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The trick to getting credit card fees waived? Just ask.

Ethan Wolff-Mann
Senior Writer
When it comes to getting better rates and fees reduced from credit card companies, all you need to do is ask. Source: AP

You may not get everything you ask for, but you certainly won’t get stuff you don’t ask for, especially when it comes to your bank. So it really can pay to just ask.

In a survey conducted by Bankrate’s CreditCards.com, almost everyone who just called up their credit card issuer and asked for a late charge to be waived actually got those fees forgiven—a whopping 87%. The survey also found that 67% people who wanted lower interest rates got them the same way.

“In many cases, you just need to call and ask politely,” Bankrate credit card analyst Matt Schulz told Yahoo Finance. “That’s especially true if you’re a long-time customer with good credit and are asking to have a late payment fee waived.”

While these results are impressive, a big part of why the banks can do this is because only one in four people typically think to ask, because it sounds counterintuitive that a bank would give anyone a break that costs them money. But in reality, many banks and credit card companies do care what their customers think, and are amenable to these small free passes, especially because they don’t have to give out so many.

All of this goes beyond late fees and interest rates. For annual credit card fees, over half the people who tried managed to get their annual fee killed entirely and almost a third managed to get it reduced. It also applies to credit limit increases, which banks gave to 89% of the people who asked.

According to Schulz, rate reductions are often matters of negotiation. “If you’re asking for a reduced interest rate, it’s best to come armed with ammunition in the form of other offers. If they won’t work with you, don’t be afraid to walk away,” he said. “There are plenty of other fish in the sea.”

So what should you actually say when you get a rep on the phone? Schulz says it’s good to remind the bank how long you’ve been a customer and that you love your card, but that you’ve seen better rates elsewhere. Then you can ask whether they can match them.

The lesson in all of this is that you can’t just assume the answer will be no. “People don’t ask for breaks from their credit card companies because they don’t think they’ll get them,” says Schultz. “The worst that can happen is they say no, but if they don’t, you can end up saving some real money.”

Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on consumer issues, tech, and personal finance. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann. Got a tip? Send it to tips@yahoo-inc.com.

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