Chris Bridges, Founder and CEO, VITAL Card Inc.
If you want to keep your financial ducks in a row, then you may already know that interest rates can play a significant role in your financial health. While they may seem small, they can start to add up if you don’t pay your monthly balance. That’s why it’s so important to pay off your full balance whenever possible.
Credit cards, of course, are no exception to this rule.
Credit cards can come with different interest rates, and two people with the same card may even have different interest rates. Let’s take a closer look at the intricacies of credit card interest rates and what you can do to lower your credit card’s interest rate.
What Is Interest?
We need to understand the basics to tackle the details of credit card interest rates. When you lend money to a friend or family member, you’ll likely expect them to pay back the exact amount they borrowed initially, no matter how long they’ve had your money.
When you borrow or lend money to a bank, mortgage lender, government, or business, however, an interest rate will almost always be attached. The interest rate is the amount of money you owe in repayment beyond the initial loan, and it’s typically expressed as a percentage of the original loan.
You can have monthly, quarterly, or yearly interest rates, which tell you how much interest a loan will accrue in a given period. The most common interest rate for credit cards is an annual rate, often called an annual percentage rate or APR.
This interest rate is one source of revenue for lenders. Interest allows lenders to recoup some of their losses from loans that default or never get paid back in full.
The Two Types of Credit Card Interest
Every credit card offered has a different interest rate, and every credit card issued to each person can have a unique interest rate specifically calculated for you by the credit card issuer.
Let’s break down the interest rates into two groups: fixed rate and variable rate interest.
Fixed Rate Interest
Fixed-rate interest rates or fixed APRs are the most common types of interest rates for both credit cards and other types of loans, like auto loans, mortgage loans, and personal loans. A fixed-rate interest rate is exactly how it sounds — it has a fixed interest rate for the entire duration of the loan.
Though fixed APRs are generally constant, they may still be adjusted based on the base rate set by the federal reserve and other economic factors. However, any rate changes must be communicated via writing 45 days before they go into effect.
A fixed interest rate is stable over time, with only slight adjustments. This helps make them predictable and easy for consumers to incorporate into their budgets.
Variable Rate Interest
Variable rate interest rates, or variable APRs, are much less predictable and riskier than fixed-rate interest. With a variable rate, the interest rate can change over time, depending on factors like the federal base rate, economic conditions, and good credit.
If your variable rate changes, the issuer is not required to inform you via writing in advance, but the information will be available on your monthly statement.
Just because a variable rate can change doesn’t mean it will. In fact, variable rates typically move closely with fixed rates. The risk is that there may be a relatively large swing in the base rate, which can lead to a considerable increase or decrease in your rate.
How To Lower Your Credit Card’s Interest Rate: Top Tips
If you’re one of the many people struggling with high interest rates on your credit card, you’re not alone. Interest rates can make it challenging to pay off your balance, which can add up quickly.
But there are some things you can do to get and maintain a lower credit card interest rate and ease the burden. Here are some tips on how to get a lower APR on your credit cards.
Know Your Credit Score and History
It is essential to stay on top of your credit score and history if you are looking to manage your personal finances more effectively. Knowing your credit score and history can provide a wealth of important information about where you stand financially.
Your credit score can open doors to better interest rates for loans, mortgages, and other financing offers. It can also explain how responsible lenders view you as a customer. It’s important to know your credit score when applying for new credit or trying to save money with lower interest rates.
Regularly checking your credit report is vital in recognizing potential identity theft or fraudulent transactions. It’s also important to monitor past transactions and disputed items and understand what goes into calculating your score.
Shop Around for the Best Interest Rates
Because interest rates can vary widely from one lender to the next, it is vital to shop around when seeking out a loan. While it might seem easier to accept the first offer you see, it could cost you more over time.
Taking the time to compare lenders and their respective interest rates can help you get the best rate possible, potentially saving you money in the long run. Doing some upfront research to find the best deal on interest rates can pay off in the end.
Negotiate With Your Credit Card Company
Credit card companies are always trying to offer the best rates to attract and retain customers. Sometimes, however, your current credit card company might be unaware of your specific financial needs and what alternatives you may have.
If you feel like other providers are offering lower interest rates that are more suited for your financial situation, it never hurts to negotiate with your credit card company. Pleading your case openly and honestly might result in a mutually beneficial agreement.
Pay Off Your Balance as Quickly as Possible
It’s essential to pay off balances as soon as possible to keep your debt under control and maximize your available funds. The longer you wait to pay down a balance after a due date, the more interest will accumulate — which can ultimately cost you in the long run.
Additionally, missing payments can adversely impact your FICO score, potentially harming your payment history.
Instead, devote any extra income or resources you have to pay down your debt faster and save yourself time and money. You can do this by consolidating balances onto one account or creating a budget for monthly payments. Making small changes now could help you build financial security and peace of mind.
The VITAL Card is a financial tool you can use to make empowered financial decisions while protecting your credit. This card comes with cash-back rewards for sharing and spending responsibly, as well as a community of financially-minded individuals that you can connect with.
Use a 0 Percent APR Balance Transfer Credit Card
If you’re looking for a way to save on interest in the short term, using a 0 percent APR balance transfer credit card can help. This type of credit card usually comes with a window of six to 18 months with no interest when you transfer a balance from another card.
During this period, you’ll only need to focus on reducing the principal amount you owe without worrying about extra interest charges. Credit cards may let cardholders transfer balances from one or more accounts onto the new card, making it easy and convenient to consolidate multiple streams of debt into one manageable payment with a predictable billing cycle.
Keep Your Credit Utilization Low
It’s essential to keep track of your credit utilization because it can significantly impact your credit score. If you use more than 30 percent of your available credit limit, you run the risk of lowering your credit score.
However, if you maintain a low credit utilization rate, typically under 30 percent, your credit score may remain steady or even increase over time.
Excellent credit can help you qualify for the best credit cards out there, whether you’re looking for a rate reduction, low balance transfer fees, or the other standard perks a credit card offers.
Managing your spending and controlling the amount of debt that accumulates on your line of credit can help ensure that the ratio stays below the recommended levels.
Getting Better Rates: The Bottom Line
Applying for and using a credit card responsibly is a great way to improve your financial health and build your credit history. By following the tips above, you can ensure you’re getting the most out of your credit card and keeping your debts under control.
Are you looking for a new credit card with competitive interest rates? Learn more about VITAL Card here.
VITAL Card blog posts are intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial or any other type of advice.