Dan and Helen S
Updated November 2016
For the past few years credit card customers have been receiving letters hiking their APRs by up to 10 percentage points. But you can halt the increase.
This step-by-step guide with free template letters shows you how to deploy hidden rules to reject any rate rises.
For the past few years credit card customers have been receiving letters hiking their APRs by up to 10%. But you can halt the increase.
In this guide...
What is rate-jacking?
The slap as letters hit the mat is nothing compared to the pain of their contents. For the past few years people across the country have been receiving the depressing news that their credit and store card interest rates are rising, sometimes by up to 10%.
Have you been rate-jacked?
It's becoming increasingly prevalent across the board. Here are a few examples from the MSE forum:
From 0% to 31% in one fell swoop...
I stupidly ran up a £10,000 debt with MBNA. I was on a promo interest rate keeping the payments down. I lost my job and was out of work for 3 months, during which I missed one payment and forfeited my promotional rate. They've now put my interest rate to 31%.
I called to explain that I'm now employed again and will do everything I can to repay my debt; but they're leaving me on the 30% interest rate, and want £700 before they'll discuss anything further. MoneySaver Deth999
Trying to turn my finances around
Today I received a letter from Virgin stating my already excessive 21.9% interest rate was going up to 25.9%. I am desperately trying to turn my finances around and this has severely irritated me. MoneySaver drumspyce
Read more rate-jacking examples
From 19.9% to 26.9% with a simple letter...
Egg sent me a mail yesterday stating that from next month my interest rate is increasing from 19.9% to a SCANDALOUS 26.9%.
I have quite a high balance (long story, don't criticise!) so this just seems to me to be them being very greedy and grabbing money from high balance customers who are perhaps not in a position to do very much about it. Moneysaver Sonalita
Better to leave it as it is
Barclaycard tried to jack me by 5% from 16.9% to 21.9%. Moneysaver LexRedit
Been hit by rate-jacking? Please share your experiences
Before we begin, the most important thing to say is that...
You CAN beat rate-jacking
First call up and politely request it doesn't increase your rate. It can work, though it's rare. If you have any savings, simply repaying the debt is usually the best plan (see the Repay Debt with Savings? guide). If not, follow the steps below.
Step 1: Ditch and switch
If possible, simply shift your existing debt to a new card at the super-cheap Balance Transfer rate – which is both low cost and gives rate certainty.
Step 2: Lost your 0% deal through late payment?
If you've a 0% promotional deal and make a late payment, most credit card companies instantly ditch the cheap deal, fine you £12, and jack you to the standard APR rate of 19% or more. Sometimes they will shift you to the standard rate AND jack it too.
Step 3: Force it to halt the increase
Since 2009 there's been an option to force it to halt the increase, but first you need to know the background.
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Step 4. Has it behaved unfairly?
Even if lenders haven't broken the code of practice, if they've behaved unfairly you still have a right to be ‘treated fairly'. Though of course, this is all a question of opinion.
Step 5. Seek debt help
If your rate's been pushed up and you're struggling, then it's important to get debt help. There's a full Debt Help guide which will take you through it step-by-step. Yet if the new interest rate pushes you into financial hardship, act quickly.
By seeking help from a non-profit debt counselling agency (see Debt Counselling info), you can actually prevent lenders from hiking your rates - as this is one of the key rules.