17 - 2009

Ask Credit Card Lenders To Waive Fees, Interest Rates

These days, credit card lenders are eager to impose fees and raise interest rates to protect their income streams in the face of credit card reform. But you can fight back … by asking nicely.

I usually use credit cards and pay off my statements monthly. But on my business credit card, I occasionally carry a small balance from month to month. I also receive my credit card statements by e-mail, and pay the cards online, to save time and paper.

Last month, however, my business credit card statement went into a spam folder. Oops! I didn’t notice until later, when I was scanning my bank statement and realized that there was no credit card payment there. I went into e-mail and found out what had happened — but my payment was late.

Today I got my current statement. I was hit with a late fee (fair enough … I was late). But even worse, my interest rate jumped by 10 percentage points to the “penalty rate” because I was late.

I spent 5 minutes calling the card issuer and explaining the situation. I asked if they would wave the penalty interest rate increase. After a brief hold time while the service person “investigated what was the best he could do for me,” he came back to report I could have my old interest rate back.

It’s not rocket science, but it will save me a few dollars this year. This type of polite phone call can also help if you want a late fee waived or, sometimes, want the card company to remove an annual fee that they suddenly added to your account (or they might be able to switch you to a no-fee card).

Of course, credit card lenders are more amenable to these requests if you have a good credit score and you can be honest when you tell them, “I never pay late, but ….”

Do you have other tricks for saving on credit cards?

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