How to negotiate fees

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It’s hard enough paying your credit card bill every month, especially if you’re in hundreds or thousands of dollars in debt. Add annual fees, late charges and sky-high interest rates on top of that and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. While there’s no magic wand to completely erase the debt hole you’ve dug yourself into, it’s absolutely possible to waive your fees and lower your interest rates on your credit cards.

Here’s how to convince your bank or credit card company to drop a fee or lower your interest rate.

Do your research. Knowing what else is on the market is important before going into any negotiation conversation. If you’re looking to negotiate a lower interest rate or you want to waive your annual fee, take a few minutes to look up your credit score. You can then use that to look up the interest rates you would qualify for with competing credit card companies.

Call someone. Yes, you have to pick up the phone and talk to a real human being. If you would like to waive a late charge or other similar fees from your account, you should talk to a customer service representative who can answer questions about your billing statements. If you’re looking to waive your annual fee or lower your interest rate, try talking to someone in customer retention. Their job is to do whatever they can to retain customers, so they may be more likely to go the extra mile to keep you as a cardholder.

Be nice. It seems like an obvious statement, but being nice can go a long way in negotiating with a customer service representative. The more you treat someone with respect and kindness, the more likely they will do the same. If you are looking to waive a late fee, this would be the time to turn on your charm and ask them to consider doing this one-time favor for you.

Be prepared to walk away. If you’ve called the customer retention hotline, it might be worth mentioning that you are considering closing the card because of the high interest rates or the annual fee. This will work most of the time if you’ve done your research (see above). But be prepared to walk away if they aren’t willing to budge (and it could get them to change their minds).

About Stephanie Halligan

Stephanie is the founder of The Empowered Dollar, a site dedicated to helping millennials to fix their finances and find their stride in money and life. When she's not blogging, Stephanie is designing school curricula and online games to teach students about smart money management.

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