Reader Talks Citibank Down To A Lower Interest Rate On Her Credit Card

Nicole was hit with a surprise 6 point interest rate increase on her Citicard, so she fought back. Her story is a good reminder that you should look at all of your options and be prepared to argue on your behalf, even if you’re not in a position where you can just pay off the entire balance and walk away.

So recently the APR for my Citicard, which I have had for years at the still-crappy yet manageable APR of 10.99% increased to a whopping 16.99%.

Holy cow, you may be thinking. You must be some kind of deadbeat!

Nope! I have never missed a payment on this card. I have kept a substantial balance on it for years, which I’m sure credit card companies like. It seems that Citibank was just randomly screwing me. Of course, I could always refuse to accept the increase–and then close one of my oldest credit lines and hurt my credit report. Nyuh-uh.

I immediately responded by bailing: I transferred a huge chunk of the balance to my Bank of America card, which is no good for purchases as it offers no rewards, but oftentimes has promotional rates on balance transfers. I also called Citi today. It was a marginally successful call, only because I did not get jerked around as much as anticipated.

The customer service rep was a girl named Angel with no marked accent; surprising, being as all of my contact with Citi so far has been with heavily-accented men who try to wheedle me into buying account protection. “But ma’am you may cancel at any time.” But I digress.

I was polite yet slightly crazed. I told Angel 16.99% was the most ridiculous APR EVER. I told her that my first credit card that I applied for when I was 18 without any credit history offered me a lower APR than that. I told her I had several cards with lower APRs that hadn’t raised them because of some vague “financial market” excuse. I told her I didn’t want to use a card that would charge me 16.99%. I have options.

Angel fumbled politely for a bit, and quickly transferred me to her manager, which was a pleasant surprise.

The manager was understanding and also polite. After giving me more vague “financial market” excuses, she said she could review the card and POSSIBLY give me a lower APR. I then got to use my favorite phrase when speaking to customer service (in bold):

“I just don’t see how I can continue to use a card that has such a high APR, especially when all of my other card like my Discover card offer me 9.99% or better. I’m sure you understand.

“Oh yes,” she said. And she agreed that affective today, my APR would by 11.99. Not back to where it was, still crappy, but sure as hell better than 16.99. I am proud of my response:

“Well, I will accept the 11.99 APR, but I will probably still won’t use this card ever again.”

Cool like ice!

“Citicard: PremierPass to a high APR” [nicolestanfield.vox.com]