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Pay Down Your Debt Challenge

4 Little-Known Secrets About Credit Card Companies

You have more leeway with creditors than you think

You Can Negotiate a Lot More Than You Might Think

Getting a late fee removed isn't the only thing you can accomplish when negotiating with your credit card company. When most people consider negotiations with a credit card company, they often picture themselves asking for a lower interest rate. While that's a good starting point, there are a host of other things you can also ask of your credit card issuer. Among them:

•    Change your payment due date (so that all your bills don't come due at once)
•    Upgrade your account from “past due” to "current" status  
•    Remove a negative mark from your credit
•    Accept a partial payment in lieu of the total due
•    Waive a card's annual fee

Again, each of these requests will carry a lot more weight for if you are a good-paying customer. But there's no harm in asking for what you need even if your credit rating is less than perfect.

They Can Only Raise Your Rate for Six Months

If you've been dinged with a higher interest rate, perhaps because you were late in paying a past credit card bill, don't despair. That "penalty" or "default" interest rate doesn't have to last more than six months.

One provision of the CARD Act, is that there are limits on how long banks can hit you with so-called "default rates" after you've been late paying a bill.

Under the law, default rates can only be charged for six months, provided you pay your credit card bill on time during that period. After six months, your credit card issuer must restore your interest rate to its previous level.

Taking advantage of some of these tips can give you leverage in negotiating with your creditors. This can also help you to better manage your credit responsibly now, and for years to come. Give them a try.

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach®, is a personal finance expert, television and radio personality, and a regular contributor to AARP. You can follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Also of interest: Which credit card should you pay off first?

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