Credit Cards and Debt Interview with WGN Radio Chicago
Interviewer: Did you get in a little credit card trouble over the holidays? Are you deep in debt and you’re looking to 2016 to be the year that perhaps you pull yourself out of that credit card debt? It’s a good goal. It’s a good resolution. Can you do it? Well, one guy who may be able to help us, Matt Shultz from CreditCards.com is here. He’s joining me on WGN. Thanks for taking some time, Matt. I appreciate it.
Matt Schulz: Thanks for having me.
Interviewer: Now has it gotten easier for people to get credit since the recession? Has it gotten tighter? So that the people who are getting these credit cards are more incentivized to pay off early because maybe they have a little more cause credit is tighter?
Schulz: Well, actually it’s gotten easier to get a credit card. And the credit card marketplace is super competitive right now because people are spending a little more and because banks are willing to lend. And it actually makes it a really good time to negotiate and to do things like asking for a lower interest rate on your current credit card.
Interviewer: All right. Now I’ve heard that before. And it sounds very simple. Is it as simple as it sounds? So just look at what you’re paying for your interest rate and ask for a lower rate?
Schulz: Well, it’s always gonna be a negotiation. And you probably shouldn’t go in and say, can you drop my 20 percent APR credit card to 10 percent? But if you go in armed with some competitive offers and the knowledge that you’ve been a good customer for a while, then there’s a good chance that they will cut you some slack.
Interviewer: And about what should people expect? One percent? Five percent? Where do these fall on average?
Schulz: It’s hard to know exactly on average, but I would think that moving it down a few points, two, three, four points would be something that would be a reasonable ask that people would have.
Interviewer: If people are paying an exorbitant, like you said 20 percent. That seems high. Is it something that maybe they should – you know is it better to put those cards away and not use them? Is it better to use them a little bit and pay them off right away? How does it get you in a position to get a much lower rate credit card?
Schulz: Well, one option that you have is a balance transfer credit card. And there are lots of deals out there now that run anywhere from a year to 21 months of 0 percent interest on those balance transfers. And if you can have that stretch of time where you’re not paying any interest at all, that can really save you some money. We’ve got lots of those types of cards at CreditCards.com.
Interviewer: So explain, if somebody goes to CreditCards.com how can they research that to figure out if one of these balance transfer cards is the right move for them?
Schulz: Well, we have a page that is devoted to all balance transfer cards. And we lay it out in bullet points. The pros and cons of each card. And we also have a tool called card match where you put in a little bit of information and tell us kind of what you’re looking for. And we guide you to a card that will be a pretty good fit for you based on credit worthiness and some things you’re looking for.
Interviewer: Now what – if somebody’s – let’s say you’ve got a college graduate. Recent college graduate. Looking to get maybe their first card, what kind of card should they be looking for?
Schulz: Well, there’s a lot of deals out there for student credit cards if you’re somebody who hasn’t quite graduated yet. And the deals can be actually the best we’ve seen in some time. It used to be that they would give away credit cards with free pizzas on college campus –
Interviewer: Right. Exactly.
Schulz: That doesn’t really happen anymore. But what they’ve done is they’ve tailored the cards to where it’s good for what the students need. They will often give people a free pass on their first late payment fee or give extra cash back for good grades. That sort of thing. So there’s lots of options out there.
Interviewer: And how does it look – going back to the balance transfer cards, how is it looking for the interest rates going up? If people think this is the time, if they’re contemplating, should they act quickly? Are rates gonna start going up?
Schulz: Rates are eventually gonna start going up. We’re not gonna see huge changes yet. But once we start seeing a few more rate increases, which I think most people expect from the Fed, then you may start seeing things like introductory periods being shortened or those balance transfer fees rising up slightly.
Interviewer: What about, you know a lot of people talk about these points cards or cash back cards. Is there a really good cash back card where you can – you know if you charge a lot of things you can get substantial amounts back?
Schulz: Yeah, there are plenty of them. And it really depends on what you’re looking for. And if you’re looking for just kind of a simple straightforward cash back card, the Citi Double Cash card is good because basically it gives you 2 percent back on everything that you buy and you don’t have to hassle with rotating categories and that sort of thing. It’s really kind of a set it and forget it type of card.
Interviewer: And that was the Citi which one?
Schulz: The Citi Double Cash card.
Interviewer: Double Cash card. That’s a – cause people are always looking for those. Or for points cards. Now we – I mentioned at the beginning that people get, you know they get into trouble with their credit cards. I know at CreditCards.com you try to counsel people to use credit responsibly and now people are looking at the new year, this is how they’re going to get – they’re gonna pay off their debt. What are some easy ways to start that process? Because sometimes people will look at their debt and say, it’s insurmountable. I’m just gonna pay the minimum payment and it’ll go on forever.
Schulz: Well, the first thing that people should do is try to determine some sort of budget. Because if you don’t know how much you’re spending and how much you’re bringing in exactly, it makes it really hard to know how much you can devote towards debt. And then the other thing would be just to know yourself. If you’re somebody who, for example, can’t resist the lure of additional credit, getting a balance transfer card might just be more of a temptation than it’s worth.
Interviewer: Oh, because all the sudden now you have, you know more credit and you’re just gonna keep spending. What about people who say, you know I was just in – it was a rough patch. I was laid off work for a couple months and we got into trouble that way. Is that not easier, but is that a better way to – is that an easier way I guess to overcome that kinda debt?
Schulz: It can be, because what that implies is that you were in a little better situation before you hit that rough patch and maybe once your medical situation clears up or once you find that next job it’ll be easier for you to have more money to devote to paying off that debt.
Interviewer: And going back to the people you said just can’t escape the lure of spending, before I let you go, where should people look to start making cuts so that they can start to pay down that credit card debt?
Schulz: They need to look at things that are nice to haves but that they don’t necessarily need. There’s been a lot of talk about cutting cable or gym memberships that you might not (Audio Skip). Or things of value around the house that you don’t use anymore. Little things like that can be a good way to get started.
Interviewer: All right, Matt, and everybody should go to CreditCards.com. Great resource for finding the cards you need, getting some tips to help you get out of debt. All of that. Matt, I really appreciate the time this afternoon. Happy New Year.
Schulz: And Happy New Year to you too.
Interviewer: Take care. That’s Matt Shultz from CreditCards.com.