Taming the credit card beast

By Lauren Lowrey - bio | email 

Posted by Nick Dutton - email

(WTOL) - During the current economic crisis every penny counts. So when it comes to taming the credit card beast, how do you get your debt on a diet?

Robin Kozub is a busy mom with better ways to spend her cash than on finance charges. Neighbor Kelly Petros, also wants to hang on to as much of the family paychecks as possible.

Both women jumped at the chance to try our credit card script to reduce their rates.

"My name is Kelly Petros, I'm a good customer - but I've received numerous offers from other banks."

No luck, instead a supervisor tries to sell kelly a line of credit, for a fee.

"I was a little surprised that I didn't get better results, I've been a good credit card customer for many years, I would have thought that especially with the financial trouble that the banks are having, that they would be more interested in servicing their good customers," says Petros.

Next up, robin tries the good customer argument, making her case up the line to a supervisor. And it worked! Robin gets about two percent knocked off her rate.

"It actually makes me want to go look at different bills and see what we can get, see if I can get different percentage rates."

Lauren Lowrey gave it a try on two credit cards, too. She stayed on hold five minutes and talked to two people. Her rate was lowered by 2 percent.

"The other card was even easier. I read the same script, emphasizing that I'd had better offers," says Lowrey.

"They came down 9 percent, from 27.99 percent to 18.99. Of course, this method got more dramatic results before the economy took a dive."

A big change that'll help you when you're feeling the pinch.

Credit Card Tips: Ask For Lower Interest Rate, Consumer Credit Counseling

DEBT TEST: Consumer Credit Counseling Service

How to call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate:

"Hi, my name is __________________ . I have been a good customer for _________ years, but I've received numerous offers in the mail from other companies offering much lower rates. Visa/Mastercard/Discovery is offering me a _________ APR. I want to stay with your company, but I also want a lower rate on my card. What can you do for me?"
If the first operator won't help you, ask for a supervisor and repeat the script to them. These tips will also work for increasing your limit. Just replace "lower rates" with "higher limits" and "APR" with "limit."

This only works well by calling NATIONAL CREDIT CARD COMPANIES. It will not work well with local banks who have issued credit cards.

Five Ingredients of a Credit Score   

  • Your payment history - about 35% of your score. Paying your bills on time can help build your score. Late payments, bankruptcies and other negative information pull your score down.
  • Amounts owed - about 30% of your score. Owing a high amount close to your credit limit can affect your score negatively.
  • The length of credit history - about 15%. A longer history can help your score.
  • New credit - about 10% of your score. The score takes into account whether you have opened new accounts recently. Too many new accounts cam impact your score negatively.
  • Your credit mix - about 10% of your score. A credit score considers your credit mix of credit cards, installment loans and mortgage loans.

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