How to Negotiate with Credit Card Issuers

It always seems as though credit card issuers are looking for ways to squeeze a little more out of you. This shouldn’t be surprising, because they are! Credit card issuers are in the business of making money. The easiest way to make money is to charge fees. Annual fees, interest fees and other fees account for billions of dollars a year for credit card issuers. Whether you want a fee waived, or an interest rate lowered, you can negotiate with your credit card issuer. Here are some tips for increasing the chances that you will get what you want:

Be Polite

The number one rule of negotiation with a credit card issuer — or anyone, for that matter — is to be polite. You can express your dissatisfaction without being rude. It is possible to make a request in a polite manner. While you might be irate, you are unlikely to accomplish your goal if you are impolite. You simply be turfed to a supervisor whose job it is to get rid of you quickly.

Be a Good Customer

Your chances of success when negotiating with a credit card issuer are increased when you are a good customer. Whether you are asking to have a late fee waived, or asking for a lower interest rate, a history of loyalty to the company, and a history of good practices, will speak for you.

I once had a missed payment due to the fact that I didn’t complete the final step when scheduling a payment online. I thought I had completed the payment, and was surprised to find I hadn’t — and had been assessed a fee. I called to ask about the missed payment and the fee. My nearly impeccable record was before the company, so when I politely asked if the fee could be waived since I was willing to make up the payment on the spot, my request was granted with no fuss.

Show a Willingness to Do Your Best

In some cases, you might be having trouble making your credit card payments, or you might want to pay off your debt. If you show a willingness to do your best, some credit card issuers are willing to lower your interest rate. Explain your situation, and your desire to repay your obligation. Ask if you can work out a different payment plan, or if you can get a lower interest rate. In some cases, if the issuer sees that you are trying, you will be able achieve this goal. Be clear about what you want, and why you want it.

Threaten to Leave

This works well if you are a good customer. Even if you are threatening to leave, you can still be polite. Not too long ago, I received a notification that one of my credit cards would soon have an annual fee. I tweeted about my disappointment, and my expectation that I would close the account, and soon someone contacted me about the situation. You don’t have to tweet your situation, though, to get results.

Call the credit card issuer and explain that you would like to stay with the company, but you are unhappy with the annual fee, or interest rate. Many credit card issuers empower the first person you reach to lower your interest rate, if you are a good customer, by as much as 3%. The key with this threat, though, is that you have to be prepared to pull the trigger. It works best if you can pay off your balance, or if you don’t carry a balance.

Do you have any other tips for negotiating with credit card issuers?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Raccatography

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