Reduced Credit Card Rates

by : Mildred Parker

Officials from the credit cards market have suggested that some consumers may be able to get the high interest rates on their credit cards reduced simply by contacting their providers and negotiating with them.

An official from recently said that many credit card customers were getting a raw deal on their interest rates, stating: "The typical Annual Percentage Rate on popular credit cards is around 16%, which is over three times higher than the Bank of England base rate. Consumers carry about ?64 billion of outstanding credit-card debt, of which three-quarters is interest bearing. This means we are forking out ?7.7 billion in annual interest payments - around ?250 for every credit-card holder a year."

He said: "But APRs are not set in stone, and are open to negotiations. Every 1% reduction in APRs represents an extra ?74 million that go into consumers' pockets to ease the credit crunch. It is a fraction of the ?50 billion bailout that lenders are grabbing from the Central Bank, which is, after all, our money."

He went on to add: " therefore urges card holders to ask their providers for a reduction in interest rates. Banks may want their cake and eat it, but we deserve a slice too, since we are paying for it."

Last week credit card giant American Express launched a new credit card that enables cardholders to accumulate points to use towards travel related purchases. In addition, the card offers one point per pound spent, and points can be redeemed against a range of travel related products and services, such as flights, train travel, car hire, hotels, and package holidays.

An Amex official said: "Our strategy is to reward Cardmembers on an on-going basis for their spending with us. We are continually looking for innovative ways to reward our Cardmembers. We are expecting this Card to appeal to leisure travellers, who are not only looking to get best value for their travel expenditure but also want added safeguards to ensure their journey is a smooth one."

But according to industry experts, consumers with a good payment history, good credit, and a long standing relationship with the card provider are most likely to succeed, as the interest rates on credit cards are flexible at the lender's discretion.

Recent market events show that although credit card companies have certainly tightened up on their lending criteria in the same way as other lenders have, there are also some credit card firms that have launched various new products.

Consumers have also been warned to check any new product before making any commitment to ensure suitability. However, some of the credit cards that have recently been launched by a number of banks and card providers could benefits consumers in a variety of ways.

The recently launched All in One credit card from the Halifax stormed onto the scenes boasting ten month's worth of interest free credit on both balance transfers and new purchases.

Industry officials said that whilst many may be able to benefit from the equal interest free periods on balance transfers and credit cards, there were longer interest free periods available from other providers if the consumer were to take out a balance transfer card and a purchase credit card separately.

At the same time, the Zero credit card from the Abbey was a welcomed move by consumers and many industry officials. The card offers six months interest free credit on balance transfers and new purchases, six months of free cash advances with no fees, and no foreign exchange fees, which is ideal for those heading off abroad. There is also no balance transfer fee charged, which could save some people a fair amount, as the usual fees is on average between 2-3% on most cards.

Another credit card was also recently launched by Saga, and one of the main benefits that this card offered was a fairer repayment order, where repayments are allocated to the most expensive debts first rather than the other way around, which is the case with most credit cards.