Just Ask — Negotiating Credit Card Fees

I know I’ve said this before, but I’m a firm believer that you rarely get things that you don’t ask for or work for.  Such is the case again for me in negotiating some late fees and interest.

It all started last year.  I was pretty pissed when Sallie Mae decided to switch from their 2% cash back VISA to a multi-reward Mastercard program from Barclays.  The 2% VISA was around such a short period, and I had bothered to switch a lot of my spending over to it.  So, I left it in the envelope for months out of spite.  Additionally it placed monthly spending caps on the 5% categories (gas, groceries, and books).  I mean who wants to keep up with their monthly spending by category in order to know when to stop using the card.  It really made no sense.

The problem for me was I have a grocery (food co-op) that won’t take my AMEX Blue Cash Preferred so I was limited in my options.  So, finally I dug out the cards and called the number to activate them.  I also thought I went online to set up autopay.  In fact, I’m sure I did, but somehow it didn’t get set properly.  Fast forward to yesterday and my wife mentions off-hand that the card was denied.  I asked what happened when she called them, and of course she hadn’t.  To her credit she did call them upon my urging and found out it was frozen for non-payment.

At that point I’m just hating life.  I go online to see the damage, and there it is.  Payment was due 4 days earlier.  To add insult to injury about that time I get an email from them letting me know I missed a payment (Thanks for the heads up guys!).  And, of course, there’s a $25 late charge and another$7.5o in interest charges.  Ugh.  For a rewards chaser like me, any late fee or interest is punch straight in the gut.  I HATE paying the man.  And, the reality is it was probably my fault.

So I go into contrition mode.  I immediately set the payment to go through.  As soon as I confirmation on the website today, I sucked it up and called customer service.  As soon as Carlo came online to ask me how he could help me I explained that I was asking to have some late fees and interest charges removed.  Usually I can leverage my track record of prior payments, but in this case I had no record so I was playing especially nice.  He immediately removed the $25 late fee without much pushing.  Many would have stopped there, but I was emboldened by the ease of the first ask.  So I pushed him just a wee bit to get the additional $7.50 interest charge reversed too.  So, 5 minutes on the phone saved me $32.50.  Worth it.

Just remember when you’re in a situation like this.  You can always ask.  Be nice.  Be respectful.  Be firm.  And, don’t be afraid to escalate if you need to.

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