What financial experts don't tell you when they advise you to go after low-interest-rate credit cards is how difficult it is to acquire them.
Eighty percent of those who apply for low-interest-rate Visa or MasterCard credit cards are rejected even if they have excellent credit.
Lenders want to keep their risk at a minimum on low-rate credit so they apply especially rigid standards to applicants.
After surveying more than two dozen low-interest-rate credit card issuers nationwide, Bankcard Holders of America has put together a 28-page guide to what it takes to get a low-rate card, plus a list of 43 low-interest-rate card issuers.
(For a copy of "Exactly How to Get a Low-Interest-Rate Credit Card," send $5 to BHA, 560 Herndon Parkway, Suite 120. Herndon, Va. 22070. Call (800) 327-7300 for credit card orders.)
Generally, bankruptcy, judgements, repossessions, federal tax liens, wage garnishments, foreclosures and late payments are grounds for immediate rejection.
Here's a look at a some lesser-known qualifiers:
1. Limit your existing debt. Most lenders surveyed require a debt-to-income ratio of less than 35 to 45 percent.
2. Watch balances. If you have two credit cards with outstanding balances, they should not exceed 80 percent of your total credit lines. If you have three or more cards, balances should not exceed 65 percent.
3. Limit your number of credit accounts. Lenders want to see at least two credit accounts, but no more than four.
4. Close and clear dormant credit accounts.
5. Stay put. You're more likely to get accepted if you've lived at your current address or in the same city for at least one year,
preferably two. The same applies for your employument.