Paying your credit card balance on time is essential to maintaining a good credit score and avoiding late fees. However, mistakes do happen: 45% of Americans say they’ve missed a credit card payment because they simply forgot, according to a WalletHub survey.
This mistake is expensive. Federal regulations currently cap maximum late fees on a first default of payment at $30 and $41 for subsequent breaches.
But if you usually pay your bill on time, you may be able to get your late fees waived. In fact, nearly 90% of Americans who called their credit card issuer were able to do so, according to the survey.
Some credit card issuers are more understanding than others, says Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate.com.
“Discover is known to be particularly forgiving,” he says. “They have a published policy of waiving every customer’s first late fee. But it’s very common not to pay late fees with other issuers as well, especially if it only happens once in a while. and that you are otherwise a good customer.”
Here’s how to ask your bank to waive late fees, according to experts.
‘Don’t be an asshole’
When calling, have your account number ready. While the situation may be aggravating, remember that asking politely goes further than being petulant, says Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at LendingTree.com.
“First and foremost, don’t be a jerk,” he says. “Whatever the request, you’re much more likely to get what you want when you’re friendly and nice than when you’re not. Of course, you should always be firm and direct, but remember just that you’re dealing with a real person on the other end of the line.”
If a late or missed payment doesn’t happen regularly, report it to your bank, says Rossman. Also add the reason you were late this time and any changes you’re going to make to make sure that doesn’t happen. Rossman offered the following script as an example:
“Hi, I’m sorry, I paid my last bill a few days late. I never do that. In fact, this is the first time I’ve paid late in 10 years of having your card. I was traveling and missed the due date but just signed up for automatic payments to make sure this doesn’t happen again.Is there any chance you can waive this fee late, please?
don’t be intimidated
Contacting your bank can sound daunting, adds Schulz, but is often necessary.
“Remember, no one cares about your money as much as you do, so when you have the opportunity to save money just by picking up the phone and asking, you should,” he says. “Your chances of success are probably better if you have good credit, but there’s no doubt that it’s not just people with 800 credit scores who get what they want, especially when it comes to credit. ‘get the late fees waived.’
If paying late has become a habit, think about setting up automatic payments for at least the minimum due. You can also communicate that you’re having trouble to your card issuer, says Rossman.
“They are often willing to work with customers on payment arrangements,” he says. “It is better to be frank than to try to hide.”
More from Grow: