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My Credit Card Experiment

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I've been conducting a credit card experiment over the last year and a half. I've been carrying a minor balance on a single card, and periodically I call up and ask the company to reduce my interest rate. As of last week, they have now done it three times in a row. Each time I call and ask (in my case, the calls are roughly six months apart), I get another 2-5% rate cut. I went from having a card with a painfully high rate (it's an Amazon rewards card, if you must know) to one that's pretty reasonable. My goal is to keep driving the rate down until I hit single digits or the company stops listening to me.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group did a study in 2002, in which fifty consumers called their credit card companies and requested lower rates. Over half of those who called were rewarded with lower rates, in some cases vastly lower, like cutting the rate in half. (Read more about the study.) The study encouraged consumers to use this simple script when calling the credit card company:

Hi, my name is [Your Name]. I am a good customer, but I have received several offers in the mail from other credit card companies with lower APRs. I want a lower rate on my card, or I will cancel my card and switch companies.

The study also suggested that some bold consumers followed the above script with a request for a 10% drop in interest rate, just to see what would happen -- I guess they're better at haggling than me.

In my case, I just call up and suggest that, gee whiz, I've been getting a lot of offers in the mail (which I really don't, because I opted out years ago), and I've got this balance, and sheesh, I'd like to see about getting a lower interest rate so I don't have to transfer my balance...and voila, they transfer me to someone who is "authorized today only" to give me a lower rate. It's like magic.

Anyone want to join me in this experiment? I challenge you: call the number on the back of your card, spend a maximum of 5-10 minutes on the call, and see if you don't get a lower rate.

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Live Smarter
Why the Best Time to Book Your Thanksgiving Travel Is Right Now
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You're never going to get a true steal on holiday plane tickets, but if you want to avoid spending your whole salary flying to visit your relatives over Thanksgiving, the time is nigh to start picking seats. That's according to the experts at Condé Nast Traveler, who cite data from Expedia and Skyscanner.

The latter found that it was cheapest to secure Thanksgiving tickets 11 weeks before the holiday. That means that you should have bought your ticket around September 4, but it's not too late; you can still save if you book now. Expedia's data shows that the cheapest time to buy is 61 to 90 days before you leave, so you still have until September 23 to snag a seat on a major airline without paying an obscene premium. (Relatively speaking, of course.)

When major travel holidays aren't involved, data shows that the best time to book a plane ticket is on a Sunday, at least 21 days ahead of your travel. But given that millions of other Americans also want to fly on the exact same days during Thanksgiving and Christmas, the calculus of booking is a bit more high stakes. If you sleep on tickets this month, you could be missing out on hundreds of dollars in savings. In the recent study cited by Condé Nast Traveler, Expedia found that people booking during the 61- to 90-day window saved up to 10 percent off the average ticket price, while last-minute bookers who bought tickets six days or less from their travel day paid up to 20 percent more.

Once you secure those Turkey Day tickets, you've got a new project: Your Christmas flights. By Hopper's estimates, those flights rise in price by $1.50 every day between the end of October and December 15 (after which they get even more expensive). However, playing the waiting game can be beneficial, too. Expedia found that the cheapest time to book Christmas flights was just 14 to 20 days out.

Before you buy, we also recommend checking, which tracks 11,000 different airfares for flights around the holidays to analyze price trends. Because as miserable as holiday travel can be, you don't want to pay any more than you have to.

[h/t Condé Nast Traveler]

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George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images
Try These 1957 Life Hacks Out Around the House
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George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images

Life hacks existed long before websites like Lifehacker or Buzzfeed (or Mental Floss). In the mid-20th century, the magazine Science and Mechanics published an annual book called 1001 How-to Ideas, a book full of domestic life hacks. As Core77 reports, the YouTuber behind HouseHold Hacker discovered a vintage 1957 edition in his basement, and decided to see if the advice stood the test of time.

And most of the tips did. Here are a few of the best:

  • Have trouble peeling bacon out of the package without tearing it? Roll the package back and forth in your hands before you open it. That will break the adhesion holding the strips together, allowing you to peel them apart easily.
  • You can mount a flashlight on the floor by attaching it to an upside-down funnel with a rubber band.
  • You can move heavy furniture across your floors easily and safely by placing flattened egg cartons under each of the corners.
  • Attach a cheap metal coil to the top of a door hinge to keep a door open. No doorstop needed.
  • Doing a job around the house? Stick your loose nails or screws in a potato or a piece of hard fruit to keep them handy.
  • If your suction cup won’t stick to the wall, rub it with hand soap. The glycerin in the soap will help it hold.
  • Prevent hair from clogging your shower drain by sticking a piece of steel wool inside. When things get gross in there, just remove the steel wool and throw it away, replacing it with a new one.

Check out more of the tips in the video below.

[h/t Core77]


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