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Pay Down Your Debt Challenge

Credit Card Negotiation 101

If you're looking to lower your rate or waive a fee, here's how to ask

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En español | Have you ever tried negotiating with credit card companies only to wind up frustrated because they wouldn't budge?

See also: AARP's Credit Card Payoff Calculator.

Sometimes, one easy phone call is all it takes to get the interest rate on a credit card lowered. In other cases, you have to be far more persistent to achieve what you want — whether that's getting a lower rate, having late fees eliminated or requesting a waiver of over-the-limit charges.

If you have a solid payment track record, you likely have more wiggle room to negotiate with a creditor. But even if your credit record isn't perfect, here are 10 tips to help you negotiate a better deal from your credit card company.

1.  Call in the morning
Don't call at the end of the day when customer service representatives are tired, stressed and have been dealing all day with irate cardholders. Also avoid calling on the weekends. There may not be a supervisor on duty if you need one.

2.  Be polite in making any requests
Get the conversation off to a good start by using good manners. Say "hello" or "good morning" to the person you're talking to and call her by name, as in "Good morning, Amanda, this is Elaine Jones, I'm calling about my account." Make sure your tone sounds like you are making requests, not demands. Be friendly and conversational, not adversarial, to establish a good rapport and get the cooperation of the person on the other end of telephone.

debt challenge negotiating with credit card companies mature man on phone with credit card

— Photo byL: Jeremy Maude/Getty Images

3. Request to speak to a supervisor if necessary
If you get nowhere with the person you're talking to, don't be afraid to "escalate" your phone call by asking to speak with a supervisor. Even if the conversation isn't confrontational or negative, you may require a manager, because some employees will say they don't have the power to honor your request.

Next: If you've been a loyal customer, let 'em know. >>

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