You can probably get a lower interest rate, a higher credit limit, or waived fees from your credit card company—but only if you ask.
I had a credit card for years, and never had to ask for a fee to be waived, until the month after we moved to our new home and the mail was not quite on time.
And guess what?
I called, asked to have the late fee waived, and voilà! Fee waived!
Just call and ask!
For real—it never hurts to ask. In fact, you're a bit silly if you don't.
It can pay off, and not just because a canceled late fee leaves you with more money in your wallet.
Higher credit limits can help you raise your credit score and accomplish other important financial goals.
Take action to save money. Don't resign yourself to live with high fees or expensive interest rates.
They can get in the way of achieving the life you want to live.
So it makes sense to take the initiative and see if you can get a better deal from your credit card company, regardless if you're satisfied or not with the status quo.
Here at CreditLoan, we're all about helping hard-working folks change their financial lives for the better.
So to help you get the low rates and waived fees you deserve, we've done our research and have come up with some of the most effective negotiation strategies around.
Using our ready-made scripts will put you in a great position to succeed in negotiating better terms with your credit card provider.
Tips for Success
To get the best terms, understand why credit card companies negotiate
Asking for a waived fee or increased credit limit may seem daunting at first.
After all, why would a multi-billion dollar corporation care about your requests?
Simply put, keeping you happy saves them money.
A win-win proposition. Acquiring a new customer can cost credit card companies $250–$300, according to the analysts over at the Mercator Advisory Group.
With so many credit card options available for the consumer, companies have to work extra hard, not just to sign you up, but also to keep your business.
That means if waiving your $30 late fee will keep your credit card company from spending $300 to replace you as a customer, then that fee is probably going to get waived.
Remember this when you contact your card company—be confident in your knowledge that they want you to keep using your card.
Long-time customers with great credit scores have the best shot at lower rates
Just because credit card companies prefer keeping customers to finding new ones doesn't mean they'll automatically approve your request.
After all, keeping a customer who regularly fails to make timely payments will cost the company money in the long run.
Use this checklist to determine whether you can negotiate from a strong position.
You pay on time. You don't miss a payment more than once or twice per year.
You're a long-time customer. You've had this card for at least six months.
Your credit score increased. If a new job, a raise, or another reason pushed your credit score into the 700 range, you've got a good shot at getting what you want.
If your credit score is below that range, we suggest you first work on raising your score before you make the call.
You use the card fairly often. A credit card company will be more likely to increase your credit limit, lower your APR, or waive a late fee if you use the card regularly.
That means putting at least one purchase on it per month.
Keep your credit score high by not canceling if you get turned down
Once you've decided the time is right for you to call, keeping a few tips in mind can tilt the odds of successfully negotiating with your credit card company further in your favor.
Think before canceling. Even if your negotiations fail, think before you cancel your card.
Closing out your credit card lowers your amount of available credit.
This can affect your credit utilization ratio—or how much of your total credit you're using—which can, in turn, hurt your score if you keep a high balance.
Keep it under 30%. If you have a credit utilization ratio of above 30%, that can negatively affect your credit score.
Avoid canceling the card if it raises your utilization rate above that threshold.
For example, say you have three credit cards, each with a $2,000 credit limit.
You have two cards, each with a $750 balance.
That means you're using $1,500 of your $6,000 total credit limit.
That puts you at a 25% credit utilization ratio, which is OK if your total available credit doesn't dip.
But if you canceled the card with no balance, that would mean you're now using $1,500 of your now $4,000 total credit limit.
That results in a 37.5% credit utilization ratio, which would likely drop your credit score.
Control yourself. Even if you're angry that your credit card company won't waive a fee or raise your credit limit, don't cancel your card out of anger right away.
Make sure you understand how credit utilization ratios and other factors affect your credit score before calling your credit card company.
Even if you do end up switching cards, you'll want the best credit score possible when hunting for a new one.
You especially don't want to cancel if this is your only card, considering the important role a credit card can play in achieving your long-term financial goals.
Go digital to get your lower-rate request faster and easier
Getting a better interest rate or waived fee may not even require picking up the phone anymore.
Over 70% of customer interactions with banks now take place over digital channels like Facebook, apps, or chat, according to research from Accenture.
The way of the future. The reason why banks are pushing more customers to use these contact methods instead of the phone is that online interactions are cheaper to provide and more efficient in terms of resolving concerns.
While some requests may still require speaking with an actual human being, a waived fee may be just a click away.
That's great news if you find negotiating over the phone difficult or just prefer handling your business online.
All the scripts in this article have been designed to be equally useful for negotiating both over the internet and the phone.
Negotiate from a strong position by shopping around before calling
Check what other cards you can get before calling your credit card company.
Knowing your options will improve your negotiating position.
Do your research. For instance, say you're asking for a waiver on the $450 annual fee for your Amex Platinum card.
Deliberately mentioning that you're approved and considering switching over to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to avoid paying this $450 shows that you're serious about switching, and can turn the discussion in your favor.
Read the terms and conditions to know if you can get a deal
Read over the details of your credit card's terms and conditions before you call to make sure your request is reasonable.
Know the limits. For instance, say you've got the Capital One Quicksilver card, which carries a variable interest rate of 13.49–23.49%.
Let's also say you were lucky enough to sign up for this card at a 13.49% APR.
Calling and requesting an interest rate lower than this wouldn't be useful since the bank can't give you a lower rate than the minimum.
Be polite to keep your file free from red flags
Never insult, swear at, or otherwise cause a bad day for the customer service representative you're talking to.
Keep in mind that these interactions are recorded and monitored.
Not only will this not help you get what you want, but it may earn a note in your file as being verbally abusive.
Believe or not, such a note will follow you around as long as you're a customer of that credit card company, coloring all your future interactions for the worse.
- Apply Now for a New Credit Card
- Compare Cards for All Credit Ranges
Negotiate Like a Pro
Now that you know the strategies that are likely to work, it's time to put them into action.
These scripts will guide you on exactly what you need to say to have the best chance of getting lower rates or waived fees.
Use this introduction to get off on the right foot
Regardless of the reason you're calling the company, here's what you say first:
Hello, my name is [NAME].
I've been a customer of [COMPANY NAME] for [AMOUNT OF TIME].
It's that simple.
Find out fast if you can get a lower interest rate
This is the simplest request. Here's what you should say:
I'm curious as to whether I can get a lower interest rate. Could you please check whether I qualify?
The rep will pull a credit check and let you know whether or not you qualify.
Don't argue. If your request gets approved, congrats on locking in a lower rate.
If not, don't try convincing the rep to offer you a lower rate.
Your APR is set algorithmically based on your credit score and other factors.
Reps have no control over your credit score, so arguing with them typically does more harm than good.
If you get turned down due to your credit score, start working to improve it as soon as possible.
You can also consider finding a card with 0% intro APR and transferring your balance to save money.
Get a higher credit limit with this script
If you want a higher credit limit, here's what you say:
I believe my credit score and income should qualify me for a credit limit increase.
Before we continue, can you please let me know whether checking if I qualify will trigger a hard credit pull?
Check for a credit pull. You want to find this out because a hard credit pull can knock a few points off your score and stay on your record for a year.
Granted, that may not be much, overall, but if you're applying for a mortgage or a car loan in the near future, you want to keep the highest credit score possible, not just to get approved, but to get the best rates and terms possible.
In that case, it might not be worth it to continue with your request for a credit limit increase.
Set your limit. If you do continue, here's what you say:
Could you please check to see whether this card's limit can be increased?
At this point, the rep will ask you how much of an increase you're looking for.
It pays to overshoot here since a higher credit limit means a lower credit utilization rate.
That means if you want an additional $500, ask for $750.
Know what to say if they say no. If you get shot down, here's what you say:
I'm surprised to hear that.
I recently learned I was pre-approved for [X CARD] at an interest rate of [X%] and a credit limit of [$X].
Is there any way you could match that limit on this card?
I've enjoyed using my current credit card and would hate to have to switch because of this.
If they still say no. Here's what you say:
Thank you for checking.
Please make a note in my file that I am considering closing this card in the near future.
After that, you can deliberate and decide whether it's worth it for you to cancel your card, taking into account the considerations we've discussed so far.
Get a late fee waived with this script
Here's what you say to get a late fee waived:
While I regularly make payments on time, this month I was a little late. Could you please waive this fee?
Later, late fees. Usually, this is enough to get the customer service rep to agree to waive your fee.
It's that easy—seriously.
Polls from several sources show that around 9 out of 10 people get late fees waived just by asking.
Getting turned down. If the customer service rep says no, say the following:
I've used this card for a long time and would hate to have to cancel over this fee.
Can you please check again to see whether there's another option to get this fee removed?
Sometimes, this little extra push is all it takes to get your credit card company to cancel the fee.
If not, you're out of luck.
Consider whether you've had a string of missed payments or other reasons why your request may have been denied.
Kick annual fees with this script
Annual fees can be a little trickier to negotiate than late fees.
Different banks have different policies about whether they allow their reps to cancel annual fees.
Still, you won't know if you don't ask.
Away with annual fees. Here's what you say:
The annual fee for my credit card makes it not worth it to keep this card open.
While I do like certain aspects of this card, the fee makes it difficult to justify keeping it open.
Can you waive the fee for this year?
What they might say instead of no. The customer service representative may offer you different options instead of saying no directly.
If they offer to help you find a different credit card that doesn't have an annual fee, here's what you say:
Right now I'm not looking for a different credit card.
I'm looking for a solution that lets me keep my current card open.
Can you help me find a solution?
Naturally, you should actually consider switching cards if your request gets turned down.
Right now though, you want to keep you and the rep focused on waiving the fee.
You can shop around for the perfect card later.
They may also offer you incentives to keep your card open.
This may include rewards points or airline miles.
Be prepared for this.
Know if it's worth it. Calculate how much those points are actually worth before saying yes.
For instance, say you were calling about waiving a $95 annual fee on your Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard.
The rep can't waive the fee but offers you 5,000 miles instead.
Those miles are worth $50 with this card, meaning, in effect, you're still paying $45.
Think about whether you'll earn more in rewards than you'll pay for keeping the card.
At $45, you probably would in this case, since it's one of the best cards for earning airline miles.
Consider taking the 5,000-mile offer.
They say no again. If the company doesn't offer you a satisfactory retention bonus or still won't waive your fee, here's what you say:
I would hate to have to cancel my card over this fee. Is there anything you can do to waive it for the year?
Don't cancel yet. Even if they say no, don't actually cancel your card right there and then.
Remember to check first whether closing this account would negatively affect your credit utilization ratio, as we've discussed earlier.
Getting lower credit card rates and waived fees are as easy as asking
Remember, it's cheaper for a credit card company to keep you as a customer than to acquire a new one just to replace you if you leave.
You can get a great deal. That means waived fees, lower interest rates, and higher limits are always on the negotiating table—but you can make them a reality only if you ask.
Just use these scripts when you decide to give your credit card rep a call, and you'll be negotiating like a pro and keeping more money in your wallet.
Have you ever successfully negotiated a better deal with your credit card company?
What tactics worked for you and what didn't?
Any great tips (or nightmares) to share with the rest of us?
Let us know in the comments below!