Have I ever told you guys I’m horrible at remembering things, like remembering to cancel credit cards before they charge me an annual fee?
Well, I am.
I’m truly terrible at it, and I use every ounce of my planning-and-remembering capabilities while I’m at work, and to make sure I hit every single freelance deadline I agree to.
So when it comes to plain old regular life things, I’m all tapped out.
That’s how I ended up with a $150 annual credit card fee charge on one of my credit cards – a card that I’ve been meaning to cancel since September to avoid this exact situation.
Luckily, it’s not that hard to get your annual credit card fee waived in a lot of cases, and the process is pretty simple. Yes, even if you’ve already had the fee posted to your account (like I did).
Here are the three steps you can – and should! – take to get your annual credit card fee waived.
Step 1. Call a Real Human, and Ask Them to Waive Your Annual Fee
Yes, I know, we’re millennials and we hate talking on the phone, blah blah blah.
But for a potential savings of $150 – or more? It’s worth picking up the phone.
Most companies will only be able to help you out with a request like this via a human customer support rep, so find their support number and give them a call. (Trust me, I checked, I can’t even cancel any of my cards online.) While you’re on the phone, remember that you want this human on your side, so be nice! If they can help, they will.
When you get someone on the phone, greet them, and then let them know you’re calling about the annual fee on your card. If it’s the first year you’ve had the card, start with…
“I was hoping to have the annual fee waived, since I’m a new customer.”
If you’ve had it for a while, try this instead…
“I was hoping to have the annual fee waived.”
I know, simple, right?
It’s just an opening line, but what you’re really looking for is to see how the person on the phone reacts. They’ve been trained – or are following a script – on how to react to this exact thing, and you’re more interested in what they have to say after you bring up what you want.
They might say they can’t do anything for you, or they might offer you something else instead. Here are ways to react to both of those things.
Step 2. Be Ready to Cancel Your Card If They Won’t Waive the Fee
Listen, true fact about credit card companies: it costs more for them to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one. So if you’re feeling bashful about asking for them to waive your fee, stop it. You’re worth that and more to them, so make sure you know that!
If the answer you get when you ask them to waive your annual fee is “no,” you can reply with…
“Ok, I understand. In that case, I’d like to cancel my card please.”
But to have the best chance of getting your annual fee waived, or scoring equivalent benefits, you have to mean it when you say you’d like to close your card.
If you’re calling to get your fee waived on a card you use for absolutely everything, and that you’re not ready to say goodbye to? They might figure it out, and realize you’re not that big of a flight risk.
Plus, if they call your bluff, what are you going to do?
So while saying you’re going to cancel your card is one of the best ways to get your credit card annual fee waived, if you aren’t ready and willing to go through with it (and have at least one other card to fall back on) maybe don’t go there.
Instead, you can try Step 3 instead.
Step 3. Stay Open to Possibilities Beyond The Fee
Getting your fee waived and keeping your premium card at the same time might not be on the table, based on what your rep can do. That said, I guarantee you that they want to keep you as a customer, and keep you (somewhat) happy.
So if you got an “I can’t waive your annual fee” reply, and you don’t want to cancel your card? Try this.
Is there anything else you can offer to retain me as a customer?
Note: you didn’t even have to say you were going to cancel your card. You’re implying it, sure, but not outright saying it.
They might be able to offer you a range of other options, from bonus points in your account (think Air Miles or Aeroplan points) to switching you to a comparable card.
That’s actually what happened to me when I called my credit card company.
They couldn’t refund the fee and keep me on the premium card, so they refunded the fee that had already been posted to my card, and switched me to their new no-fee card.
It has fewer (OK, zero) travel benefits, but I can keep my account open with them and still avoid the $150 annual fee.
That seemed like a pretty fair tradeoff to me.
Have you ever had success getting an annual credit card fee waived? Did they offer you anything different to offset the fee? I want to hear your stories! (And so does everyone else!) Let me know what worked for you – and obviously, what didn’t 😉