How to Negotiate Fees with Credit Card Companies

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Credit cards make the world go around. And the interest rates are the axis on which it turns.

Credit cards are great — they help you buy things while building credit, and they make it so you don’t have to carry cash or checks around with you. But if you end up carrying a balance, or have a card that comes with fees for not meeting certain requirements, they can quickly turn against you.

But how do you start negotiating things like fees and interest rates with those big credit card companies? Is it even possible?

You bet your bottom-dollar it is. 

Credit card companies aren’t nearly as rigid about their fees and rules as most people assume. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true. With the right approach (and the right circumstances), all you have to do is ask and you could have your interest rate, fees, and possibly even your balance lowered. 

Now, it’s unlikely that just asking your credit card provider, “Hey, could you do me a solid and lower my interest rate, please?” will actually work. But if you take these tips into consideration, you’ll be surprised at what your credit card company will be willing to do for you. 

  • Make sure they know they know that your needs are just temporary. If you’re having some short-term financial issues (medical bills, job layoff, things like that), tell that to your insurer. They’re much more likely to work with you if they know that you’re just asking for temporary assistance. 
  • Be specific and reasonable with your request. Think about what you can afford, and ask for it. Could no interest for three months make a difference right now? Or six months with no payments at all while you look for a new job? Or maybe you can afford to pay a significant portion of your debt now, in exchange for them waiving the rest of your debt? Be prepared to meet in the middle, and make sure you show how much you’ve already paid in interest to prove your point. 
  • Be that person who asks to speak to the manager. Customer service reps can only do so much with your interest rates and fees. If you need more help than they can offer, it’s totally okay to ask to speak to a manager or the credit division. You need someone with power to make real changes, so present yourself as a powerful person and ask to speak to the person you really need. Head straight for the top. 
  • Be prepared to switch up your card. You may sign up for a card to get the amazing sign-up bonus features, but when that initial honeymoon period has passed, those fees can make the card feel like a ball-and-chain. Call your credit card company and tell them you want to keep your account, points, credit line, etc., but you want to eliminate the fee. They can easily switch you to a no-fee card.
  • Use balance transfers to your advantage. Your credit card company wants your business. If you’re carrying a debt on a high interest rate card, but know there’s a different card out there with 0% balance transfer, tell your current company that you’re considering transferring and closing your account with them, but would rather work with them to keep the account open. They may not be able to hit 0%, but you could get a much better rate. 
  • Look into nonprofit credit counseling agencies. These agencies have negotiated rate and fee concessions with lenders like yours, which can really make a difference when you’re stuck in a credit card debt rut. They can provide you with an option to get lower rates when your card lender says no to your requests. 
  • It’s okay to walk away. Even when right is on your side, not all negotiations go your way. Sometimes, you need to be prepared to close your accounts and walk away. But you have to be ready to follow through. An empty threat will work against you, but if you start moving forward with your action to close your accounts and move to a competitor, you might be surprised at how the credit card company will suddenly reconsider.

Now that you’ve got the tips and tools you need to become a master credit card negotiator, there’s no reason you need to pay fees and high interest rates ever again. Just remember what your dad always said, “You’ll never know if you don’t ask.” Keep that in mind, and be armed with facts and options, and you’ll be surprised and what you’ll get.

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