Asking pays off — Save money with just one phone call.

The easiest way to lower your interest rate, that no one seems to know.

Richard Mathera
3 min readMar 14, 2018

Credit card debt is at an all-time high. More than a third of households in the US are carrying more than $16,000 in credit debt, with an average APR of 19.49%. If these households paid the minimum balance every month, it would take a family more than 20 years years to payoff their debt.

There are two simple ways to climb out from under the mountain of debt. One way is to decrease our expenses. Another way is to call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate. Decreasing expenses and changing our habits is hard, so we shifted our focus towards getting an interest rate reduction. Making the call is simple and just takes a couple of minutes to do.

In fact, in a survey of over 2,400 people, 60% of those who call their credit card companies are successful in reducing their interest rates. Sadly, just 9% of them had actually called their credit card company to ask for a lower interest rate within the last three years.

To get some more color on how these negotiations actually go, we invited a few individuals to come to our office and negotiate a lower APR on their credit cards. Across 12 different negotiations, 8 were successful in getting a APR reduction, lowering their APR by a total of 49 absolute percentage points. All in 10 minutes or less!

Given these results, why don’t more people ask?

One reason is that we just don’t like to negotiate. In a study conducted on recent MBA graduates, only 7% of women had attempted to negotiate their employer’s initial salary. And while men fared much better, only 57% of them had tried to negotiate.

by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

Another reason why we don’t ask is that we underestimate the power of asking. In one study, participants had to successfully get three strangers to let them borrow their phone to make a call. Participants expected they would need to ask ten strangers to get three phone calls. But, in actuality, they only needed to ask six.

This is a good reminder of the old adage: “Ask and you shall receive.”

How can you ask? Here are our top 3 tips.

  1. Put time in your calendar today to do it a week from now. It’s never a good time to call, but if it’s on our calendar, we are more likely to follow through.
  2. Do it with your friends and make it a game. Compete on who can get the biggest APR reduction.
  3. Don’t give up after your first “no.” Just keep asking. You’ll eventually get a “yes.”

If we all did this one ask, we could save $129 billion in interest. So get to asking! What are you waiting for?

Co-written with my colleagues at Common Cents Lab,

, and Wendy De La Rosa on March 13, 2018.