Is there a way to get credit card fees waived? Who wouldn’t want that? Putting it on the plastic can be a convenient way to make purchases, and a significant number of Americans choose it. Collectively, Americans owed $779 billion in credit card debt as of the fourth quarter of 2016, with the average household debt amounting to $16,748.
What’s not so convenient, however, are the high fees that often accompany credit cards. On average, the typical card charges six different kinds, with late-payment fees being the most common. What's more, 26% of credit cards also tack on an annual fee. Interestingly, a new survey from CreditCards.com suggests that relief from excessive fees may be just a phone call away. (For more, see Best Credit Cards for 2017.)
Getting Credit Card Fees Waived
CreditCards.com polled 952 American cardholders to determine how difficult it is to negotiate better credit card terms. Specifically, the survey was focused on four actions:
Surprisingly, the survey found that 84% of cardholders who made one or more of these requests were successful in getting what they wanted. That’s encouraging, but the survey also found that consumers tended to be reluctant to make a move. Only half of consumers included in the survey acknowledged making one of these requests. (For more, see Cut Credit Card Bills by Negotiating a Lower APR.)
For those who do take the initiative to try and wrangle better credit card terms, the response is largely positive. Among those who asked for a late-payment fee to be waived, 87% were successful. What's more, 69% were able to negotiate a lower interest rate, and 89% talked their way into a higher credit limit.
Even more interesting: 82% of those who asked for their annual fee to be waived were able to get the credit card company to comply. That’s worth noting, particularly if you have a card with a higher annual fee. The average rewards credit card has an annual fee of $58, but if you have a premium card, the annual fee can climb into the triple-digit range. (For more, see How to Make Credit Card Rewards Worth It.)
The challenge is getting up the nerve to actually reach out to your credit card company and ask for a better deal on the annual fee. According to the CreditCards.com survey, just 11% of credit card users have ever asked for a reduction of their annual fee. They were more than twice as likely to ask for a credit limit increase or the waiver of a late fee.
Negotiating More-Favorable Credit Terms
While every credit card company makes decisions on a case-by-case basis, the CreditCards.com survey reveals some insight into things that could affect your chances of getting a “yes” when you make a request. For example, your age could make a difference.
According to the survey, Baby Boomers in the 53 to 62 age range are the most aggressive about asking for annual fee waivers, and 97% of those who asked had their fee reduced or waived. Millennials aged 18 to 26, on the other hand, were less likely to ask for credit breaks and less likely to get them. Sixty-eight percent of young adults polled in the survey said they’d never asked their credit card company for different terms. Of the ones who did, only 32% were able to get their annual fee waived.
The difference likely lies in the fact that older credit users typically have longer credit histories. As a result, they may also have higher credit limits and better credit scores, making them more attractive as borrowers than younger credit users, who may have lower limits and scores.
Your income and marital status may also come into play. The survey found that cardholders who earn more than $75,000 annually face fewer hassles in getting late fees and annual fees waived. They also have more success in increasing their credit limits, but income didn’t significantly affect the odds of getting your interest rate lowered. Married couples were almost twice as likely to ask to have a late fee waived compared with single cardholders, and their overall success rate was 11% higher.
The Bottom Line
If you use credit cards regularly and find the fees and interest are taking too big of a bite out of your wallet, it may be worth your time to reach out to your credit card company. After all, the worst it could say is no. If you’re willing to ask and the answer is yes, it could lead to some significant savings.