7 On Your Side: Money Moves to Make Now After the Federal Reserve’s Interest Rate Hike
But what does this mean for you?
Matt Schulz is a credit card professional with Lending Tree, an online marketplace for consumers to shop for the best rates on home loans and credit. His number one takeaway from the recent federal rate hike: switch your credit card debt to a 0% interest card.
“The Federal Reserve just raised interest rates, and when that happens, virtually every credit card in America goes up by the same amount in about a billing cycle or two,” he said. “A zero percent balance transfer card can be an absolute boon for people with credit card debt because it can basically give you 12 months, 15 months, up to 21 months, without having to pay interest on this transfer and this balance.”
It’s a bad time to be in debt, especially if you’re juggling high balances on multiple credit cards.
“I got to the point where I had nine credit cards,” credit card customer Ryan Masajo said. “Six of them were completely exhausted.”
You can also consider a debt consolidation loan.
Masajo took out a personal loan to consolidate six credit cards into one payment with a lower interest rate. He used SoFi, an online one-stop-shop for personal finance.
“7.5% versus 9% to 25%,” Masajo said.
Financial planners at SoFi say rising rates are the perfect time to refinance your debt, but warn that taking out a loan isn’t for everyone.
It takes discipline to stick to the budget.
“You’re really making sure that you can stop the behavior that got you into debt before you can think about getting out of debt,” said Brian Walsh, a SoFi certified financial planner.
If you don’t want to take out a loan or don’t qualify, ask your current credit card issuer to consider lowering your interest rate.
You have a better chance if you are a long-time customer with a good reputation.
“You don’t have to sit back and accept your interest rate going up,” Schulze said. “You can call your credit card issuer and ask them for a lower interest rate, and about 70% of people who do that get what they want. And the average reduction is about seven percentage points, with far too few people asking, and that’s a really big deal.”
One thing is certain, and that is that if you don’t ask for an interest rate adjustment, you won’t get one.
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