Winning Strategies for Getting a Credit Card Fee Waived

Sometimes you have to call and ask to get a credit card fee waived; it can take time and effort but it's worth it.
Lindsay Konsko
By Lindsay Konsko 

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One of the 2009 CARD Act’s results was to reduce or eliminate certain credit card fees, while the banks that issue them found ways to assign fees for other things. Sometimes you may get hit with a fee you feel is unjust, a mistake, or you just believe that it shouldn’t be assessed for some reason. Your ability to get that fee waived will depend on several factors, some of which will be out of a customer service rep’s control, or even a supervisor’s. That shouldn’t stop you from trying.

Patience and persistence can get a fee waived.

Infrequent violator

If you have been a solid customer of your credit card company, always pay on time, don’t run up a lot of late fees, and don't ask for fee waivers too often, you’ll have a good chance at getting that fee shot down.

Banks like loyal cardmembers. They like people who pay back their loans on time. If you aren’t a repeat offender, and you point this out to the rep, there’s a good chance they will waive the fee. Your satisfaction is more important to them than dinging you for $39.

Customer loyalty matters

If you’ve been a cardholder for a long time, that will make a difference, especially if you are an infrequent violator. My friend has had a Citibank card since he left college 25 years ago. He tells me that Citibank has waived every fee he’s ever asked them to waive, and that mentioning he’s been a loyal cardmember for 25 years makes a difference. He also pays in full, on time, every time. Late fees or over-the-limit fees often are the result of oversight, and thus far, Citibank has been very forgiving.

Blame an oversight

I’m not suggesting you lie. Never do that. However, with the ability to schedule payments through either the credit card’s own website, or via a third-party like your bank or brokerage account, the possibility of a mistake may arise. The most common example is not realizing the autopay won’t take effect on your next payment due date due to processing issues.

Your chances are better if the oversight occurs on the credit card’s website, but most reps are sympathetic to techno-blips and may waive a late fee and interest in these cases.

Be persistent

You can always escalate a matter to a supervisor. If you are a star customer and/or have been with the company for a long time, your chances are going to be significantly improved with a supervisor. The more borderline the assessment of the fee, the greater your chances of it being waived. Let’s say you send in a payment by mail on the same day each month, and every month it arrives on the due date, but this one month the mail is slow because of the Polar Vortex, that history will make a difference.

Remember, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

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