Asking for a lower interest rate, higher limit on your credit card

Opening Credits columnist Eric Sandberg
Erica Sandberg is a prominent personal finance authority and author of "Expecting Money: The Essential Financial Plan for New and Growing Families." She writes "Opening Credits," a weekly reader Q&A column about issues for people who are new to credit, for

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Question for the expert Dear Opening Credits,
After a period of time where I was unable to pay my credit card bill in a suitable fashion, I have finally been able to pay them on time and to pay it all down. Now I would like my credit card company to do two things, one to lower the interest rate which is currently 26.9 percent, and two, to give me a larger limit which is currently $2,000. Should I ask on two separate occasions or will they give me both of my requests now? I appreciate your help.    -- Kirsten 

Answer for the expert Dear Kirsten,
I wish I were the mind reader that many readers think I am, but I have no such superpowers. Whether your credit card issuer is willing to give you any kind of break is up to them, and I'm not privy to that decision. 

However, I do know how you can find out: Give the company a call and ask! Inquiring about your account and if it can be adjusted is easy and does no harm. Unlike applying for a new credit card, there is no inquiry placed on your credit report, which can drive down your score a bit. All your issuer would be doing is providing you with information about what it can offer based on your cumulative account activity.

What you want is perfectly reasonable. The interest rate that you have currently is way above today's average credit card rate, so I can understand why you would like to lower it. A better rate would allow you to borrow money, but not have to pay so much in finance fees if you were to pay in increments.

My professional guess is that the company will reduce the rate. With hard work, you've mended damage and so probably healed a flagging credit score, too. Bear in mind, though, that an interest rate is irrelevant if you always pay the bill in full by the due date. Even if the rate is low, finance fees add up when you maintain perpetual debt. So unless you plan on paying a balance over time, I wouldn't be too concerned if they refuse to slash the interest rate.

As for your line of credit, go ahead and ask that your issuer increase it to an amount that gives you more spending power. A couple of grand is not tiny, but if you think that you may want to charge close to or over that sum, then see what they'll offer you now. Your main concern with the limit is that you don't hit it and stay there. That will harm your credit rating -- exactly what you don't want.

There is no reason to break up your request into two separate phone calls. Just have a solid idea of what you want, then pick up the phone and start the conversation. You can only be turned down. And if you are, you're a free agent. While you may have had problems in the past, recent behavior carries more weight with lenders. With no debt and a steady payment pattern, you're in a good position to shop around.

Why, I think I may see premium plastic in your future!

See related: Script to ask for a lower credit card rate, Credit limit tricks: Keep a high score while still using your card

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Updated: 03-24-2019