Actively managing your credit card account can save you money, improve your credit scores and help you manage your overall financial life. If there’s something your credit card issuer can do to make things easier, it never hurts to ask.
Here are six questions to ask your card issuer. The worst thing that can happen is you get a “no.”
1. Will you forgive a late payment? Say you miss your payment due date for some reason. “If you have a good record with your credit card company, and you miss a payment due to illness or moving or something, ask them to let it slide and ask to have the fee removed,” said Beverly Harzog, credit expert and author of “The Debt Escape Plan.”
Some card issuers make forgiveness a policy. Others give their cardholders tools to make late payments less likely.
Even if you do get a late fee set aside, be aware that the missed payment itself could still be reported to the credit bureaus, which would hurt your score. Usually, payments are reported to the bureaus once they’re 30 days late.
2. Can I choose my payment due date? One of the best ways to ensure you pay on time while managing your cash flow is to choose the date your payment is due each month. When you can pick your own due date, you can set it for a time when money isn’t as tight. All major card issuers allow you to choose your own due date; some even let you do it online.
One thing to be aware of: You usually can’t choose a due date of the 29th, 30th or 31st because not every month includes those dates.
3. Will you lower my interest rate? If you’ve been a good customer and you’re carrying a balance, consider asking your issuer to lower your interest rate. Another signal that it’s time to ask for a lower rate: If you start getting offers in the mail for premier cards, it means your score has probably gone up.
4. Will you raise my credit limit? You can always ask for an increase in your credit limit — but be sure you know both the upside and downside. A higher credit line gives you access to more borrowing power, and it can improve your credit score by lowering your credit utilization ratio. The downside is that the issuer may pull your credit report, which could ding your credit score.
5. Which credit score do you use? To reduce your chance of having a credit card application rejected, check your credit report and credit score before you apply. These days, you can get your credit score for free from many credit card companies. Discover and Capital One will give you your score even if you’re not a customer. Once you know which card you want, call the issuer to see which score it uses when considering applications.
Here’s why it matters: Each credit bureau collects its own information and calculates scores based on that information, so scores can vary from one bureau to another.
6. When do you report to the credit bureaus? Call your issuer and ask when it reports account information. If you don’t want to call, your best bet is to assume it reports that information on your statement closing date, which you can find on your statement. It could take a few days for the credit bureaus to update their data. If you’re working hard to raise your credit score, another alternative is to pay your credit card more than once a month so your utilization ratio is lower throughout the month.
Ellen Cannon is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website.