Can you lower your APR on an existing credit card?

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Credit card debt can be costly — and as issuers begin to increase APRs in response to rising federal interest rates, it will soon become even more expensive.

In some cases, you may have some wiggle room in the interest rate you are charged on an existing card. Even if you already have credit card debt, a lower interest rate can help you save money and time because more of your monthly payment can go towards your main balance. Another option, and one of the best ways to avoid a high APR, is to transfer your debt to a balance transfer card with a 0% introductory APR for a limited time. But these cards often require significant credit and may not be an option for everyone.

Here’s everything you need to know about lowering your APR on an existing credit card, and the difference between paying off debt with a lower APR and with a balance transfer:

Can you lower your credit card interest rate?

It is possible to request a lower credit card APR. Before your issuer grants one, they will often consider a few factors:

  • Your credit history, score and risk
  • Your payment history
  • How long have you had the credit card
  • Terms and conditions of your account

Sometimes the process is as simple as calling your credit card issuer and asking for a lower rate. “In many cases, they’ll make an adjustment simply on your request, especially if you have a consistent history of paying on time,” explains Bobbi RebelCFP and author of Launching Financial Grownups.

In general, asking for a lower APR will have no impact on your credit score. But to be sure, you can always ask your issuer about the potential impact on your credit, says Jeff Arevalo, financial adviser for GreenPath Financial Wellnessa non-profit consulting agency.

How to lower your current APR

Before calling your credit card issuer, set yourself up for success by following a few steps that can help increase your chances of getting a lower APR. Also consider all of your options for getting a lower APR than you currently have, including other credit cards you may qualify for.

Check your payment history

You’ll have the best chance of getting a lower APR if you’ve had your card for a few years and made payments on time throughout the life of your account.

You might have a harder time getting a lower interest rate if your credit score isn’t ideal or you have a high debt-to-equity ratio, Rebell says. Before requesting a lower APR, focus on making timely payments and keeping your usage low to improve your chances of getting a lower rate the first time you request it.

“Your interest rate on your credit card is a snapshot based on your creditworthiness at the time you apply,” says Jason Steel, writer and credit card expert. “So maybe you applied for this card a few years ago when your credit wasn’t so good. Since then, you’ve reduced your debt, made all your payments on time, and know your score credit has improved.All of these behaviors can indicate that you pose less risk to issuers and improve your chances of getting a lower rate.

Look for promotional opportunities

Sometimes you might not even need to apply for a lower APR on your own. Keep an eye out for other emails or promotional offers mailed to your existing account, Steele says. Credit card issuers may automatically extend offers for a promotional lower APR period based on your credit and payment history.

Consider alternatives

If you are able to qualify, the most effective way to lower your APR and pay off your debts is to use a balance transfer credit card.

These cards offer introductory offers at 0% APR for a limited time, some for up to 20 months. During this time, you can pay off your main balance (plus the standard 3%-5% balance transfer fee) before interest kicks in.

Considering your credit score and existing debt balance, consider what balance transfer cards you might qualify for. If you can commit to paying off as much of your debt as possible during the introductory period, you can save hundreds of dollars in interest compared to reducing your APR by a few percentage points.

Remember that after the introductory offer ends, you will pay the card’s regular interest rate on the remaining balance, which may be higher than your existing credit card’s APR.

Negotiate the APR with your issuer

If you decide that a lower APR on your existing card is the right option for you, call your card issuer and explain why you’re asking for a lower APR – whether you’re having financial difficulty or the current APR makes it work. difficult for you to progress on the balance of your debt.

Some credit card companies may compromise by lowering your interest for a short time during a tough time before your normal rate comes back into effect. You can also get leverage if you look for similar cards with lower APRs that you might qualify for. If you tell your bank, they might seriously consider your request instead of losing you as a customer, Rebell says.

  • Initial balance transfer rate:

    0% for 21 months on balance transfers

  • Annual subscription :

    $0

  • Regular APR:

    14.74% – 24.74% (Variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (good to excellent)

  • Learn more external link icon On the secure site of our partner
  • Initial balance transfer rate:

    0% Intro APR for 18 billing cycles for all BTs made in the first 60 days. A 3% fee (min. $10) applies.

  • Annual subscription :

    $0

  • Regular APR:

    12.99% – 22.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (good to excellent)

  • Learn more external link icon On the secure site of our partner
  • Initial balance transfer rate:

    0% for 20 billing cycles on balance transfers

  • Annual subscription :

    $0

  • Regular APR:

    14.74% – 24.74% (Variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    670-850 (good to excellent)

  • Learn more external link icon On the secure site of our partner See rates and feesTerms apply.

Editorial independence

As with all of our credit card reviewsour analysis is not influenced by any advertising partnership or relationship.

What to do if you are denied a lower APR

If your credit card company denies your request, ask the issuer to provide an explanation. You can also ask what would make you more qualified for a lower rate, to get a clear understanding of what you need to do to improve your chances in the future.

If you’re going through a tough time and aren’t sure how to get over your debt, you might also consider talking to a financial advisor to determine the best debt repayment options for your personal situation. There are alternative strategies, such as consolidation loans and equity loans, to help you pay off your debt depending on your personal circumstances and finances.

What is a good interest rate?

The national average interest rate for cardholders who have a balance is around 16%, according to the data Federal Reserve. Many cards on the market today have varying APR ranges with a lower end of around 12% or 13% and an upper range of 24% to 25%.

“At the end of the day, the interest rates you see advertised are often the best-case scenario — people who have perfect credit scores,” Rebell says. And with interest rates on the rise, these numbers will only increase in the months to come.

If you’re able to get a lower APR on your existing credit card, don’t waste the opportunity, says Arevalo. Focus on paying off your balance quickly and paying as much of the principal balance as possible. Also take the time to address the spending and credit habits that have put you in debt. Otherwise, Arevalo says, you’re just using the low-interest deal as a band-aid.

Avoid paying credit card interest

The best way to avoid paying credit card interest is to pay your balance in full and on time each month. If you’re already in debt and you’re accumulating interest on your balance, try to pay as much as possible each month to offset the rising interest. With an existing debt balance, however, lowering your APR can help reduce your overall cost.

Let’s say you have a balance of $4,000 with a starting APR of 17.99%. Your credit card issuer gives you a 2% discount, bringing your APR down to 15.99%. Below is a view of how your debt repayment schedule might unfold if you made minimum payments with the starting APR versus minimum payments with the reduced APR.

If you qualify for a balance transfer credit card, you can save months and thousands of dollars in interest by paying off your debt in full during the introductory period. Here’s how a balance transfer card with an introductory period of 18 months and a 3% fee also compares:

Current card payment Minimum monthly payment with regular APR Current card payment Minimum monthly payment with lower APR Balance transfer by paying the same monthly payment
Monthly payment $120 $120 $120
It’s time to repay 184 months 168 months 79 months
Interest rate 17.99% 15.99% 0%, then 16.99%
Interest paid $3,694.44 $2,962.35 $551.82
Costs $0 $0 $120
Amount paid in full $7,694.44 $6,962.35 $4,671.82

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