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How to get out of paying 6 common credit card fees

Jeanie Ahn
Senior Producer/Reporter

Have you ever called your credit company to request to have a fee waived or lowered? If you haven’t, you should know that it’s a lot easier than you think. It might seem like a waste of time, but what I’ve found is that most customer service reps will work with you to keep you from switching to another bank.

For me, picking up the phone has resulted in lower APRs, waived annual fees (for multiple years in a row), plus reimbursements for late fees, interest payments, foreign transaction charges and ATM fees. Nine times out of ten, a phone call resulted in money back in my pocket. 

And it’s not just me: Most cardholders who ask are successful. In a poll by Creditcards.com, 84% of those who have made these types of requests saved money. What’s crazy is that most people don’t bother to call, leaving a considerable amount of money on the table.

The Yahoo Finance credit card challenge

To prove just how easy it is, we took our cameras and hit the streets of New York City to challenge cardholders to make the call. Those who spent a few minutes to call their credit card companies were pleasantly surprised with the results, as they witnessed how quickly representatives reimbursed late fees and interest payments, reduced annual fees, lowered APRs, as well as increased credit limits. In some cases, when the company rejected the cardholders’ requests, customers were offered other perks to lessen their disappointment.

Of course the better your credit, the more likely you are to get what you ask. Long-standing customers with good payment histories are rarely denied a request for a one-time courtesy to remove any type of fee. For example, during my last trip overseas, I missed a payment on one of my cards which resulted in both a late fee and a high interest payment. When I called to explain, the representative  saw that I usually pay off my balance in full and that I had made the payment within 2 days of the due date, so she issued a one-time credit for the late fee and reimbursed me for the interest. The key is to pay as soon as you notice you’re late. The longer you’re overdue, the more difficult it will be to convince your card issuer to reverse the charge.

But that shouldn’t keep you from asking anyway. Because the worst thing they can say is no. And you don’t have to take no as the final answer. Call back again and speak to a different representative. This can be a time-consuming tactic, but sometimes the second time’s a charm.

Remember, banks make money every time you use their cards and don’t want to lose your business, so you’re the one in control. All you have to do is tell them what you want.

Take the credit card challenge by calling your own credit card company and share your experience in the comments below or tweet me @jeanie531.


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