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Can You Negotiate Better Terms When You Apply for a New Credit Card?

You can negotiate over a lot of things — the price of a new car, some free months of HBO on your cable subscription, a late payment fee on a credit card you’ve never paid late. But when you’re shopping for a credit card, it can seem like the terms of a card are just set in stone. Is there any wiggle room? And are issuers even willing to negotiate?

Increasing Your Credit Limit

When a credit card issuer grants a customer a credit limit, their primary consideration is the risk that the cardholder will default. So one way that cardholders can try to receive a higher credit limit on a particular card is to request that a portion of your credit line be transferred from another existing account with the same card issuer. Reallocating your existing credit line will not increase the card issuer’s exposure, but it won’t raise your total borrowing power either. The advantage is that you will have a greater credit line on a particular card, which might offer superior rewards or benefits than your existing cards.

To do this, contact the card issuer as soon as you submit your new application and inquire about its status. In most cases, card issuers will be able to approve or deny a new account over the phone. At that time, you can ask if there is any way to increase your credit limit, such as transferring a portion of your limit from another account, or closing an unused account.

Otherwise, most card issuers will want new cardholders to keep an account open for several months before considering requests to increase their credit limit. And to increase your chances, you will want to keep a perfect on-time payment history and your balance as low as possible.

Lowering Your Interest Rate

While there are ways to receive a higher credit line on a new card, negotiating your interest rate will be much harder, at least at first. Most credit card issuers now assign applicants an interest rate based on their creditworthiness at the time of their application, based on a range of interest rates offered for a particular credit card. And while you may be able to shuffle around your line of credit between different accounts, there is no corresponding trick that you can use to lower your interest rate.

So that leaves two primary ways to get the lowest possible interest rate on a new card. The first is to shop around aggressively, including cards with interest-free promotional financing. While these interest-free financing offers will be for a limited time, there are now credit cards that feature a year and a half or more of 0% APR financing on both new purchases and balance transfers. For example, both the Citi Simplicity and Citi Diamond Preferred offer 21 months of interest-free promotional financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee.

The other way to receive the lowest interest rates is the old-fashioned way, by raising your credit score. The two most important factors in your credit score are your payment history and your level of debt. So first, you should be absolutely certain that you make all of your payments on time, and that you have as little debt as possible. In addition, those with a limited credit history should try to establish a more substantial record of payments by holding onto additional accounts, even if rarely used. It’s a common misconception that closing credit card accounts will improve your credit score, when in fact, doing so will affect your credit age and increase your debt to credit ratio. You can track your credit-building progress in a number of ways. You can get two of your credit scores for free on with monthly updates, and you are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies.

By taking every available step to receive the interest rate and credit line you deserve, you can get the most value and utility from your credit cards.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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