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 a purchase, and a significant number of Americans choose it. Collectively, according to the Federal Reserve, Americans owed more than $1 trillion in credit card debt as of May 31, 2018, with average household credit card debt amounting to $8,248.

What’s not so convenient, however, are the high fees that credit card companies can charge. On average, the typical card has four different kinds of fees, with late-payment fees being the most common. What’s more, 33% of credit cards also tack on an annual fee, according to a 2018 study by Thankfully, relief from excessive fees may be just a phone call away, according to an April 2018 survey from 

Getting Credit Card Fees Waived polled 1,589 American cardholders to determine how difficult it is to negotiate better credit card terms. Specifically, the survey was focused on four actions:

  • Waiving or Reducing an Annual Fee
  • Reversing a Late Fee
  • Reducing Interest Rates
  • Increasing Credit Limits

Surprisingly, the survey found that up to 85% 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 60% of consumers included in the survey acknowledged making one of these requests. 

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, 84% were successful. What’s more, 56% were able to negotiate a lower interest rate, and 85% talked their way into a higher credit limit.

Even more interesting is that 70% 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 $181, but if you have a premium card, the annual fee can be double or even triple that amount. The rewards can be lush, but so is the cost.

The challenge is getting up the nerve to reach out to your credit card company and ask for a better deal on the annual fee. According to the survey, just 18% 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 survey offers insight into things that could affect your chances of getting a “yes” when you make a request. Factors such as your gender, age or simple willingness to ask for better terms could all make a difference. 

The survey found that men are more likely than women to ask for better terms and more successful when they do ask (91% compared to 86% for women). Millennials​ and Gen Xers were less likely to ask for credit breaks and less likely to get them, primarily because they didn’t know such a request was even possible; 33% of millennials who said they had never asked for an interest rate reduction said they didn’t know they could. Overall, 40% of those polled in the survey said they didn’t know they could ask for a fee waiver, and about a third believed they wouldn’t be successful.

Your income, education and credit card management may also come into play. The survey found that cardholders who earn more, have more education, spend more and keep their credit card balance at a safe level are more likely to be approved for a higher credit limit or lower interest rate.

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 that could happen is that it could say no. If you’re willing to ask and the answer is yes, it could lead to some significant savings.