Without researching chapter and verse regarding God’s point of view about credit card debt, the cold, hard truth is that those little pieces of plastic can generate a lot of stress and turmoil in your life without half trying. High balances, high interest rates, and usurious late fees combine with often chilly customer service to turn this “free” money into an albatross around your neck. The good news is you do have some leverage when negotiating with the credit card company for better rates. Try the following process.
The first thing you need is better offers. The flood of 0% interest rate mail has slowed in recent years but there’s a chance you still get a few of them. Save up some that you might be even slightly interested in. Hopefully, you won’t have to use them but they do give you a base to negotiate from.
If you have more than one credit card, get organized. Write down the balance and interest rate on all of them and have the list in front of you when you call the number on the back of the card. Your first order of business is to get past the front line service rep and talk to a supervisor. They are the ones who can actually offer you a better rate, and probably will talk to you more like human being.
Once you have a supervisor on the phone, it’s time to plead your case. Let them know that you have appreciated their service, but with a handful of better offers, you are prepared to take your business elsewhere unless they can offer a better interest rate. If your balance is high (which isn’t a good thing) and your payments timely, they certainly will be anxious to keep you around. You may not get exactly what you want but they’ll usually try to pacify you with something, which is an improvement had you not called. If their offer is good enough, so be it. Go on your merry way.
However, if they’re not seriously trying to keep your business, transfer your balance and get ready to close your account. Be aware that they have “closure” specialists who have even more latitude to make a last ditch pitch for your business. You might want to listen to what they have to say, though there’s a good chance you’re irked enough to follow through by now.
As always, the best advice is to only use a credit card in emergencies and pay the entire balance off every month. The God we believe in doesn’t need a credit card. There’s this other little thing you might have heard of – cash.
The Solomon Success Team
Flickr / NYC Wanderer