Personal Finance: Eliminate Credit Card Annual Fees
Whether you’re currently snowflaking your way to being debt free or holding a couple empty credit cards for use in a financial emergency, most of us have credit cards that charge us for the privilege of carrying them. That’s right, I’m talking about annual fees. They’re expensive, they’re annoying, and worst of all, you have to pay them whether you have a balance on your credit card or not.
What most people don’t know is that annual fees on credit cards are negotiable. It’s true! It is completely possible to eliminate the annual fee on your credit cards, and the best part is that all you have to do is ask.
It’s always better to negotiate with credit card companies when your account is in good standing, which means your payments have been made on time and your account has not recently been over the credit limit. However, even if there are a few blemishes on your record, it is still possible to negotiate with credit card companies about reducing or eliminating your annual fee.
How Do You Eliminate Credit Card Annual Fees?
- Ask and you may receive. Call the credit card company’s customer service and tell them your concern. Annual fees are expensive, and you’d rather carry a card with no annual fee. Be polite and ask nicely; a little kindness goes a long way.
- Long-term. If you’ve been a customer with that company for a long time, mention your history together. Companies do NOT want to lose customers, most of all long-term customers with whom they have established histories.
- List your good points. If you have never had late payments, mention that. Tell them exactly why they should value your business.
- Tell them you’re willing to leave, and mean it. As a last resort, let the credit card company know that if they can’t reduce or eliminate your annual fee, you are willing to close the account and switch to a different bank’s card with no annual fee. The tough part here is that you can’t bluff, you actually have to mean it.
Bottom line, credit cards are profitable and the owning banks want to keep your business. Many times if asked to drop an annual fee, they will do so to keep the customer happy. Perhaps they’ll only offer to reduce it, which is still better than you started out. However, sometimes they will still say no. If that is the case, you can either take your business elsewhere or stick around and pay for the privilege of carrying their credit cards.
Don’t be too shy to ask for your annual fee to be eliminated. You are their customer and they value you. Be assertive and tell the credit card company what you want. There is a 50% chance the answer will be yes. If you don’t ask, your chances go down to zero! Eliminating annual fees on credit cards is an easy way to save yourself $20 – $50 per year for each card, which can add up to significant savings.
This article was originally published June 23, 2008. Photo courtesy MorgueFile.