I have a friend who recently has been rebuilding her credit. We have been able to improve her credit from a 648 a year ago to a 734. She did have a tax lien from several years ago that dropped off and some late payments from several years ago.
She had a Freedom card with around $2000 balance.Shetypically pays 2-3 times the minimum payment every month and now is what I would describe as a revolver but is a sure bet to make on time payments now. Anyways, she told me that her APR was 29 percent and I told her to call the CSR at Chase and see if they could lower her APR (I am able to do this with my Discover through an online chat- I always pay in full with Discover though but I get the feeling that they are more than willing to work with the customer). I felt like she had a good case because her credit limit has increased from $1500 to $4500 within a year and she had been making on time payments that were above the minimum for several years. The customer service told her: "your account is set so that the interest rate cannot change." I put 2 and 2 together and surmise that they put her on an indefinite penalty APR when she had a 30 day late on it 5 years ago.
As a result of the call, I reccommended the 2 best balance transfer cards on the market. She apped for a DiscoverIt with a 14 month 0 APR (and an ongoing 19 percent APR) and got a $6200 credit limit. We also put some of her balance on a Citi Simplicity with an 18 month 0 APR period (and an ongoing 18 percent APR) with a $3800 credit limit. We decided that she would never use the Freedom again and put it away in hiding.
Moral of the story:
(1) Chase takes no mercy and is not for rebuilders- While Chase cards have some of the best rewards, they are a poor choice for someone who is rebuilding credit. The CSR failed to even mention that the reason why her APR didn't budge was an indefinite penalty APR and basically locked her into a predatory product after making a mistake. This is not to say that Chase is bad for everyone. In fact, I would reccomend Chase cards to people who have great credit, pay their bills in full every month and are seeking great rewards and sign up bonuses. I know someone with an 800+ credit score and has a great relationship with his $17000 CL Chase Freedom card with an 11 percent APR. Sometimes I feel though that since Chase has a name brand recognition, people who are not equipped to handle a Chase product are swayed into a product that doesn't work for them (if you are one of those people read my bullet point 3)
(2) Discover is a company that will work with people and help empower them to have good credit habits. The DiscoverIt secured was my first card and quickly graduated into basically a Chase Freedom with the 5 percent rotating catagories (after I PC'd it after they graduated me). Even though I have moved up in the credit world with owning an Amex BCE and a Citi Costco, Discover still is near the top of the wallet especially when there is a useful 5 percent rotating catagory.
What is good about Discover is that they do not use penalty APRs. I find their website to be illustrative and informative. One can see their FICO score and why their FICO score is the way it is with their scorecard. Charges are neatly laid out and transparent. Customer service is straight, efficient and to the point. Additionally, my friend was able to basically keep the benefits of a Chase Freedom card without its predatory features from making mistakes in several years past with a better credit limit.
(3) If you have a good credit or higehr (670+), have above a 20 percent interest rate and have an issuer that is unwilling to work with you there are a plethora of better products out there right now that you should consider: (1) Discover, (2) Amex balance transfer offers on Everyday, (3) Citi Simplicity or (4) Your local credit union.
(4) I have emphasized to my friend that making steady and consistent payments are the way to go. She has pledged to not spend on her balance transfer cards and pay $100/month on each of them. She's still going to have to work on her debt with discipline but a balance transfer offer and a not as predatory APR is going to make it much more doable.
I detest Chase they are a predator of the highest order. I have 2 cards of theirs for high rewards and they never see any action that doesnt net me 3 or 5% and they are paid off before statement even cuts. I will never carrry a balance with Chase.
You and your friend have made great progress on the credit rebuild. The next step (if not already taken) would be to get to the point where you do not need to carry a balance month over month.