Smart Interest Rate Shopping Strategies

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When it comes to interest rates, a few percentage points may not seem like a lot. But a few measly points could mean the difference between hundreds or thousands of more dollars in your pocket. To help you save the most money on all things interest rate-related, here are some quick tips for ways to shop for the best interest rates with credit cards, savings accounts, car loans and mortgages:

Credit Cards: Having a good credit history is the best tool you can have when shopping for a credit card. But you don’t need the perfect credit score to snag a good deal. When you’re looking to apply for a credit card, do some research about the other big competitors first. You can use competitor offers and promotions to your advantage when calling up a credit card company to ask about their rates.

Savings Accounts: When it comes to locking down a high interest rate for your savings, online savings accounts are the best places to start. Online banks like SmartyPig and GE Capital Bank offer upwards of 0.90 to 1.00 percent interest on their accounts. That might not sound like a lot, but 1.00 percent can definitely add up with higher savings balances. And by comparison, the traditional big-name retail banks are paying 0.01 percent on account balances.

Car loans: Your best bet for finding a good rate on a car loan is to turn to your friendly neighborhood bank or credit union. If you’re a long-standing customer at a particular financial institution. you’ll likely secure a better rate with your local banker than you would through another lender or at the car dealership.

Mortgages: Like credit cards and car loans, it helps to have a solid credit history. But there are other ways to lock down a good rate on a mortgage. Mortgage interest rates are still relatively low, so you may be able to secure a lower rate in the short-term if you act quickly. Another strategy is buying purchase points. Purchase points are essentially an upfront payment for a lower interest rate. One point is one percent of the loan amount (so for a $200,000 mortgage, one point would cost $2,000). Just remember: buying purchase points don’t help reduce the overall cost of your mortgage, just the interest rate.

About Stephanie Halligan

Stephanie is the founder of The Empowered Dollar, a site dedicated to helping millennials to fix their finances and find their stride in money and life. When she's not blogging, Stephanie is designing school curricula and online games to teach students about smart money management.

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Compare banks for mortgage, auto, savings and CD rates.