There’s a simple but little-used way to waive a late fee or lower the interest rate on your credit card: Just ask.
Almost nine out of 10 credit cardholders who requested a late fee waiver received one, while more than three-quarters of cardholders got a lower interest rate after asking for one, according to a new survey from CreditCards.com. However, only a fifth of cardholders have ever asked for either.
“People underestimate the power they have in the relationship with their credit card issuer, especially now because the marketplace is so competitive,” says Matt Schulz, CreditCards.com’s senior industry analyst. “They don’t realize how good of a chance they have at being successful.”
Schulz recommends shopping around and collecting offers from other credit card companies before requesting a lower interest rate. Tell your card issuer that other companies are offering lower rates to sign up for a new card and see if your issuer matches the number, rather than throwing out a random figure.
“I would say that should temper their expectations. Don’t expect to go from 25 percent to 15 percent,” says Schulz. “But I think if you have other offers that you received, that can set a baseline for negotiating.”
To get a late fee waived, Schulz says those with consistent on-time payments are the most successful. It also doesn’t hurt to tell issuers that you’ve already sent in the late payment and have set up autopay, so a delayed payment won’t occur again.
“In this case, loyalty can count,” says Schulz. “If you have been a good customer for several years and have good payment history, you’re more likely to get a waiver than if you’ve had the card for a few months.”