Do you ever feel hopeless in the face of your credit card company?
From swift and expensive credit card fees to interest rates that can knock you over, it’s no surprise if you do. However, as a cardholder you actually have more influence than you think.
Here are four ways to reduce your credit card cost – just by asking.
4 ways to reduce your credit card cost
1. Reverse late fees
My husband is smart and responsible. But, man, can he forget to pay a credit card bill. Until he finally set up automatic payments, I would overhear far too many calls with him asking to reverse a late fee.
The funny part? It worked – most of the time.
Credit card companies know that late payments happen. The good news is as long as you’re not 30 days late, you might be able to get the credit card fees reversed. Call your issuer, explain that it was a mistake, and get that fee reversed.
Then sign up for automatic payments so you never have to worry about it again.
2. Get annual fees removed
You might think it’s impossible to get your annual credit card fee removed. After all, why would a credit card company do this? Well, they do it because they want to keep your business.
As long as your annual fee isn’t on a super premium credit card, your issuer may not have an issue with waiving it for the year.
In fact, a lot of new credit cards waive annual fees if you hit a certain spending requirement. Keep in mind, that doesn’t mean you have to carry a balance. Pay it off before interest hits and you won’t go into debt just to avoid a fee.
If the credit card issuer won’t remove your annual fee, consider switching to a no-fee credit card instead.
3. Lower your interest rate
Did you know you can ask your credit card issuer to lower your interest rate?
According to credit card expert Jason Steele, “Credit card issuers spend a tremendous amount to acquire and retain customers, and they don’t want to see them go.”
Use that to your advantage. I tried this once and was able to get my interest rate of 24 percent down to 11 percent. Not a bad outcome for a 45-minute phone call.
4. Switch to a balance transfer credit card
If your credit card issuer won’t lower your interest rate and you’re carrying a balance on that card, think about opening a balance transfer credit card. These cards come with a promotional interest rate that could last anywhere from six months up to two years.
This is a great tool for paying off debt, too. That’s because less you pay on interest, the more money you have going to your balance. What’s more, you’ll pay off debt even faster if you pay more than your minimum due.
If you still have debt when the promotional expiration date nears, consider getting another balance transfer credit card before it hits. Then you can avoid a retroactive charge on your balance at the new, higher rate.
Follow these negotiation tactics when making your case
Just because you can call your credit card issuer doesn’t mean you’ll get what you want. Follow these negotiation tactics to help the conversation go smoothly.
1. Be polite
You know the old saying, “You get more bees with honey”? Well, keep that in mind when you keep hearing the word “no” from your credit card company’s customer service representative.
Be polite. Appeal to their human side by acting like a friendly human yourself. Make them want to help you by treating them well over the phone.
You know how frustrated you get when a phone call lasts forever? Remember that the person on the other end of the line has to wrangle these calls all day long. Being nice can go a long way.
2. Never give a sob story
Some people think giving a sob story will get them results, but that’s rarely the case. Again, do you know how many of these stories they hear all day?
Don’t try to get them to sympathize with you. Instead, treat your request to cut your credit card cost down like you would negotiating a raise. Would you get a raise by telling your boss why you need the money? Or would you get it by showing your boss the results you’ve delivered?
3. Remind them of your history with them
A long, positive credit history is the best negotiation tool for the cardholder. Remind your credit card issuers how long you’ve been with them. Tell them why you’ve been a stellar customer.
Remember, credit card companies work hard to keep good customers happy. So don’t leave this powerful negotiation tool on the table.
4. Calmly explain that you’re thinking of canceling your card
Finally, show them you’re serious by calmly, politely stating that you’re thinking of canceling your credit card.
“Tell them you are considering canceling your card so that you can be transferred to the retentions department,” Steele explains. “This is where representatives have the most authority to waive your fee or offer you additional rewards in order to retain your business.”
That’s right, not only might you get your fees waived, you might even get some additional rewards.
5. Ask to speak to a supervisor
If you get a no, ask to speak to a supervisor. This is one that’s worked well for me in the past.
Usually, the first person you talk to (and maybe even the one after that) is not qualified to give you what you’re asking for.
But that can change as you move up the chain. So don’t take the first “no” for an answer.
Remember, they’re still offering you a service
It can be intimidating to call your credit card issuer, especially if you’re in credit card debt. At that point, credit cards almost seemed designed to keep you in a holding pattern.
However, don’t forget that credit card companies are a service and that you are an empowered consumer willing to take your business elsewhere.
If you’re afraid you don’t have a good enough credit score to be considered a valuable cardholder, follow these steps to improve your credit score. A year from now, you may be in a much better position to negotiate.
At the end of the day, this is your life and your money. Don’t accept whatever comes your way – fight for the outcome you really want.
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