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<p>WASHINGTON-According to a report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S.PIRG), a recent survey found that more than half of consumers who called their credit card company to complain about the interest rates were successful in cutting them by an average of one-third. In 2000, American households carried revolving credit card balances of $574 billion, or about $10,000 for each of the estimated 55% of households that carry debt, according to analysis of Federal Reserve Board data. A household making the minimum required payments on this debt, typically the greater of 2% of the balance or $20, would pay nearly $1,500 in interest in the first year. Key results from a national spot survey of 50 consumers demonstrated that: With one five-minute phone call, 56% of consumers who called their card company lowered their APRs; Those who were successful reduced their APRs from an average of 16% to 10.47 %; Factors improving the caller’s success rate included longer relationships with the company, a low unpaid balance compared to credit limit, and a history of no late payments. According to U.S. PIRG, a household with a $5,000 credit card balance making only minimum payments each month could save up to $278 in interest in the first year and $4,982 in interest over time by deflating its rate by one-third, reducing total interest payments from $8,350 to $3,368. The same household could also reduce its total interest paid (from $8,350 to $743, for a savings of $7,607) by increasing the size of the monthly payment to 10%. [email protected]</p>

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