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How to Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Fees

How to Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Fees

It happens to all of us at some point. We miss a payment due on our credit card, accidentally exceed our credit limit, or get hit with an annual fee we didn’t expect. The penalty might be $10, $35, or even $95—but no matter what the amount is, it’s an expense you didn’t budget for and would rather avoid.

But before you sigh with resignation and hit send on that fee payment, wait. Many times, you can get those fees reversed. If your card or account has already been charged, you may be able to get the amount credited back to your account. If not, you might be able to get it wiped off your next bill. All you need to do is swallow your pride and contact your credit card issuer.

Here’s how to get those fees to disappear:

  • Prepare your case: First, gather the info you’ll need to pass on to the customer service department. Write down the amount of the fee, the date it was charged, and the reason. Make sure you have your account number handy as well as any PIN or password you will need to access your account.
  • Figure out what to say: There was a reason behind your getting charged this fee, whether it was just plain forgetfulness or whether you truly didn’t know you’d be incurring a fee by making that extra charge (or whatever you did to get slapped with a fee). Get your story together so you are prepared to tell the customer service operator what happened.
  • Come up with a reason the fee should be reversed: Maybe it’s the first time you’ve been late in five years of perfect payments. Or maybe you didn’t realize that an item you returned hadn’t yet been credited back to your card, so you bought something and went over your credit limit. Sometimes a credit card comes with an annual fee that is waived that fee the first year and you aren’t aware that you’ll be getting charged the next year.
  • Be courteous, polite and patient: The old saying is true—you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. You are more likely to get that fee reversed if you’re nice to the customer service department. Ask them how they are doing today, what the weather is like where they are—something to get them on your side and make them realize that you aren’t holding them responsible for your getting charged a fee.
  • Persistence pays off: If the first person you speak to says they can’t help you, ask nicely to speak to their manager or supervisor. They may have the power to reverse the charge. Keep trying, but stay calm and remain polite. Tell them you want to keep doing business with them and you value your good relationship. This usually works.

If you are able to get the fee reversed, make sure you don’t end up in the same boat again. The issuer may not be as forgiving second time around. Set up alerts to let you know when your payment due date is approaching or when you are nearing your credit limit. Talking your way out of a particular fee will usually only work the first time it happens.

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