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The best way to avoid credit card fees: Just ask

Whether it’s an annual charge or a penalty for paying late, fees seem to be an unavoidable reality for many credit card holders. Luckily, a new survey pinpoints an easy way to avoid paying.

A CreditCards.com study found that 84% of people were successful when they reached out to their credit card issuer and asked for a late fee to be waived. Going a step further, 70% of respondents say that they were able to get an annual fee waived or lowered, just by asking.

Speaking from experience, it really works.

Last year, I had a charge on my corporate card that I completely forgot about. I didn’t do my expenses for three months, and when I did, I was met with $150 in late fees. I was mad at myself, but also confused as to why I wasn’t alerted about the accumulating balance. So, I picked up the phone and called American Express. They removed $120 in fees (after a little sweet talking), dropping my bill down to a manageable $30.

Related: How to get out of paying 6 common credit card fees

Currently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has put the maximum penalty for missing your first credit card payment at $27. If you make a late payment more than once in a six-month period, the maximum fee jumps to $38.

The truth is, card issuers are prepared for you to call and make requests. Representatives from Chase and Bank of America told Yahoo Finance that removing late fees for customers is determined on a “case by case basis.” At American Express, the philosophy is similar. “Customer Care Professionals will review a customer’s late fees upon request,” said a spokesperson. “We take a number of factors into consideration, including the overall relationship with American Express and past spending and payment history.”

Turns out, the best way to avoid a fee is simply to ask.

The CreditCards.com survey, which polled 1,589 U.S. adults who own a credit card, also found that customers have had luck negotiating other card features as well. About 85% of respondents received a higher credit card limit just by asking. Another 56% were able to successfully ask for a lower interest rate.

Brittany is reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @bjonescooper

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