November 15th, 2012
Never Pay Credit Card Fees Again
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Ramit Sethi is the New York Times best-selling author of the book I Will Teach You to Be Rich. In this three-part blog series, Ramit will teach us how to optimize our finances. This week: How to Never Pay Credit Card Fees Again.
Today, I’ll share the exact, word-for-word scripts to get fees eliminated from your credit card.
In general, you shouldn’t be paying fees on your credit card. There are some exceptions — like for rewards cards, if you spend enough to justify the fee — but late fees and random charges can be easily waived.
Now, if you automate your finances like I told you, you’ll eliminate the need for late fees of any kind. But just in case, I’ll give you the word-for-word script that thousands of the readers on my blog, I Will Teach You To Be Rich, have used to get their late fees waived.
Get all fees waived on your card.
Call them using the phone number on the back of the card and ask if you’re paying any fees, including annual fees or service charges. It should go a little something like this:
You: Hi, I’d like to confirm that I’m not paying any fees on my credit card.
Credit card rep: Well, it looks like you have an annual fee of $50. That’s actually one of our better rates.
You: I’d rather pay no fees. Which card can you switch me to that doesn’t charge fees? I’d like to make sure my credit score isn’t affected by closing this account, too. Can you confirm?
Yes, I really talk like that.
By the way, if they say no, you can use the “escalation scripts” in my book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich.
The vast majority of people don’t need to pay any annual fees on their credit cards, and because free credit cards are so competitive now, you rarely need to pay for the privilege of using your card. The only exception is if you spend enough to justify the extra rewards a fee-charging account offers. (If you do pay an annual fee, use the break-even calculator on my website to see if it’s worth it.)
Most people should switch from a for-fee card to a free card, so ask your credit card company what they’ll do for you. If they waive your fees, great! If not, switch to a no-fee credit card. I suggest you do this at the same credit card company to simplify your life—and so you don’t have to close one account and open another, which will affect your credit score.
If you decide to close the account and get a new credit card, look for one with no fees and good rewards (read more about those on page 29).
How to negotiate out of late fees
Nobody’s perfect. Despite my warnings, I understand that accidents happen and you might miss a payment at some point. When this happens, I use my Indian heritage to beat the companies by negotiating with them, and you can, too:
You: Hi, I noticed I missed a payment, and I wanted to confirm that this won’t affect my credit score.
Credit card rep: Let me check on that. No, the late fee will be applied, but it won’t affect your credit score.
(Note: If you pay within a few days of your missed bill, it usually won’t be reported to the credit agencies. Call them to be sure.)
You: Thank you! I’m really happy to hear that. Now, about that fee . . .I understand I was late, but I’d like to have it waived.
Credit card rep: Why?
You: It was a mistake and it won’t happen again, so I’d like to have the fee removed.
(Note: Always end your sentence with strength. Don’t say, “Can you remove this?” Say, “I’d like to have this removed.”)
At this point, you have a better-than-50-percent chance of getting the fee credited to your account. But just in case you get an especially tough rep, here’s what to say.
You: I’m very sorry, but we can’t refund that fee. I can try to get you our latest blah blah marketing pitch blah blah. . . .
You: I’m sorry, but I’ve been a customer for four years and I’d hate for this one fee to drive me away from your service. What can you do to remove the late fee?
Credit card rep: Hmm . . . Let me check on that. . . . Yes, I was able to remove the fee this time. It’s been credited to your account.
You don’t believe me that it can be so simple? It is. Anyone can do it.
Always track your calls to financial companies
Unfortunately for you, credit card companies are very good at using B.S. late fees to increase their revenues. Unfortunately for them, I’m giving you lots of tactics for getting these fees reversed.
One of the best ways to improve your chances of getting fees waived is by keeping track of every time you call your financial institutions, including credit card companies, banks, and investment companies.
This is especially true of credit card companies, whom you should treat just slightly better than you would an armed militia coming after your younger sister. It’s tempting, when calling, to be really nasty, but because I was raised right, I don’t scream or threaten violence. Instead, when I call to dispute anything, I open a spreadsheet that details the last time I called them, whom I spoke with, and what was resolved. If only all criminals were as diligent as I am.
Whenever you make a call regarding a dispute on your credit card, you wouldn’t believe how powerful it is to refer back to the last time you called—citing the rep’s name, date of conversation, and your call notes. Most credit card reps you talk to will simply give in because they know you came to play in the big leagues.
When you use this to confront a credit card company or bank with data from your last calls, you’ll be more prepared than 99 percent of other people—and chances are, you’ll get what you want.
These scripts are just a small portion of the money-saving credit card hacks and tips I share in my New York Times bestselling book. I put them together in a free download for you — including little-known credit card perks that save me over $1,000 a year.
Ramit Sethi is the author of the New York Times bestseller, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. To get free word-for-word negotiation scripts and techniques to beat your credit cards, sign up for free at iwillteachyoutoberich.com.
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The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author himself, and not necessarily Credit Karma or its affiliates.