Editor's Note: MainStreet's Farnoosh Torabi went on the Today show to share some ways to keep more cash in your coffers. Here’s what she had to say:
Try making a few of these phone calls during your lunch break. It may put thousands back in your pocket.
1. Call Your Credit Card Company
Call and ask for a lower annual percentage rate. But you need to be in good shape. Credit card companies are not interested in working with you if you've been delinquent. If your APR is higher than the national average of around 10 to 11%, and you have been good about paying your bill for the last six months to a year, AND you have a relatively good credit score (more than 720), you've got the negotiating power to call and ask for a lower APR.
What do you say? Call customer service. Explain that you're a good customer, you're hoping to lower your APR, especially since you've got offers from other credit card companies both online and offline with better rates to transfer your balance. Have those offers in front of you and be prepared to read them off. Say, I've got this one card company that's offering me X rate. Don't worry about telling them which card company is offering you the deal…they'll be quick to point out why your existing deal is better. Bottom line: If the representative is unwilling to help, you ask to speak to the highest level of management available and again, state you have other options but that you'd rather keep your account with them. Call a few times if you have to.What're the savings? Let's say you have a $9,000 balance - the average credit card balance in this country - with a 20% APR. Paying just the minimum amount each month, you're looking at up to $2,000 in interest payments in a year. If you bring that APR to the average 10 or 11% you can cut that in half for a $1,000 savings. Parting advice, before you get off the phone - ask to have your annual fee and any late fees waived. Could save an instant $25 to $50 right there.