4 Credit Card Terms You Can Totally Negotiate

There are some terms that won't change with your credit card, but there are also some things you may be able to negotiate with your credit card provider.

If you’re looking at a new credit card, you may have noticed that there are a lot of rules and restrictions that come with these pieces of plastic. Of course, there are some things that have to remain that way, but you may be surprised to know there are also some items you may not be beholden to if you simply ask. If you want to negotiate, however, you can’t expect your credit card company to come to you. You’ll need to bring your requests to the issuer along with reasons they should work with you on the matter. 

Here are four things you may be able to negotiate with your credit card company.

1. Payment Date

Your payment due date is typically set when you first receive your card. But if you need to change this date along the way, many credit card providers will be happy to do so. When you go to the issuer, it’s a good idea to have a date in mind you’d like to change to. For example, if you know you get paid on certain days of the month, you may want to change the due date to being around one of these times so you’ll be more likely to have the funds to make your payment.

Remember: Having a strong payment history will not only make you appear as a better customer to your issuer, but also help improve your credit scores (which may even make you eligible for better interest rates). Which brings us to our next point …

2. Interest Rates

If you’ve had your credit card for a few years and have spent that time improving your credit and managing your card responsibly, you may be able to negotiate a lower interest rate. Credit card companies want to keep you as an active customer, so they might renegotiate your interest rate if you mention your upstanding history … and some better offers you’ve found elsewhere.

3. Late Fees

If you typically make timely payments but missed one, your credit card company might waive the fee if you promptly make the payment and call to request the fee be waived. While they have no obligation to do so, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Some cards even come with one-time or recurring late fee forgiveness, so be sure to check if that’s a feature with your card.

4. Credit Limit

Raising your credit limit increases your available card balance and can improve your credit scores because it improves your credit utilization rate. So even if you don’t plan to use the increased credit limit, it’s worth a request. (Just be aware, sometimes a request for a higher credit limit results in a credit pull and a credit inquiry on your credit report.)

Note: Just because you have a higher limit doesn’t mean you should be increasing your spending. Experts recommend keeping your debt levels at 30%, ideally 10%, of your credit limit. You can see how your credit card usage may be affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

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Nearly Half of Americans Are Making This Expensive Credit Card Mistake

One of the most common recommendations for using a credit card successfully is to pay off the balance in full every billing cycle so you avoid interest charges. Just about everybody knows that — but that doesn’t mean everyone does it. In fact, despite some modest improvements in credit card usage habits since the recession, roughly half of American credit card users still end up carrying a balance and paying interest, according to a new survey by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) — a private organization that helps regulate the financial industry. And a surprising number make other expensive critical credit card mistakes, too.

The results of the FINRA survey about “risky credit card behaviors” were published in a report called “Financial Capability in the United States.”

Back in 2009, during the height of the recession, only 41% of U.S. adult credit card users said they paid their bills in full every month. By 2015, that number had risen to 52%, the report says. That’s a substantial improvement, but it still means about half of credit card users are still paying costly credit card interest rates.

Credit cards are a critical way that Americans engage in short-term borrowing — 77% of Americans hold at least one credit card, according to the report. But revolving credit can be expensive, with penalty interest rate approaching 30%.

Credit card spending, which was sharply curtailed during the recession, has reportedly surged in recent years. According to the Federal Reserve, outstanding credit card debt has grown from $842 billion to $953 billion since 2011, and is right now growing at an annualized rate of 3%.

The FINRA report unearthed other bad credit card habits, too. Nearly one-third (32%) of respondents admitted that in some months they pay only the minimum payment on their credit card bills. That’s down from 40% in 2009. On the other hand, the number of people who say they paid a late fee (14%) has been cut nearly in half since 2009 (26%).

Overall, the FINRA report says that 39% of cardholders engage in at least one “risky” behavior, destined to make their credit card bill more expensive through fees and interest than it has to be.

Not surprisingly, those with lower incomes were far more likely to do so. About 49% of those earning under $25,000 annually engaged in risky card usage, while only 29% of those earning more than $75,000 did. African Americans (56%) were almost twice as likely as whites (35%) to pay credit card interest or fees.

The report echoes other research showing that credit card usage is up by many measures. The American Banking Association (ABA) reported earlier this year that new credit card account volume rose a stunning 16.5% during 2015.

“Recent growth in the credit card market is consistent with what we’re seeing in the broader economy,” Jess Sharp, executive director of ABA’s Card Policy Council, said in a press release. “With nearly 6 million jobs created over the last two years, it’s natural to see strong growth in new cards and purchase volumes. Faster wage growth and healthy levels of disposable income have helped shore up many account holders who may have had difficulty managing their credit in the past. Consumers are now in a better position to pay on time and rebuild their credit.”

With all this flurry of activity, the FINRA report suggests that many consumers are still engaging in what might be the riskiest of all behaviors: Failing to shop around and get the best credit card deal. Only 35% of adults said they compared information from “more than one company” when obtaining their most recent credit card. Millennials, at 46%, were slightly more likely to comparison shop than the rest of the population.

If you’re thinking about getting a new credit card, it’s a good idea to shop around. You can start by finding out your credit scores, as this will help you get an idea of what terms and conditions you may qualify for. You can view two of your credit scores for free, updated each month, on Credit.com.

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6 Mistakes People Make When Picking a New Credit Card

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Applying for a new credit card can be very tempting. However, when choosing your credit card, it is important that you find the one that is most appropriate for you. If you don’t do your homework, you may end up paying more than you bargained for.

Here are six common mistakes people make when choosing a credit card.

1. Choosing a Card for the Wrong Reasons

Even though the attractive rewards and points on department store credit cards can sound appealing, they often carry higher interest rates than standard credit cards. Credit cards aren’t meant to be an impulse decision. If you hear about a great deal that comes along with opening a new card, you may want to consider going home and researching the card. Stores may be willing to give you a 10% discount when you sign up, but it may end up costing you loads in interest charges in the long run if you carry a balance on that card.

2. Not Reading Terms & Conditions

It is very important to read all of the fine print before opening up a new credit card. You want to make sure you are aware of all introductory rates, annual fees, balance transfer fees, overseas transaction fees, details of any 0% APR introductory offers as well as anything else that may affect your credit card usage.

3. Not Interest Rate Shopping

Consider looking for the best possible interest rate when shopping for a new credit card. You don’t want to get stuck with a high-interest credit card, especially if you are struggling financially. The best way to ensure you are approved for a low-interest credit card is to make sure your credit is in good shape. You can check your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com and monitor your progress as you build credit.

4. Only Paying the Minimum Balance

One of the best strategies to obtain a good credit history is to pay off your credit card’s statement balance in full at the end of each payment cycle. If you can only pay the minimum balance when it is due, you may want to consider making an additional payment every month, even if you can’t afford to pay the entire balance. This is so you can get your balance at the lowest it can possibly be at the end of each payment cycle.

Sometimes life can throw you unexpected expenses. If you find yourself only able to pay the minimum, then you will end up paying more in interest. If you are struggling to pay off your credit card each month, consider talking to a financial planner or adviser to help you figure out a plan.

5. Exceeding the Limit

Try your best to never get close to the limit of your credit card or go over. Depending on your credit card, you may get charged a large fee if you exceed the limit. This also is risky because it can lead you into credit card debt and hurt your credit scores. Always check your statement to see if you are getting close to your maximum balance. If you are near the top of your credit card limit, consider paying off as much as you can to lower the balance. A credit utilization (aka your balance vs. your limit) over 30% on a credit card can hurt your credit scores. Consumers with the best credit scores keep their spending to less than 10% of their credit limits.

6. Ignoring Your Monthly Statement

Try to always look at your monthly statement when it arrives. This will help you avoid late payments, know what your balance is and even prevent yourself from becoming a victim of fraud. Make sure everything is correct on your statement. If you see a charge that isn’t supposed to be there, then you should act quickly by calling your credit card company to fix the problem.

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