82% of Credit Cardholders Got Their Annual Fees Waived or Reduced

A new poll from CreditCards.com revealed that an overwhelming majority of credit cardholders were able to negotiate their annual fees successfully.

This despite the fact that many consumers seem to think fees like this are non-negotiable.

The survey, which polled 952 American cardholders, found that 82% of those who actually asked were able to get their annual fee either waived entirely or reduced.

Broken down, 51% were able to get the annual fee waived and 31% were able to get the fee reduced. For the latter group, it’s unclear by how much.

Of course, only about one in 10 cardholders in the study said they asked for a break, but the numbers seem to suggest that credit card issuers are more than happy to work with customers. You just have to speak up!

The question is what did these customers say to convince their credit card issuers. Did they say they were going to cancel? Did they complain, did they play the sympathy card? We don’t know, unfortunately, but there may not be one hard and fast rule.

Hang Up, Call Again

Most folks will tell you to try the HUCA method, which is to call and ask for the fee waiver, and if it fails, simply call back again in the hopes of speaking with a more forthcoming representative.

Again, I don’t know if these companies keep call logs that show the rep you just called moments earlier, but it’s one method worth trying if you’re really motivated to ditch the fee.

Alternatively, you can try different methods such as phone calls, secure messages via the credit card issuer’s website, or online chat. At least two of those methods don’t require you to talk to anyone with your mouth.

The poll did mention that results vary based on the customer, including spending and payment history, credit scores, etc. Basically the card issuers are weighing your risk versus profitability to determine if you’re worth keeping around, for free.

If their computer algorithms decide you’re not, well then, you’re probably out of luck.

In terms of other fee waivers, customers were successful in getting late fees dumped a staggering 87% of the time. In other words, you should probably never have to pay a late fee if you’re brave enough to call in.

Same goes for credit limits – 89% who asked received a higher credit limit. This can boost your credit score over time as well thanks to a lower utilization.

Lastly, 69% of those who asked were able to get their interest rate cut, though as I’ve mentioned before, you might just be better with a balance transfer to a 0% APR credit card instead.

Some other findings of interest:

– Those who earn more are more likely to get a break (typical counterintuitive situation)
– Couples are more likely to ask for and receive help with late fees
– Republicans are less likely to ask for help, but also less likely to receive it when they do
– Consumers haven’t increased these requests over the past several years despite good success in doing so

By Colin Robertson

Colin created this blog after spending several years in a job that required him to scour credit reports on a daily basis. His goal is to help individuals better understand their credit and get the most out of credit cards.

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