Can You Get a Lower APR on a Credit Card?

Avoid high interest rates on your credit card

A credit card is a useful way to make purchases. But paying interest on those purchases could make everything you buy a little more expensive. There’s plenty that factors into interest charges, but a big part is your annual percentage rate (APR)—and how high it is. 

If you’re looking to lower the APR on your credit card, you may have seen articles that tell you to pick up the phone and simply ask your credit card issuer for a lower rate. But it’s not always that simple—and there’s no guarantee of success. So it may be helpful to learn some other ways to improve your APR.

1. Understand How APR Works

Before trying to lower your APR, it helps to know how credit card interest works. When it comes to credit cards, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says interest rates are typically expressed as a yearly rate. That’s the APR. And it’s the price you pay to borrow money.

It’s also important to know that the way you use your card can affect your APR. For example, there may be different rates for standard purchases and cash advances. The rates for 0% APR cards are usually temporary. And missing payments could lead to penalty APRs, which may be higher than the standard APR.

2. Learn How to Reduce or Avoid Interest Charges Altogether

If you pay your balance off in full by the due date every month, you can avoid paying interest on new purchases. Even if you can’t pay off the entire balance, making more than the minimum payment can still help you reduce how much interest you pay. 

One way to pay more than the minimum is to make multiple payments throughout your billing cycle—instead of waiting until you receive the bill. But check with your bank first to be sure that’s allowed—and that there are no fees or penalties for doing so. After you hit the minimum, those extra payments will help decrease your balance. And that can help you reduce how much interest is charged over time.

3. Position Yourself for the Lowest APR Possible

Instead of lowering the rate on your current card, you could set yourself up for success in another way. 

Having a good credit score may help you receive better offers for new credit cards with lower rates—among other things. Why? Because many issuers use credit scores to make decisions about applications and interest rates.

If your credit needs work, the CFPB says you can take steps to improve your credit score by:

  • Keeping an eye on your credit history. Scores are based on your credit experience. Having a long history of responsible credit use over time may improve your credit score. There’s no quick fix, but it’s good to keep in mind.
  • Making on-time payments. Paying all your bills on time shows lenders you’re a responsible borrower. If you’re forgetful, consider setting up automatic payments or electronic reminders to help.
  • Keeping your credit card balance low. Generally, using a lot of your credit could be a red flag to lenders. Some experts recommend keeping your credit utilization rate at 30% or less.
  • Applying only for credit you need. Credit applications may result in hard inquiries, which may temporarily hurt your credit scores. And applying for a bunch of cards over a short period may also reflect poorly on your score because it may give the impression your financial circumstances have changed for the worse.
  • Checking your credit reports. Incorrect information on your credit reports could hurt your scores. But by regularly monitoring your credit, you can learn to spot errors. A tool like CreditWise from Capital One can help. It’s free to everyone—not just Capital One customers—and using it won’t hurt your credit.

4. Lower Credit Card APR Through Balance Transfers

A balance transfer lets you move debt from one credit card to another. But how it works is up to individual issuers, and you may not be able to transfer balances between two cards from the same issuer. 

When it comes to balance transfers, some credit cards offer promotional APRs. It’s not quite the same as lowering your interest rate permanently, but it can give you a lower rate for a temporary period. And you might be able to use that time to pay off your balance. 

Just make sure you know when the promotional period ends. At that point, the credit card’s APR typically will increase to the standard APR. And you’ll have to pay interest on any remaining balance. 

It’s also worth checking on any fees, which could eat into potential savings. And if you don’t qualify for a promotional rate, it’s a good idea to make sure the APR on a balance transfer is actually lower.

5. Look Out for Interest-Rate Scams

When it comes to credit, there are no quick fixes. And the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned of interest rate reduction scams that make those kinds of promises.

Here’s how these scams often work: A company calls saying it can negotiate with your issuer on your behalf, claiming they have a special relationship. It may offer money-back guarantees and say it’s a limited-time offer to get you to sign up. 

But the company charges fees and requires you to supply personal information. Once it has your information, it can make purchases with your card or sell the information to others. The FTC says not to give out personal or financial information and to hang up if you get a call like this.

A Lower APR Can Help

Generally, a lower credit card APR can help you pay off debt sooner. Why? Because by paying less interest, you end up owing less overall. But it’s not always as simple as just asking your credit card issuer for a lower APR.

And remember, paying off your bill in full every month might help you avoid interest charges altogether. To get an idea how long it might take you to pay off your current credit cards, you could use a credit card payoff calculator. The PayOff Estimator at the bottom of this page is one example. 

Just give the tool a few pieces of information, including your current APR. You can then calculate specific information based on the amount or timing of payments. You can even enter different APRs to see how a lower rate might affect things.

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We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

Capital One does not provide, endorse, or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are solely responsible for their products and services, and all trademarks listed are the property of their respective owners.

Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many credit scoring models. It may not be the same model your lender uses, but it can be one accurate measure of your credit health. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Some monitoring and alerts may not be available to you if the information you enter at enrollment does not match the information in your credit file at (or you do not have a file at) one or more consumer reporting agencies.

Important note about this PayOff Estimator: This interactive estimator is made available to you as a self-help tool for your independent use and is intended for illustrative purposes only. This tool uses a simplified interest calculation method. Results are estimates only and are not applicable to your specific credit card or loan balance. You should refer to your terms and conditions for the interest calculation method applicable to your account, since calculation methods vary. This tool does not offer any tax, legal, or financial advice. If you have any tax, legal, or financial questions, please consult with a qualified professional.

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