24% APR Crushes Reader To Death

Timothy is getting raped with a 24% APR on his credit card and wants help getting it lowered. He writes:

I have a card with one bank (that I am trying my hardest to pay off ASAP) that is 24% APR. It is killing me. A week or two ago, you had an article about a woman who paid off all her credit card debt over the course of 20 months or so. Good for her and it was a good story. One thing about it had me wondering though. She said that she negotiated with her lenders to get lower interest rates on her cards. How do you suggest I do that?

Here’s what:

24%?! Good god man, get the heck out of there. You tell them to lower it or you’re transferring the balance to another card with a better rate and canceling the account. Find a better credit rate at billshrink or bankrate. You may even qualify for an 0% balance transfer.

Here’s what you say:

“I think I’ve been a good customer. I’d like to stay with you, but I really want you to lower the rate on my card. Can you help me?”

If they say no, ask to speak to a supervisor and say the same thing. If they still say no, plug in your research into the following statement:

“____ and ____ and ______ credit card companies are offering me rates of ____ and _____ and _____. Can you match them or do better? Otherwise, I think I might have to take my business there. I really want to pay off this debt, but it’s hard to get ahead with the interest rate you’re charging.”

Skeptical? CBS News approached 10 random shoppers in a mall and had them read the first script. 6 of them were able to get their rates lowered right on the spot.

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. downwithmonstercable says:

    I genuinely wanted to cancel my credit card I got when I was in college. It had a $500 limit and the interest rate was somewhere around 20%. I never used it because that rate was ridiculous. I called and asked the rep to cancel it. She transferred me to ‘retentions’ and the guy gave me the whole “we want to keep your valuable loyal service” or whatever. But, they cut my rate down to 7.99% (I have good credit now that I have a credit history) and they increased my limit to $20,000.

    The limit increase was a bit over the top, but it’s nice to have this card with a much lower rate. And all it took was a phone call, which was all of five minutes out of my day.

    • lincolnparadox says:

      @downwithmonstercable: It’s a trap. Unless that’s your only card, cancel it. If it is your only card, ask them to lower the limit to something reasonable. $20K on a credit card is a very bad ID fraud waiting to happen.

      • downwithmonstercable says:

        @lincolnparadox: I never thought of that. It’s not my only card, but it now has the slightly lower interest rate than my other. Since I never use either one, I suppose I could close one. I’ve heard though that hurts your credit a little bit.

      • Traveshamockery says:

        @lincolnparadox: That doesn’t make sense. You’re not liable for more than $50 of fraudulent charges (and most CC companies waive that $50 too).

        Why is it a trap?

        • lincolnparadox says:

          @InfiniTrent: Take it from someone who has had their card stolen and used, you might only be liable for $50, but it takes a long, long time to get everything figured out. Especially if you don’t notice that it’s missing until the next statement. The card companies are a bit less lenient when you don’t report right away.

          Douchebag roommates commit ID theft too. Just FYI.

      • JustThatGuy3 says:

        @lincolnparadox:

        ID fraud? Well, that would be bad for the credit card company, I suppose. If someone’s going to defraud the credit card company, it’s the same amount of nuisance for me (filling out the affadavit) if they do it for $20 or $20k.

        My limit’s about $35k on one card and $25k on the other. Was very helpful when I took a $25k advance on one card to pay for part of my apartment (1.99% for the life of the balance, well below mortgage rates) – the high limits meant that my % of credit used stayed at pretty reasonable levels.

      • unpolloloco says:

        @lincolnparadox: No it’s not. You’re only liable for up to $50 in fraudulent charges. Unless your credit limit is under $50, it’s no more risky to have a $50000 credit limit than a $500.

    • BytheSea says:

      @downwithmonstercable: It does hurt your credit to cancel a card, because you reduce your debt-to-credit ratio. Your credit score is partially based on how much cc debt you carry versus how much credit you have, which is the sum of all the limits of all your cards. So lowering it would possibly ding your credit too, but not as much as canceling it.

      The real danger seems to me that if you miss a payment on this card or any other card (credit cards tattle to each other), they could suddenly raise your rate again. But that could happen on any card. BTW all this advice is coming from Suze Orman’s book The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke. I wouldn’t panic and cancel the card, but asking them to lower the limit to something reasonable may be worth it, unless you’re extremely fortunate and really can charge $20,000 a month and pay it all off. Consider what you could reasonably charge on your card in a month and still pay it off, allow for emergencies, and ask for that.

    • Traveshamockery says:

      @downwithmonstercable: Interest rate doesn’t matter if you pay it off every month…

      • downwithmonstercable says:

        @InfiniTrent: That is true. But should something arise where it doesn’t get paid by the end of the month, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t stuck with an insane rate.

        BTW I’m not sure if your second comment was directed at me, I never made a “rape” analogy to APR.

      • t325 says:

        @InfiniTrent: I pay mine off every month too, and haven’t ever paid a dime in interest, but I like having the lowest rate available in case god forbid something happened and I had to carry a balance. I’m not going to be content with a 24% APR when I could get half that, even if I don’t normally carry a balance.

    • Traveshamockery says:

      @downwithmonstercable: Add me to the “Don’t use “rape” to describe a credit card APR” crowd.

      I’m not easily offended, but the use of the word “rape” to describe anything but a rape is deeply inappropriate to me.

      • Roclawzi says:

        @InfiniTrent:
        rape

        -noun
        1. the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.
        2. any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.
        3. statutory rape.
        4. an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation: the rape of the countryside.
        5. Archaic. the act of seizing and carrying off by force.
        -verb
        6. to force to have sexual intercourse.
        7. to plunder (a place); despoil.
        8. to seize, take, or carry off by force.

        Rape means more than one thing. Please don’t endeavor to water down the English language because you’re squeamish about alternate definitions.

        • JeffM says:

          @Roclawzi: Thank you, I completely agree. Maybe a oversensitivity class would be appropriate Trent?

          So anyway- yes they used the word rape to describe… rape.

    • Swearengen says:

      @downwithmonstercable: @downwithmonstercable:

      Don’t listen to the people telling you to reduce the limit. Your credit score is based on how much credit you have (your limits) and how much you use. If you have high limits but have minimal usage, your credit score will be higher. Higher credit scores allow you to borrow at lower rates.

  2. bria says:

    Raped = not an acceptable verb when speaking about… an APR.

    • GavinEstecado says:

      @bria: Sounds pretty accurate to me….

      • Farquar says:

        @GavinEstecado: I’m not particularly sensitive about that sort of thing, but even I think it’s a little innapropriate.

      • bria says:

        @GavinEstecado:

        -noun
        1. the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.
        2. any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.

      • crouton976 says:

        @GavinEstecado: …especially when there is no dinner first or lube involved..

        • bria says:

          @crouton976:
          Fucking disgusting.

          • BoomerFive says:

            @bria: Please don’t use the word fucking. Not acceptable when talking about dinner.

            • bria says:

              @BoomerFive:
              It is acceptable, however, when people are making rape jokes.

              • BoomerFive says:

                @bria: No it is not. Why is it acceptable when I don’t want it to be, yet saying rape isn’t acceptable when you don’t want it to be? Bit of a double standard there? Get off your high horse. I am so sick of you over sensitive jerks trying to make the rest of the world bow down to your way of thinking. Get over yourself.

                • bria says:

                  @BoomerFive:
                  I don’t understand your second sentence.

                  I’m not trying to be on any high horse; I’m trying to say it’s a trigger and very offensive to rape survivors.

                  • alexawesome says:

                    @bria: and you speak for all rape survivors? Get over yourself.

                  • Elcheecho says:

                    @bria: agreed. i hear that people who live through attempted murder are sensitive about the word “killed.”

                  • Luckie says:

                    @br: ‘v bn rpd. fnd rp jks msng. f Y fnd t ffnsv, sy s. t’s yr rght. Bt dn’t sy “rp srvvrs” r ffndd bcs y cn’t spk fr vry wmn wh hs vr bn rpd, vn f y hv bn.

                    Ths fmnz ltr PC “lt’s tk wy ll th fn… r, trggrs n lf” crp ffnds m wy mr thn fw rp jks.

          • BrawlerBarbie says:

            @bria: Your objection to the slang use of the term is an overreaction. In this context it is considered slang, used to express the extreme nature of how Timothy is being screwed by his credit card company. “Rape” has also been used to describe any unsolicited act upon a person or object that borders on or suggests violence.

            If you are disgusted, contact Mirriam-Webster and the creator of the English language so nobody ever uses the word “rape” out of your understanding of the word again.

            • alexawesome says:

              @BrawlerBarbie: thanks for that – additionally, i think it’s important to highlight the sheer violence of the act over the sexual nature of it. Rape is an act of violence. It’s also about power. I think it is an apt slang term for this article. Rape is not a joke. It sucks. It’s horrible. I don’t think anyone is confused on that point.

            • jodark says:

              @BrawlerBarbie: @crouton976: Also, its not rape if you yell “Surprize!” first.

              Please manufacture outrage somewhere else.

        • ohenry says:

          @crouton976: Win.

          With all due respect Bria, “rape” in popular culture has taken on a completely different meaning that’s just as valid in that context as the dictionary definition.

          • Sarah Vivelafat McCain Palin says:

            @HurtsSoGood: Yes people use rape incorrectly and without sensitivity all over the world. This does not make it correct in any way shape or form.

          • Miss Smith Drank Your Vodka says:

            Couldn’t he have just said “Jewed” instead of “raped”?

            I mean, “jew” or “jewed” in popular culture has taken on a completely different meaning.

    • gopher646 says:

      @bria: I agree. I’m usually not uptight about using PC words, but this really irked me. Rape is one of those things that you don’t joke about. Down Syndrome baby jokes, I get, but not rape.

    • RonDiaz says:

      @bria:
      I’m fine with it, but I am not offended by much either. I would probably say the same thing.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      @bria: PC = annoying. Seriously. People use the verb “rape” for all kinds of things, not the least of which are things for which “theft” might be more accurate, but not as descriptive or colorful.

      • bria says:

        @HurtsSoGood:

        I don’t give a shit about political correctness.

        What I’m saying is: to those that have never thought using the verb rape when discussing an APR could be offensive, it certainly can be and comments like this:

        …especially when there is no dinner first or lube involved..

        are especially offensive and hurtful to rape survivors.

        • lockers says:

          @bria: “I don’t give a shit about political correctness.”

          Ah, then you don’t have any issues.

          “What I’m saying is: to those that have never thought using the verb rape when discussing an APR could be offensive”

          ummm, yah… using a word that you find offensive and we should stop. Aren’t you the queen of double speak. Political correctness is avoiding using words or phrases becuase “it could be offensive”. shit is okay, fuck is okay… but rape… holy squatting christ on a cracker no!

        • TeraGram says:

          I don’t give a shit about political correctness.

          And yet you try so very hard to force your brand of correctness onto others.

          There’s a word for that…

          Hypocrite.

    • Toof_75_75 says:

      @bria: Honestly, it is the internet, what do you expect? It is a commonly used phrase (whether it should be or not)…Getting worked up over it, especially in the comments, won’t yield much of a solution.

      • bria says:

        @Toof_75_75:

        I’m not too worked up :)

        I’m saying it SHOULDN’T be as commonly used as it is, when people don’t understand its historical context.

        As a rape survivor, this is offensive to me.

        • cashmerewhore says:

          @bria:

          Despite agreeing with you, and hating the verb being used in such context (screwed and effed wouldn’t bother me), I think you could argue with some of these people until you’re blue in the face and it wouldn’t make any difference to them.

          All that said, usually there is a reason the APR is jacked up to 24%. Like late payments, high balance, low payments on high balance….blah blah blah. If that’s his case, he may not be so fortunate in getting the APR lowered.

        • Tmoney02 says:

          @bria: I think your complaint has been registered and you can drop it now. Continuing to respond starts to take your comments into troll territory.

          Also I would say your worked up if you go post off topic on Jezebel to try to get reinforcements to join you here…just to get disvowled, also a reason to put your posts closer to trolling/looking to start trouble.

          Please feel free to comment on anything else though. We do welcome more voices even if there is disagreement. Which is more than I can say about certain main Jezebel commenters.

        • RedwoodFlyer says:

          @bria: I’m a rape survivor…my credit card rate was increased against my will – according to the dictionary, that makes me a rape survivor.

      • Traveshamockery says:

        @Toof_75_75: You’re right, we should all just throw our hands in the air and let people do whatever they want.

    • EdnaLegume says:

      @bria: seriously though, what ISN’T offensive to someone nowadays.

      thicker skin or get off the internets.

      the post wasn’t designed to insult rape victims/survivors. See, even “victim” isn’t PC anymore.

      come to think of it… I’m damn offended by that horrid phrase “better than sliced bread”.. I once choked on a slice of bread. I’m calling my congressman.

      (see how this could potentially get out of hand if we let our panties get in a knot)

      • bria says:

        @EdnaLegume:
        Please, Roz asked us to get back on topic.

        I already said: if you would like to reply to me, please reply on my personal page because Roz asked us to stop.

      • Traveshamockery says:

        @EdnaLegume:

        thicker skin or get off the internets.

        How about “grow up and treat people like human beings or get off the internets”?

    • lincolnparadox says:

      @bria: @kairi2: I’ve had nothing but good luck with Citi. Their CS is top notch. Just make your payments on time and they’ll take good care of you.

    • Heresy Of Truth says:

      @bria:

      I’m not normally sensitive to this use of the word rape, but I literally came over to Consumerist from this article about Rape in the Congo, link.

      After reading that, seeing the word rape used about APR did make me flinch.

    • BytheSea says:

      @bria: Agree, this word gets thrown around too muc.

    • Landru says:

      @bria: I agree – it’s inappropriate on a couple of levels – It minmizes a violent act to that of a financial issue and it also sexualizes the language in a discussion that really has no sexual connotations on it’s own.

    • xip says:

      @bria:

      I looked at dictionary.com and found this:

      rape
      19 dictionary results for: rape
      Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) – Cite This Source – Share This
      rape1 /reɪp/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[reyp] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation noun, verb, raped, rap·ing.
      -noun
      1. the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.
      2. any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person.
      3. statutory rape.
      4. an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation: the rape of the countryside.
      5. Archaic. the act of seizing and carrying off by force.
      -verb (used with object)
      6. to force to have sexual intercourse.
      7. to plunder (a place); despoil.
      8. to seize, take, or carry off by force.
      -verb (used without object)
      9. to commit rape.

      Numbers 4 and 7 seem to apply to this situation. I have used “rape” in this context plenty of times, even in polite conversation.

      • bria says:

        @xip:
        The moderator asked us to stop discussing the issue.

        I’ve said about 7 times now that if you want to reply to me, please reply to my PERSONAL PAGE AND NOT THIS THREAD because the moderator has asked us to get back on topic.

    • th1nwhiteduke says:

      @bria: epic fail.

      respond again to let us know that this topic is done being discussed, I don’t think seven times is enough.

      • bria says:

        @th1nwhiteduke:

        People keep responding to my personal comments, so I just want to direct them to respond directly to ME.

        • th1nwhiteduke says:

          @bria: Sorry she ‘sounds different than you’ and that’s a reason to hate someone.

          • bria says:

            @th1nwhiteduke:
            I don’t know what you’re talking about?

            • th1nwhiteduke says:

              @bria:
              Andrew: VP debate
              me: **** palin (I have the most vulgar mouth EVER, keep that in mind)
              i can’t stand her stupid voice
              Andrew: she’s awesome
              me: and her tina fey glasses
              Andrew: she gets oil from baby seals
              love her
              me: she is everything i hate about the world in one neatly wrapped package
              8:52 PM
              Andrew: even Tina Fey glasses?
              blasphemy
              me: okay minus those
              biden is much preferred
              are you voting obama?
              8:53 PM
              Andrew: dunno
              not a big fan
              of either
              me: me neither
              but i think mccain is nutso and he hates the gays and voted against equal pay for women and has a boner for war 100% of the time

              That’s what I’m talking about.

        • th1nwhiteduke says:

          @br: ‘d rthr nt gv yr ‘fck pln’ cnvrstn blg mr hts, thnks.

          By th wy, fnd tht ffnsv.

    • postnocomments says:

      @bria: Let me say first I’m sorry for victims of rape, but no rape victim (or anybody) has the right of telling me how to use my words, according to the First Amendment of the U.S. constitution.

    • postnocomments says:

      @bria: I correct myself. You have the right of telling me how to use my words, but not forcing me to.

    • blazenbu says:

      @bria: Are you kidding me? Rape is exactly what credit cards do to the consumer. If the use of the word rape in relationship to commenting on the outrageous practices of banks bothers you, what word would you use? Perceived political correctness is/has destroyed the United States culture.

    • Sugarless says:

      @bria: You have a point. The choice to use the term “rape” in reference to the abuse of credit card companies/banks was a poor choice.

    • fatcop says:

      @bria: get over your self.

  3. bravo369 says:

    I have asked to have my APR lowered on my 2 cards a few years ago but to no avail. They are 20% and 21.9%. I am one of those people who has paid on time and in full for 10 years but I would like it lowered just for the sanity of knowing in case something happens, i’m not completely being screwed by the credit card copmanies. Of course consumerist had an article a year or so back telling about how i’m considered a deadbeat in the eyes of credit card companies because they make no money off of me and they’ll do less to appease me. They probably would me more than happy to have me close the account and go elsewhere.

    • GavinEstecado says:

      @bravo369: If it’s paid off in full there should be no harm in finding a better rate/limit elsewhere and just cancel the card.

    • CarmineCrow says:

      @bravo369: I asked Citibank MC to lower the rate on the card I’ve carried since college, spoke to a supervisor when the first rep couldn’t, was polite and friendly, and now have 1.9% for 9 mos followed by 5% forever. I pay it off every month but suggested I might need to make a larger purchase in the future… Granted, I did this 2 weeks before the economy went to crap, have had the card for almost 20 years, and have outstanding credit.

      I used to call yearly to get rates lowered… it usually worked.

  4. SadSam says:

    I’m interested to know whether this trick will work in the current credit market. With banks pulling back on their lending can you really get a 0% transfer or a better rate these days?

    • MadameX says:

      @SadSam: My husband and I are still inundated with preapproved offers of 0% balance transfer. We got 10 between us last week alone.

      I don’t know if they would actually honor them if we actually requested one, but they’re certainly still soliciting business.

      • SadSam says:

        @MadameX:

        Interesting, my husband and I took ourselves off the preapproved credit card offer list a year or so ago so I was curious about whether those offers were still being sent out by the truck load.

        • blachole says:

          @SadSam:

          They are definitely still around. I just ripped up 3 of them I got in the mail today. I get them all the time and unless I was in a real jam, I don’t need them, so I just toss them.

    • MissNikki says:

      @SadSam:
      I called Capital One today and had my rate lowered from 17.55% to 14.09%. Not a huge jump but with the way the economy is going something is better than nothing.

  5. Laffy Daffy says:

    Fuck ‘em — at 24% I wouldn’t negotiate anything, just try like hell to get another card at a cheaper rate and transfer the balance.

  6. BrianDaBrain says:

    I had a card once that got up to 28%. It wasn’t like I was making late payments or going over my limit. Rather the card was a student Visa that I got when I first started college. I kept a small balance on it, made my over-the-minimum payments on time every month, and my interest rate just kept creeping up. I didn’t think too much of it, because I didn’t use the card for much, as it had a very small limit. Anyway, I ended up canceling the account and moving the balance to a 0% APR card. When I called to cancel, they offered to lower the APR to 6.99% and increase my limit, but I had already transferred the balance, and besides, what good is a 6.99% APR when I have 0%????

  7. Jenng says:

    I call my card companies every 6 months to get a lower rate and my cards are 7.99% or lower. I’ve never had a bank tell me they couldn’t lower my rate I’ve even gotten special promotions for 9 months at 1.99%. It’s totally worth the effort as long as you pay on time every month and are never late your bank shouldn’t have a problem adjusting your rate.

  8. kairi2 says:

    I have this same issue my Chase Visa. I’ve always been able to pay my balance off full so I never cared about the APR rate, until recently. With an unexpected job loss, my balance grew as my payments became higher. I just recently realized I’m paying too much in interest (24%). Instead of haggling with Henry from India and stressing myself out, I just applied for a Citi card with 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for a year. Got it today and can’t wait to go home and transfer the balance and stick it to Chase.

    • oneandone says:

      @kairi2: You probably saved yourself some time – I just called Chase Visa to see if they would lower my rate. 9.99% on a card I don’t use, and I just got an offer from Discover for 1.9% (also on a card I don’t use – because I am angry at Discover for various reasons. But I’m holding on to the card).

      Anyway, despite following the script, talking with a supervisor, and having a very good credit score (above 750), the best I got was an 8.79% variable APR. The supervisor tried to convince me that this was a good deal, since it was tied to prime and ‘interest rates are so low right now’. Right – so what happens when things get a little more back to normal? I’ll be paying more than my original 9.99% in no time, I bet.

      So Chase doesn’t want to seem to play the game…. their loss.

  9. bobloblawsblog says:

    BS. i did this today, my interest rate is 19% and i have a credit score of 720. i told citibank the exact spiel – that i got an offer for 13.99% from wells fargo (i did) and could they match that? they said no. they asked a manager – manager said no.

    oh, and 24% is nothing. 3 of my other cc’s are at 30%. AND I HAVE A 720 CREDIT SCORE!

    • BoomerFive says:

      @bobloblawsblog: Credit score of 720 and 30% rates? Dude….

      Not to mention that just because it didn’t work for you one time doesn’t mean it won’t work for other people.

    • Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

      @bobloblawsblog:

      So why haven’t you transferred your balances yet with your 720 score?

    • EdnaLegume says:

      @bobloblawsblog: I highly recommend bankrate.com for you

      and.. I see your 30% and raise you 32.99% that’s right buddy.. I went there.

      seriously though, you need to shop around. there’s NO reason even now you should carry that rate. Check out your local credit union even.

    • rellog says:

      @bobloblawsblog: My Discover is at 28.9%. I just never use it. I called to try and get it lowered to no avail. I have $60 in cashback I want to use, but there isn’t any good stores to use them on. I got burned with the Sharper Image GF I got from Discover…

      • Sugarless says:

        @ bobloblawsblog : I had the same experience with Wells Fargo. I wrote letters and called numerous times. After a year they granted me a 7 month lower interest rate. The only problem was that they increased it before 7 months had passed.
        It didn’t matter that I was making extra payments or paying much more than the minimum.
        When I wrote them again they closed my account without notice. I called four times and each time was told someone would get back to me with a reason – still waiting months later.

      • DeltaTee says:

        @rellog: They call it “cashback” because you can call them and get “cash back”. They just mail you a check. What could be better than that?

        • Tmoney02 says:

          @DeltaTee: If you want you can request it to be put towards your balance with a few clicks online. Makes it even easier since you dont have to worry about the check coming and cashing it.

  10. blackmage439 says:

    Interest Rate? What’s that?

    Ok, I’ll admit I have had late payments, due solely to stupidity. But that only lasts a few days before I realize “OH SHIT!!!”, slap myself on the head, and send in the payment.

    Seriously, I have had a card since senior year in high school. It had a paltry $300 limit, but no service/annual fees. I now have four cards, and have never once cared about what the interest rate is on any of them. Smart spending, people. That’s all you need to know. Yes, credit cards make great SHORT-TERM loans, but I don’t understand why anyone would put a balance on a card with a 24% interest rate!

    • howie_in_az says:

      @blackmage439: Personally I don’t understand why anyone would buy something that they cannot immediately pay off, but that’s just me.

      If you find yourself making late payments, consider setting up online bill pay with your bank. Whenever you get paid, set up a bill payment to go out that day to your (credit card |water|gas|electric|car|insurance|etc) company. I’ve been doing this for years and have never had a late payment. In fact, stupid me, I found that I had a $200 credit with the cable company since I never reduced the amount after eliminating Showtime and Skinemax.

      • Etoiles says:

        @blackmage439: Smart spending, people. That’s all you need to know.
        @howie_in_az: Personally I don’t understand why anyone would buy something that they cannot immediately pay off, but that’s just me.

        In my case, my credit card balance was the cost of:

        (a) relocating 400 miles away on about 10 days’ notice
        (b) surviving for a year in a very expensive place while unemployed or underemployed (which later led to point (a), and things are better now)
        (c) flying around the country a couple of times for a family emergency while unemployed (you don’t get to pick when someone else dies)

        Sometimes I wish folks on Consumerist would occasionally try being compassionate or empathetic — not every issue in the world is caused by rampant stupidity. Sometimes life is just shitty for a while.

        Neither you nor I know the circumstances of the OP or those of anyone else who doesn’t outline them in painstaking detail. And saying, “well here’s how you should live” doesn’t do a damn thing about debts that are already incurred — it only prevents adding to them in the future. (It’s much akin to saying to a 9-months-pregnant teenager, “You should have used a condom.” Maybe so, but that’s going to solve the CURRENT problem in what way, exactly?)

      • GrandizerGo says:

        @howie_in_az: I do the same thing however since I am paid weekly, I break everything into 1/4′s and send them out…
        I usually add an additional 5-10% as well, that way, I am normally ahead, and if I ever need extra money for something, I don’t automatically have to put it on a credit card, I go to the bank and take cash out…
        Other than one place, (GM years ago) No one has EVER complained. When I see I am more than a month ahead, I skip a payment and enjoy the spare / extra money…

  11. bria says:

    To the above:

    This context of the word rape is not nearly SEVERE enough to warrant its use.

    It’s also hurtful to those of us that have been raped and know how different it is than a high APR.

    • SkokieGuy says:

      @bria: Bravo to you and others who made this point.

      Furthermore, this post does not indicate why Timothy’s interest rate is so high.

      Did he agree to this rate when applying for the card? Did he have a lower rate that changed? Typically rates this high are meant to be punitive, after a cardholder repeatedly makes late payments or goes over limit.

      In other words, this rate could be a direct result of Timothy’s actions.

      Rape is of course violence that is irrespective of the victim’s actions.

      • bria says:

        @SkokieGuy:

        Thank you ! :)

        What I’m saying isn’t in reference to any political correctness or the “PC police” or anything like that. I’m glad you understood.

        • westvillagegirl (exiled in chicago) says:

          @bria: Bria, I’m not sure you want to be thanking him. Did you not catch the subtext? It seems to me like he was mocking you, as well as hinting that you are probably somehow accountable for your own rape.

          I want to be on your side, but it seems like you only get offended when someone accidentally offends you with a well-meaning post, but then, when someone purposefully (but much more on the DL) mocks you, you’re all peaches and cream.

          • bria says:

            @westvillagegirl (exiled in chicago):

            Whether or not I messed up on thanking him or not or I got mad at the wrong people, we’re really not supposed to be talking about this here anymore… Roz asked everyone to get back on topic. I’ll talk to you about it on our pages though if you want.

      • Bill says:

        @SkokieGuy: I see what you did there.

    • BoomerFive says:

      @bria: Oh my…..get over yourself. That is such BS. @bria: Learn to read.@bria: It’s called slang, learn the difference between LITERAL and FIGURATIVE. It’s called an analogy for petes sake.

      • katylostherart says:

        @BoomerFive: actually it’s not even slang. if you pick up something like an OED you will see the word “to violate” as part of the definition.

        • bria says:

          @katylostherart:
          dear, that conversation has been over for awhile. the moderator asked us to stop discussing it.

          • Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

            @bria: This means you need to stop responding in addition to asking them to stop responding. We’re not going to play this game. bria, you and everyone quibbling you needs to stop posting in this thread unless it is about the topic of the article (high APRs). Period.

    • Tmoney02 says:

      @bria: I think your complaint has been registered and you can drop it now. Continuing to respond starts to take your comments into troll territory.

      Also I would say your worked up if you go post off topic on Jezebel to try to get reinforcements to join you here…just to get disvowled, also a reason to put your posts closer to trolling/looking to start trouble.

      Please feel free to comment on anything else though. We do welcome more voices even if there is disagreement. Which is more than I can say about certain main Jezebel commenters.

    • katylostherart says:

      @bria: alternate and equally valid definitions of the word rape

      - the act of despoiling a country in warfare

      - destroy and strip of its possession; “The soldiers raped the beautiful country”

      - to carry off

  12. komodork says:

    get a new credit card that offers 0% or very low APR. I was watching diggnation and Alex ( one of the host) did this. He called them saying that he wants to transfer all of his balance to the new card, they asked why and he said because “your” APR is high. guess what they did, they said okay how about we lower it to like 7% or something. It was a dramatic decrease from their original APR value.

  13. bria says:

    ESPECIALLY comments like this:

    …especially when there is no dinner first or lube involved..

    • BrawlerBarbie says:

      @bria: You’re still overreacting, and your response to this topic does not belong here. Like all things we are exposed to by the media, you can choose to ignore it. By getting butthurt on the internet over one word used in a context that has nothing to do with what you experienced personally, you come across as an oversensitive rabblerouser and take away from the discussion that the original post was meant to inspire.

      It is terrible that you had such an experience. Perhaps you should reconsider the sites you visit if a four-letter-word triggers you.

    • Riddar says:

      @bria: How many comments and how much time have you invested when you could have just ignored it and read past it?

    • EdnaLegume says:

      @bria: do we really need to make this credit card thread about you and your aggression towards a verb?

      I get what your saying, but wrong soap box.

      • bria says:

        @EdnaLegume:

        PLEASE:

        Please, Roz asked us to get back on topic.

        I already said: if you would like to reply to me, please reply on my personal page because Roz asked us to stop.

    • Tmoney02 says:

      @bria: I think your complaint has been registered and you can drop it now. Continuing to respond starts to take your comments into troll territory.

      Also I would say your worked up if you go post off topic on Jezebel to try to get reinforcements to join you here…just to get disvowled, also a reason to put your posts closer to trolling/looking to start trouble.

      Please feel free to comment on anything else though. We do welcome more voices even if there is disagreement. Which is more than I can say about certain main Jezebel commenters.

      • bria says:

        @Tmoney02:

        My goodness. IT HAS BEEN DROPPED.

        I’ve posted on Consumerist AND Jezebel for a very long time. I wasn’t looking to start trouble and I messed up by posting that comment off topic and apologized to jezebel mod hortense about it.

        FOR THE FIFTH TIME:

        PLEASE:

        Please, Roz asked us to get back on topic.

        I already said: if you would like to reply to me, please reply on my personal page because Roz asked us to stop.

  14. BeeBoo says:

    The word “rape” means “seize or plunder” in its original meaning, and one of its current meanings. It is perfectly appropriate in this context.

    • Elcheecho says:

      @BeeBoo: also, i’d like to think that the word is “rapped” and was just misspelled.

    • SkokieGuy says:

      @BeeBoo: No, rape’s current meaning and predominate usage is pretty clear.

      The IRS seizes your assets & pirates plunder
      Rape is performed by a rapist, a criminal activity.

      Shall I compliment you on your outfit? It’s so cheery and gay!

      I don’t have any cigarettes with me, may I bum a fag?

      See? Some original usages become archaic over time. I suggest when you are at Applebee’s and your dining companion seizes a few french fries from your plate, you do not scream ‘rape’.

      • BeeBoo says:

        @SkokieGuy: It’s not an archaic use, just as referring to a Maypole covered in flowers as “gay” is not archaic or inappropriate. That a word acquires additional meanings or nuances of meaning doesn’t mean the original sense is invalid or inappropriate.

        It does sometimes lead to confusion or misunderstanding, as in the sculpture entitled “The Rape of the Sabine Women”. Someone might assume that the women depicted are being sexually assaulted, which would be inaccurate, as any high school art history student could tell you.

        I guess you are also one of those people who object when they see the word “niggardly” or “butt”.

  15. ARPRINCE says:

    I agree…Open another CC with lower rate and do a balance transfer.

  16. Bahnburner says:

    To charge usurious rates is a moral evil. Credit cards are the only financial entity that can change the rules in the middle of the game. Don’t play with fire. Get out of credit card (and all) debt and use a debit card. Don’t know where to start? http://www.daveramsey.com is a great place. My wife and I have retired $20k in debt in the last 8 months and have $10 to go which we want to have wrapped by the first of next year.

    • JustThatGuy3 says:

      @Bahnburner:

      “Get out of credit card (and all) debt and use a debit card”

      That’s kind of like recommending riding a bike as a solution to drunk driving. Credit cards aren’t the problem, it’s carrying balances on them that’s the problem.

  17. Elcheecho says:

    just called amex..lowered from 18….something to 14…something.

    sweet.

  18. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    Folks. Let’s get this comment back on topic.

    Offenderati, please stop posting off-topic comments. You’ve objected; fine. We don’t need to continue the hijack.

    Further off-topic comments may result in removal of your comment privileges.

  19. bria says:

    Sorry Roz, didn’t see the comment until after I posted.

    lockers, I’m not going to respond to you any more in this thread because Roz asked me to stopped.

    If anyone wants to keep talking about this, they can comment on my personal page.

  20. SkokieGuy says:

    Back on topic – My highest interest rate card is 7.9% and I often get incentive financing that is lower.

    How?
    A high credit score / No late payments / no overlimit /
    Always paying significantly more than the minimum payment.
    Never going near the max. credit limit.

    I don’t think any of us can truly address Timothy’s situation because we don’t know why his rate is high, as noted in early comments.

    At the very least, he should obtain copies of his three credit reports to see if there is any erroneous info that could be hurting his credit score.

    • downwithmonstercable says:

      @SkokieGuy: I get offers in the mail all the time to use “convenience checks” for my cards that give me a 4.99% rate or something. I don’t get it though. How is writing a check more convenient than a card?

      That sounds kinda like a Jack Handey deep thought. Except way lamer.

      • TreyWaters says:

        @downwithmonstercable: I hear that there are 1 or 2 companies still out there that don’t take credit cards. (I know, The Horror!!!)

        Seriously, though, I’ve used the convenience checks to pay my GC for repairs since he doesn’t take plastic. And usually with a better rate than my HELOC, even after the additional tax deduction on any interest I may pay.

  21. katiat325 says:

    If it’s a store card (Macy’s, etc), you probably won’t get a great rate. But if it’s a regular credit card, they should be able to lower it. I have 4 cards (2 store ones that I don’t use, and 2 normal ones) and even the store cards let me lower the APR by like 2% to 22%, while the other cards lowerd my APR to 9% for both. So goodluck, and call them, be polite, and try to get a better rate. It usually works.

  22. bravo369 says:

    I still don’t understand how they can get away with charging 20%-30% on balances when high yield savings accounts only get 4%.

    Also, this past month I owed about $235 on one of the cards with the 20% APR. the minimum payment they wanted was $10. call me crazy but if i have a 20% APR, shouldn’t my minimum required payment be AT LEAST 20% of the balance? I don’t see how you would be able to pay down a credit card otherwise.

    • JustThatGuy3 says:

      @bravo369:

      “call me crazy but if i have a 20% APR, shouldn’t my minimum required payment be AT LEAST 20% of the balance? I don’t see how you would be able to pay down a credit card otherwise.”

      I won’t call you crazy, but I won’t call you numerate, either. Your argument would be correct if the 20% rate were _monthly_ – it’s not, it’s annual (APR=ANNUAL Percentage Rate). If you have a $235 balance, $10 is 4.2% of your balance, while your monthly interest rate is 1.7%. Pay $10 each month on a $235 balance at 20% APR, and you’ll pay it off in about 30 months.

  23. FigJam says:

    Hard to get too worked up over someone stupid enough to run up enough debt on a credit card that he is getting “crushed” by the payments. You have to be nearly brain-dead not to know that CCs charge killer interest rates.

  24. cashmerewhore says:

    I don’t think the 24% APR is literally crushing him to death either.

    Backstory needed, why is his credit so high? He could have collections on his report that he is ignorant to — medical, utilities, whatever. It’s not a “credit card”, but they will use that against you when rating your risk.

    • EdnaLegume says:

      @cashmerewhore: try paying your credit card late twice and see just how high they jack your rate. Bank of America and chase are notorious for this.

      My husband and I have pretty good credit and as soon as we paid late once, it went up a little bit. Paid late twice, WHAMMO! jacked sky high.

      Plus if you have your balance at or near your limit, WHAMMO! they can raise it for that too. Even if it’s on a completely different credit card.

      This happened to us and we have had NO collections, only ONE thing on our reports that was over 30 days and I contested that one. Paying even one day late is all they need. Or being too close to your limit.

      Thankfully we’ve managed to move balances around to lower rates and I set reminders so I pay on time and now BOA and Chase are sending us checks for 0% weekly.

  25. AmeryEleius says:

    I made a late payment on my Exxon/Mobil gas card and the rate shot up to 28.99%…at least it motivated me to pay it off as fast as I possibly could and never use it again…

  26. laserjobs says:

    This is a great “Don’t ask, don’t get” story. Everyone who carries a balance on a credit card should call today with the given script even if you think your rate is already low.

  27. BeeBoo says:

    The best way to get your interest rate lowered is to threaten to transfer the balance.

  28. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    My MC has a 9.9% rate, tried to get it lowered a couple months ago and it was a no-go. I’ve been trying to find a 0% “life of balance” card to transfer to but they don’t seem to exist in Canada.

    • BeeBoo says:

      @Neecy: Since a credit card is basically an unsecured personal loan, 9.9% is really not a bad rate. You might find a card that gives 0% interest for a fixed period of time for balance transfers.

      You must have decent credit to have a decent rate to begin with, and you should consider paying down any outstanding balance and then paying off your balance monthly and then the interest rate will be irrelevant.

  29. bdsakx says:

    I have a Washington Mutual credit card that used to be a Providian card. In the course of 6 months, my APR went from 12.99 to 31.99%. The mysterious part about all that was, I didn’t default on it. It certainly wasn’t the cause of universal default either. I’ve tried every trick in the book to get it lower and they won’t budge. I probably should just cancel it, but its my oldest card and the credit limit is high and its zeroed out.

  30. Finine says:

    This just happened to me with my BoA account. I didn’t notice the insert that came with the August statement saying the APR would be going up (I don’t always notice the inserts since I use online account access only). When I looked at the October statement I saw my APR had gone from 7.9% to 21.99%. I have NEVER had a late payment with BoA or any other creditor, for that matter. My FICO is 745. DH and I are following Dave Ramsey now and this account is next in line to be snowballed. I called BoA today very politely and asked if I could please have my old APR back. They put me back on 7.9% APR with the stipulation that if I use the card I lose that rate. Fine by me, I haven’t used it in over a year. Bottom line – call them, ask, and be polite.

    In some cases you will receive warning that your APR will go up – it comes as a bill insert and instructs you where and who to write to to “opt out” of the increase. The one stipulation of that “opt out” agreement is that you can not make future purchases on the card. Pay those cards off and don’t carry a balance! That’s the only way to avoid this!

  31. Real Cheese Flavor says:

    Probably the other four in the CBS story had their accounts closed on the spot by BofA for “Security reasons”

  32. yzerman says:

    I got a WAMU card im trying to pay down but the interest rate is killing me and there is no way they will give me a lower rate because of the credit industry tightening up as well as my poor credit score.

    Personally I don’t care to keep this card. I just want to pay it off but have at least a more comfortable payment.. any suggestions on how to get them to help me help pay them back?

    • danger the pirate says:

      @yzerman: try hitting up a credit union. maybe get a different card and transfer the balance? i am currently being crushed by citibank. i payed $140 last month and didnt pay enough to account for the finance charge and the it put me over limit. surprise! $40 over limit fee. awesome. i just put in an application to transfer the balance to a discover card with 0%. woo! save me $500 on the promotional 10 months and it should be paid off by then. try it!

  33. GemmaTelephus says:

    What you have to realize is some credit card companies can not lower your APR due to existing contracts between them and the issuer of the card. I have a card from Amazon which is stuck at 19.xx% APR (a chase card), and I can not lower the APR because that is the minimum rate chase can provide to me since an agreement between Amazon and them says so.

    Though they DID offer me an alternative to get a card from another company (not chase), and transfer my balance over to the other card at most likely a much lower rate. I am very happy with Chase and appreciate that they offered me such a solution.

    I don’t have a large balance and can definitely pay it all off monthly, so I’m not going to worry about the APR of my card. But I’ll stick with Chase, since I know they are trustworthy, and out to help me. Though I’ll probably ditch the Amazon card and get one from somewhere else.

    • t325 says:

      @GemmaTelephus: I have the Chase Amazon card and my interest rate is 14.XX% so they either changed the contract and grandfathered me in, or are lying to you. Considering that banks would have no problem raising my rate 5 points if the contract changed, and they’re lying bastards, I’d go with the 2nd option

    • DH405 says:

      @GemmaTelephus: You were so lied to.

    • nightsky says:

      @GemmaTelephus: I too am a shill for a credit card company. They really do care about me and I don’t mind paying extorssion money because Jill, my cute sounding customer service rep, said she couldn’t lower my rate, I believe her because she thinks about our call, and me, when she goes home after work.

    • YanniEsplanade says:

      @GemmaTelephus: I actually applied for one of those Amazon.com Chase cards instead of the other Amazon.com Store-Card or whatever to purchase a $1600 TV w/ a 24month no APR promotion. The Chase card is different from the other Amazon card so the promotion didn’t apply. When I told this to Chase, they lowered the APR from like 14% to 11% that same month without any prior history. =) I paid off the TV in full the same month anyways, but yea, they can lower the APR!!!!

    • MerlinElipticate says:

      @GemmaTelephus: Yeah, they’re lying to you, unless Amazon is itself setting minimum rates for different accounts. Maybe that’s the case, but hard to believe that Amazon would be the one setting Chase’s rates. My Amazon Visa through Chase has 9.15% rate. I think it may have started higher.

  34. ShubhraFlint says:

    All you have to do is ask.

    I have a VISA credit card. I had a 12% variable interest rate. I called the bank, did exactly as the consumerist suggested and they lowered it to 5.9% FIXED for a year. The agent said to call again when the year is up to see what could be done for me. 6 more months to go before the year is up.

    It doesn’t work with all banks. I also tried with AMEX and it didn’t work there.

    Good luck

  35. susitucker says:

    I had the great pleasure of canceling three credit cards recently. I paid them off in full, waited a month, and then called to cancel them for good. Each card tried to coax me into staying with them by lowering my interest rates. To each card, I politely declined, but wondered if that’s all it would take to get them lowered in the first place. One guy sounded so despondent, like his job was on the line to keep me as a customer, he said he would give me 0% interest for six months if I didn’t cancel. Ha!

    • JustThatGuy3 says:

      @susitucker:

      Should have left them open – cut up the actual cards if you’re concerned you’re actually going to use them – reducing available credit and average account age will (generally) lower your credit score.

  36. shifuimam says:

    In reading the CBC article, I saw something sad…

    It took Brad Blakley five minutes to lower his rate by nine per cent, shaving it by half from 18 per cent.

    “I’m shocked. Thirty years of paying 18 per cent when I could have been getting nine per cent,” he said.

    You’re kidding, right? Thirty years of not paying your card off? There’s something wrong with this picture.

    Interest rates don’t actually matter if you pay your card off in full every month. It’s like we’ve forgotten what constitutes legitimate use of a credit card. It’s not so that you can be in constant debt. It’s not even so that you can afford something before the paycheck comes in – if you’re living paycheck-to-paycheck, you have bigger financial problems to worry about. There only four reasons I use a credit card:

    1. I don’t have to carry cash (canceling a card after your wallet’s been stolen is a lot easier than replacing lost hard cash).
    2. I can keep better track of where my money goes. Mint.come auto-tags my credit card transactions, so I can quickly see whether I’m spending too much on eating out or entertainment or travel.
    3. MasterCard offers extra buyer protection, with things like warranty extensions and protection against fraudulent sellers.
    4. I get rewards points. It’s a small reason, but it’s one nonetheless.

    If you’re using a credit card so that you can buy stuff you couldn’t otherwise afford, you’re using your card for the wrong reasons. Period. It’s pathetic what the financial state is of the average American family these days.

  37. econobiker says:

    Just talked with BOA (FIA credit cards) about reducing a card % rate. One thing that the first line person asked about “was I experiencing any financial stress?” which I took as meaning if you said “yes” that bad things like a shut down card.

  38. RevRagnarok says:

    prosper.com, simple enough. Then default like half of my borrowers have and apparently they won’t do crap about it.

    • JustThatGuy3 says:

      @RevRagnarok:

      And there you have the reason for high credit card rates.

      • JustThatGuy3 says:

        @JustThatGuy3:

        I’ve never understood the motivation to be a prosper.com lender – why would I, with limited capital and diversification, want to underprice BoA, with much greater diversification and much better risk assessment models?

  39. rdm says:

    I was unable to lower any interest rates even with pleading with the banks at my worst point of CC debt. CCCS (www.cccs.net) got them all (save for a Dell card and another retail card) way under 20%. Saved me a ton of money.

  40. little stripes says:

    Man, I bet 99.99% of these “Oh, whatever, it’s not a big deal, it’s just a WORD! Stop getting your panties in a bunch!” people are white, straight males who have never been threatned with rape or violence. AWESOME. You pigs are disgusting. I’m done with gawker.

  41. GageAlcidice says:

    I know this will make me look like the worst Consumerist reader ever but oh well here it goes.

    I really would like some real suggestions on this.

    This past year I got married (yah!). I had money saved up and I paid for a lot of changes like getting an apartment and also some of the honeymoon. I did this knowingly but I put a lot of it on credit card and started to make payments. Well once you get married you realize you “need” certain things to make a home to home…okay you might not think that way but that’s what went through my head. Anyways I went over the limit and could only afford to pay off some of the debt part way. So it was over the limit for a couple cycles. I had been trying to keep from using the card until I had an emergency trip to take to Florida so again I had just gotten under limit and again I was over. Sigh.

    My wife an I are currently enacting the “snowball” method after I read it here and it’s been helping. Her credit card will be paid off next month completely, but we’ll leave it open and not cancel it so it doesn’t hurt her credit score but we’ve sworn off using it. My credit card, well that’s the real behemoth. I have about $7,500 of debt on it at an APR around this poor guys.

    My question: With all that I’ve done to give the credit card leverage against me will the methods mentioned about still work?

    Is there an alternative I should try?

    • BeeBoo says:

      @GageAlcidice: The real problem is not your credit cards, it’s your spending, you have confused needs and wants and bought things you couldn’t afford to buy. You really have to address the underlying problem or you’ll eventually get into trouble again. But it sounds like you have already acknowledged that and changed your behavior.

      I disagree with the snowball method and believe in paying off the highest-rate card first instead of the one with the lowest balance.

      You have nothing to lose by trying to get your interest rate lowered. If the rep won’t do it, you have nothing to lose by calling back the next day and trying again. Then ask for a supervisor and try it with them. If they really, really won’t do it, find a credit card with a low or zero rate on balance transfers and transfer it.

      If they won’t lower the rate and you can’t transfer it, you can borrow the money from a family member at a reasonable rate of interest if you are 100% sure you can pay it back on schedule and treat it as a serious, legal debt.

      If that is not even an option, you’re going to have to keep getting raped by the high interest rate until you can pay off your balance and get your credit score high enough to get a better card with a lower rate.

      But it is better not to buy things with a credit card that you can’t pay off monthly. Being charged interest on routine purchases decreases your standard of living significantly by reducing your purchasing power.

    • EdnaLegume says:

      @GageAlcidice: it never hurts to ask. Once, in the midst of our worst credit turmoil, I managed to get our citi card lowered considerably. I believe I simply explained that we were having a really tough time and the rate was making it nearly impossible to budge the balance.

      Even if you get a “no” from the first person to take your call, definitely ask for a supervisor.

      Also, keep your eyes open for an offer from your wifes account. After it’s paid off, they’ll more than likely send you checks to try to lure you into using the account. If so, call YOUR creditors back and tell them you’ve got the option to transfer to a lower rate, will they match or beat it. if no, then transfer to her account and get the promo rate.

      *once you pay off YOUR cards, you’ll likely get the same low rate promos. If you play your cards right and stay on top of it, you can transfer back and forth and keep a 0% until it’s paid. Granted you have to be totally on top of things and not go past the promo period.

  42. ZoeSchizzel says:

    I’ve never been raped (thank goodness, though I have felt extremely vulnerable in many situations), and I wouldn’t use the word “raped” to mean anything other than sexual assault, simply out of courtesy to those who might be pained by the word, particularly when there are plenty of other benign words that can convey the same point. I think it’s a small, painless courtesy for me to extend, so why would anyone object to avoid using the word? Instead of going on the defensive, you should use this thread as an eye opener, because I’m assuming that the idea that someone would object to the word being used an a throwaway fashion never occurred to you, and now you know. Of course no one will MAKE you be sensitive to the plight of women, who being generally smaller and more physically vulnerable can and do sense danger even in words, but then you will likely end up with the kind of insensitive woman who will run up your 24% interest rate credit card before divorcing your douchy ass. Then you can definitely call your credit card company and complain about how “Bitch raped me — financially speaking — can you lower my interest rate?” and hope you get some sympathy.

  43. MoreFunThanToast says:

    I had a citicard at a 9.99% APR and a while ago I noticed it went up to 15.99%. With a $4000 balance left (I already put the card away to pay off the debt) I decided to do a balance transfer with 0% APR.

    After looking around I found one with Chase and now I have the $4000 balance transferred with 0%APR for 12 months. It makes a huge difference IMO when you’re struggling to make payments that they’re not charging you interest rate every month :)

    With that said, It is just a good idea in general not to owe any balance and no make purchases that you can’t pay off.

    • BeeBoo says:

      @MoreFunThanToast: Be careful. The reason companies can give you zero interest on transfers is because they make many because some people don’t pay it off in time or miss a payment or make a late payment or do something else that voids the 0% rate. Don’t be one of those people.

  44. StyckyWycket says:

    I had a Chase card with a 24% interest rate. I called the first time, and they lowered it to 19%. After living with that for about six weeks, I called again to see if they’d cut me another break and lower it. When they told them they couldn’t do it for another six months, I told them to take a flying leap and switched to a different card with a 0% balance transfer that day.

    I didn’t want to give them a chance to fight for my business: they treated me like dirt on the phone, and I felt insulted when they dropped the rate from 24% to 19%. I have good credit and was elways very responsible about my credit. For Chase to pull that baloney was the nail in their coffin for me.

  45. ? graffiksguru says:

    Wow! 24% is insane. I wouldn’t even bother talking with them, just go straight to another card company. If your in Washington I recommend BECU (no I don’t work for them, but I do have an auto loan through them) they have rates as low as 6.9, upto 16 (depending on your credit).

  46. zeitguess says:

    “Tmthy s gttng rpd…”

    FN pc f jrnlsm! Wht wndrflly rrspnsbl wy t cmpltly dvrt vryn’s ttntn frm th rdrs ss.

    Rfrsh s gn n why th thr wrtrs fr th Cnsmrst wr frd nd y gt t sty.

  47. vladthepaler says:

    Rpd? Rlly Bn, h’s gttng rpd? n yr mnd, hgh crdt crd ntrst rt s smhw th qvlnt f nncnsnsl sxl ntrcrs? Hgh ntrst rts sck, bt dd, gt sm prspctv.

    • GavinEstecado says:

      @vladthepaler: C’mon, give comsumerist a break. They use slang all the time, infact, that’s why I’d rather read this than the WSJ. A little humor, a tad crass, and bit of tongue-in-cheek keeps this site from being boring.

      Everyone, lighten’ up and be thankful that the words can’t jump through your computer screen and ‘do violent and sexual things to you without your permission’

      Consumerist, I love you just the way you are. :)

    • Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

      @vladthepaler: This is a warning. We’ve warned several times to discontinue the hijack in this thread. You continued it. Do not do this again.

      This goes for Luckie as well.

  48. Mary says:

    24%? My credit cards are both at 28% and have been since I stopped using them.

    Now I pay them off every month because the interest rate is so high I can’t imagine actually dealing with it. If I negotiated for a better rate I might actually be tempted to use the things again.

    • Myownheroine says:

      @Meiran:

      Well, there’s a silver lining to every cloud.

    • Alessar says:

      @Meiran: I had a 24% card and I got a notice its rate was going to 29%. At 29% and with a balance of several thousand, I could only pay the interest on the card already. Meiran, you’re probably just maintaining your debt, not really paying it off.

      I went to a credit union and got a traditional Debt Consolidation Loan and completely closed that card; with a bad credit score at the time, my loan was at 14% which was still a big improvement for me. The same payment I’d been making every month was suddenly mostly going for principal, not interest, and my total debt rapidly diminished. I refinanced that loan last year, adding another department store charge onto it; my credit score was so high they not only refinanced me, they slashed my rate to 7%.

      Closing a credit card may affect your credit score, but it’s not going to trash it. Many things affect credit scores, even applying for several different cards (and causing several credit checks to run) can lower your score. A traditional personal loan that’s paid on time is actually something that will probably improve your score over time. Managing your money so you’re not delinquent is better for you.

      Two months ago I decided it was time to apply for a new credit card, because I didn’t have one for emergencies. (My car broke down the next day, too, so it was good timing). I was able to get a platinum card with the lowest rate offered by my credit union and a few thousand dollar limit – perfect for emergencies.

      So, my suggestion is go talk to the loan officer of your local bank or credit union (if a CU, they may even have a financial advisor you can speak to) and see what your options are. They will probably explain to you exactly how long it’ll take to pay off that credit card if you’re unclear on it. Good luck!

  49. blazenbu says:

    Apologies for posting, didn’t see the stop post, reacted to the original post. I owe you a beer.

  50. autoclavicle says:

    24% APR is completely nuts. And I thought my highest card’s APR of 12% was killing me.

  51. Boatski says:

    So I just called Chase and spoke with a supervisor after the lady on the phone told me I couldn’t get a lower rate. The supervisor said the same thing, that he couldn’t lower it.

    My options: Wait until mid December for my “review” to see if they lower the interest rate.

    or

    Choose a credit card from bankrate.com and hope for a lower rate.

    My credit score is high 600′s/low 700′s and I have about a two year history. I think one late payment over a year ago, always paying $300-$1000 a month, no overlimit.

    What’s everyones suggestion?

    • solareclipse2 says:

      @Boatski: I’ve called chase a few times to ask for a lower rate and they’ve usually just lowered my rate to their promotional rate after asking a few questions. I didn’t even have to work with a supervisor.

      I’d call back again, and tell them that you think your rate is too high. If you get a different person they might work with you.

      If not, find a credit card that does 0% for 12 months or so and transfer your balance. I think that’s really all you can do.

      • Boatski says:

        @solareclipse2:
        I actually spoke with three people, heh. First lady muted the phone on me or something.

        I’m not worried about a transfer rate. I only have tuition on it and my school loans are coming in soon. I guess I’ll just do some searching on bankrate.com and pick a new card.

        Thanks!

  52. oneliketadow says:

    It’s very easy, but you should have done it before you needed it. (Dig your well before your thirsty). I did it last time through the “Secure Mailbox” on Chase.com. “Hi, I was wondering if you had a better card rate, right now I have x.xx% and it’s lower on my other card.”

    They lowered it to a FIXED 7.99%, beat that!

  53. crazydavythe1st says:

    You should be able to find something at a lower rate, unless you completely destroyed your credit somehow. Last year, I decided I wanted a credit card for the first time (at age 19, I had no prior credit history). It’s amazing how much the rates vary when you’re looking for a credit card — some said I had to have a secured credit card, some said I could get a very low limit regular credit card with a sky high APR. Some had lower APRs, but somewhat spotty customer service records. I kept looking and eventually found a credit card with 16.9% APR and a $2500 credit limit through USAA. USAA has since lowered the APR to 10.9% and has raised the limit on the card. I know not everyone qualifies for USAA, but I’ve received similar offers from AMEX and Discover. The point is you need to do a few very important things. You need to find one of the “good guys”, like AMEX or USAA or whatever that has very good customer service. You can’t make later payments, ever. You’ve already lost the battle if you do this. You really should be paying the balance off every month. Finally, be willing to negotiate all the way up the corporate ladder to get what you want. The plain, regular CSR is told to reject all requests to lower the APR, simply because everyone asks at this level. Anyone with any sort of financial sense is going to jokingly or otherwise tell the CSR that the APR is too high and ought to be lowered. Be willing to talk to the supervisor and the supervisor’s supervisor and so on.

  54. Lucky225 says:

    I’m getting crushed with 25% atm.. I may have to try this method, but I have little faith ugh. I paid the minimum of $50 last month to keep it from going over the limit, then they charged me $150 in interest putting me $100 over the limit + $35 over limit fee, and now I’m late this month, ugh.

  55. Crazytree says:

    how is this different than someone getting into an adjustable-rate home loan they can’t afford?

  56. cccdude says:

    Chase isn’t nice. I just got a “change in terms” that my Default APR will be going up to 29.99% in January. If I didn’t pay the card off each month, you can bet I’d jump ship before I had to maintain a balance on the damn thing. Only reason I don’t do so now is because I wrack up 2 or so free Southwest flights every year using it.

    • BeeBoo says:

      @cccdude: Chase has all kinds of different interest rates. On the Chase Visa I have, the APR for charges is 10% and they just mailed me a bunch of checks unsolicited, some blank and some made out for different amounts like $8,500 and $5,000 for cash advances with no interest for six months or a year or something like that. (Normal rate for cash advances is a ridiculous 20%.) Of course they went straight into the shredder.

      I wonder if you have had problems with your credit. Certainly it is at least possible to get better rates from Chase.

  57. Julia789 says:

    Chase just jacked my Visa credit card rate from 10.49% to 29.99%. But when I looked at the mailed notice in disbelief, and logged into the website to verify this mailing, I was surprised that they had raised my spending limit from $20,000 to $22,000. Is that some kind of consolation prize?

    I’ve been their customer for years. I’m a very low risk, have an excellent credit score and credit history, and have always paid my bills before the due date. I’ve carried a balance on my card in the past (a major car repair one year, a $3,000 dental bill the next year for wisdom teeth being pulled under sedation) and always paid it off quickly in a few months. My card has actually had a zero balance for a few months.

    I just don’t understand – I have had a good, low fixed rate mortgage with a good bank for 10 years, on time payments. No other loans. I’m in my 30′s and make a decent salary. I haven’t made “risky purchases” as I’ve seen articles on, such as a charge with a credit card at a casino, or rent-to-own center. I just don’t understand how I’m a risk. I’m really responsible. But I need this credit card for emergencies so I don’t have to raid my “real emergency fund” (i.e. my job loss emergency fund of four months living expenses) or my 401K should God forbid, I have an accident or my child has an accident or horrible emergency of some sort that’s not covered by medical or home insurance.

    The generic notice I got in the mail says I’m welcome to close my account without penalties if I don’t agree with the new rate. How badly would this hurt my credit score, this being my only card? As I said, I have no balance on the card at the moment, but I never know when I’ll need another major car repair or dental bill, etc.

    I’d apply for another card, but I’m wary. My husband applied for a low rate card recently (he too has excellent credit) and sent the application in. When the card came in the mail with a congratulations letter, it was not the low fixed rate he’d applied for. It was a high variable APR rate card. Now he’s “stuck with it” because it would look bad to have opened and closed a card immediately on his credit report, right?

    • crashfrog says:

      @Julia789: How badly would this hurt my credit score, this being my only card?

      I think a better question is – if your good credit still gets your interest rates nearly tripled, how much is it really worth to you to keep your credit score high?

      Cancel the cards. Having money in your pocket now is more important than shaving a few percentage points off some hypothetical interest rate in the future. The money you save now, if properly invested, could make you more money than you’d lose on the slightly-higher APR ten years down the line.

      • Julia789 says:

        @crashfrog: Good point to consider, thanks. I do like to have one card, at least, for those emergencies (for example, when my dog got very sick and the vet bill was a few hundred dollars) but between my husband and I, we can probably just cancel the higher rate card and keep the lower rate one for emergency use.

        I just don’t understand how such low-risk customers could suddenly be deemed high risk, with such a long history of on-time payments.

        If we’re getting these rates dumped on us after years of a low fixed rate and good relationship, what’s happening to high-risk card holders? Are they the ones getting their credit limits slashed dramatically, as we’ve seen on consumerist before?

        When I opened the notice at the mailbox, I half expected to see my credit limit slashed after reading about that in stories online, but was surprised to see they’d upped my APR dramatically instead. Maybe they are OK with my credit, but want to discourage excessive spending with the high rate?

        I just don’t get the logic. Why do some get their rates jacked up, while some get their limit slashed instead?

        • crashfrog says:

          @Julia789: I really don’t think “risk” has anything at all to do with it, anymore. I mean, if you’ll recall, the current economic crisis was, in part, caused by AAA ratings given to risky loans.

          I don’t think the business of “assessing risk” actually does much of that, anymore – it’s largely about assessing the greatest possible profit.

          The increase in your interest rate almost certainly had nothing to do with any increase in “riskiness” on your part, and almost everything to do with your responsible use of credit denying them substantial profit. They jacked your interest rate to make up for the finance charges they haven’t been able to collect from you.

        • Myownheroine says:

          @Julia789:

          Are you sure that they are increasing your rate? They might just be increasing your penalty rate, which they go to if you pay late or go over the limit.

          I would keep your card open if there is no annual fee, especially if you’ve had it for over 3 years or so. If your regular interest rate is 20%+, then I’d also open another credit card and use that one as your emergency one.

          Credit length history is part of your credit score. Your husband shouldn’t be too affected by quickly opening and closing an account, as long as he’s not applying for a bunch of loans at the same time.

          • Julia789 says:

            @crashfrog: You may be right – that makes sense. Although I have carried a balance in the past which probably made them a bit of money, I do pay it off completely every Christmas bonus, and usually keep the balance at zero for a few months after.

            @Myownheroine: Yeah, it’s weird. My new standard APR is the maximum – even 10 points higher than the new cash-advance APR in the same notice they sent. (Not that I’ve ever used cash advance in my life.) Just weird.

    • Alessar says:

      @Julia789: Just cancel them. Closing a card does not trash your credit score. It can affect it, but so can a lot of other factors. Based on your description you should have no problem finding a card from another issuer — just shop around. And consider checking out your own bank first.

  58. Ajh says:

    “Well..you’ve used up too much of your available credit…”
    “but 29%? that’s insane. And this is my ONLY card.”
    “The best I can say is try back next month.”

    I called for 4 months twice a month. Then i got a new card. When I called to cancel they offered me a lower rate I said “I do not trust your company anymore. Sorry.” This was Chase I cancelled.

    Oddly enough, the company I’ve had wonderful experience with..helpful people and polite good service? Discover.

  59. thinkfreemind says:

    Calling them up and asking them to lower your APR totally works. I did it a few months ago with two different credit cards. First I should explain some background as to why my rates were so high in the first place. Simply put, last November, I messed up big time with going over the limit on both cards and making the payment late as well. It was a double whammy and both cards increased my rates to around 27%.

    Some time passed and I managed to get back under my limit quickly to stop the bleeding. A few months ago, I figured it couldn’t hurt to call them up and see if they would lower my interest rates. It was the best five minutes I’ve ever spent. Discover lowered my rate from 28% all the way down to 4%. Visa lowered my rate only from 25% to 22%, but they told me to call back in a few more months and they’d be able to lower it more.

    Let me tell you that this was a big help. I’ve told everyone I know to give it a try. The worst they can say is no and the best they can do is knock a whopping 20%+ off your rate like they did for me. There is no excuse not to give it a shot.

  60. ageshin says:

    Remember the old usury laws that were in effect in the 50s and 60s. I am afraid that it will be harder and harder for people to get lower rate because of the credit crunch. I am afraid that the massive privet debt ie. credit card dept, will be the next shoe to drop in our current economic debocle.

  61. Smorgasbord says:

    The October 2007 (pages 12-15) issue of Consumer Reports magazine did a report on credit cards. The best was USAA Federal Savings. Number two was any credit union. Then came Cabela’s, Nordstom, American Express, and Discover. You might look into one of these.

  62. JanetCarol says:

    If he is in the situation my brother was in, it had nothing to do with his credit rating. The credit company was fucking him in the ass without his consent. 29%
    I told him he better pay it off asap or transfer to a lower rate. My brother’s problem was that he had never been educated on credit cards or personal finance. My parents were of the generation “fantastic plastic” as my mother called it. And once again I find myself saying, there should absolutely be a mandatory class in high school called personal finance. If everyone had a better education on personal finance, I don’t believe we would have as large of a problem as we do today. At least I know I would have never charged 90% of the things I did in my college years on a credit card.

  63. whitjm5 says:

    While I understand what you’re getting at…you may want to rethink “Timothy is getting raped” as your opening phrase…

  64. bbagdan says:

    If you routinely overspend on your credit card to the point where its interest rate is an issue, you probably shouldn’t have a credit card.

  65. Mary Marsala with Fries says:

    Assuming you can’t negotiate a lower rate on your own (and it’s just negotiation, like any negotiation — call a couple times and ask, beg, yell, whatever, and see if it gets you anywhere…sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t), there are a few options for dealing with credit cards. In order of “Oomph” or severity, they go like this:

    1. Debt consolidation company. I recommend the national nonprofit InCharge Debt Solutions, having worked with them and sent people to them before; and emphatically stay AWAY from any that want money up front. These places have pre-existing agreements with some lenders and may be able to lower your balance and/or payments by 10-25%.

    2. Attorney who does debt negotiations — a bit pricier, but worth it if you get an experienced attorney; a good one can usually lower your balance and/or payments (by which I mean to include interest) by 40-60%.

    3. Bankruptcy. Really only a good option if you a) don’t make a lot of money (so you qualify for a Chapter 7), and b) have a lot of debt, total — I usually don’t recommend it until your debt is up over 40K. Bankruptcy is your “get out free” card, and you can only use it once every eight years, so use it carefully.

    and 4. Stop paying the bastards. This will result in collections, phone calls, and after a year or so (assuming none of the collections agencies offer you a good deal, which many times one will), a lawsuit. If that happens, GO TO COURT and argue that the interest rate was stupid and they wouldn’t work with you, and you wanted to pay your debt but they weren’t playing fair. You’ll get nailed, but for a lot less than the amount they were asking for — a typical judgment is half or less the total amount. And then the people suing you have to get your employment and/or banking info (DON’T give it to them!) in order to garnish your wages, which they can only do for 10-20% depending on your state, and if the garnishment is too onerous you can go right back to court and usually get the judge to lower it again. And if things get really bad in the meantime and/or you just can’t do it, a bankruptcy will get rid of the judgment, too.

    Credit cards suck and nobody should use them if you ask me, but if you have trouble, remember that they’re WAY less important than your mortgage, your utilities, your necessities and your taxes. Overall, credit card debt can really only damage your credit — they can’t take anything from you, and there’s a lot you can do to lessen the impact of any judgment they get on you (as long as you STAY INVOLVED in the process).

    (Sorry my two cents is so long…I do this for a day job.)

  66. lincolnparadox says:

    @undefined: @xip: Why do people reach for a dictionary every time they want to argue semantics?

    I’m sure that Webster’s had plenty of non-PC words in it prior to 1970. That doesn’t mean that it’s ok to call me a guinea-wop-dago.

  67. Doreen DelPurgatorio says:

    I had the amazon.com chase card, and after the promotional rate expired they raised it to 29%. I called Chase who said they could not lower it (even though I bank there and have another chase card at a good rate). So something’s screwy there. I told Chase I would transfer the balance and close the account, and the supervisor.

    I transferred the balance and closed the account, and Chase customer service said this was happening a lot with the amazon cards. I don’t know what the deal is, but that is one crappy card.

  68. DelannaMockingbird says:

    Very simple – call the credit card company, ask so speak with a manager and let them know you are unable to pay your credit card bill and are thinking of filing for bankruptcy. Then offer to pay only the balance WITHOUT ANY FINANCE CHARGES. Tell them this is the best you can do and that otherwise they will get nothing. You will see that they are a lot more accommodating when they risk to get no money at all.

  69. Vhalkyrie says:

    Try transferring to a social lending site like http://www.lendingclub.com or http://www.prosper.com.

  70. kyle4 says:

    I’ve been a reader of four Gawker sites for a very long time and am a very, very large fan who reads almost every post on here. I am also not PC at all and make very crass jokes to my friends, but there is a limit, and even I wouldn’t use the term “Rape” in that context. It is completely unprofessional and seems to be there with no other intent then to boost page views for a site that is unfortunately not getting enough ad revenue. Was it there just to controversial? The fact of the matter is that there is a difference between saying it to your friends and writing it on a serious Consumer helping website that is read by thousands. I don’t like it when my friends say it and I certainly don’t like it when it’s written by someone who is the head editor. The fact that Gawker is pushing it to the side is quite frankly bullshit, and I think feminist sites and Digg should get a hold of this and make an example of it. This and Jesus Diaz’s posts reflect very poorly on some of the great Gawker writing staff. Meg, Owen, Molly, the two Brians and Luke etc. It has no place here, and I wish it were removed and changed to a different word.

    Lastly: rape 1 |rāp|
    noun
    the crime, committed by a man, of forcing another person to have sexual intercourse with him without their consent and against their will, esp. by the threat or use of violence against them : he denied two charges of attempted rape | he had committed at least two rapes.
    • figurative the wanton destruction or spoiling of a place or area : the rape of the Russian countryside.
    • poetic/literary the abduction of a woman, esp. for the purpose of having sexual intercourse with her : the Rape of the Sabine Women.

  71. pgaulrapp says:

    My capital one rate had crept up to almost 22% two years ago. All it took was one phone call to customer service.

  72. MelanieArsinoe says:

    I have an idea. Stop spending beyond your means and pay off your credit card every month. I have a 22% APR on my credit card, but I have never had to worry about it because I consistently maintain a $0 balance. Now, if it was in the case of a medica emergency or disaster, disregard, but most people just spend more than they make. Plain and simple.

  73. Carias says:

    It doesn’t have to be so complicated as to have a prepared script. Just call your credit card company and tell them you want to cancel. You will be forwarded to retention and that department has the control of changes like lowering your interest. Now be aware that retention is not a free for all for change. They have usually 2 or 3 different offers when a customer wants to cancel and once and a while they’re conditional upon a balance transfer, sometimes there isn’t anything at all they can do at the time either. This may sound silly but I found the best deals generally came out close to superbowl when I worked in retention.

    Simply ask your retention agent if you are eligible for a lower interest rate and if they say yes ask for the lowest they can offer. They won’t always offer the absolute lowest first so take in their offer and even if it sounds good make sure to ask them “Is there anything lower?” They are NOT obligated to offer you the lowest rate they see on the screen so if they like you and they are actually able to do something you’ll get a better deal.

    Also some companies limit when offers become available on your account. If you take a retention offer you won’t be eligible for another one for 6 months.