Requests to Waive Credit Card Fees or Negotiate Better Terms Often Successful

And there’s no harm in asking

Is there a way to get credit card fees waived? Who wouldn’t want that? Thankfully, relief from excessive fees may be just a phone call away—that is, if you have the nerve to ask, according to a survey from CreditCards.com.

Key Takeaways

  • Credit card holders who ask for a reduction in fees, a lower interest rate, or a higher credit limit are often successful.
  • Many cardholders simply don’t know that they can ask.
  • Your odds of success improve if you keep the balances on your credit cards at a safe level.

Getting Credit Card Fees Waived

CreditCards.com 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

The survey, published in April 2018, found that up to 85% of cardholders who made one or more of those requests were successful in getting what they wanted. That’s encouraging, but the survey also found that consumers tended to be reluctant to try. Only 60% acknowledged making one of the requests. 

For those who do take the initiative and try to 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 or lowered were able to get the credit card company to comply. Of course, there are many cards out there that don’t have an annual fee to begin with. In a 2019 U.S. News & World Report study, 68% of cards didn’t charge an annual fee; of those that did, the average was close to $110.

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 CreditCards.com survey, just 18% of credit card users had 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 offers insight into factors that could affect your chances of getting a “yes” when you make a request.

The survey found that men were more likely than women to ask for better terms and more successful when they did 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, in many cases 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 that they could. Overall, 40% of those polled said they didn’t know that they could ask for a fee waiver, and about a third believed that they wouldn’t be successful if they did.

Your income, education, and credit card management also may 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 the fees and interest on your credit cards are taking too big a bite out of your budget, then it may be worth your time to reach out to your credit card company. After all, the worst that could happen is that it will say no. If you’re willing to ask and the answer is yes, then you could enjoy some significant savings. You also might consider applying for a credit card with better terms.

Article Sources

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  1. CreditCards.com. “Poll: It’s Easy to Get Rid of Credit Card Fees If You Ask.” Accessed Jan. 26, 2021.

  2. U.S. News & World Report. “2019 Credit Card Fee Study: What’s Normal and What’s Not?” Accessed Jan. 26, 2021.