So, you got an application in the mail that if you opened a new card with ABC Company, you could get a GREAT introductory rate of 6.75%….or even lower!! So, you don’t think twice, holler out “WHERE DO I SIGN”, and send it in. You transfer those balances and continue to make a nice smaller payment. Ahhhh…..right? Um….wrong!
After those introductory rates are over, it is nothing for them to increase your rate up to 18%, 21% or even MORE! And, this applies to prior and new purchases. Let us also not forget that many times, transfers are considered cash advances, for which you can be charged an even HIGHER rate. This in turn increases your monthly payment and leaves you hunting and searching for another card to transfer your balance to.
Many will play the credit card jumping game, but opening and closing accounts frequently does nothing but actually begin to diminish your credit rating. So, if you want to keep transferring balances, be sure to not do it too often and be sure to leave the other card open for a while, before closing it out.
So, you are thinking, what do I do if I can’t get approved for a new card with a lower rate? Pick up your phone and contact the credit card company directly and ask for a lower rate. Many times, they are willing to reduce your rate, which in turn can reduce your minimum monthly payment. If the operator says that they can not do that, ask to speak to that person’s supervisor. Many times, the operators don’t have the authority to lower the rates, but someone a little higher up can. It never hurts to ask…..as I have heard of some companies dropping the rates to 0%!
You can also let them know that you are having a hard time making your payments and they may have some options available to help you get the card paid in full. Remember though, no matter whom you speak with, be sure to get a name, number and time of day you spoke. Ask if they have a Representative or ID# and write that down as well. Ask them to send something to you in writing to confirm the conversation so you have written documentation that they are agreeing to your payment terms.
But, you say, I don’t have credit card debt…..I have medical debt. The same can hold true in this situation as well. Contact the billing office and see if they can arrange payment terms. Sometimes, they will say you have to make an amount that is more than you can afford. Don’t agree to something you simply can not afford. Instead, send them what you CAN afford each month. If they cash your check, they are agreeing to your terms. Otherwise, they will need to return the check to you and let you know that it is not an acceptable payment amount.
So, don’t be afraid to place a phone call and ask for what you want. Remember this though:You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. So be polite and kind. Remember what your mama taught you — please and thank you can take you pretty far in this world. Hmmmm….isn’t it funny how the things you learn when you are 2 still work when you are 32?
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