4 tips for negotiating for better credit card terms
Know your value, do your research and you'll come out ahead
By Erin Peterson
If you're hoping to negotiate better terms on your credit card, you can improve your chances of success by entering the negotiations prepared. Following these four tips will give you the bargaining power you need to come away a winner.
1. Know your value. Credit card companies want loyal customers with good credit scores. "Pay a few bucks to get your FICO score," says Liz Weston, author of "Easy Money: How to Simplify Your Finances and Get What You Want Out of Life." "If it's 720 or above, then you have a lot of leverage." You may also want to mention how long you've had the card and even how much you've charged with it over the years. Weston says she's been a loyal customer with one card for nearly 20 years, which gives her the bargaining power she needs to get them to drop their annual fee.
2. Do your research. If you think you're getting a bad deal, find other card companies that offer what you want. "You can say to the [customer service representative] 'These are some of the offers available to me -- what do you have to keep me from going somewhere else?" says Todd Mark, vice president of education at Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas.
3. Start with your current cards. Credit card companies may want new business, but they want to hang on to good customers even more. Try to get more from your current cards before signing up for new ones. "Your best deals will almost always come from your existing cards," says Scott Bilker, founder of DebtSmart.com, who notes that he's been able to convince his card companies to increase his limits just by asking.
4. Be flexible. You should always ask for what you want upfront, whether it's a higher credit limit or better rewards, but if they can't provide you with what you want, don't give up. "Just ask them: What can you do for me?" says Bilker. He says when one credit card wouldn't give him a discount on his home improvement purchases, he was able to negotiate six months of no interest on the purchase.
Published: October 9, 2008
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