Sunday, April 20, 2008

What sparked this - the long post

I received an impressive balance transfer offer from Capital One:
  • No interest (0% interest) for 18 months.
  • After 18 months goes back to my normal rate. (Many times they will give you an outrageous "new" rate after the offer expires.)
  • 2% balance transfer fee (3%-4% is the usual)
This sparked something I had meant to do for a long, long time; I needed to call and ask my creditors to do something about my APR which has steadily been creeping upwards over the past two years.

First I called Capital One. I explained what I wanted to do and that I was willing to consolidate my debt on their card. I was passed onto the "senior account manager" and explained all over again. He cheerfully offered to either increase my credit line by $2000 or to reduce my APR by just under 2%.  I chose the $2000 credit line increase.

Then I called Chase. They passed me onto a supervisor and I was changed to a rewards card. After ensuring that there was no fee, I accepted. This lowered my APR by 4% and gives me up to 3% cash back on a list of things.

My third call was to Washington Mutual, who used to be Providian. Out of every phone call I made, their customer service reps were the rudest. In fact, having made many phone calls in my life to CS hotlines, I have to say they were the rudest I had ever dealt with. They could do nothing to help me.

My fourth and final call was to Bank of America. My BOA card and the Fleet card that they absorbed had the same CS number. Two birds, one stone. Unfortunately they could do very little to help me and I only had my rates reduced by less than 2%. I told them if I had no other choice I'd take it and told them my story. The supervisor asked me if I knew about the GoldOptions loan.

This sparked a 90-minute long phone call.

Bank of America has a GoldOptions Loan that is basically for debt consolidation and that doesn't require any collateral. To my shock I was approved based on the financial health of my business (since I'm self-employed) without even factoring in hubby's income. He negotiated the rate with me.

I'm not proud of this rate, but it is far lower than all of our other credit cards. My lowest is Capital One at 16.9%. The loan is $15.9. Some of our credit cards have steadily marched up to 25%, 26%, and one of hubby's is 29.9%. OUCH. Even though the loan rate isn't the best, it's still slashing our interest rate by almost half. This alone is worth thousands of dollars.

My payment is $350/month on the $18,000 and the loan term is 96 months. That means that in eight years we're out of credit card debt. Making minimum payments on the seven combined accounts was costing us almost $700 and it would have taken us a really long time with all the compound interest to get out from underneath that. Now we can continue to pay over $500 on the loan, get out early (no pre-payment penalties), and have a little breathing room.

2 comments:

Lise said...

Wow, that's a lot of shopping around! I'm impressed. How did you decide on those four companies to call?

I like to use bankrate.com to find the lowest credit card rates out there. This is how I ended up with a credit card with 7.9% interest (and 0% on balance transfers for a year) from Pulaski Bank. It does have an annual fee of about $30, but even factoring that in, it's a good deal. We tend to use it for expenses where we have to carry a balance for a few months (like educational expenses).

Catalyst said...

Those are the companies that we currently have cards through, so that's why I chose those particular ones to call. =-)