Haggling for Dollars

May 25, 2021 Updated: May 28, 2021

By a show of hands, let me see how many of you have a credit card in your name. Uh-huh, I see those hands. It appears that my audience falls right in line with national averages: About 70 percent of you have at least one credit card. And how would you categorize your relationship with your card issuer?

If you are carrying credit card debt, it really bugs you that the company takes so much of your money in interest and fees. In fact, some cardholders admit to feeling helpless in the strong arms of the credit card giants who charge big, whopping fees on top of double-digit interest rates. It has been said that the borrower becomes a slave to the lender. Truer words could not be spoken of how it feels to be in credit card debt.

So, are you ready to do something about this? Sure, I know you are doing your level best to get out of debt and keep a credit card as a tool—not a noose. But even now, as you are working your way out of debt, there is something you can do to reduce your interest rates and fees and perhaps even have fees that were already charged waived.

Just ask. That’s right; simply pick up the phone and ask. On the back of your credit card is a toll-free number for customer service. Call and courteously make your request. Provided you have been a good customer, you may be surprised to learn just how quickly the company will comply with your request.

Why?

Because there is a lot of competition out there. They know your mailbox is jammed with offers, and quite frankly, they do not want to lose a valuable, profit-generating customer like you to another company. It’s cheaper for card issuers to cut you a break than lose your business and have to find a new customer.

There are several requests you should consider making: Lower my interest rate; waive my annual fee; raise (or lower) my credit limit to improve my credit score.

Not long ago, I suggested this to a group of blog followers and asked them to share their experiences.

Deborah reports: “My interest rate was lowered 2 percentage points, and I was given 2,500 free miles, which I would never have thought to ask for.”

Michelle writes: “My husband recently charged to a card, and we went over the limit. I called Capital One, and they waived the $39 fee because we have never had an over-limit fee, and our payments are always on time.”

Judy responded: “I called Capital One, with whom I have had a credit card for 10 years. I’ve paid an annual fee every year. I spoke with customer service and politely asked if the $95 annual fee could be waived. She passed me to an account specialist, and based on the longevity and ‘impeccable’ status of my account, he offered me a one-time fee waiver and said they would send me a letter confirming this in writing. I’m thrilled! That five-minute call put $95 back into my wallet.”

Are you ready to exercise your savvy customer muscles? Well then, let the haggling begin!

Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.” Mary invites you to visit her at her website, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at EverydayCheapskate.com/contact, “Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at Tips.EverydayCheapskate.com. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Copyright 2021 Creators.com