Consumerist Helps Couple Lower Interest Rate On All Their Credit Cards

Yesterday I was on a conference call where a lady who’s been writing consumer journalism since before I was even born, in response to me saying how we repackage useful information and make it funny and make jokes and put up pictures of cats, asked me if the site actually helps anyone. I told her quite firmly and loudly that we do and gave examples, and here’s another one to throw on the evidence pile. Kevin writes:

I just wanted to write and say thank you for all the information that you and your team post on The Consumerist. Today my wife and I called up all our credit card companies to negotiate. Most either lowered slightly or nothing at all, except for Citi. Citi had the highest interest rate and we carried the highest balance on that card. One quick phone call and they dropped our rate from 26.99% down to 6.74%. I couldn’t believe it. If it wasn’t for The Consumerist I would have never known I could have negotiated the rate. Thank you all so much.

Yeah, I’d say we’re helping people. Here’s a sample script you can use to get it lowered. If it doesn’t work, shop around, then call back and threaten to cancel for someone with a lower rate. If they still won’t, then go ahead and do a balance transfer to a card with more favorable terms.

(Photo: Ben Popken)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. zigziggityzoo says:

    27% down to 6.74? WOW.

  2. ADismalScience says:

    Of course, as this helpful example loads there are dozens of credit card offer Google ads on the left. Capital One is actually the first offer, one of the worst offenders for double-cycle billing, punitive fees, etc.

    Staying in business is some awful, anti-consumer stuff, isn’t it?

    • ryan_h says:

      @ADismalScience:

      you know, I dont even notice those google ads. super easy to ignore, and I mean, if you like this blog, and everything, I would just give them a break. need cash to stay in business, and as long as it dosent effect the content, it’s up to us to decide on if we click on a link or not.

    • Ben Popken says:

      @ADismalScience: Because I handpick those and have any say about their presence.

      • ADismalScience says:

        @Ben Popken:

        Of course you don’t. But it is a metaphor for the compromises companies make between customer service and keeping the doors open, no?

    • Mless says:

      @ADismalScience: thats horrifyingly funny. never would have noticed that.

    • Rhayader says:

      @ADismalScience: Meh, every site does that. Like ryan_h says, it’s worth the unnoticeable ad noise to keep a blog like this going.

      That is, if it does in fact keep the blog going…

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @ADismalScience: Jeezus, whine much? You might want to find out how AdSense works before you make a fool of yourself so badly in public again. And, assuming you want Consumerist to ban AdSense, will you fund them out of your own pocket? Or will you simply cry crocodile tears when they, following your sage advice, close up shop? Or, better, you’d think it better if Consumerist cleared their copy with any/all potential advertisers before hitting the Publish button?
      You do make good comments, don’t get me wrong. But this one: not so much…

      • ADismalScience says:

        @Trai_Dep:

        The point is, the advertising is incongruous with the message of the blog. Given that Consumerist is famous for busting corporate balls for hypocrisy and bad advertising, I found it amusing. After all, giving people personal finance tips next to a slew of credit card offers is laughably incongruous.

        I am totally aware of how AdSense works, and how Google ads work. I’m positive that Ben is probably totally pissed about the compromises he has to make to stay in business, and that credit card offers for rip-off cards appear next to sound advice about credit. But think about it – this blog accuses other for-profit corporations (and Denton did seek to make money on this place!) of having a lack of accountability all the time. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

        • Trai_Dep says:

          @ADismalScience: Crappy companies. Ones that try serving their customers – hey mistakes happen, what’s important is intent and willingness to accept responsibility and fix things – do fine here.
          Simply because Denton didn’t address the fact that his non-TMZ type properties need a different ad strategy than his ones showing celebutards flashing shaved labia years ago, when times were flush, doesn’t mean there’s no ad market for sites that cover consequential things. If he was half as adept at realizing one-advertiser-fits-all as he is with preemptive layoffs, he wouldn’t be in this mess. Witness Kos, TPM, etc., who are doing fine.
          So, curious. You’re suggesting Consumerist make everything sponsor friendly?
          Really, besides whining or highlighting AdSense incongruities known for ages, what’s your point?

          • ADismalScience says:

            @Trai_Dep:

            Denton’s much better at this than you give him credit for, and failures to lay off at other blogs are probably more indicative of poor management failing to prepare for falling advert dollars than success in wooing advertisers.

            I’m simply making the point that Consumerist plays a lot of games where they they blame executives at a high level for customer service issues at a low level. Mr Popken is responsible for posting articles critical of credit card companies and their practices, notably Capital One, and yet is compensated – in whole or in part – based on income from those activities.

            All companies, including the ones Mr Popken routinely exoriates on this site, make compromises like that to stay in business. Whether it’s strict return policies, fine print in advertising, fees in bank accounts, etc. You can’t stay in business without making some concessions to your bottom line. Which would mean that perhaps Consumerist should consider changing positions on things like EECB’s, which attack executives for low-level decisions that, much like those Google ads, are often far from the visibility or control of the people that get contacted.

            • Cap says:

              @ADismalScience: Your metaphor blows.

              You seem to have missed Trai_Dep’s point. It’s not about wooing advertisers, its about utilizing different revenue models on Consumerist.

              Advertising on a blog like this is NOT incongruous with the message of this blog. Gawker could have monetized this blog much better had they simply hired the right people to handle the consumer/finance verticals – all without compromising the overall message of this blog.

              A specialized sales team that’ll go beyond the usual newspaper type of ad-buy could have made the blog profitable and help its continual growth. I mean come on, 14m pv?

              But, Gawker wanted to keep advertising off the blog for the very reasons you’re pointing out via the “metaphor.” Of course that was until shit hit the fan, and in hindsight it was a poor decision.

              Lastly, had you simply wanted to make a point on EECB vs. low-level decision etc., you could have just said that and skipped the whiny adsense metaphor.

    • CrowMignon says:

      @ADismalScience: FYI: Firefox + Adblock = not even knowing what you’re talking about.

  3. gnappulicious says:

    You guys helped me get almost 10,000 Skymiles that Delta tried to screw me out of. It took a combined EECB/BBB complaint, but it worked. I wouldn’t have known what to do if it weren’t for Consumerist.

  4. sleze69 says:

    If not for the idea of the EECB, a US Airways Mastercard double billing (of $4k each) SNAFU would have totally ruined Christmas. Consumerist FTW.

  5. Amy Alkon000 says:

    This site has helped me in numerous ways — just off the top of my head, by posting the Tier Three Tech support number for Time-Warner (now no longer valid, by the way), and also by posting the e-mail address of Bank of America chief Ken D. Lewis, which I and numerous readers of my blog used to write to him in the wake of their spectacular negligence in giving away my money to thieves. (I investigated them for four months and I’m waiting for a response from them to my complaint to the Comptroller of the Currency regarding what I found out about them.)

    Regarding ADismalScience complaing above about the credit card offers, those are Google ads, which means they post automatically, relating to text Google spiders find on your site. My friends Virginia Postrel and Kate Coe (deepglamour.net) recently had a similar problem when Google posted pro-Prop 8/anti-gay marriage ads — totally contrary to their beliefs. They ended up running a post noting their opposition to Prop 8 and apologizing for their lack of control over the ads, which post automatically.

    • ADismalScience says:

      @Amy Alkon:

      Ben would take a similar situation and post a headline like, say:

      “Consumerist Pushes High-Rate Credit Cards on Readers”

      I’m aware that websites have this happen all the time. CNBC.com’s editor apologized for some quasi-racy ads for dating websites appearing on their front page a few months ago. It’s just funny to watch Editorial and Sales have their usual conflicts on a consumer blog and for editors/readers of Consumerist to fail to understand how that could happen at, say, Comcast. The zealous advocacy of the content doens’t necessarily jive with how everyone stays employed.

      EVERY company makes those compromises, and often those exact compromises turn into items in this space.

    • TacoChuck says:

      @Amy Alkon: I realize this is mute at this point, but for the pro-prop 8 ads, click on them, click on them a few times. They pay for every click and the website they run on will get a few cents out of it. That is what I do for google ads that bug me, I visit a few times and it makes me feel better to know at least they paid a few bucks for annoying me.

  6. Rhayader says:

    She actually asked if the site helps its readers? Her years of experience haven’t helped her catch on to newer trends, apparently.

    This is easily one of the most useful and actionable blogs on the web.

  7. dtmoulton says:

    Congrats on talking your interest rate down!

    Also, thanks Consumerist/Ben. I passed along your site to a friend and his CC is now in a block of ice in his freezer.
    I told him he could have simply put it in his sock drawer, but his mind was made up.

  8. Xerloq says:

    What publication (print or otherwise) doesn’t repackage information? Yeah, most of the information exists in other places, but the thing Consumerist does well is make otherwise obscure information available to the average person who might not otherwise find/digest it.

  9. CyrusOpeth says:

    It’s not news that one can ask or attempt to negotiate *anything*. Remember: the answer is always NO unless you ask.

    • Rhayader says:

      @CyrusOpeth: Well, of course it isn’t “news” that one can attempt to negotiate.

      What is newsworthy is that companies actually respond to this kind of request. I would have never thought any company would reduce a price or interest rate simply as a result of my asking until I started reading Consumerist.

    • socialSTD says:

      @CyrusOpeth:

      I learned from The Consumerist that I could call and negotiate a better rate and not just sit idly by waiting for the CC companies to do it on their own when they felt I was a good enough customer.

      Before I stumbled this site I wasn’t a well informed consumer. Finding out my options when dealing a CC company, along with all the other pro-consumer info that is on this site, was definately “news” to me and I’m sure there are more people just like me.

  10. BrianDaBrain says:

    The Consumerist helps me every time I have to call customer service and I’m getting a runaround. This is my favorite site on the interwebs, bar none.

    Here’s to hoping you don’t go away…..

  11. jodark says:

    Maybe someone could explain this to me. I bought my car back in May, and I haven’t missed a payment on the loan or any credit cards or anything. I asked the bank if I could get a stream-lined refinance, which basically amounts to an interest rate reduction. They came back and said that if I wanted to refinance, then my interest rate would actually go up. I am really confused by this. Any ideas on why this might be?

    • VidaBlueBalls says:

      @jodark: probably because they’ll want to shorten the length of the loan (more per month) or lengthen it (less per month, but more months to pay)

  12. Traveshamockery says:

    Conference call with a highly experienced consumer writer? Do I smell a potential buyer for our beloved Consumerist?!?

  13. Elvisisdead says:

    Well, hopefully the conference call about buying Consumerist was more fruitful than that….

  14. MosesKabob says:

    Chase just told me my prime + 23% interest rate can’t be lowered, and they couldn’t tell me why it was that to begin with. Their best suggestion was to call back in 30 days.

    It was funny, the best he could do was change my variable to a fixed but the same rate. Thanks, buddy.

  15. MercuryPDX says:

    One important thing to pay attention to: Make sure they lower the interest across the board and not just on new purchases.

    Get clarification, or you could wind up with “Your new interest rate is 6%, but we’ll continue to charge 27% on your current balance until it’s paid off.”

  16. tande04 says:

    @ADismalScience: I just thought it was a metaphor for how google ads works. If the story would of been about fuzzy kittens the ads would of been for fuzzy kittens. Don’t see a compromise there.

  17. krom says:

    Since I now have three cards, only one of which has a balance, I can always take a balance at a rate I don’t like and pass it over. I’ve actually slashed my CC balances to about 1/3 of what they were a year ago. By taking advantage of a 0% promo BT rate on one and a 1.9% promo BT rate on another made it easier (and that fact that these rates expired made it more motivating) to pay off nice big chunks of CC balance.

    So… I suppose I can use this as leverage if I don’t like my rates? “Oh, really? Well I can just BT my balance off to my other card on their promotional rate. HAND.”

  18. Gaambit says:

    Yeah, I tried that a few weeks ago with both WaMu and my Sears Mastercard. Both companies gave me the same response: “We aren’t re-negotiating rates right now.” The next day I stopped by my Suntrust and opened a Visa account with them…that card has a 9.99% APR, and I quickly transferred what was on my 24.99% WaMu card to them (with 0% for the first six months). I even told WaMu I was going to have to do this, and they wouldn’t budge.

    • mac-phisto says:

      @Gaambit: “We aren’t re-negotiating rates right now.” should be met with a “actually, yes we are, so perhaps you could transfer me to someone who can handle the negotiation”.

      i had to resort to a “i’ll tell you what. i’ll stop paying the card today & whenever you’re ready to start negotiating, you give me a call” once. got me down from 19.99% to 10.99%.

  19. azzy says:

    I had a Citi card that I have been carrying a balance on, it has a pretty nice 6.99% rate. Well, one error… my wife paid the bill a day late on accident (First time in years). The interest jumped up to 18.99% and a $35 late fee. I called them up yesterday and they waved the $35 and $60 in interest. I asked them to lower my rate, but they would only go down to 13.99%. Pretty good customer service, but not good enough.

    Moral of the story is, Citi was making money on a “good” customer, but now that “good” customer will be taking their balance elsewhere. Bye Citi.

    • A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

      @azzy: You paid late, what do you expect from them?

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @azzy: What A.W.E.S.O.M.-O said. You paid late, it was really nice of them to waive your fee and reduce your interest, but you paid late and to Citi, you’re now at risk to pay late again. Oops. If you don’t want to carry a balance with the 13.99% rate, I suggest you put as much money toward paying off that card entirely and then your rate will go down.

  20. Anonymous says:

    My credit card through my credit union has a rate of 8.92% (it’s variable but that’s the current rate). My B of A credit card has a rate of 17.74%. My husband was looking at the statements because we were going to transfer balances to consolidate the two card. I actually called the CU because I couldn’t believe the rate was that low. I also get points on the CU card which are far more flexible than the B of A card.

  21. davere says:

    Yes, consumerist helps. A coworker of mine had an issue with T-Mo that he was unable to address after multiple calls to customer service.

    I gave him their executive customer relations email address, he sent them an email, 2 days later he got a $200 refund.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Your site helped me learn about email carpet bombing and helped me finally resolve a 6 month long battle with Verizon Fios.

    Verizon deliberately overcharged me for my new Fios service. The customer service rep and their manager were aware of the problem and promised me each month that the problem was being resolved by the next billing cycle.

    Each month for 6 months I had to call the Verizon robbers and get my bill adjusted. Each time was at least an hour on the phone.

    An email bomb to Verizon management got a senior executive to call me and get the problem resolved in 5 minutes.

    Way to to Consumerist. I love your site.

  23. aak7268 says:

    Hey, look! Kitty!

    • m4ximusprim3 says:

      @aak7268: Yeah!

      Ben, you definitely need to leverage your Kitten-rich image database when negotiating with a buyer.

      If they try to play hardball, bring tax cat along. Nobody can stand up to tax cat.

  24. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I really do think Consumerist helps a lot of people, whether they’re in debt or not. If you’re in debt, you can totally find ways of getting better interest rates or understanding the system better. In a way, it helps people gain the confidence to approach these giant companies that hold the reigns to their wellbeing and money. If you can understand it better, you can be more knowledgeable when you approach Citi or Capital One or Amex. And for people who aren’t in debt, Consumerist gives them tips on getting the best deals or staying updated on the latest problems company x is dealing with. Personally, I always knew CompUSA was a crappy place to shop, but I would’ve never known that when they went out of business that the liquidator would play tricks to get people to pay more and flub the markdown percentage.

    Sure, one could reasonably step inside CompUSA, take one look at their prices and figure out it was overpriced anyway, but a lot of people don’t. A lot of people, like my parents, don’t like to comparison shop for hours. They generally find what they want at the store and grab it. It’s sites like Consumerist that let me pass on the knowledge to people who wouldn’t get on this site and read the posts.

  25. starrytrekchic says:

    The Consumerist has definitely helped me. By simply reading through all the articles–and the also the informed comments!–I’ve been able to gain a great deal more control over my finances. Before I felt completely swamped, but now I have a much greater understanding of my rights (especially regarding debt) and I don’t find the entire money thing quite so overwhelming and scary anymore.

    Er…not to sound all testimonial like, but there’s a lot of us it’s helped, not just the people who comment on a regular basis.

  26. DePaulBlueDemon says:

    I called Citi last night in regards to my mtvU card… Got my rate lowered from 18.990% to 11.99%. It took me about 5 minutes… :) Yay, Consumerist!

  27. lintacious says:

    I wanted to mention that Discover card will negotiate your interest rate as long as your last 6 payments have been made on time.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I actually have had CITI for 7 years and haven’t had anything but great customer service from them! In fact I think it is crap they are getting such a bad rap right now, and I am sure they deserve part of it but not to this extreme case. I had a decent rate before with them of 16% and they lowered mine to 12%. AmericanExpress on the other hand I have a 25% rate and they will NOT lower mine. I think if you are going to rag on anyone you should check into AmericanExpress!