Personal Finance

Here's one easy way to pay less to your credit card company

Key Points
  • Even though interest rates were rising in the last year, 81% of cardholders who asked for a lower rate got it.
  • Most of the reductions were between 5 and 6 percentage points.
  • Even more consumers — 87% — were successful getting a late-payment fee removed, and 67% had their annual fee waived.

Want to pay less to your credit card company? Make a phone call.

While most cardholders have not requested a break on either interest rates or fees recently, the majority of those who did ask were successful, a new survey shows.

In the past year — a time when interest rates were rising — 81% of cardholders who asked for a lower rate got it, and most got a reduction of between 5 and 6 percentage points, according to research from

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For late-payment fees, 87% were successful getting them eliminated, and 67% got their annual fee waived (24% were given a reduced annual fee).

"I was surprised that the chances of success are sky-high for every break we asked people about," said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at, which polled more than 1,000 people for its survey.

However, about three-quarters of respondents have not asked for any sort of reduced rate or waived fee, even as the amount of debt they carry — and the cost to finance it — has continued to climb.

You may be paying off your credit card debt wrong—here’s the best way
You may be paying off your credit card debt wrong—here’s the best way

The nation's credit card tab has reached $944 billion, according to NerdWallet. The average interest rate is about 17.7%, separate data from shows. That compares to about 15.2% three years ago.

Since 2016, the Federal Reserve has made eight increases to a key interest rate that affects consumer debt. It recently indicated that rates won't move higher this year unless economic conditions change.

Nevertheless, getting your interest rate down is a key way to reduce the cost of carrying a balance month to month.

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In the CompareCards study, the average rate reduction that survey participants had been able to get was 6 percentage points. The median — half fell above, half below — was about 5 percentage points.

Say you have a balance of $5,000 on a card that charges you 24% in interest and you pay $250 a month. It would take 26 months to pay off and you'd pay about $1,450 in interest. If you could get that rate to 18%, you'd save more than $450 in interest and pay it off two months earlier, the study shows.

Schulz pointed out that if you already are paying a lower-than-average interest rate, it's less likely you'll get a huge reduction. You can also explore 0% deals, which typically charge you an upfront fee but no interest for a certain amount of time.

And, because the poll was random, Schulz said the success rate is likely not limited to consumers with high credit scores.

"That's a really positive sign and a good indicator that even folks with not-perfect credit should take time to ask," he said. "Otherwise you could end up paying more to your credit card company than you probably need to."