After doing the great debate over whether I should trade in my 05 Mazda 6 for a more fuel efficient vehicle with 30+ MPG, (I currently average about 24MPG city, which is actually not too bad) I concluded that the added cost in insurance and car payments would negate any fuel savings achieved, and I'm better off just keeping it. We also have an 04 Jeep Liberty which averages 18MPG city (again, not bad for an SUV) and we'll be holding onto it for a little longer too.
However the car payments were becoming a little uncomfortable, given the rising cost of gas, and the interest rate I received when it was purchased was a tad high (7.5%). I've been working on paying down my existing credit card debt by utilizing zero percent or very low interest balance transfer offers when they come my way and have watched my FICO score soar as a result. So I contacted my credit union and inquired about refinancing my auto loan with them. I was able to obtain a a new loan at 5.25% saving me a considerable amount in interest charges!
Then I asked them to see what they could do with my HELOC loan... and because my score was now in the top tier, I was able to drop that rate by nearly 3%! I felt that was on a roll, so then I started calling my credit card companies.
I asked them what my current APR was and then asked them (politely) if there was anything they could do on the spot to lower it, or I'd be transferring the balances to one of my other cards. In almost every case (except CHASE), I was offered either a permanent lowered rate, (up to 5% lower on one card!) or their current promotional rate. After the promotion expires, just call back and ask them to lower it AGAIN -- the worst that can happen is they'll say no, and then you take your business elsewhere!
Sorry Chase, but your card won't be seeing the light of day until you become more consumer friendly! In the meantime, Citibank and American Express were more than happy to take business away from you, and they also offered me a great APR. See ya! Buh-bye.
By making just a few phone calls and being nice to the CSRs (Customer Service Rep), I was able to negotiate significant savings in interest payments on almost all of my loans and credit cards. Not too shabby for about an hour's worth of work! I now plan on doing this on at least an annual basis to keep my interest rates in check. Some folks may want to shoot for every six months if your scores are consistently improving...