Lower your credit card interest rates

There are ways to get a lower rate. That way, you won't feel like you're financing big bank bailouts from your own pocket. For one woman, that meant negotiating. And it brought her interest down 75 percent.

Lynn Murphy turned to a credit counselor after she found herself buried under $20,000 in credit card debt. Her introductory rate had expired and the interest had skyrocketed to almost 18 percent.

Curtis Arnold of CardRatings.com advises people on how to negotiate with credit card companies.

"It can be a little intimidating, but educate yourself, don't be intimidated," said Arnold. "The issuers, it's in their vested interest to work out a payment plan with you."

Murphy qualified for the bank's hardship program and was able to bring her interest rate down to 4.5 percent.

Even if you're not in dire straits, /*Consumer Reports*/ says negotiating with your credit card companies can really pay off. You can be your own advocate. Call the number on the back of your card and ask to speak to someone about reducing your interest rate.

"Be persistent. If the first person you talk to can't help, ask to speak to a supervisor or someone in the customer-retention department," said Andrea Rock, Consumer Reports.

Before you call, check your credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com.

"Depending on your credit rating, you could lower your rate to less than 8.5 percent, and these days, anything below 10 percent is pretty good," said Rock.

Murphy's finance charges dropped from $290 to $84 per month. She'll be able to pay off her debt in just five years, as opposed to the 38 years it would have taken her.

"I did not realize that you could get the credit cards to go lower on their rates," said Murphy.



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