If you’re like the majority of people in Canada there is a good chance you have credit card debt. Whether it is a couple hundred dollars, or thousands of dollars – there is an even better chance you could benefit from a lower rate. Unfortunately what people don’t realize is that a lower rate is literally a phone call to your credit card company away.
There are a few scientifically tested psychology “tricks” that will help improve the chances you end that call with a lower interest percentage.
Most people don’t realize but credit card companies have some wiggle room on your interest. Referred to commonly as a “preferred rate,” it might better be called, “those who called and asked rate.” Now obviously exceptions will apply (credit history, outstanding debt), but the majority of cardholders can take advantage of this, right now.
The first step is to call prepared with a game plan. Once connected to a service person ask a few basic questions such as “What is my billing period?” or “I’m not sure I understand this ‘Rewards Point’/ ‘Cash Back’ system, can you explain it?” The answers you will receive are all scripted, as they will likely be reading off a computer screen. The trick is to throw them off the script by throwing in something unexpectedly.
What follows is a template of a script to do just that, change it as you see fit but you have to be sure it keeps the main points. It follows three important psychological tactics that will make you more persuasive. I’ll give a more thorough explanation after, but without further adieu here it is:
“You must be a very helpful and kind person and I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that. Can you give your full name and connect me to your manager after the call so I can pay you a proper compliment.”
Why this will help:
1) “You must be a very helpful and kind person…” – The most important word here is person. This is a global compliment to their character as opposed to restricting it solely to their job at hand. Saying, “you’ve been very helpful and kind” only means your complimenting them on their job, and although kind, won’t have the same effect.
You’re setting up the power of retribution and it’s one of the foundations of human society. We have a very powerful mechanism that makes us essentially return favours. Or to nicely summarize: “You scratch my back; I’ll scratch yours.”
2.) “Can you give me your full name?” Asking for their full name is a way of personalizing them. It takes away their single name anonymity, which means they are no longer a stranger and as you just paid them a compliment are even more likely to comply and help you with your upcoming request.
If you really want to play dirty you can repeat their last name surprised saying “that’s an amazing coincidence, that’s my mother’s maiden name.” People are so strongly connected to their name, that researchers have actually showed that (no kidding either…) in a town like Steveston, BC there will actually be more people named Steve living there. Weird but true. But if you decide to use this one – I’ll leave the ethics up to you.
3.) “Connect me to your manager after the call so I can pay you a proper compliment.” – This is the capper. This simple little request can improve your chances for that simple reason you are going to give them something of value: a compliment. Referred to as the norm of reciprocity it basically means that having offered that person a favor they are now obliged to return it.
Social psychologists have proven time and time again that this is one of the most simple and effective means of persuasion as it is so ingrained into who we are. The cost of paying a quick compliment is very minimal compared to the money you will save with a lower interest rate. Just as long as you follow through on your compliment – it’s an ethical one as well.
The rest is up to you. What’s worked for me is simply asking about lowering my interest rate. Nothing devious about it. Having already set up the momentum with a little psychology, both times my request has been met with enthusiasm and a lower interest rate.
This is a guest post from Donald at Life Cover, which offers life insurance and critical illness insurance to Canadians.