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.