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Are you drowning in high-interest credit card debt? Feeling like there’s no way out, no matter how hard you try to pay it off? Well, don‘t despair just yet. There are ways to reduce those sky-high interest rates – and save yourself some serious cash in the process.It’s not always easy, but with a little knowledge and persistence, you CAN negotiate lower rates with your credit card companies. Here‘s how:

Understand How Credit Card Interest Works

First things first: let’s talk about how credit card interest actually works. When you carry a balance on your card from month to month, you’re charged interest on that balance. The higher your interest rate (or APR), the more you’ll pay in interest charges over time.For example, let’s say you have a $5,000 balance on a card with a 20% APR. If you only make the minimum payment each month (usually around 2-3% of your balance), it would take you over 30 years to pay off that debt – and cost you over $10,000 in interest! Ouch.So, reducing your interest rate by even a few percentage points can make a big difference in how quickly you can pay off your balance and how much you’ll pay overall.

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Check Your Credit Score

Your credit score is one of the biggest factors that determines your interest rates. Generally, the higher your score, the lower your rates will be.So before you start negotiating, check your credit score to see where you stand. If your score is good (720+), you‘ll have more leverage with creditors. If it’s on the lower side, you may have a tougher time getting a rate reduction – but it’s still worth a shot.

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Do Your Research

Next, do some research to see what kind of interest rates are available from other credit card companies. Sites like NerdWallet and Bankrate can show you the best low-interest and 0% intro APR offers currently available.Make note of any cards you might qualify for that have better rates than what you‘re currently paying. You can use this information as leverage when negotiating with your current card issuer.

Call Your Credit Card Company

Now it‘s time to make the call. Dial the customer service number on the back of your card, and tell the representative that you’d like to discuss lowering your interest rate.Be polite but firm. Explain that you’ve been a loyal customer but are having trouble keeping up with the high interest charges. Mention that you’ve found other cards with better rates and are considering transferring your balance.The rep may say there’s nothing they can do – but don’t give up! Ask to speak with a supervisor or someone in the retention department. They often have more power to make changes to your account.

Ask for a Temporary Rate Reduction

If the rep still won’t budge on a permanent rate reduction, ask if they can offer a temporary one instead. Many card issuers have hardship programs that can lower your rate for a set period of time (usually 6-12 months) if you’re going through financial difficulties.You may need to provide proof of hardship, such as unemployment or medical bills. But it’s worth asking about, especially if you’re struggling to make your payments.

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Consider a Balance Transfer

If you can’t get a lower rate from your current issuer, consider transferring your balance to a card with a 0% intro APR offer. These cards allow you to pay off your balance interest-free for a set period of time (usually 12-18 months).Just be aware that most balance transfer cards charge a fee (usually 3-5% of the amount transferred). And you’ll need to pay off your balance in full before the intro period ends, or you’ll be stuck with the card’s regular APR.Some good balance transfer cards to consider include:

Pay More Than the Minimum

Once you‘ve secured a lower interest rate (or transferred your balance), it’s crucial to pay more than the minimum amount due each month. Even an extra $50 or $100 per month can help you pay off your debt much faster and save a ton in interest.Use a credit card payoff calculator to see how much you need to pay each month to be debt-free by a certain date. Then, adjust your budget to free up extra cash for those payments.

Avoid Using Your Cards for New Purchases

While you’re working on paying down your balance, avoid using your credit cards for new purchases. Stick to cash or debit instead.New purchases will only add to your balance and make it harder to pay off. Plus, many cards have different APRs for purchases vs. balance transfers – so you could end up paying a higher rate on those new charges.

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Stay Persistent

If at first you don‘t succeed in getting a lower rate, try again in a few months – especially if you’ve been working on improving your credit score. Paying down your balance and making on-time payments can go a long way in showing creditors that you’re a responsible borrower.You can also try negotiating with a different customer service rep or at a different time of day. Sometimes it just takes reaching the right person who’s willing to work with you.

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