One of the ways that credit card issuers make big money is through fees. For them, credit card fees are a big part of the business. Unfortunately, these fees also represent major drains on your wealth. When you pay fees to a credit card company, that’s money you can’t get back – to the tune of between $25 and $45 (or more) per incident.
While you are probably familiar with interest fees, and how you can lower your interest rate with the help of a simple phone call, you might not realize that your other credit card fees are negotiable as well (and some can be waived). Some of the other fees you might be subject to include:
- Annual fee: An increasing number of credit card issuers are adding annual fees. This is a fee you pay each year, often when the issuer automatically adds it to your balance.
- Late fee: If your payment is even one day late – or even an hour late in some cases – you can be charged a late fee. Remember that your late fee is based on the fact that your due date is when the payment is received, and not when you sent the payment.
- Over the limit fee: When you exceed the limit on your credit card, you can experience a fee as the result.
- Balance transfer fee: Often, when you transfer a balance, you will be charged a fee, often between 3% and 5% of the total amount transferred. The larger your balance, the bigger your fee.
- Foreign transaction fee: When you make transactions in another country, you can be charged a fee. Some credit cards also charge currency conversion fees when you make purchases in another currency.
All of these fees are negotiable if you are willing to pick up the phone and make a call.
Ask to Have Your Fee Waived
Believe it or not, it’s often possible to have a credit card fee waived just for asking. However, it helps to be a customer in good standing. Before you call, prepare yourself by rehearsing the fact that you are a loyal customer who normally makes on-time payments. Look up the appropriate customer service number as well, to ensure that you are speaking with someone who is more likely to be able to help you.
Depending on the fee, you might be able to take care of the situation in a matter of minutes. Most late fees and over the limit fees can be waived quickly, especially if you are a good customer who generally doesn’t have problems. Other fees, like balance transfer fees and annual fees, may require more negotiation. However, it doesn’t hurt to call and ask for a fee reversal.
You can also get the credit card issuer’s attention with the help of social media. Politely tweet your displeasure with an annual fee, being sure to include the issuer’s “@” in the message, and you might be pleasantly surprised to have someone contact you in order to work with you. This worked for me when one of my credit cards tried to add an annual fee.
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Negotiate a Fee Reversal
Even though it’s not as simple as asking, you can often negotiate other fee reversals. It’s possible to ask for a cap on a balance transfer fee. If the fee is 3% on a $10,000 balance transfer, that’s $300. You can call and ask to have the fee waived, or negotiate a $75 cap, or ask if you can pay a lower amount.
It’s also possible to ask for a cap on foreign transaction and currency conversion fees. Asking for a lower fee can provide you with significant savings, even if you can’t have the fee entirely waived. Here are some things to remember as you speak with a representative:
- Speak politely: Try to remain calm, and polite. Practicing ahead of time, and knowing what you plan to ask for, and what you are willing to give up, can help you keep your cool while on the phone.
- Ask for someone who can help: If the rep you are talking to can’t help you, ask that he or she give you a recommendation for who can negotiate with you.
- Know whether or not you can walk: Threatening to walk can be an effective negotiation strategy, but only put it out there if you can actually go through with it.
- Take good notes: Make sure to note everyone you talked to, and what you talked about. Include the date and time. This can help you remember what happened if you need to call back for some reason.
With a little preparation and time, you should be able to reverse a number of your credit card fees. Just realize that if you are constantly calling to ask for fee reversals, eventually you will no longer be in a position to negotiate.
To help you out, here are customer service phone numbers and contact pages for many of the most common credit card issuers:
American Express Customer Service
Capital One Customer Service
Chase Customer Service
Citi Credit Cards
Citi Customer Service
Discover Card Customer Service
Bank of America
Bank of America Contact Us
Next time you get dinged and want to get your credit card late fee, annual fee, or other fee reduced or waived entirely, use the contact info above and remember the tips included in this blog post. Best of luck!
This article is part of our Credit Card Debt Resource Center. If you’re looking for additional information about credit card debt, be sure to pay a visit!
Miranda Marquit is a professional freelance writer who specializes in personal finance topics and runs PlantingMoneySeeds.com. She lives in Logan, Utah.