My husband and I filed for bankruptcy a few years ago. Since then we have established good payment records with high interest credit card companies. I’m ready to drop them and transfer my balances to a lower interest rate card(s). When I start looking on the net, I see introductory rates for first time applicants with good credit. I’m having a hard time finding cards with the transfer option. I’ve had my existing accounts for several years (or more), plus we just bought a house, so I think we deserve better interest rates. I called my accounts personally, but they don’t offer better rates, only a larger line of credit. I have enough credit already.
First of all Penny I’d like to say that I agree that you do deserve a better rate! As you may know, bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years. That means that all the banks know that you’ve had problems in the past, but that’s long ago at this point, and I am sure there are banks that may be willing to give you a better deal. The important issue now is how you’ve been handling your credit for the past few years. From what you’ve said my feeling is that you’ve been doing a good job with paying on time. That being my assumption it’s time for the banks to give you a better deal or you should take your business elsewhere! So you’ve already called your current banks and they won’t budge on the rates. Try this, call them back and explain it this way, “I’ve just received a transfer offer in the mail for 1.9% and I’m going to take it if you don’t reduce my rate. I’ve been happy dealing with your bank but it’s just getting too costly. I’d be willing to stay a customer, but I need some type of reduction in my rate or I’ll just have to take my business to another bank.” If the first rep you get on the phone cannot help you then ask to speak to a supervisor. If the supervisor says that they cannot lower the rate, then find out why and make it clear that they lost your business. We must punish them! Now, you mentioned that you have a few accounts. If the first bank won’t lower the rate then call another account and transfer the balance from the first bank to this account. Tell the second bank, “If you give me a good deal on a balance transfer, right now, I’ll do it.” Well, at this point you should do it anyway. Just be sure to punish the first bank for not lowering the rate. Then, after the first bank doesn’t have your business for a while you can give them a call and let them know that you’re ready to start using them again if they give you a better rate or a transfer offer. As far as the online offers go, it can sometimes be very difficult to get those low rate deals when applying online. I suggest you try in your snail-mailbox. That’s where I always get the best offers. Actually, the best offers are from my current banks but there are other good offers from new banks all time. Last year banks mailed 3 billion offers to us consumers! Never forget that no matter what your situation YOU are the customer and they should be treating you with the philosophy of “the customer is always right.” There’s a lot of competition out there for our business so let’s all make them work to keep us satisfied
(Scott Bilker is the author of the best-selling books, Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt, Credit Card and Debt Management, and How to be more Credit Card and Debt Smart. He’s also the founder of DebtSmart.)