How can you get an interest rate lowered or late fees waived? Just ask!

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How can you get an interest rate lowered or late fees waived? Just ask!
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Ask and you shall receive!

Well, it may not work every time, but it works a lot more than you probably think!

When it comes to monthly bills and companies you do business with, more often than not, you can negotiate a better — and cheaper — deal. The problem is most people don’t even ask, so they continue paying for something they could very likely get for less.

According to a survey by CreditCards.com, nearly 90% of U.S. credit card holders who asked to have a late fee waived had their request granted. On top of that, 78% of those who asked for an interest rate reduction were successful in getting that request granted.

But the survey also found that only about one in five credit card customers in the U.S. has made each of these types of requests — meaning there are a whole lot of people out there who are missing out on some big money-saving opportunities!

Read more: 6 ways to tackle credit card debt

How you can get a better deal

These survey results showed that the credit card companies are willing to negotiate (if you ask), because the truth is, they are going to do everything they can to keep you — and your business — around.

“Consumers just don’t realize how much card companies want to keep them,” said Bill McCracken, president of Synergistics Research Corp., a market research firm that studies the credit card industry. “Issuers know that if you’re worked up enough to call, wait on hold and talk to a customer representative, then there’s a risk that you’re going to close the card. It’s a lot more expensive to acquire a customer these days than it is to retain one, so they do what they can to keep you.”

Read more: 4 types of ultimate money-savers: Are you one of them?

Get late fees waived

You don’t even need a good reason to ask your credit card company to waive a late fee. You may think to ask to have fees waived when unexpected things come up or if you never got a bill in the mail, but according to the new survey, credit card issuers may be more generous than you think.

Even if you just forgot — ask anyway! Many companies will waive late fees a certain number of times each year without even having to review your account.

Here are some guidelines companies shared with CreditCards.com:

  • Discover: Offers every card member forgiveness on their first late payment.
     
  • American Express: Considers “a number of factors” when deciding whether to waive a late fee, spokeswoman Ashley Tufts told CreditCards.com, “including the overall relationship with American Express and past spending and payment history.’
     
  • Chase, U.S. Bank and Bank of America: Make these decisions on a case-by-case basis.

You shouldn’t make late payments a habit — as each credit card company has different terms and may only forgive you a few times. Plus, it can damage your credit and also become a bad financial habit that can cause you much bigger problems down the road.

Read more: How to lower your existing bills

Ask for a lower interest rate

If you ask, there’s a good chance you’ll get a lower interest rate. The new survey found that 78% of people who asked were granted their request — up from 65% in 2014 — which means credit card companies may be willing to help you out now more than ever.

One reason, according to McCracken, is because credit card companies know that if customers ask for a rate reduction and don’t get it, they’re more likely to close the account — which is the last thing the company wants.

Issuers may consider a variety of factors when determining whether to lower your rate, including: spending and payment history, debt with other lenders, credit score and other credit report information.

When it’s time to call and ask for a rate reduction, experts say you should make sure you know your credit card payment history — and you should also be polite. The person on the phone helping you may have a lot more leeway than you think and may be more inclined to help you if you’re nice.

If your credit history isn’t strong enough, there may not be anything the representative can do. So make sure you know and understand all of the factors they may consider before you call and ask for a lower rate.

Bonus tip

Asking for a better deal and better terms is something you should also do with all the other companies you do business with — cable, Internet, cell phone etc. If you don’t ask, it won’t happen — and very often you’ll find that they’re willing to negotiate with you.

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Alex Thomas Sadler About the author: Alex Thomas Sadler
Alex Thomas Sadler is the Managing Editor of Clark.com and Clark Howard Digital Products. Alex is also the host of Common Cents, a new Clark.com series that makes money simple, so you can better understand and take control of your own financial life. Alex graduated from the University of Georgia with bachelor's degrees in ...Read more
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