How to avoid credit card fees

If you are the average American, you likely have at least one credit card. And, if you are a big fan of rewards cards for points, miles, or cash back earning and have one of these cards, there’s also a chance that they come with an annual fee. And, it can be considerable. Lower-tier cards can start at about $50, mid-tier, about $100, and higher-tier, well into the hundreds of dollars. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that you have a mid-tier card and its annual fee is $95. I am going to show you how you might be able to get it waived.

First, a message about credit. Credit is a very important asset to have. With proper usage, rewards credit cards can be an excellent way to shave a few bucks off your groceries, earn nights at hotels, or enjoy free airplane tickets. So, as long as you are paying off your bills every month, have self-control, and can juggle a few payment methods, I strongly recommend getting a rewards card for purchases that you would make anyway.

Building off my first point, although I do love rewards credit cards, I do dislike their annual fees. While I am positive that I will receive more in kickbacks via promotional savings, free trips, or hotel rooms, I make it a game to see if I can not only recoup my annual fee cost in rebates, but also get it waived all together. And, I am usually successful. Here’s how:

  1. Know when your annual fee posts by checking previous statements in the past year. For one of my cards, it was September 1 when I get hit with my annual fee.
  2. Wait for the fee to post.
  3. Call up Customer Service.
  4. Make your case! If you have stellar credit history, long history with that particular credit card company, and spend x$ with them each year, tell them!
  5. If the first person doesn’t budge, ask to speak with a “Retention Specialist.”
  6. Tell them THAT YOU WANT TO QUIT DOING BUSINESS WITH THEM (in a nice way).

I have employed these tactics several years in a row with one of my cards and this time actually made the annual fee back and a bit more in statement credits.

credit card

Credit: Wikimedia

Being knowledgeable, friendly, and convincing to credit card customer service is key!

While a lot of people try to avoid customer service and think it’s too much of a hassle, I embrace it. Getting your annual credit card fees waived or reduced is what you should aim for to help maximize your rewards. This strategy also works for lowering recurring bills, like cable service. I encourage you to give these tactics a try and to let me know if you are successful.

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