While interest rates for mortgages and other types of loans are at historic lows, credit card interest rates seem to be creeping up. And it may take more than a simple phone call to get credit card companies to lower them.
Mary Lynn Reiser of the UNO Center for Economic Development believes the tough economy is one reason why credit card interest rates are going up.
"As more and more people are defaulting on their credit cards, often credit card companies are changing their business model in order to make a profit. And so one of the ways they may continue to do that is to raise interest rates on everybody."
Andrea Erickson and her husband have two credit card balances with high interest rates. She says she calls the companies almost every day to get them to lower her rates.
"I've gotten the same answer every time, that my account does not qualify, that it won't be up for review for six months and when I ask them why, they are not able to give me an answer."
A knee-jerk reaction for some people may be to transfer the balance and close the account when the interest rate gets too high, but Reiser says that may not be a good idea.
"I don't advise people to close those. I advise them to pay off the balance and don't use it. Just leave it dormant so to speak. It's on your record. It will show that you paid all the balance off. That will give you a better (credit) score than transferring your balance to another card."
Another factor pushing up interest rates is new laws affecting credit card companies. Stricter rules will make it tougher for credit cards to change interest rates starting in July 2010.
Action Credit advisors in Omaha offers some tips when negotiating with your credit card company. First, be persistent and always speak with a supervisor. They have more control of interest rate changes than the first person that answers the phone.
Also be specific about the interest rate you want to pay. Don’t just tell them you want it lowered, but give a specific interest rate you want to pay.
And be informed. The CEOs of the largest banks told Congress late last year how they would treat their credit card customers. Find out what your credit card company promised Congress and make sure they are fulfilling their promises.
If not, bring that up with the customer service representative the next time you call.