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Ask for a better deal on your credit cards

by Peter Andrew

It wasn't that long ago that credit card companies looked in real trouble. The recession was creating unprecedented rates of delinquency and default, and card issuers were suffering almost as much as their customers were. Meanwhile, many predicted that the regulations brought in by the Credit CARD Act would be the straw that broke the plastic camel's back.

Card issuers thriving

That was then; this is now. Fitch Ratings published a report earlier this month that revealed an industry in rude health. Bad-debt write-offs ("charge-offs," in the jargon) and delinquencies are so low that they can't fall much further. And, among the top 7 credit card issuers, purchase volume jumped 7.2 percent last quarter, while, at 4.1 percent, average return on loans was solid -- and impressive by the standards of the financial sector.

Time for payback?

This picture of prosperous purveyors of plastic awash with money may prompt a question: Might they like to share it out a little? The short answer is almost certainly "No." But now might be a good time for you to contact your issuers' call centers and ask a favor: a shaving of a percentage point or two off your credit card rates, perhaps, or a waiving of 2014's annual fees.

Expect a refusal, but such calls do occasionally pay off, and there's no harm in trying. They might be in a particularly good mood right now.

Published 12/18/13


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