re saving about $1k/year on interest. I’ll take that anytime.
(photo: Michael Brenton)