Article Updated June 15, 2018 by Brian Acton
The terms laid out in your credit card agreement aren’t always set in stone. While some rules, such as special offer restrictions, can’t be changed, there are many things you can negotiate with your credit card provider.
But to win concessions from your credit card company, you first need to know what you can negotiate and how to negotiate.
What Can You Negotiate?
Credit card companies are surprisingly open to negotiation, especially if you’re a customer that manages your card responsibly and makes your payments on time. Here are some of the things credit card companies will negotiate:
Payment Due Date
Your monthly payment date is typically set when you open your account. But if that due date doesn’t work for your schedule, you can ask to get it changed. Many credit card companies will even let you set your own date online (just make sure you know when the new due date will go into effect).
Has your credit improved since you signed up for your credit card? Do you have a few years of timely payments under your belt? If so, you may be able to negotiate a better interest rate, which can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Credit card companies won’t automatically give you a better interest rate because you’re a good customer. But if you refer to your positive payment history and mention that you can find a better rate with a competitor, the company may reduce your interest rate to keep your business.
Raising your credit limit is a worthwhile endeavor because it can boost your borrowing power and help your credit score. Again, your request is more likely to be approved if you have a history of timely payments.
Remember, a higher credit limit doesn’t mean you should be spending more. To help your credit score, you need to maintain your credit utilization rate. Experts recommend keeping your credit card balance at no more than 30% of your available credit limit.
Tired of paying an annual fee for the privilege of using your card? While there’s no guarantee of success, your credit card company may be willing to reduce or waive your fee, especially if you make them money through interest charges or frequent card use.
Did you slip up and miss your payment due date? Many companies will forgive the ensuing late payment fee once a year or so, especially if you aren’t in the habit of missing late payments.
If you can’t afford your minimum payment this month, don’t panic – pick up the phone and call your credit card company. You may be able to negotiate a lower minimum payment, at least for the short-term. Credit card issuers would rather keep your account in good standing than have you miss payments.
Long-Term Repayment Plans
If you’re in bad financial straits, talk to your credit card issuer about a forbearance agreement or a reduced long-term repayment plan. The former will let you avoid monthly payments for a limited time, while the latter will let you repay your debt interest-free or at a lower rate.
Lump Sum Settlements
When you’re on the verge of bankruptcy, your credit card issuer may let you pay off your debt for less than you actually owe. If you’ve been behind on payments for months and you’re working toward bankruptcy, you could negotiate to settle your debt, sometimes for pennies on the dollar.
Tips for Negotiating
The best way to negotiate with your credit card company depends on your circumstances and desired outcome. If you want something small, like an adjusted due date, you can probably just ask. But if you’re dealing with bigger issues, you may need to put in more effort.
Find Out Where You Stand
Before you call to negotiate, you should know where you stand as a customer. If you always make your payments on time and you don’t go over your credit limit, the credit card company is more likely to grant requests like a better interest rate or higher credit limit.
On the flip side, if you need relief – such as a long-term repayment plan – you may have greater odds of success if you can demonstrate financial hardship. Signs of financial trouble may include months of missed payments or maxing out your card.
Speak with a Manager
As soon as you get a credit card company representative on the line, you should politely ask to speak with a supervisor. While the first company rep you speak with can probably process simple requests, they may have difficulty reducing your interest rate or approving an alternate repayment plan.
If you’re asking for major changes, you may need to be persistent. You might not get anywhere with the first, second, or third person you talk to. Keep trying – you won’t always get the outcome you want, but it doesn’t hurt to keep asking and use leverage when you have it.
If you’re concerned about your credit, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. To track your credit more regularly, Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card is an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report information that uses letter grades—plus you get a free credit score updated every 14 days.
More on Credit Cards:
- How to Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rates
- Tips for Paying Off Credit Card Debt
- How to Get a Credit Card With Bad Credit