Credit Cards

Can you lower your APR on an existing credit card?


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

In some cases, you may have some wiggle room in the interest rate you’re 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 toward your principal 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 high 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 down debt with a lower APR and with a balance transfer:

Can you lower the interest rate on your credit card?

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?
  • The terms and conditions of your account

Sometimes the process is as simple as calling your credit card issuer and requesting a lower rate. “In many cases, they will make an adjustment for you, especially if you have a consistent history of paying on time,” says Bobbi Rebell, CFP and author of Launching Financial Grownups.

In general, requesting a lower APR will have no impact on your credit score. But to be safe, you can always ask your issuer about the potential consequences for your credit, says Jeff Arevalo, a financial advisor with GreenPath Financial Wellness, a nonprofit counseling agency.

How to lower your current APR

Before you call your credit card issuer, set yourself up for success with a few steps that can help you increase your chances of getting a lower APR. Also consider all of your options for a lower APR than you currently have, including other credit cards you might 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 have made timely payments over the life of your account.

You may have more trouble getting a lower interest rate if your credit score isn’t ideal or you have a high debt-to-income ratio, Rebel says. Before applying for a lower APR, strive to make payments on time and keep your utilization low to improve your chances of getting a lower rate the first time you apply.

“Your credit card interest rate is a snapshot based on your creditworthiness at the time of application,” says Jason Steele, writer and credit card expert. “So maybe you applied for that card a couple of years ago when your credit wasn’t that good. Since then, he has reduced his debt, made all his payments on time, and knows his credit score has improved.” These are all behaviors that can indicate that you are a lower risk to issuers and improve your chances of getting a lower rate.

Look for promotional opportunities

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

consider alternatives

If you can qualify, the most effective way to lower your APR and pay down debt is with a balance transfer credit card.

These cards offer introductory 0% APR offers for a limited time, some for 20+ months. During that time, you can pay off your principal balance (plus the standard balance transfer fee of 3% to 5%) before interest is applied.

Given your credit score and existing debt balance, consider 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 lowering your APR by a few percentage points.

Just keep in mind that after the introductory offer ends, you’ll pay the card’s regular interest rate on the remaining balance, which may be higher than your current credit card APR.

Negotiate 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 requesting a lower APR, whether you’re facing financial hardship or the current APR makes it difficult for you to progress on your debt balance.

Some credit card companies may agree to lower your interest for a short period during a hardship period before your regular rate takes effect again. You can also build leverage by researching similar cards with lower APRs that you may qualify for. If you tell your bank this, they may give your request serious consideration rather than lose you as a customer, Rebel says.

  • Introductory Balance Transfer Rate:

    0% for 21 months on balance transfers

  • Annual quota:

    $0

  • ordinary APR:

    14.74% – 24.74% (varies)

  • Recommended Credit:

    670-850 (Good to Excellent)

  • More informationexternal link icon On our partner’s secure site
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Rate:

    0% intro APR for 18 billing cycles for any BT done in the first 60 days. 3% fee (min. $10) applies.

  • Annual quota:

    $0

  • ordinary APR:

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

  • Recommended Credit:

    670-850 (Good to Excellent)

  • More informationexternal link icon On our partner’s secure site
  • Introductory Balance Transfer Rate:

    0% per 20 billing cycles on balance transfers

  • Annual quota:

    $0

  • ordinary APR:

    14.74% – 24.74% (varies)

  • Recommended Credit:

    670-850 (Good to Excellent)

  • Learn moreexternal link icon On our partner’s secure site View Rates & Charges, terms apply.

Editorial Independence

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any association or advertising relationship.

What to do if you are denied a lower APR

If your credit card company denies your request, ask the issuer for an explanation. You can also ask what would qualify you best for a lower rate, so you have a clear understanding of what you need to do to improve your chances in the future.

If you’re facing a period of difficulty and aren’t sure how to overcome your debt, you may also consider speaking with a financial advisor to determine the best options for debt repayment based on your individual situation. There are alternative strategies such as consolidation loans and home equity loans to help pay off your debt depending on your personal circumstances and finances.

What is a good interest rate?

The national average interest rate for cardholders carrying a balance is around 16%, according to data from the Federal Reserve. Many cards on the market today have variable APR ranges with a lower end of around 12% or 13% and a higher 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,” Rebel says. And with interest rates on the rise, those numbers are only going to get higher in the coming months.

If you can get a lower APR on your current credit card, don’t waste the opportunity, Arevalo says. Focus on paying off your balance quickly and pay as much as you can towards the principal balance. Also take the time to address the spending and credit habits that got you into debt. Otherwise, Arévalo says, he’s just using the lower-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 accruing interest on your balance, try to pay as much as possible each month to offset the rising interest. However, with an existing debt balance, lowering your APR can help lower your overall cost.

Let’s say you have a balance of $4,000 with an introductory APR of 17.99%. Your credit card issuer offers you a 2% reduction, lowering your APR to 15.99%. Below is a view of how your debt settlement schedule may unfold if you made minimum payments with the starting APR versus minimum payments with the reduced APR.

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

Current Card Paying Minimum Monthly Payment with Regular APR Current Card Paying Minimum Monthly Payment with Lower APR Balance transfer paying the same monthly payment
Monthly payment $120 $120 $120
time to pay 184 months 168 months 79 months
Interest rate 17.99% 15.99% 0%, then 16.99%
interested payment $3,694.44 $2,962.35 $551.82
Rate $0 $0 $120
Amount paid in full $7,694.44 $6,962.35 $4,671.82

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